Race Report – 2018 Marine Corps Marathon

FINISH STATS:

Finish time:  5:05:24

Splits:  2:12:49 (half); 2:47:11 (end)

Total elevation gain:  983 feet

Placing:  12237 out of 20713 (overall)

7278 out of 11158 (male)

1211 out of 1760 (male division)

Goal 1:  PR [under 4:30:00] (No)

Goal 2:  Under 4:00:00 (No)

Goal 3:  Under 3:50:00 (No)

Retroactive goal to make myself feel better:  Have fun, be thankful, and finish (kind of, yes, and yes)

IMG-0361

RATINGS:

Expo:  3 out of 3

Course difficulty:  1 out of 3 (hometown race)

Crowd participation:  3 out of 3 (incredible crowd nearly the entire race)

Organization:  2 out of 3 (long walks to the start, long walks after the race is over, otherwise great)

Overall experience (result agnostic):  3 out of 3

Overall experience:  (result considered):  1 out of 3 (can I say 0?)

When I limped across the finish line of the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon, over five hours after starting, wrapping up my worst marathon finish time ever, I came to a realization.  One of the beauties of running this distance is its brutal honesty.  You can train or not train.  You can have a race day plan or not.  You can push yourself or hold back. You can have your own motivations for running, bring your family and friends to cheer you along. You can run alone. You can pray for good weather. You can, you can, you can.  But at the end of the day, the task at hand is simple:  26.2 miles between the start and finish, get there as fast as possible.  To have a good run, you have to execute on race day, and nothing else matters.

This one will stay with me.

I’ll be honest, I’m considering not running another marathon.  This experience was a kick in the pants.  And that’s not for the usual “never again right after the race, but sign up for your next one two days later” kind of psychology.  It’s the fact that I was the most prepared for this race than any other I’ve done at any other distance, and I ended up with a personal worst time.  I think back to all the preparation I have done over 18 weeks–the multiple 4am runs on the Mall. 5:30 Saturday AM runs when I could be sleeping. The humid AF running in Key West. The 14 miles I did on a Sunday evening AFTER hosting friends for a summer BBQ.  Running in DC with a hometown advantage. Running in South Carolina, and Rochester, and Reston. Running on vacation and during lunch at work. Running in the rain. Running at 10pm on the “dreadmill” at Vida. Sweaty DC summer runs. Two 20 milers. All to prepare for this.

There’s a line of thought in Vedanta Yoga, Buddhism, and Hinduism that the way that you start your day will largely dictate how your day will turn out.  I’ve done five marathons now, and for the week before this race, it just felt different.  It felt off.  On Monday, I was riding an electric Lime scooter and I wiped out really hard on 4th street.  When I got up, I was sure that my hand and arm were broken, but they were not.  I ended up with deep cuts on my arm and leg, and though I couldn’t bend my left hand, I was still ok to run.  On Saturday afternoon, I had a bout of heartburn or indigestion or some other GI issue that even after the race still has not gone away.  So, I took it easy that afternoon and evening, but the pain continued to Sunday morning.  The journey to the start line was harried even though I had planned it out well this year.  The early miles felt heavy and never went away, the stomach issues persisted and got stronger.  I kind of felt like I was bad dreaming my way through the run, not entirely experiencing a lot of it.

But perspective is important.  One takeaway, failure is an opportunity to learn, and you have to take your lumps when you get them.  There are no guarantees.  You have to expect, or at least consider, that in spite of all your preparation, you can still miss your goals spectacularly.  So it reframes the idea of preparation in your mind and bifurcate the failure/success of the preparation from the failure/success of the result.

Another takeaway, failure is relative.  So I ran a terrible race.  On the subjective front, I’m really bummed about it.  On the objective view, big f’ing deal.  Before the run, I wrote on my bandaged left hand:  “For those who can’t.  For yourself.  For Mini.”  I think about the people who cannot do this even if they wanted to.  The young woman killed while running in DC, those sick with a terminal illness, friends and family who have passed.  If there’s ever a run to keep perspective in mind, it’s this one. Especially when you run through the Blue Mile at the halfway mark and see pictures of the young men and women killed in action, many of whom at such a young age.  When you see service men running the 26.2 with full packs, or a firefighter dressed in a full uniform running the marathon, or a parent pushing their disabled child the distance.

At mile 18, as I ran down Constitution Avenue, I started tearing up with joy in the middle of my crappy race.  The crowd there was incredible.  It was a moment of realization I have in every marathon.  Complete strangers are running together and complete strangers are cheering them on.  It’s just such a basic concept–people lifting each other up for no real reason other than just to be there.  It gives you so much hope in a world that seems to be growing increasingly hopeless amplified by my own growing pessimism as I get older.  It’s for that moment of hope, that’s why I run.  I run for more than just finish times.

But here is the cruel reality of where I stand.  After I PRed my first marathon, my finish times have gotten progressively worse.  And looking from the macro lens, it’s been an incredible commitment for the glory of missing my goals.

Marathons are incredibly honest, and this one gave me an honest life lesson. Sometimes things just won’t work out.

So, onwards and upwards I suppose.  I am going to regroup and see what my plan is.  But boy, this one sure was disappointing.

