The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the biggest marathons in the country and a huge celebration of all things running and all things America. This was my third marathon, my first being almost exactly one year prior (3:09 in Baltimore), and I had high hopes for this one. My aggressive goal was somewhere in the 2:46-2:48 range, but leading up to the race I wasn’t very confident in my training so I decided to shoot for that in the first half and play the second half by feel.
The morning went according to plan. I got to the starting area in plenty of time, ditched the hoodie and sweatpants I was wearing to keep warm (that I got from Goodwill the week prior), and when the gun went off it was ON.
0-5k|Net Time: 20:00|Section Pace: 6:26|Overall Pace: 6:26
Part of this section I took a little faster than I should have because I spotted Mike Wardian (legendary marathoner / ultra marathoner) and wanted to hang with him for a little while. I wish I said hi to him but keeping up with his pace at the time was a struggle and he eventually pulled away from me. After crossing the 5k mark I felt good and was happy with my pacing.
5k-10k|Net Time: 39:33|Section Pace: 6:17|Overall Pace: 6:22
Much of this section was downhill and I threw down some fast miles. I could tell going downhill at the speed I was would be something I’d be feeling later in the race, but it felt so good at the time that I couldn’t slow down.
10k-15k|Net Time: 59:03|Section Pace: 6:16|Overall Pace: 6:20
Still feeling strong, still feeling fast.
15k-20k|Net Time: 1:18:38|Section Pace: 6:18|Overall Pace: 6:19
Still feeling good but pace is slipping a little.
20k-25k|Net Time: 1:38:31|Section Pace: 6:19|Overall Pace: 6:20
I passed the halfway mark here in 1:23. I knew that was fast, and since I could tell my pace was already starting to slip my aggressive goal of 2:46 was out of the question, but was hopeful 2:48 was still in the running.
25k-30k|Net Time: 1:58:48|Section Pace: 6:31|Overall Pace: 6:22
The pain and suffering has begun…
30k-35k|Net Time: 2:19:47|Section Pace: 6:45|Overall Pace: 6:25
I think this part of the course went around some of the monuments in DC. Couldn’t take any pictures but I tried to soak it all in as my legs were screaming at me. It also started warming up by this time, but I was doing my best to stay hydrated and cool at each water station.
35k-40k|Net Time: 2:41:47|Section Pace: 7:05|Overall Pace: 6:30
My hopes of 2:48 were gone by now, I was just hanging on for dear life. The internal struggle of whether to throw in the towel and do some walking was growing as the pain in my legs grew stronger, but I’d regret it if I did so I kept marching onwards.
40k-Finish|Net Time: 2:51:30|Section Pace: 7:07|Overall Pace: 6:32
Towards the end there isn’t much crowd support which made the pain even worse. The finish line is at the top of a short but significant hill, and I did my best to run up it as fast as I could. I high-fived a marine and limped across the finish line.
I know I was capable of a better time. The temperature towards the end probably played a factor (it was up to the 70’s by the time I finished), but there were a couple of things I think I should have done differently for this race that would have helped my performance.
- Not start out as fast. This was is obvious but worth stating. It’s always better to start a little on the conservative side. I knew that but stupidly didn’t follow it.
- Wear better shoes. This was another dumb mistake I made. I’m long overdue for a new pair, the shoes I ran in have about 600 miles on them and I could tell early on that they’re best days were long behind them.
- Focus on training 3-5 weeks out. Right when my training should have been peaking I started changing things up and not putting in the quality workouts I should have. This probably affected my performance on race day but also my confidence.
Overall I still managed to get a PR and I’m happy with that. The course had some really beautiful sections which were nice to see along the way. Despite feeling awful by the end of the race I gutted it out and didn’t get injured, and for that I’m grateful.
For the next week or so I’ll be recovering but I can’t wait to ramp the training back up and start prepping for the next race.
Boston is only 6 months away!