Tag Archive | Marine Corps Marathon

Best Marathon Signs

We’ve all done the long lonely training runs.   We can all admit that they suck.  Part of it really is not the running, because we all love that or we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing.   Now I’m not saying that anyone has woken up early for a training run and thought, “I am so excited to be running 18 miles.”   If they have, these are the people I worry about.  We do them because we know that we need to do them.   We do them because we are looking at the bigger picture.    We do them because if we didn’t, we know that we probably won’t reach our goals and might not cross the finish line.

Somehow though running all those miles in a race is different.   It’s actually easy to figure out.

The excitement of the start line.

The comradery of the everyone else lined up with you.

The bling at the end!

Cheering families along the course

Cheering strangers along the course

Great motivating signs!

I had all of these during MCM.   I wish that I could have taken a picture of some of the great signs that I saw along the way.   Being as I was running my heart out, I didn’t stop to take any pictures of the signs along the course.

First I MUST mention the Blue Mile.   For those of you not familiar, this is a group that is dedicated to honoring our service members for their sacrifice and to remember all that was given.   Their slogan is Wear Blue to Remember and you can find out more about them here.   This was a VERY moving mile at about the half way point of the race where the have signs with pictures, names, age, and where the soldier died.   The runners around me all went through this mile quietly.   I know that as I looked at each the signs that I passed, I reflected on all those lost lives.   So many.   So young.   Broken families.    I wanted to cry for them.   I wanted to run for them as a way of running for those that could no longer.    Then at the end of this reflection, you depart into a sea of American Flags held by volunteers many of you know are there for personal reasons.   They pumped you back up with high fives, cheers, and just being there.   I can honestly say that this was the most memorable mile that I think that I have ever run in my life.

There were the other signs along the race.   There were more than a few that made me laugh out loud.   For real!    So I thought that I would share them.   For obvious reasons, I did not get any pictures of them as I was kind of busy running.   So these pictures will have to do…

Sign Sign2

Then there were these two…




These are much, much, much better than “You’re almost there” which we all know is a lie!

What was your favorite race sign?

Road Trip!

We all makes mistakes.   We all look back and think well I should have done it this way instead of that way.    These same things apply to a marathon.   Some of them although not the correct choice for the marathon were the correct choice for a weekend away with my Mom and sister that I’m not sure I would change.   If I was racing for the win, yes but I’m only running for me.   The journey is just as important.

The Hotel

Not knowing the city or the lay of the land which would be true for any destination race does make it difficult.   I did what I could.   I got the hotel, Sheraton Pentagon City, from the Marine Corps Marathon list of hotels.    I went on Google Maps to try and get an idea of where it was in relationship to everything.   It was a little apart, but it was also a little more reasonable priced than those right in DC.  Don’t get me wrong it was a beautiful hotel with very comfy beds, and an easy shuttle service to Metro.   The downside is that once the race was over we then had to navigate a way back to the hotel to get my car.   My sister checked us out and packed the car before they went out to cheer along the race.   When it’s all said and done though I think the comfy beds were a good choice.

My second mistake with the hotel though is that it would have been nice to stay over the actual night of the Marathon.    BUT I am a mother of three boys and a husband who works long hours, so I needed to be home Monday morning.    The real downside to not having a hotel to go to after the race is that I had nowhere to shower.   Now I don’t know about you but I don’t normally smell that sweet after a 5K let alone a marathon that I got rained on some.    I did manage to change and wipe away some of the grime, but I really did not feel human again till I got in a shower at almost 9:00 PM.    Best shower ever!

One thing that I did do right with the hotel though was to go in on Friday instead of Saturday.    This way, we were able to get up at leisure Saturday morning and feel rested for the day.   I think if I had to choose going in a day early is better than staying a day later.

The Tourist


I’ve never been to DC.   My mother hasn’t been since she was in High School.  This made us want to tour the city especially because I honestly don’t know when I would be going back.   Would love to, but don’t know when or if that will happen.  There is so much to see in such a short time.   I think I only saw 1% of it before the marathon and honestly during the marathon I probably missed a lot too.   But even with only seeing a small portion of it, I probably walked 6 miles on Saturday.   Probably not the best thing to do the day before a marathon.


