2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I didn’t enter Marine Corps Marathon weekend with high expectations. With my resentment towards the 26.2 distance aggrandizing since the WDW Marathon in January, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out with minimal injury. Having flashbacks of my 2015 experience in DC still fresh in my mind, I didn’t care what my pace was. I wanted to cross that finish line and be done.

I slept terribly the night before, getting about four hours total. Chris and I woke up around 4:45, and before I knew it, it was 5:45 and we were out the door, heading to the Metro. I swear, no matter how much time you give yourself to get ready, it’s never enough!

We arrived at the Metro slightly after six. I was sort of excited to ride, as MCM partnered with WMATA to open the Metro two hours early to accommodate the runners, with extra Blue and Yellow trains to the Pentagon station. Okay, so we’ll have trains operating every five minutes or so, easy peasy. I won’t have to freak out about being late.

I should’ve known better. This is DC Metro, after all. The first train didn’t arrive until 6:30 AM.

We arrived at Pentagon station by 6:45, and it was a madhouse. With each arriving train, the platform got more crowded. The crowds were moving at a snail’s pace to begin with, probably due to those not being prepared in advance with their Metro cards to tap out of the station. It took us about 15 minutes to exit.

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Following the swarm of runners to the starting area, the sun started to cast a beautiful yellow and orange glow in the sky. Rosslyn was off in the distance and its buildings were reflecting the rays as a sort of welcoming beacon for us. The weather was slightly chilly, but that was going to change quickly once the sun peaked. After walking roughly over a mile, we came upon the UPS drop off location.

Over the booming speakers, we heard: “If you’re here and running the 10K…ouch!” -announcer guy

(The MCM 10K, which is also on my list, was taking place IN the city as the last 6.2 miles of the marathon course. If a 10Ker was at the Pentagon, well…)

Chris and I found our other Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and running buddies, Lauren, and her husband, Patrick (who was playing support crew with our other friends Chris and Ema). After a quick picture, we headed to the starting area.

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With the fear of being swept fresh on our minds, and after careful analysis of our previous races and paces from this year, we decided to line up around the 5:00 area. We’d have a somewhat decent barrier between us and the sweeper vehicles, and be in the vicinity of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups in case we wanted to join.

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The parachuters did their performances, and the Ospreys did their flyover to the cheers of the crowds. At 7:55, the Howitzer fired, and the race began!

Sort of.

Any Marine Corps Marathon veteran will tell you that it takes, on average, twenty minutes from the time the Howitzer fires until you cross the start line. So it’s a perfect representation of the military: hurry up and wait.

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Around 8:17am or so, the three of us finally started our journey! First stop: Rosslyn.

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I posted several times on social media that the first 5K for this race is the worst. It has the most elevation changes, and staying conservative will be beneficial in the later miles. The crowds were ample and puppies even moreso. We stayed steady, walking the hills and running the flat areas. The energy was amplified, and, trust me, greatly appreciated. We hit the 5K mark and descended into Spout Run along miles 3.5-4 on the GW Parkway. (This turned out to be my best mile of the whole damn race.) The views of Georgetown University were gorgeous as we headed towards Key Bridge.

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The crowds started to thin a little as we ran down M Street in Georgetown and flew down Wisconsin Ave.

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Our next stop was Rock Creek Park, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Lauren and Chris were definitely faster than I was, whether running or speed walking, so I tried to keep up the best I could.

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RCP was shady and pretty as always. Having run the same route during several other DC races, I knew what to expect. The turn around at mile 7 led to a nice downhill (same downhill as NAFHALF and halfway up the evil hill from RnR DC), and back into the shade. As we headed past mile 8, we saw the sweeper busses coming up the other side. Already?! There’s no way in hell I was getting on that bus this year.

My lower back was starting to hurt, and it was getting harder to keep up with Chris and Lauren. I didn’t want to bog them down with my slowness, so I told Chris to just go ahead without me. He didn’t want to leave me behind but I didn’t want to screw up their race plans. I watched them get farther away, and I had no doubt that they would finish their first marathons strong and in one piece.

