2017 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Summary of the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon

Intro

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.

IMG_0061

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.

IMG_0219

Race Recap

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.

(Strava Data)

IMG_0076

Reflections

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Summary

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!

NJ Balloon Festival: Running With The Balloons 5k Race Report

Race report from the 2017 QuickChek NJ Balloon Festival 5k

Last month I ran in the Running with the Balloons 5k at the 2017 QuickChek Festival of Ballooning in NJ . It was an interesting venue with a unique start to say the least, and a very fun experience. This race report is a little late, so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

  • Distance: 5k
  • Goal: sub 18:00 and get a new PR
  • Date: 7/30/17

So let’s talk about this race!

The race starts out in a grass field, after the hot air balloons have made their morning ascent. That was an incredible sight to take in. After the balloons were off in the distance, it was race time.

The first half mile or so was on that grass field, and the footing was a tad tricky. There were large tire tracks (maybe tractor tracks) on the ground, so I had to be extra careful with how my feet were landing. It was nice and flat at least.

After the grass section we got to a gravel road, which then led to a normal paved road. On the paved road there were a couple of hills which I was not expecting. I thought the course would be almost entirely flat since it was on an airfield, but the off-airfield sections had the hills.

For the first mile I was in a group of about 5 people, chasing the lead pack. I soon realized that if I wanted any chance to catch the leaders I’d have to make a move early, so I separated from the chase group and took off on my own.

The course was pretty uneventful until you get back to the airfield. Unfortunately the leaders were too far ahead and I was never able to catch them, but the chase group didn’t catch me either. I finished about a minute behind the leaders, but also a minute ahead of my chasers, all on my own in that awkward little not-lead pack but not-chase pack spot.

My time was 17:40, a 22 second PR! I was really pleased with that result. It earned me 6th place overall and a little age group award medal.

After the race I hung out with my friend at the festival, picking up as many freebies and snacks as possible, and we stuck around for the evening balloon ascent where I was able to get a bunch of pictures.

All in all it was a successful race. It’s not every day you get to set a personal record and attend “the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America” (according to their website).

 

Have you participated in any special, unique races? Let me know!