My sister’s boyfriends pre race plan includes spending the day watching movies and lounging.   I made fun of him for this, but I think there is something to this.  Although I do think that is to the extreme.   Maybe we should have found a happy medium where we toured in the morning, but made in back to the hotel before 9:00 PM.    We could have sat by the pool in the afternoon.    Although again, I’m back to I wanted to see DC.   So it’s a choice you have to make.   I’m happy with mine and I can live with it.   Besides, I got to see some amazing sites.


The Food

This is the part that I would and will change in the future.   Since we were being tourists, we really didn’t know where we would eat.   We just played it by ear.   This was a BIG mistake.   Although we found a great Irish Pub for lunch that was super yummy, we did not have such luck for dinner.    The appropriate places were few and far between as I did not want to eat anything out of the ordinary and spicy.   We walked and walked and walked searching for the elusive perfect non fancy, non spicy place to eat.   Finally we just gave up and went into one.   I ordered what I thought would be the best choice.   On the menu it really was the best choice, but when the dish came I really did not enjoy it.   I ate what I could as I knew that I needed to eat.    It wasn’t enough.

The funny thing was that at this point my sister was meeting a friend who lived in DC and my Mom and I were going to take Metro and the shuttle back to the hotel.   We get off the Metro line and sit down to wait for the shuttle.   Look up and literally across the street is a California Pizza restaurant.   Seriously.   We run over grab something to go and race back to catch the shuttle.   By this time though, I really don’t want to eat but do manage to eat some more of the yummy pasta.

When I told my coach this, she said this is why she always takes food when she is traveling to an event because you never know.   She said some people think that it is strange that she travels with food, but I think she might be onto something here.    Either that or next time, I will make reservations!

The Company


As some of you know, I got into Marine Corp through the lottery.   I personally did not know anyone going, so I would have been flying solo without my family.   I do remember though that the first thing my Mother told me when I got into the marathon was that she was going with me.   Then my sister decided to join in on the fun too.    They made the trip so worth it.    Jen, my sister, even commented on how sad it would be to be there alone.   She is so right.   I could not imagine crossing the finish line and having no one to share it with.  Besides it made for an awesome girls weekend!


How do you plan for your destination races?

Random Thoughts During a Marathon

MarathonMemeThere isn’t just a lot of truth to this.

This is a fact!

But before we get to mile 26, lets go back to the beginning!

I started the race with the thought that I was going to go for my B plan of 4:30.   My A plan is just a dream, but you’ve got to have one of those anyway.    It was a cool morning with a very light drizzle as we were waiting for the start of the race.  The race started and I was near the 4:30 pace group.   We hovered around each other all day, but alas they finished where they were supposed to.   I felt strong during the first half of the race.   I remember thinking around the half way point how good I was feeling, how much my training had helped me get to this point, and was just having an amazing race.

My pace was good.

My legs felt strong.

I was on fire.

Then as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.   My legs still felt strong.   It really was never my legs that gave out on the run.  As the saying goes, running is a mental sport.  By mile 22, I was having a full on conversation with myself about how absolutely stupid running a marathon was.   It went something like this:

Who ever started the first marathon was an idiot.

How stupid is it to run these things.   I mean really, does it really matter if I run 26.2 miles.

What is the point of this?

Why am I doing this?

I dragged my Mom and sister to come watch me do this!   What is wrong with me?

Then I hit another mile and realized that if I would just shut the hell up, that I might actually finish this race.   The conversation changed to:

You are this close, you might as well finish this.

You didn’t drag you Mom and sister here for you not to finish.

You can throw up later.

You want that cool medal don’t you?

It’s up to you.

Then my sister met me for the last two miles and ran along side me.   Even though that was my slowest mile, it was my best mile as she encouraged me to finish.   I didn’t throw up although I thought I might.   I didn’t give up, although a big part of me wanted to.   Then I hit mile 25 and knew that I could finish it.  Then I hit mile 26 and hit my fastest pace of the day 8:23.   So there really is more left in the cup when you think it is empty.

My advice to anyone running a marathon in the near future is to make sure that when you hit mile 20, you tell yourself to shut the Hell up.    They are right when they say that the Marathon really doesn’t start till mile 20 because that’s when the fun really begins.

So enjoy the ride.

Stay true to yourself.

Never give up and remember

You Got This!