PRE-RACE

How far back to go?  On Saturday afternoon, at around 2pm, I started feeling “off.”  Had some heartburn that escalated quickly during the day.  I ate a light dinner because I couldn’t keep anything down.  I started my tradition of watching “Cast Away” but didn’t finish it all.  It seems like the foreshadowing was all there.

RACE DAY

Before the start

I woke up early, and still felt funny, but slightly better.  I ate a banana and drank some milk, hoping the pit in my stomach would go away, but it kind of persisted.  I figured that it was just residual pain from Saturday + some slight anxiety, and headed off to get to the start line.

I drove to the Court House metro and parked my car there.  But then I realized that I needed a not-to-be mentioned item from CVS, so I was looking for one at 6am.  By the time I purchased said item, I headed to the metro at around 6:45.  Here’s where another bizarre morning event happened.  I knew that I had to take the Blue line to the start, so I figured I’d ride the Orange to Rosslyn and then switch.  When I was on the Orange Line train, there were some 10K runners and some full runners.  The 10K started downtown, so the Orange would take you there, but not to the full start.  And for some reason, due to the strange power of group think, I almost didn’t get off the train to catch the blue line.  And when I did, I told some other runners on the train that we had to get off and they didn’t listen.  Group think, such a powerful thing.

Anyway, I ended up catching the Blue Line, but by then it was already 7:20 or so, and I knew I’d miss the start.  If I hadn’t had my CVS issue, I would have made it with plenty of time.  But I didn’t get through security when the starting gun went off.  The race started at 7:55, I crossed the start at around 8:15.  Again, the idea of how you start the day may dictate how your day will turn out.

Start of the race, miles 1-4:  “too crowded”

10:41 min/mile; 9:33; 10:05; 9:16

After doing four marathons, I knew the mantra:  “don’t start out too fast.”  I was anticipating running at right around an 8:30 to 9 min/mile pace, so “too fast” meant starting out anywhere below that.  My plan was to do the first two miles at 10 mins, the next two at 9:30, and then ramp up from there.  But because of the late start, I was stuck in the back.  I know it was crowded for everyone, but I imagine that if I lined up in the correct corral group, the crowd would have cleared up sooner than it did for me.

Usually when I run, the first two miles feel a bit slow and then at mile 3 it starts to feel better.  This one never felt right from the start, and never got better as I increased my pace.  Even when I got to around 9 a mile, my stomach still wasn’t relenting.  Deep down, I knew that wasn’t coming together for me that day, I could tell early on.

This part was a bit hilly but nothing too bad.  I’ve been doing hill repeats on pretty much all of my training runs, so none of the hills on this course were daunting.

Miles 5-8:  “good until it wasn’t”

9:20; 9:00; 9:24; 9:16

I decided to try and push my stomach issue out of my mind and continue with my plan.  I hovered around 9ish mins a mile, mostly because I couldn’t find a groove with the crowd.  I was getting frustrated because right out the bat my race plan had been shredded.

I’ve run these miles many time, it crosses the Key Bridge and winds up to Georgetown and back up Rock Creek Parkway.  This was a hometown course for me.

Miles 9-12:  “uh-oh, and try to catch up”

16:13; 8:49; 9:14; 8:57

Mile nine is when my stomach issue took a turn.  I stopped and “took care of business.”  Without divulging too much disgusting details, I basically barfed here.  Strangely, I wasn’t dehydrated–my stomach just couldn’t keep down anything sugary or citrus-y, so I was having an incredibly hard time replenishing carbs–a problem which would rear it’s head on the last 10k (my plan of takinga  GU at 5 mile increments was getting decimated).

Look at those splits.  16:13!  At mile nine!  This was not a good sign.

Jess and Mini met me at mile 11, which was a much needed boost.  I stopped for a few seconds to give some kisses, and then I told Jess that I had to take off because I had just puked and I needed to make up some time.  She was planning to see me again at 17 and then again at 19.

Miles 13-16:  “I guess I’ll keep going”

9:40; 9:18; 9:48; 9:52

I think I tried another GU somewhere at this point, but almost threw that up when I took it.  I tried some Gatorade too with the same end result.

As I was living through my problems, my perspective was knocked back into place as we ran through the Blue Mile.  This part of the race was incredibly powerful–seeing the soldiers and service men and women killed in action.  It made me feel ridiculous for being so upset with myself–there are bigger tragedies in the world than me not running a race according to plan.

Miles 17-20:  “I feel like garbage”

12:20; 12:23; 10:04; 13:07

I started to feel like crap right here.  Well, really after the first half ended.  This was the most beautiful part of the race, though, and despite how terrible I was feeling physically, I was able to enjoy the crowd support on the National Mall.  I met up with Jess and Mini again at Mile 17.  Mini would cry every time I would leave her after stopping to give her a kiss.  It was so heartbreakingly adorable.  Here are a few pictures that captures that.  I love this girl so much:

IMG-1232IMG-1233IMG-1234

Then I headed into Mile 18 I had a wonderful experience that I mentioned above. Seeing strangers running and supporting and just being all in it together.  It gives you an incredible sense of hope.

I met up with Jess again at Mile 19, and it was at that point where I knew I was done.  Part of me was considering just stopping, but I pressed on knowing that I’m probably going to walk most of the way.  I took another GU and promptly barfed that up too–throw-up number 2 on the race.