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The sun was starting to rage around mile 10 as I headed toward Hains Point. I was starting to feel dehydrated and weak, and slowed to mainly walking with some running bursts in between. My new friend, Christine, whom I met post-expo and is also Ms. United States: District of Columbia, caught up with me around mile 11.5 and we shared some encouraging words before taking off for the Blue Mile at mile 12.

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I’m glad I wore sunglasses for this race; I got really emotional watching other runners stopping by the signs of their loved ones and just pausing to reflect.

I also got a lot of high fives in this section, which was great because I was about to fall over.

I wasn’t planning on taking Run Gum until the halfway point, but I took it just before I entered this section. Holy crap, was that a bad idea. I didn’t have water to wash the flavors down, so the sugars coated my mouth and throat and felt thick and suffocating. This error would affect the rest of my race as the ensuing dehydration made me feel sick and gross.

My half split was a 3:09, which is surprisingly decent compared to some of my other half splits over the years.

The second half of the race was torture. My stomach and back weren’t cooperating, the sun was blazing, and I was so ready to be done. However, just past the halfway mark was the Funny Sign Mile. I was SOOOOO happy that they didn’t take these down prematurely, unlike in 2015 when everything seemed to disappear after all the faster runners went through.

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The objective here to focus on was making it to the “D.C. Gauntlet” at Mile 17 by 12:33. I had about 45 minutes to make it three miles. Not an easy feat when you feel like dying and are walking the entire distance. The pace car (white car with colored handprints) was annoyingly riding alongside of us (and we honestly didn’t know if it was the official pace car or what it was doing), but I was just happy to not see those stupid sweeper busses riding my ass.

 

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Another Kappa Kappa Psi brother, Katelyn, was at Mile 15!

 

I came up on mile 16 and, after taking liquids, thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stepped in and tried to go. Nothing happened. At this point, I knew I was going to be diverted past the first gauntlet and to the bridge. I took a moment, gathered myself, and got back on the course. Even with the copious amount of liquids I ingested, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. It would actually be several more miles before I saw water again.

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I missed the cutoff for the D.C. Gauntlet by 13 minutes, and to be technical, I’m not considered an “official finisher” due to this. Cutting across Jefferson Drive and right to the Beat the Bridge portion at mile 19.5, we slowpokes merged in with the bulk of the other runners here, and rejoiced over the fire hydrant that happened to be open and spraying water about. I also heard my fellow Team Shenangians member, Meghan, cheering me on as I went to the bridge.

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The 14th Street Bridge…I had no doubt I’d get over this, as I started around 12:50-ish. Still walking, the sun was beating down on us, and its effects were affecting all of us. Still feeling ultra dehydrated, I was very tempted to ask another runner if they had water I could take a quick sip of. Embarrassing as it was, I ran around asking random support groups if they had water. One of them—I didn’t quite catch a name—actually seemed reluctant to give me a bottle, but they did. If it wasn’t for that water, I probably would have dropped on the bridge…or over the bridge.

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I got over the bridge and into Crystal City at 1:36, 13 minutes before that cutoff. As I was heading in, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Chris! He was soooo confused as to how I got ahead of him, and I told him I got diverted. Still confused, I told him I’d explain later, and he started getting ahead of me. He was a man on a mission at this point, and I knew he’d finish. I asked where Lauren was, and he said she was behind him a ways.

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During the Crystal City section (and at other points on the course), I had other runners come up to me and ask if I was @runDisneyBelle, seeing as they had seen my flat runner on social media. One of them was @runnerchick29! Trust me, I am ALWAYS happy to meet other runners on course. Look for the bow and say hi 🙂

Having run MCM before, I can tell you that no matter how many fire hydrants and hoses were open, Crystal City is awful. It’s neverending, and runners drop like flies. The crowds were really good this year, had lots of food, and I caught quick glimpse of the medal from a distance. I knew had to finish (and to justify buying the jacket prematurely!). I swing around Mile 23, and saw Lauren on the other side of the road! I ran over to her and we were just like, “…mehhhhh….when’s it gonna be overrrr?”

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

The last 5K was just as brutal as the first 5K, but with water and animal crackers, and more sun. By the time Mile 25 arrived, we had swung back to where we had started about 6.5 hours prior. This time, we’d be taking the hill to the Iwo.