Mission Accomplished

mcm3Well it’s over with now.    Can’t believe it.    Happy, Relived, Sore, and now wondering what is next.   But there will be time to sort that out.    So there is SOOOOOO much to tell that this will probably take a few days to get through it all.    I also want some time to reflect.   Today will be about the numbers…

MCM4This was a personal record from Philly by 8 minutes and 6 seconds and as Dawn pointed out on a harder course.   So yes, I was happy.   Between you and me though I was shooting for an even 4:30, but you know it just wasn’t the day for that.

I felt strong in the beginning.   Really strong.   Literally by mile 10 I was thinking how much my training was working for me.  It really was.   As you can see by my splits, I was on the money right up until the 40K.   I lost it a little but even in loosing it, I still had overall good splits.   In retrospect, could I have pushed it a little more.  Probably, but even with walking a bit towards the end due to stomach issues I still am pleased.

These are the numbers

Age Place for Females 45-49

344 out of 1318

Gender Placement

3291 out of 10,428

Overall Finish

9,445 out of 23,197

And a steady pace for most of the race.

I would say

Mission Accomplished.


I think this may be my favorite medal ever.  Love it!

Stay tuned for more on this epic weekend as there is so much more to this race than the numbers, but being as I have been away for a few days there is much to be done at home.

Do you have a favorite piece of bling?

Just Keep Running, Running, Running

Thankfully today is a Rest Day.   Ok, actually I should do some swimming or Yoga.   Maybe I will, but honestly I probably won’t.   I might take a power nap later if that counts.   Doesn’t it?

So how did these last 2 days go?

Pretty good if I do say so.

Let’s start with the Cut-Down.    I went into this confident and I do think that might make a bit of a difference.   What has also helped is that the temperatures cooled  to perfect fall temps.    Yes, indeed, that makes a  huge difference. I have to say this was hands down my BEST cut-down.   I felt good.   I felt confident and my splits are very pretty if I do say so myself and I do:)   I did need to stop around mile 5 as I thought I had something in my shoe.   Took shoe/sock off and all looked good until I got home with bloody toe.   My feet are going to need some major TLC when Marine Corps Marathon is over.   Without further ado, here it is:


Total Time: 1:40:02

Splits: 10:53. 9:56, 9:54, 9:48, 9:42, 9:35, 9:25, 9:11, 9:09, 12:30

Pretty sure I was about to have a heat attack by the end of mile 9, but then I remembered this was supposed to be hard and pushed till the end of the mile.  I do admit as soon as my watch marked the mile, I slowed down.  A lot!
I did this run in the afternoon which did concern me as I was planning on my 18 the next morning.    The whole point of the 18 though was to run on tired legs and that’s what I did.    I plotted out a route not that I ever follow it exactly, but it is enough to get me where I need to go.   I started this run with some of my fellow MRTT Mama’s and we did about 6 miles together.   Then off to face the miles alone.   This was a good combination as I will ultimately be running the marathon alone.
I used a combination of shot blocks, sports jelly beans, Gu, and at mile 12 I stopped to refill my water bottles at a Dunkin Donuts.   If you know me, you know that I can’t NOT get a coffee.   So I took a 5 minute coffee break and gulped down a small (which I never get) iced latte.    I’m not really sure that I would do it again.   Although maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to do since I did finish my 18.
Although, I did get a little help from my friends:):)
As I said, I had my run plotted out.   I planned to stop at mile 16 at my friend Genine’s house as she offered to leave water in a cooler for me.   I’ll be honest once I stopped I REALLY didn’t want to start up again.   But not only was she sweet enough to leave me the water in a cooler, but an inspiring note that really did help push me to keep moving.   It became my temporary mantra, “Finish Strong!”
Finish Strong
So I kept going, chanting until I hit the hill.   I didn’t intentionally plan to end my run on a hill, but it seems to happen to me a lot depending on the way I go.   I think this is a positive thing as we all know running up hills is good training.   The I remembered that the Marathon ends on a Hill literally!   So then I changed my mantra to….
Hey it worked, because I had really good splits at the end.

Moving Time 3:08:26

12:45, 13:01, 10:39, 10:35, 10:46, 11:12, 10:25, 10:32, 10:17, 11:11, 10:52, 10:20, 10:35, 10:32, 11:21, 10:38, 10:18  & then since Garmin didn’t record whole 18 2.36
You Ran How Far?
So today, I am tending to my feet.   Doing some stretching and just as importantly catching up on all the things that I have let slide while putting in the miles.