Miles 20-26:  “All a blur to the end”

13:07; 16:23; 15:18; 14:28; 13:23; 10:44; 17:07; 11:53 (end)

I kind of don’t want to write any more about this race, so I’m not going to.  The above mile splits speak for themselves.  After I ralphed the second time, I decided that I’m not going to minimize what I put my body through when I’ve obviously had a terrible race day from the start.

At least I can figure out my average walking pace now.

Post-race

By the time I crossed the finish line, I had already finished my pity party.  I was content to get my medal just call it a day.  I approached the day with as little judgment as possible.  I finished another marathon, and I’m lucky and blessed in so many ways that it isn’t worth my time to beat myself up over a race.  Still, the overall experience of this race was of incredible disappointment.  I trained so hard for this, and I was incredibly prepared.  Things just didn’t work out.

But overall, it’s race number 5 in the books.  I wasn’t able to check a state off the list, but that’s ok.  At the end of the day, I’m smiling and I’m thankful and optimistic for the lessons that I hope this race will teach me, in running and in life.  I will still prepare for challenges ahead of me, I will still work for my best effort, I will celebrate my victories and I will learn from my disappointments.

Finish line pictures and others throughout the day:

IMG-1283IMG-1264IMG-0269IMG-1236IMG-1207IMG-1209

Advertisements

Race Report – 2018 Clarendon Day Double (5K and 10K) – 5K PR!

5K

 

Finish time:  23:52 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  231 out of 1076

178 out of 529 (male)

80 out of 195 (male division)

IMG-9784

 

10K

 

Finish time:  54:26 

Placing:  274 out of 914

194 out of 439 (male)

88 out of 169 (male division)

 

63200

 

I feel good after this race.  It’s a fast course, so it’s a perfect opportunity to steal a PR on a 5K or 10K.  Coming into this race I have set a PR in 2018 for each of the following distances:  10K, 10 Miler and Half Marathon.  Today I added the 5K to that list, beating a time that I set back in 2006 when I was 23 years old (though in all fairness, I haven’t ran all that many 5Ks).  So, if I PR a marathon this year, 2018 will be a banner year–one where I set a personal best for every standard race distance.

 

PRE-RACE

 

I took my lesson from last year and decided that I would not drive to this race.  Last year I made the mistake of parking my car about a mile away from the start line.  The set up of this race is such that the finish line is about a mile and a half down hill from the start.  I didn’t want to walk too much, so just ubered there with plans to do the same back, but it turns out that Jess and Mini met me there (and drove) anyway.  I was hanging out with an old friend the night before but called it an early one to make sure to get home early and get to bed.  I got up at around 6:30am, called my uber at 6:50 and made it there with plenty of time to get my packet.

I had some time to kill before the start of the 5K, but I kind of just stood around and waited for it to start.  I downloaded this podcast called Dissect and started listening to Season 1, which “dissects” the themes and meanings in Kendrick Lamar’s album “To Pimp a Butterfly.”  It was really interesting, and I may have decided to listen to it for the duration of the runs, but I didn’t charge my headphones and they were bound to run out.

 

5K Race

 

8:03 min/mile; 7:29; 7:36; [0:43]

The race starts off fast, faster than you think.  I woke up with the plan to try and PR the 5K an to take it easy on the 10K.  But I was surprised with how fast the first miles went on this course, even though I ran it last year.  I guess that’s what happens when you descend about 300 feet over two miles.  The first mile was slower due to the crowded field, but once I got separation, I felt like I was flying the whole race.

 

When I crossed the finish, I actually considered not doing the 10K.  My stomach wasn’t feeling too great, but it wasn’t anything major, and I had a 10 mile run scheduled in my marathon training anyway, so I put that negative thought out of my mind and walked up the hill.

 

In between

 

Not much to say here except that it takes a long-ass time to get up the hill and back to the start.  I finished the 5K at a decent time and so I decided to walk back to the start for the 10K.  I thought I had plenty of time but I made it back with under 10 minutes to go.  I bet it’s stressful to try and get back if you run the 5K slower.

 

10K Race

 

The 10K started within minutes after me getting back.

 

Miles 1-3

9:12 min/mile; 9:25; 8:05

 

I started the race with the intent of taking it easy.  I didn’t have a particular pace in mind, but thought I’d run at a clip that didn’t feel too terrible.  I was deliberately holding back the first mile and saw that it was still in the low 9s.  Again, this isn’t a testament to my athletic skill, but rather an indication of how the downhill really helps you out.  I stopped for a bathroom break at mile 2, and then when I continued, I found that the 8ish pace was comfortable.

 

Miles 4-6

 

8:17; 8:41; 8:51

 

Miles 4 to 6 started to suck.  It was getting hotter and more humid and more sunny.  You’re running on the highway and there’s no real relief from it.  Once I got to mile 5, I told myself to slow down.  By the end of mile 5, I was really looking forward to the finish line.  I did plan better this time than last year.  I got some decent sleep the night before, I brought a hat, I brought some water, I ate some gummies in between the 5K and 10K.  So I didn’t feel dehydrated and exhausted like I did last year, so I was able to get through these miles without much trouble.

 

Miles 6-6.2

[2:06]

 

I was able to finish the race strong.  When I got to the finish line, I saw Jess and Mini who both so kindly came to support me.  Mini’s face was so precious.  Jess told her that I was coming, and when I approached them, I could see her scanning the crowd for me.  She spotted me right as I passed them, I gave them a quick wave, and then Mini cried a lot when I ran by because she thought I left her.  It’s the kind of “sad but sweet” memory that I’ll always remember.