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I ran into fellow Shenanigator Kristin here, and it was a great boost to get us to the finish!

 

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Left up the hill…

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Selfie with the support crew!

 

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To the finish!!

 

 


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So I crossed the finish line for my fourth marathon, if you can even call it that. Due to being diverted from those miles in the city, the Xacte splits actually calculated predicted pace for the 30K and 35K marks for me. I appreciate its generosity as it gave me 12:33/ppm and 13:17/ppm respectively.

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I got across that finish line and my “time” was a 6:41:43. To me, that’s all that matters at this point. Mission Accomplished. Woohoo.

I’ll jump on my soapbox for a moment and shout I AM SO PROUD OF LAUREN AND CHRIS FOR FINISHING THEIR FIRST MARATHON! Chris kicked my ass by twenty minutes and Lauren finished just a couple minutes behind me. I am SO proud of my fellow brothers for accomplishing their goals.

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Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!

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Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

1. I say this after every marathon, that I’m done and completely over the 26.2 distance. Then I find myself toeing the line for another full. But after this one, I feel like I am truly done. I got my “redemption” by crossing the finish line for this race. I didn’t get swept, nor did I die due to the heat. Calculating the miles from Metro excitement and heading to the start line, it gave me roughly 27-ish miles post race, according to my Garmin pedometer. I will call that a win.

Getting back to future marathons…I am supposed to do Chicago next year due to deferring this year. However, I would have to repay $195 just to claim my deferral. That’s literally a fifth of my rent and over two days’ worth of work! With this being the biggest reason to skip, and the ever growing resentment towards the distance, I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Chicago 2018. Let me also remind you all that I will also not be running in Disney in January for Marathon Weekend. I ran the last two years and abhor the course. Why continue doing a distance that I cannot stand, and dealing with the, “I’m so done with this.” angry feeling before, during, and after the race?

2. Weather all around the nation has been obnoxiously hot this year. I suggest to race officials that an additional water stop be put on the bridge for future races. For those like me who got diverted at 17, we did not get the convenience of the two water points that were in the D.C. Gauntlet. We went from the mile 16 water stop to mile 21.75 without water in the blazing sun.

3. Major thanks to everyone who came out and cheered for us during this race, even for us turtles in the back. Trust me, we greatly appreciate it. Cheers are not reserved for just the fastest runners on a course.

4. I was disappointed to see so many vendors packing up their stuff as I made my way into the Finisher’s Festival. I understand y’all have places to go and things to do, but we turtles would like to partake in what you have to offer, as well! I wanted bacon and watermelon.


 

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So, what comes next?

Well, we have some recovery to do…then Chris and I are headed back to the Everglades! We have the Gator Double in December with the Biscayne 5K + Everglades Half!

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Congrats to everyone who finished this weekend! It was an arduous course, and the weather moreso. Great job of Charging the District, Beating the Bridge, and Taking the Iwo. You ran with purpose and finished with pride. Extra confetti to the first timers! You deserve it!!

Thanks for a great racecation, D.C. Until next time…

 

 

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The Weekly Review 

October is in full swing…yet it still feels like July in many parts of the country. Trust me, I feel your pain on this! October is supposed to be the time for cooler temperatures and falling leaves (a la picturesque New England), not tank tops and sweating. Hopefully this heat wave breaks soon. Is it just me, or does it seem like the traditional seasons are a month behind schedule?

I would like to start this week’s recap by congratulating all of the Chicago Marathon finishers! I watched the majority of the race on NBCSN, following Twitter updates, and the Chicago Marathon app for runner tracking a few friends.

While I was disappointed that I had to defer, you can bet that I am excited to run next year!

 

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363 days to go!

Now that Chicago is finished, the next big marathon coming up is Marine Corps Marathon. It’s less than two weeks away!

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I’ve been getting some incredible mileage at work and the soreness in my feet are a testament to that. I still have not done a 20-miler yet, but I’m hoping to do that on Tuesday. And by 20-miler, I mean traversing 20 miles in any way, shape, or form that I can–which will probably mean playing in the park from open to close.