How do you balance it all?

Feeling Good, But Not Too Good!

So just because I didn’t train for my Tri, does not mean I’m not serious about my training.   If you’ve been here for a bit, you know that although I do like to have fun with my running; I do not take it for granted.   I run.   I run hard.   I train.   I train hard.   All of my races including the Tri have been about preparing for my goal race, The Marine Corps Marathon.   Everything else is just gravy.

That being said, don’t tell anyone but I’m starting to feel strong and confident in my training.   I am by no means feeling cocky or like I could slack off at all.   I’m also by no means thinking that this is going to be a cake walk. I’m just feeling good about it.   I’ve had a good training week and today was a rest day.   Who could ask for more.


Tomorrow, I have a 10 mile cut-down.   I’m still trying to figure out when I’m going to fit it in my day.   It’s going to be a hard run.   It’s going to be a fast run.   But believe it or not, I am excited to be attempting to tackle it.   I will give it my all and then some.   So what exactly am I doing tomorrow?

1 mile warm up @ 11:00
2 mi @ 10:05-9:55 (+/- 5secs)
2 mi @ 9:55-45 (+/- 5 secs)
2 mi @ 9:40-30 (+/- 5 secs)
2 mi @ 9:10-20 (+/- 5 secs)
1 mile cool down @ 11:00

Doesn’t that sound fun?

I didn’t think so either, but it does sound like a challenge.


I do love a challenge.

If that isn’t enough,

It will be followed by hopefully 18 miles on Monday.

Yup, I’m in the thick of it now.

There is no time to step back because there are only 35 days left.

No time to back down.

No time to not give it all I’ve got.


What’s Your Plan?

So as you know, I’ve been following a plan.   A very specific plan with specific paces, miles, fuel requirements and such.   I’ve never followed a plan so strictly before.    I think the closest that I’ve come when I was training for the Runner’s World Hat Trick but even then I was a little more flexible with my plan.    Now, I do love having a specific plan that I know is designed to help me maximize my running potential and will have me prepared for the Marine Corps Marathon.    That being said, you do have to give up something when following your plan so strictly.

I miss running with my friends:):)


Now don’t feel sorry for me and I will also admit to being a little hormonal as I write this, but I do miss the ability to just join in any run that my group is having.   Now part of this is me as if I have a plan to follow, I need to follow it.   Plus I am paying to have this plan made for me, so I really need to follow it.  And part of it, I don’t want to have to tell my running coach that I ignored her very well thought out weekly plan for me:)

I know that some of this is also a learning curve as I adjust to following a plan so strictly and I will learn to fit the group runs into my schedule as I was doing in the beginning.  Now that the kids are off from school it really does make it a little harder on  everyone’s schedule too. Plus I can now officially say I am in Marathon Training.  I will adjust.   Right now, I’m still trying to work my summer runs into my summer schedule.   Trying to decided when to run and knowing that on some days I’m going to have to run EARLY.   I don’t mind leaving them for short runs, but I don’t like the thought of being across town if they need me.  I’m still trying to work my runs into my schedule with the boys, let alone a group schedule.

Plus I’ve been working very hard on my pacing and I need to make sure that I keep that up.   I feel like I am finally getting a handle on things.   I don’t want to loose that.   I am learning how important it is to be able to regulate my pace and I need to keep working on that to improve it as I’m learning how important that will be in the actual marathon.   So if my 6 mile run has a specific pace for it, I need to run that pace.   Then my recovery runs might be too slow for the group as I am running them at 11+ paces and I need to keep them slow.   Many of my running friends are also beginning their Marathon Training too.    We all have our own training plans to follow as ultimately we each have to walk to the starting line of our events.

Maybe part of this mumble jumble is the fear of beginning marathon training.   To know that it’s real.   To know that it’s only a short 113 days away.   I don’t know.   What I think is that maybe I should go get a chocolate bar and I will feel much better.   That and getting my run in today!

Are you following a plan?

How flexible are you with your plan?