 

 

POST-RACE

 

I finished, collected both my medals, and found Jess and Mini.  We snapped a few pictures and then headed out.  One the way home, we stopped at Sugar Shack to treat us to a donut, and then we got pupusas to take home for lunch.

 

Overall, a fantastic race.  Some obligatory photos:

 

IMG-9751IMG-9752

 

And look at the difference from last year to this year.

 

Last year:

 

 

This year:

 

Race Report – 2018 George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler – 10 Miler PR!

Finish Time:  1:22:39 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  783 out of 4207

560 out of 1823 (male)

124 out of 325 (male division)

 

 

The PRs are getting crushed in 2018.  This is my fourth personal best of the year, my second one for the ten mile distance.  These runs are just feeling….good.  I feel like I’m coasting at the 8:30 paces, and feel like I’m pushing it but not too hard at the 7:45-7:50.  I’m not sure what’s causing the uptick in my run quality.  I think it’s partly due to strength training I’ve been doing over the week, and partly due to fact that I’m running less than my marathon training.

 

I really enjoy this race.  The course is fast, and beautiful, and the weather was perfect.  It’s not as crowded as the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, but it does have a decent turn out, and it’s organized very well.  The logistics are a bit tough, and that’s the only downside.  But I’m glad I did it in ’18 and I’ll plan to do it years to come when I can.

 

PRE-RACE

 

Unlike the past two races I’ve run, I actually came up with a plan for this one.  I knew that I had to because of the point to point nature of the run.  Last year, I had the idea of parking my car at the finish line and taking the closest shuttle from there.  It was a great idea in theory, which means that everyone else was thinking the same thing.  I made the shuttle, but the lines were long and I was afraid I’d miss it.  This year, I told myself that I’d plan it out a little bit better.

 

The planning was a bit more complicated because Jess ran the 5k with Mini.  Thus, I couldn’t drive to Alexandria to catch a shuttle.  And also, since the shuttles did not allow for strollers, Jess would have to park at the 5K starting line.  The tricky part is that when you finish, there are no shuttles back to either the 10 mile start or the 5K start.  So basically, that meant that we would have to figure out a way to get back to the car after the race was over.  Running with a baby made the logistics tricky.

 

As for my plan, I decided that I’d take an early shuttle at a different pick up point from last year.  So I got up at 5:30 and Ubered to the Eisenhower shuttle stop at 6:20.  As I left my apartment, the weather looked great, and I knew we were in for a good morning:

IMG-6937

 

I was in Mt. Vernon by 7, and thus had to wait about an hour for the race to start.  It wasn’t so terrible.  It would be nice to run with a friend next time, though, just to have the company.

 

I had a bit of a panic when I realized that my bib had the coloring of a 5K bib instead of a ten miler.  I was the only one there with an orange bib.  My fear was that my 10 mile time wouldn’t count, but when I worked it out in my head, I realized that as long as they had my name in the system properly for the ten miler, then it’d be alright.

 

It was fairly cold in the morning, so I grabbed a thermal sheet and basically just sat and waited for the start.

 

 

Miles 1-4

 

8:15 min/mile; 8:03; 8:11; 8:15 (GPS watch times)

 

Subconsciously, before every race, I segment the distance into manageable chunks to get through the mental aspect.  As the gun went off and I started running, my mind decided that miles 6-8 would be the toughest miles of the race.  So I was telling myself:  “just get to mile 6, then you’re going to run two hard miles, and after that, it’s just two miles to the finish.”  That breakdown seemed to work well for me, it kept me zen for the first half of the race.

 

The first mile is mostly downhill.  Looking at the stats, it’s a 90 drop for the first 0.7 miles or so.  This can be a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because of obvious reasons of running down hill, but a curse if you have not trained properly to run down hill, because it can kill your quads.  Fortunately, I’ve been doing tons of hill repeats around Capitol Hill, so that second part wasn’t a problem.  When we hit mile marker 1, I was surprised with how fast it felt.   After that point, I decided to just try and keep it at around 8 and see how it went.

 

It stays pretty flat after that downhill until you come up on mile 4.  There’s a hill, but it’s not too crazy, going up about 100 feet in 0.3 miles before leveling off.  I believe that I stopped for water at around mile 3 or so.

 

Miles 5-8

8:22; 7:48; 8:01; 8:25

 

As I mentioned before, my goal was to get to mile 6 however felt comfortable, and then to mentally push through miles 7 and 8 before coasting to the end.  This plan worked out just fine.  After the uphill to get to mile 4, mile 5 was relatively flat.  I looked at my watch when I crossed the half way point.  My previous PR at this distance was ~1:28, so I wanted to see what my time would be after five miles.  I was going much faster than my PR pace, my watch said 42 minutes, so I knew I had a chance to really crush that record.

The sixth mile has a big downhill, dropping about 100 feet in 0.3 miles or so.  So the sixth mile for me was the fastest of the race.  I coasted on mile 7, but then started to get a little tired on the eight mile.