Friendly reminder: I consider my training “unconventional”. I don’t focus on speed, but I focus on mileage, and time spent on my feet. No matter the speed, we all cover the same distance in the end. I also supplement said mileage with other workouts and weight training.

 

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10 days ’til I fly up. It’ll be worth it for views like this once again!

The 2018 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Race Ambassador applications are officially open! The application period ends October 19th, and is limited to the first 500 applicants. Three lucky runners with a knack for social media and internet presence will be selected to represent the famous race weekend in a variety of settings, along with acquiring some sweet perks:

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I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler this year and it was a fantastic time, albeit kind of chilly! I’ve had several friends reach out to me about applying, so I’ll definitely be throwing my name into the fray. If you think you have what it takes, head to the CUCB website and fill out the application!

 

 

 

Hello, October

hello october

Out of all the months on the calendar, October has to be at the top of the list for me. Nothing can replicate the atmosphere in which this month encompasses: changing leaves, cooler temperatures (for my friends up north), apples and pumpkins, college football and marching bands, homecomings and rivalry games, loads of candy, warm autumnal colors sprinkled with the glitters of seasons’ past, that general feeling of coziness as wardrobes change from sheer tops and shorts to soft sweaters and jeans…

This list can go on.

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October is also peak time for fall marathons! My days off request for Marine Corps Marathon just got approved today, so I am set and ready to head back to DC to seek redemption for this race. If you didn’t know already, I was swept in 2015. Coming back to Charge the District, Beat the Bridge, and Take the Iwo will give my heart the closure it needs. I will be running with Chris and our friend, Lauren, and they will be completing their first marathons!

HHN 2017

Halloween Horror Nights is in full swing at Universal Orlando, and every shift feels like I’ve run a marathon afterwards! I average between 6-8 miles a night, and while that may not seem like a lot, I am constantly walking around between a variety of positions. There is a lot more that goes into the logistics of attractions operations than one may realize. I could be covering five different positions in a rotation in one night, which includes a LOT of guest interaction/service, queueing, ramping, loading and unloading cars, etc. I have a fantastic team to work with, and it makes the experience really fun and tolerable.

Now, with MCM around the corner and runners everywhere starting to enter Taper Town, here are some thoughts that I have…

Christina’s Thoughts on Marathon Tapering While Working in the Real World:

When it comes to marathon training, yes, the mileage is important, but the overall time spent on your feet is even more critical. If you’re not used to moving around for 4+ hours in one sitting, it’s going to suck come marathon day and you will probably tire out a lot faster. This is the biggest difference between my training now and from two years ago. Back then, I had a desk job in New Hampshire and wasn’t burning even a quarter of the calories I should have been. Two years later, my job is very active and requires more attention to my diet and the signals my body gives me. I play in the park a lot, and that gives me even more mileage, which I’m happy for. I make smarter choices with food to give my body the fuel it deserves, and I cut out alcohol and junk food no less than a month before the race.

Since I’ve been on the closing squad with my HHN crew for more nights than I can count, I am trying to figure out when I should attempt my last high mileage day before “tapering”. I put taper in quotations only due to closing several shifts in a row once again the weekend before MCM. For my first MCM in 2014, I tapered a full two weeks. (Being in grad school really helped this.) 2015, not so much. I’m curious to see what will happen in the next couple of weeks as I prepare to head back to DC.

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Do you have any fun plans for October?! Any races or trips?

 

Hello, September

Ahhhh, September. The prelude to the most wonderful season. While we still have to wait a few weeks for the Autumnal Equinox, we can start the celebration a tad early with scenic pictures of leaves, countryside, apple cider doughnuts, and coffee, of course!

And if you’re so inclined, your Pumpkin Spice Latte… 😛

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The farther north you are, the sooner the temperatures begin to fall and the leaves begin to change. This shot was taken when I lived in Maine, and the autumnal fire began at the beginning of September. No complaints here!


As we start the last third of 2017, I am so so SOOOOO happy to announce that I have finally landed a job!!! *happy dance*

I am SO relieved that something finally came through. I’ll be starting in mid-September, and while that doesn’t assuage my financial anxieties, I’m content with getting back into the workforce and expanding my network. It’s still not my dream job, but it’s still fun and I plan on making the best of it. (Before you ask, it is not Disney. Trying to get a job in Disney World is like trying to get into Harvard or Stanford. Good luck.) 