Word of the Day

Definition of MARATHON

1:  a footrace run on an open course usually of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometers); broadly :  a long-distance race

2a :  an endurance contest

b :  something (as an event, activity, or session) characterized by great length or concentrated effort
My mother like many non runners does not know the distance of a marathon.  She’s getting better.   When I first started running, she called all my races marathons and would tell everyone that her daughter was a marathon runner.   It used to make me feel like a fraud until I actually ran one.  Now she can say it.   She’s learning now and asks how far I’m running.  If your a runner, you know that a marathon is 26.2 miles, but you also know that it is so much more than that.   It is a run that will test your endurance.    It will test your dedication and determination.   It will test your sense of reason and logic.   It is so much more than miles.
So Much More!
I have only ever completed one marathon, The Philly Gortex, and crossing the finish line was an amazing experience made more special by the surprise visit of my mother and sister.    It was a total surprise and I really don’t know if I could have finished without their support as I was thinking of just doing the half instead of the full.   You can read more about Philly in my Hang on Snoopy post.
This was the moment where I went from thinking of giving up, to the moment where I knew that I had to finish.
My Mother’s excitement was contagious and I heard her over the announcer saying, “Half Marathoners finish to the right”  which made me stay to the left.   Running a marathon is more than just putting one foot in front of the other although at some points you must remind yourself to do that.   A marathon is a mental game from start to finish.
It is mental game just with the first thought of signing up and it only gets more intense.
In 2014 according to Marathon Statistics there were 590,145 marathon finishers for races in the U.S. and Canada.
Here are the Statistics from the 10 biggest Marathons again in the U.S. and Canada
When you are in a running group where so many of the Mama’s have run multiple marathons, you start to think that everyone has done one.    Then you realize that is not the case as the numbers don’t lie.   I am happy to see that the Philadelphia Marathon made the top 10 list of largest marathon finishers and happy to be in that number.   This year I am running the Marine Corps Marathon and in 2016 I hope to run the biggest marathon, the New York City Marathon!
Hmmm, then maybe I should start making travel plans for the other ones:)    Wouldn’t that be nice.   I can dream the dream.   One never knows as the oldest woman marathon finisher just competed a marathon last month at the age of 92!
For now, it is nice to know that I’ve completed one, am training for my second, and will run the ultimate marathon in 2016.
  One marathon at a time:)
Have you ever run a marathon?
Is it on your bucket list?

Marching Onward…..

As many of you read, I got into the Marine Corps Marathon in October.   I’ve told the people I need to tell and now am moving onto the planning stage.  Yes, I know it’s 7 months away but it is never to early to plan:)   Besides, I don’t know ANYTHING about getting around DC.  Yes, I’ve got 7 months, but that will go quickly.   So much to do and so much to think about.

The first think I’m thinking though is I’m nuts.   Then again if you know me or have been reading this blog long enough you might already realize this.    I just really don’t know what possessed me to enter the lottery.   Probably the thought that I could say that I entered it, but didn’t get in so I’m not running a marathon this year.   We all know how well that worked out.

Moving Along…..

My first concern outside of having to run the marathon is where will I stay.   I know nothing about DC or the course, but I quickly learned a few things.    I then looked at the available lodging and with any luck picked the right hotel.   It seems to be in the right area for the start and finish.   At least I hope so!!!   Either way, I’ve got that reservation booked and the rest I will work out.

I’ve looked at the course and have to say I’m excited.   I’ve never been to DC.   It’s been on the list.    I think to see it all this way will be an amazing experience.   It starts between Arlington Cemetary and the Pentagon.   Then me and 30,000 other people will wind through the streets of historic Georgetown on our way near the Kennedy Center.   Then we follow the course to the “Run To Honor” section where flags commemorate fallen soldiers.   Then continue onto views of Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History,  the National Art Gallery, the Capital Dome and other DC sites.   I’m thinking I want to just run with my camera, but I think I’ll be a bit busy to take pictures.   Busy trying to muster up the strength to “Beat the Bridge” at mile 20.    Yes, this marathon apparently ends on a hill.   Oh my!!!!     I didn’t have the energy to carry a single rose at the end of Philly, I’m not sure how I will manage this.   I think the momentum of the event will have to carry me through it.   That and I’m going to train, train, train and then train some more for this:)

Can you tell that I’ve given this some thought this weekend?

Now that the shock has worn off, I’m marching forward with my plan:)