 

Miles 9-10

8:30; 8:22

 

These miles were a little tougher than I thought they would be.  The ninth mile is a really sunny part of the run, and I think that had a lot to do with it.  I was afraid of my pace dropping below 9:00, and I also had this fear that I’d burn out and not finish, so I decided to try and just stay at 8:30 to finish, and not experiment with any crazy sprints at the end.  The last mile starts with an uphill on Union Street by Waterfront Park, but it’s looks (and feels) steeper than it really is.  The mental aspect of seeing a hill at the end of your run is deflating, but it builds your toughness when you get through it.  After that hill, it’s a flat run to the end.

 

POST-RACE

 

I met up with Jess and Mini and some friends.  Jess and Mini did the 5K, and I am very proud of both of them for coming out and getting it done!  We hung out for a bit before I picked up an Uber to get the car.  Then the three of us headed to a brunch place in Del Ray, where I had a massive order of sausage and gravy to celebrate another PR!

 

IMG-2630IMG-2637IMG-2648IMG-2652

 

IMG-6975

 

Race Report – 2018 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler – 10 Miler – PR!

Finish time:  1:28:03 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  4733 out of 16666

2919 out of 6793 (male)

666* out of 1360 (male division)

*yikes for that number

 

IMG-6814

 

This race continued my streak of PRs in 2018.  So far, I’ve recorded a personal best time for the 10k, half marathon and now the ten miler.  I’m going to see if I can PR all five this year, just two more left to go!

 

I almost didn’t run this race.  I was pretty sick during the week on Wednesday and Thursday.   Kind of out of no where, a really bad sinus flu.  So I didn’t run at all during the week, and almost blew off the race.  On Saturday, I was still unsure, but the journey to pick up my packet was unnecessarily difficult (and my own fault) and I had potentially put a friend out, so I figured the least that I could do would be to run it.

 

This race was absolutely gorgeous.  Race day lined up perfectly with peak bloom for the Cherry Blossoms, which is not a guarantee every year.  It was a beautiful morning too–sunny skies, not a cloud to be found.

 

PRE-RACE

 

The shennanigans started during the middle of the week, where I was knocked out of commission by a sinus flu.  I took the day off on Wednesday and slept the whole day, and also for a good part of the day on Thursday.  I figured I’d be in no shape to run 10 miles.  By Saturday, though, I was feeling better and thought I could do it.

 

The packet pick up should have been easy for me.  It was at the Building Museum, which is literally like two blocks from where I live.  I put it off on Friday, and then I figured I’d get it on Saturday afternoon.  But I didn’t plan properly.  We had family in town, so I was spending time with them in the morning/early afternoon, and then I went to a performance at the Kennedy Center starting at 2pm.  The packet pickup was ending at 4:45, which meant that after the performance ended, I had to ask a friend to race from Foggy Bottom to the Building Museum for me to register.  I made it, but traffic was terrible and I felt bad for the undue stress.  So, I figured, if I made a friend go through all this trouble, the least I could do is run.

 

The race for Sunday was a bit chilly.  Not bad for running, but a bit tricky to plan for the before/after portions.  Jess and family were thinking of meeting me down there afterwards, so I was thinking that I’d uber down and use the bag check to change clothes, but I decided that it’d just be easier for me to come back.  So I layered up and ran the 1.1 miles to the starting line.  It was a nice way to warm up.  I snapped a few pictures and got lined up.

 

IMG-6710

 

Miles 1-4

9:17 min/mile; 9:09; 8:46; 8:58 (GPS watch times)

 

This entire race is very familiar to me.  I run it all the time, so I felt like I was running in my back yard.  The first four miles go from the Washington Monument to Georgetown and back down through West Potomac Park.  The race is incredibly crowded.  Especially in the beginning, it’s hard to get in a rhythm.  I’ve learned to just enjoy that and not get all frustrated by it.  It’s part of the experience.  The first two miles went by a blur of bobbing and weaving.  I grabbed some water at a station at mile 3.  When I looked to see I had finished miles 3 and 4 in under 9 minutes, I told myself that I’d push for a sub-9 pace for the race, and thus should push for a PR.

 

When you get to West Potomac at around mile three, you get your first good glimpse of the beautiful blossoms.

 

IMG-6725

 

Miles 5-8

8:18; 8:27; 8:21; 8:20

 

This is the portion of the race where I decided to turn it up a bit and bank time for my PR.  This portion of the run starts with a turnaround in West Potomac Park and then a trip around the Tidal Basin before heading down through East Potomac Park to Haines Point.

 

Miles five and six felt fine.  I started feeling a little sick/dehydrated/tired at around mile 6.5.  Though the temperature was in the mid 30s, the sun was pretty strong, and I was sweating a lot.  I wore a few layers too, and I was starting to heat up.  I didn’t want to stop and take off my top layer because I didn’t want to toss it and didn’t want to bother tying it around my waste and running with it.  I figured that I’d just push to the finish.  I stopped for water and Gatorade, and that was a good decision because I felt like I needed it.  I was taking cold medicine all week, which is known for dehydrating you, and then I hadn’t run in several days.  So I didn’t want to push any of my luck out there.

 

Miles 9-10

8:56; 8:32

 

Miles 9 and 10 were the home stretch.  It’s a two mile run from Haines Point to the finish line at the Washington Monument.  This was my favorite part of the run because you’re literally running underneath so many of the blossoms.  Can’t ask for a more picturesque view than this.

 

IMG-6731

 

The race ends on a bit of an uphill, but it’s not terrible.  I checked my watch at mile 9 to make sure I’d break my PR, and when I was assured of that, I just coasted to the end.