 

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19 years later…all was well.

It’s September 1st, therefore witches and wizards are boarding the Hogwarts Express for the start of term!! Even better, September 1, 2017 marks 19 years since Harry’s scar last hurt. Truly, all is well.

 

 

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Back to witches and wizards and magical beasts…..

 

Speaking of Halloween, Disney has already launched Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This will be at Magic Kingdom and will run through the beginning of November. If you plan on going, MNSSHP is a seperate ticket that is required. Check out the details and information on the Disney Parks Blog!

 

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Nothing is better than seeing the Mickey pumpkins on Main Street!

If you’re an Alex and Ani fan, you’ll be delighted to know (if you don’t already know) that there have been new bracelets released just in time for the change of season! They are Haunted Mansion themed, and include the Singing Busts, the Haunted Mansion logo, and Madame Leota.

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Universal Orlando is gearing up for Halloween Horror Nights! I went last year and had a blast. If you’re up for a great scare and have an appreciation for horror movies and original haunted houses and mazes, HHN is the perfect place for you. Just like MNSSHP, it requires a seperate ticket for admission. Check out the latest details here!

Some scenes from last year:


I haven’t talked about running much, but that may change here very shortly. As the temps start to dip, we enter fall marathon season. You’ll see some of the big names like Chicago, Richmond, and NYC. For me, Marine Corps is on the agenda. The countdown is at 50 days!

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Do you have any exciting fall plans?

The Weekly Review

Hello again, readers from everywhere. Time for the Weekly Review!

So it’s day 19 of “funemployment”, and I am starting to get very anxious. No word from Florida at all on ANYTHING, my financials are starting to nosedive so slightly (A. Ham would be appalled), and I am falling into depression where I stay awake for hours during the night, and I sleep through half the day. My Chi Marathon training plan started this week, and while the first day was good, I’ve backslid horribly. It’s difficult being a runner with depression, let me tell you.

Minus the crappy mood, some good stuff did happen. Such as…

  1. Subway’s Carved Turkey Sub

    After my first day of training, I was rungry and set out to find grub. The mall where my Planet Fitness is at has a Subway, and the carved turkey option caught my eye. It is seriously the best thing I’ve ever had from Subway. It’s like Thanksgiving turkey! I paired it up with a ton of veggies and yellow mustard. It is a limited time offer, so get it while you can!

2. Nuun’s Family and Friends Discount!

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Stay hydrated this summer! Offer expires June 23rd.

3. Caprese Boats

When I was cat sitting last we talked, I had a huge obsession with caprese salads. I’m sure I made about five of them during the week I was there. I transferred this idea when I got back into little caprese boats using Romaine, grape tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic, sprinkled basil and cracked pepper. They’re a tad messier than salad, but they’re like eating tacos, so it’s a win!

4. Picnic on the Mall

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On Saturday, a bunch of Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and Tau Beta Sigma sisters gathered on the National Mall for an afternoon of food, fun, friends, and awesomeness. It was great catching up with old friends and making new ones at the same time.

 

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Lauren was there! Yay! Our cornhole team name was Team Shake Shack. 😀

 

5. 30th Birthday Countdown

By now, I have started my countdown towards my Pearl Jubilee on my socials. (Traditionally, the number 30 is associated with the pearl!) The two trips on my radar are my 30th Birthday Eve at Universal on the 18th, and my true 30th Birthday on the 19th in Disney.

The last time I had a milestone birthday, my 25th, I threw a Silver Jubilee which was filled full of things that, well, would probably kill me know that I’m almost five years older. My liver definitely is not like what it used to be! But I lived to tell the tale and to share my lessons for future generations to come.

I am closing in on my final week of my 20’s, and I know there will be much to say and reflect. The real question is…should I write, or should I Vlog about it? Or maybe both? No matter what, there will be much to celebrate!


If you have any questions for me that you would like me to answer, or any advice about turning such an age, send them my way!