 

POST-RACE

Crossed the finish and snapped some post race pictures:

 

IMG-6735IMG-6740IMG-6744IMG-6745

The only part I didn’t like about this race was the immediate finish line was lacking a bit in variety of food/drinks.  I got a bottle of water and then some pineapple cottage cheese.  To each their own, but having cottage cheese at the end of ten miles sounds like the worst idea in the world to me.  They had other snacks, bananas and granola bars, but you had to walk a bit of distance to the bag check area to get it.

 

I was deciding what to do, and thought that it might be a good idea to take off the sweaty base layer I had underneath.  I walked over to the bag check hoping that there would be a changing tent, but there wasn’t.  So then I decided to just sit down for a bit and enjoy the view of the mall.

 

When I was done resting, I thought about calling an Uber, and it wasn’t too bad, like 7 bucks to get home.  But I unwisely thought to walk a little away from the finish line with the hopes that it would take quicker to call an uber.  Big mistake because by the time I walked a few blocks away, the uber prices had surged to 20 bucks or so.  Since I was only a mile or so away, I decided to walk home.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it definitely felt colder walking than it did running.  And I was starving.  I stopped a bakery on the way home for an egg sandwich, and that bakery took like 25 minutes to make it.  So all in all, if I would have taken that uber initially (or better yet, if I didn’t make the decision to walk to the bag check area), I would’ve been home a good hour earlier.  No biggie, just a lesson for next year.

 

Beautiful day, great race, good day for another personal record!

 

 

 

Race Report – 2018 Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon – Half Marathon PR!

Finish time:  1:57:58 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  2849 out of 10372

1732 out of 4428 (male)

371 out of 793 (male division)

 

IMG-5898

 

This is my first half marathon of the year.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to run it or not.  My mom had a scan on Friday and I flew to Charleston for it.  I wanted to keep Saturday open depending on how that went.  Fortunately, by God’s grace, the scans continue to remain all clear.  So when I got back, I decided to register last minute (and pay the hefty last minute registration fee).

 

That night, I was kind of kicking myself for registering.  One, I thought I way overpaid for it–over $175 just to run it.  And I hadn’t really slept much the night before (about 3 hours of sleep), so I was just thinking that I should have skipped the race and not been so impulsive.

 

As always, I’m glad I ended up doing it.  After the first mile, the race just felt…fast.  I PRed it, and honestly felt like I had more left in the tank when I finished.  2018 has been off to a great start.  Someone did steal my water bottle (with my credit card in the side pocket), though, after I finished the race, which put a damper on an otherwise great morning.

 

PRE-RACE

 

I was super nonchalant about prepping for this one and getting to the start line.  The half and full both start at 8:30am, at 14th and Constitution, pretty much the same spot where the double I ran last week started.  I got up at around 6:45, hung out, played with Mini for a little while, and only started to get ready at around 7:30 or so.  The whole time, I was thinking that I shouldn’t have signed up, and if it wasn’t for the crazy high last minute registration cost, I might have skipped it.  But by about 7:50 or so, I grabbed an Uber and made it to the start at around 8:20.

 

It was a balmy 37 degrees, and unfortunately, I couldn’t find my running gloves, so I wore some random Under Armour football gloves I got from work one day.  Those didn’t really work well to keep my hands warm, but something was better than nothing.  I almost didn’t bring gloves with me, which would have been a total disaster.

 

Pre-start photo:

IMG-5869IMG-5871

 

Miles 1-4

9:58 min/mile; 9:22; 9:14; 8:39

 

The first mile was a little painful.  I wasn’t really warmed up and my legs felt clunky.  And those football gloves I was wearing were irritating the hell out of me.  I tried taking them off, and when I did, I spilled water inside my right glove, which made it super annoying when I put the gloves back on five minutes later because my hands were frozen.

 

At right around mile 2.5, I started feeling good though.  I sped up a bit at mile 3, and by mile 4, the sub-9 pace just felt easy.

 

Miles 5-8

9:02; 8:29; 9:37; 8:49

 

Based on the past two times I’ve done this run, I know that these four miles are the toughest ones, especially between mile 6 to 7.  There’s a hill climbing from Rock Creek Park up to Calvert street, about a 130 foot climb over half a mile.  I was prepared for it and knew it was coming, so it helped in comparison to years past.  Right before the hill, you pass a very somber area of the course, where the street is lined with pictures of soliders who were killed in action.  Seeing those pictures gets to me every time.  Seeing a picture of a kid, 20 years old, killed in action, it puts things in perspective.  It felt especially moving after having a child now.

 

I did run past a man who was running with two prosthetic legs.  Talk about inspiring.  And he was going at a decent pace too.

 

Miles 9-12

8:25; 8:30; 8:20; 8:24

 

These next four miles just felt great.  I almost couldn’t believe it.  It felt like I was on an easy run, and I kept looking at my watch and seeing a “8:25” pace.  I had decided at the half way point to look at my time and see if I could beat my PR (previously around 2 hours, 6 minutes).  It looked like I would easily be able to do that.  Then I looked to see if I could finish in under 2 hours, and with some painfully difficult math (impossible to do math while running), I realized that if I stayed under 9 minutes til mile 12, I’d be able to do it.

 

Miles 13 – end

8:24; 2:40

 

I finished strong to the finish line at RFK.  The only funny part was when I finished, I accidentally went down the marathon finisher’s chute versus the half marathon chute.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I almost left with a marathon finisher’s medal instead of a half, which would have been terrible.  I also was worried that my time wouldn’t officially register, and that my PR wouldn’t actually “count,” but that wasn’t an issue.

 

POST-RACE

I grabbed some chocolate milk, chips, and water and sat down on a grassy patch for a little bit.  I didn’t bring my beer ticket.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, and I wasn’t excited about drinking one after the race was over.

 

I decided to head back to the race course to cheer some people on.  I posted up at around mile 12.5 and cheered on the half and full finishers.  That’s always a good experience, you pick yourself up when you pick others up.  While I was clapping for the runners, though, I put my water bottle down near my feet.  I remember someone wandering nearby, and they must have taken my water bottle when I wasn’t looking.  Not sure why someone would do that.  Maybe they saw the pocket and thought there was money in there.  They weren’t half wrong, because I lost my credit card and my metro card.  I immediately canceled my card, which wasn’t a big deal, but then when I tried to uber home, I realized that my newly canceled card was linked to my uber account.  So I had to wait for Jess to text me a new card’s info, and then wait for the uber to come, which ended up costing a ton of money due to the surge.  This boring diatribe is intended to remind me of two things:  1.  Don’t take anything for granted, always keep an eye on your things; and 2.  Next year, have a better plan for leaving the race.

 

The post race problems aside, this was such a fantastic run!

 

Race Report – 2018 St. Pat’s Run Double (5K and 10K) – 10K PR!

5K

 

Finish time:  25:58

Placing:  271 out of 1255

193 out of 519 (male)

47 out of 93 (male division)

 

IMG-5668

 

 

10K

 

Finish time:  49:33 (PERSONAL RECORD)

Placing:  201 out of 1263

157 out of 563 (male)

42 out of 108 (male division)

 

IMG-5670

 

Double

Finish time:  1:15:31 

Placing:  96 out of 446

81 out of 224 (male)

23 out of 48 (male division)

 

This was a fun and funny race to run.  Originally, Jess and I both signed up for it, with the intention for us (and Mini) to do the 5K and then I’d complete the double afterwards.  But it was really cold in the morning, and Mini has just gotten better from her ear infections, so we didn’t want to put her through running in the 30ish degree weather.

 

It was a funny start to the race though.  Since Jess and Mini were not going, I decided that I’d just run to the start line, which was at 15th and Constitution.  I misjudged the distance, though, and I was late to the start of the 5K.  When I got to the start line, the 5K group already left, so I just continued running through the line up area and past the start.  So in essence, my 3.1 mile race turned into a 4.9 mile run.

 

But the cold weather made both of these runs fantastic.  Not so much fun to stand around in, but a lot of fun to run in.  I decided to push the pace a bit for the 5K and to try for a PR on the 10K, which I accomplished!

 

PRE-RACE

 

As mentioned above, I was late to the start line.  The old adage is true.  The start time for races come up on you faster than you think.  It was a cold morning, so I was layered up, and ran to 15th and Constitution.  I got to the start and just continued running since the 5K started.

 

5K Race

8:32 min/mile; 8:17; 7:59; [0:41]

 

The race starts right in front of the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African America History and Culture on 15th street.  It was a gorgeous morning.  Sunny and bright, and a bit windy coming off of the crazy wind storm we had in the region on Friday.

 

As mentioned, I ran about 2 miles from our condo to the start, so I was already warmed up.  Had I not warmed up, I probably would have kept to a 9ish min pace, but I was feeling good, and the cold weather and breeze were energizing me.  I kept a good pace the first mile and then decided to push the pace a bit.  Faster to get a decent time, but I wanted to keep some in the tank for the 10K.

 

I ran negative splits and finished with an 8:06 min/mile pace.

 

In between

 

The time in between races was actually pretty unmemorable.  I grabbed a bottle of water, texted Jess, and just waited again for the 10K to start.

 

 

10K Race

 

Miles 1-3

 

8:16 min/mile; 7:50; 7:39

 

I was feeling pretty good after the 5K, and decided that maybe I should push for a PR on the 10k.  My previous PR was 51:10 from the Lawyers Have Heart race last year.  I did some quick math in my head and realized that if I started at 8:30 and then kept an 8 minute pace, I’d break that record.  So that was the plan.

 

For the first mile though, I was feeling really good.  After a few minutes, I decided to push the pace to under 8:30 and see how it felt.  I was running strong, and wasn’t feeling winded at all.  So I decided to scrap my plan for simply beating 51:10, and instead go after a more elusive goal of a sub-50 run.  I told myself to run under 8 for the rest of the race.

 

So at mile two, I pushed the pace to 7:50.  It was right around this time when I passed a young woman in front of me, but then she sped up a bit and passed me right after.  I don’t think she was racing me, we just happened to trade places.  She was running at a good clip, around 7:30-7:45, so I decided to use her as a pacer for the rest of the run.  On mile three, my pace went up to 7:39.

 

Miles 4-6.2

7:41; 8:04; 7:43; [2:17]

 

The pacer plan was working well.  I felt good all the way until about mile 4.5ish.  Then, all of a sudden, I passed my pacer and thought “damnit, maybe I pushed it too hard.”  I continued onward, thinking I’m just going to keep it under 8, but for some reason it was harder to stay consistently there without staying step for step with someone else.  But by mile 5, she came roaring back, passed me in a blaze, and started pulling away.

 

Mile six started getting tough for me.  I was feeling nauseous, and was worried that I’d had to stop and walk before the finish, killing my chance for sub-50 when I was so close to it.  But I pushed through and figured, if I’m going to puke, I’ll just do it when I’m done.

 

The end of the run had a slight hill and then down to the finish.  I figured, I’ll just focus on getting up that hill, then check my watch and see where I’m at.  I got to the top of that hill at 49 minutes, and so I knew, unless I tripped and fell or something, I could ease off and get to the finish in sub-50.  A few people sprinted past me on that final stretch, but I was ok with it.  Just happy and proud to get a sub-50 PR on a day that I wasn’t planning on it!  I crossed the finish, and felt alright after drinking some water and eating a banana.

 

IMG-5608IMG-5609

 

POST-RACE

 

I hung out for a bit, and then Jess picked me up and we got bagels for breakfast.  The three of us were actually wearing matching green shirts.

 

IMG-5617IMG-5621IMG-5626

 

Later that evening, Michigan went on to win their second Big Ten Championship in men’s basketball, which was a great way to end that day!

 

 

 

 

Race Report – EOD Warrior Holiday Dash Half Marathon – PR!

Finish time:  2:06:29 (PERSONAL RECORD!)

Placing:  85 out of 162

IMG-4495

With the year is winding down, I was looking back at the races I did this year and I realized that since Mini was born I have run races at all the standard distances except for the half marathon.  And so I set out to do a half before the end of the year.  And then, just as I type this, I realize that I actually had run a half marathon about a month ago (the DC Half and Half, though not an official race), so maybe I never needed to run this.

But I’m glad that I did.  I’m always glad that I go out for a run.  It may feel painful to go through the process, just like it’s sometimes painful to go through the process of writing, but when I’m done, I’m glad I did it.  It was a cold morning, fresh off the first winter snow.  Even up until the race, as I sat in my car to keep warm, I thought about going back home.  But I didn’t listen to that devil on my shoulder, went out and ran, had a great conversation with a stranger, and set a personal record.

PRE-RACE

I saw this race and kept my eye on registering.  I was traveling to South Carolina on the Friday before for an appointment with my mom, and so I waited until Saturday to register in case something came up.  Thankfully, the appointment went very well, my mom is still cancer free (!) and so I went forward with registering.

I snowed briefly on Saturday, and since this race happens on a trail, I was a little concerned about the conditions.  That, and I haven’t really run very much at all recently.  Ironically, the last two longish runs I’ve done have both been in very cold weather (below freezing).

Anyway, the race started at 8:30 in Georgetown, and I headed down there by 7:30 to pick up my packet.  It was cold.  The thermometer on my car said 34 degrees, the windchill was 29.  I sat in my car and debated coming back home.  But then I figured that, at most, I’d be done in 2.5 hours, so why not just run the thing.  Kind of weird logic, I know.

I stepped outside and snapped some pictures, but even as I walked over to the start, I thought about turning around.  The mind is a powerful thing.

IMG_4399IMG_4402

My goal was to try and PR, but really to keep under at 10 min/mile pace.

Miles 1-4

10:02 min/mile; 9:31; 9:27; 9:18

The course is pretty straight forward.  It’s an out and back along Capital Crescent Trail which later turns into the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath.  The trail was a little slippery for the initial mile or two.  And it was pretty muddy.  But the scenery was beautiful.

IMG_4418

Miles 5-8

9:31; 9:32; 9:51; 9:32

Right around mile 5, I started chatting with a fellow runner.  And we ended up running the rest of the race together.  Experiences like this are exactly why I love running in races–I always seem walk away from every race with a positive experience and interaction.  She was running this race to complete 100 miles of race running this year.  Which then got me to thinking, how many miles in races did I run this year?

If I don’t count the DC Half and Half, the answer is 90.3 miles of racing.  If you do count the H&H, it comes to 100.3 (I ran only 10 miles of it).  So technically, I guess, I too was trying to pass 100 miles of race running this year too.

Miles 9-12

9:31; 9:32; 9:51; 9:51

As mentioned above, the race kind of went by quickly from here because I had a running partner to chat with.  When we got to the end of mile 12, I was actually kind of surprised that we were almost done with the race.

Miles 13-end

10:00; 1:01 

Once I recognized we were at the last mile, the race felt long again.  I guess I had spent the whole morning dreading the race, and then for most of it, I had unexpectedly forgot that I was really running.  And when the finish was coming up, my legs started to feel heavy again.  But from the glances down at my watch, I knew that I was going to PR, so I felt great.  PRing a half marathon in the snow, nothing like it!

Post-race

After sprinting to the finish, I collected my medal, which was a kind of cool bottle opener.  This was a pretty small event, so there wasn’t much of a formal finish, but it was still well done. I grabbed some of the snacks and water laid out, said goodbye to my race friend, and headed back to my car.

As I drove home, I started to think a lot about some of the perspectives I gained through the year, and how this race was a bit of a microcosm of that.  I decided to put my own negativity and nay-saying behind me and go for a run in the snow.  I reached a personal best, had an unexpectedly great experience, and had a nice conversation with a one-time stranger.  All in all, a pretty good run.