This weekend I completed my 23rd marathon (!!!) at the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. If you haven’t checked out my Instagram –> do that for the play by play. 

It was even more fun to travel to Washington, D.C. for this race because I got to hang out with Melissa! We haven’t seen each other since I moved away from Austin so it was really fun to catch up on everything about running and life. 

With Melissa | Crazy Running Girl

We both flew in on Friday and went to Founding Farmers for dinner (SO good). The next morning, we let ourselves sleep in (they say that two nights before the marathon is the most important night for sleep and I’m not going to argue) before we head to the expo. 

They moved the expo this year so it was at National Harbor instead of the Armory and it was a bit of a hike and away from where we were staying (about 1/2 mile from the start and finish area). It seemed like an odd location and I don’t really know why they had it all the way out there. 

Marine Corps Marathon 2016 | Crazy Running Girl

 

We picked up our packets and enjoyed the views before we left for a relaxing afternoon at the hotel. I feel like spending a few hours off my feet for a few hours the afternoon before a race (even if not napping) makes such a difference. 

For dinner, we headed to Barley Mac, which was really close to our hotel, and I stuck with my new favorite — a simple fish dish with a carbohydrate: 

Dinner before the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon | Crazy Running Girl

 

Early bedtime, and up in the AM around 5:50 a.m. (5:51 a.m. to be exact) to head out the door around 6:10 a.m. After last year’s whole security debacle, they were recommending that you show up at least two hours before the race (!!) so I was really paranoid that we were going to be stuck in security lines for hours. 

Security line at 2016 Marine Corps Marathon | Crazy Running Girl

 

^ That’s not the best picture, but you get an idea of what it looked like around 6:30 a.m. coming in to the race start from the north. We didn’t have any bags, so we were able to get in relatively quick, but still had a good 20 minutes to walk to the starting area. 

It was already pretty warm in the AM, so we really didn’t have any throwaway gear. 

Marine Corps Marathon 2016 | Crazy Running Girl{P.S. how awesome are these shorts from Brooks!? When there’s light on them like the flash from the camera, they light up like that… perfect for dark runs!}

 

I hate when you start a race that warm and as a side note –> I didn’t focus on this race too much since I just ran Twin Cities Marathon and this was more for fun (now if that doesn’t define crazy, I don’t know what does :)). BUT, I am still kicking myself that I didn’t think to bring salt pills because they were sold out in DC the day before at every place I looked. 

Anyways. 

Marine Corps Marathon 2016 | Crazy Running Girl

 

We started at 7:55 a.m. and I feel like a lot of the miles during the race were a blur. I know the first three miles were easily the toughest — I already felt sweat dripping down my forehead and under my compression socks — because of the hills we had to climb. 

I loved what followed —> a huge downhill, where my Garmin told me that I was running around a 7:30 (WHAT). My legs weren’t feeling the freshest and I know for the first part of the race, I was really doubting my ability to even finish this race. 

From there, I was in my head and don’t really remember the miles that followed until we got to the Blue Mile, where for a mile, they had pictures and birthdates for Marines who were killed while on duty. They had dates of their deaths and noted whether they were killed in action. It was an extremely humbling mile and honestly made me almost start crying just thinking about all the families that they left behind and everything that they sacrificed for our country. It’s absolutely incredible what people to do to secure our freedom and it’s something that I feel like we do not recognize enough. 

After that, I started to feel the good old wall come into play… I’m not sure if it’s because I’m so close to my last marathon or if it was the weather, or a combination of both, but my legs were not happy. I started feeling the hills in my hamstrings and vowed that for next year’s Boston Marathon, I would train on hills. I also started to feel a little bit bored and I have no idea why —> this race covers a lot of the most beautiful areas of D.C. and we were running along the National Mall at this point. 

I was in my head and not feeling the best until I got to about mile 19, right around when we went over the bridge to Crystal City, and I got a little burst of speed.

Course map for 2016 Marine Corps Marathon | Crazy Running Girl

 

The Pentagon/Crystal City were not my favorite either — there were a lot of out and backs, so I mostly focused on runners running the opposite direction who were a good 10-15 minutes ahead of me at this point. 

I started to feel like I was fading around mile 22 (which I think most people would technically define as blowing up… it happens), which is when the 3:45 pacer passed me, and I had nothing to fight for it. I drank a mix of Gatorade and water at every water station, and took my gels when I usually do (mile 4 with half a gel at mile 7, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 23). 

It wasn’t until 25 when I felt like the heat was getting to me; there were a few moments where I seriously considered jumping off to the side so I could throw up but I fought it off, in time for the cramping to start. It didn’t get bad until the last hill at mile 26, but runners all around me were dropping off because of terrible cramps in their legs and I kept telling my body to behave and not make me stop because I knew I wouldn’t have a solid chance of starting back up if I had to pull over to the side. 

Speaking of that least hill at mile 26 —> it’s such a jerk! You are running along where you start, and then you have to veer off to the left. So you see this hill right after you start and you think that doesn’t look SO bad, and then you get to hit at the end and it looks like you are about ready to climb Everest. 

Once you climb the hill, you make a sharp right and have a little bit before you hit the finish. I can tell you right now, I’ve never been so happy to see a finish line. 

3:50.56

Waiting for my medal from my Marine | Crazy Running Girl

 

Initially I was tracking at about a 3:45, which in my head seemed like a suitable goal, but I fell off — a combination of not being trained and also, the heat. I am really happy with this time — the Marine Corps Marathon is definitely an incredible experience and unlike any other marathon. 

There are so many inspirational people that run this race. I passed this guy, and also saw tons of wheelers and people running in someone else’s honor. Running is such a personal sport, and I think everyone does it for their own reasons — seeing some of the reasons why other people run only make me more inspired. 

Similar to the Dallas Marathon in 2014, there were some moments where I wanted to walk — but I thought about all of the Marines surrounding me and didn’t want to disappoint them — the people who have sacrificed everything for our country, and here I am not being able to make it through a few miles? 

I mentioned on my Instagram post that this wasn’t my favorite course. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t. There are plenty of pieces of the course that are absolutely gorgeous. They run through the best parts of D.C. But there are other parts where you do some out-and-backs, and stare at other runners going the other direction, and those aren’t my favorite. I also wasn’t a big fan of Crystal City, where it felt like they were just trying to get some of the miles in to call it a marathon. 

Finisher Medal at Marine Corps Marathon 2016 | Crazy Running Girl

 

That being said, it’s an incredible experience. The Marine Corps Marathon has a different vibe than any other marathon that I’ve run — perhaps why it’s called “The People’s Marathon.” There’s something so humbling about conquering 26.2 when you have inspiration and people who have sacrificed everything around you. 

I’m not sure if I will be back to the Marine Corps Marathon, but I would definitely recommend that you run it at least once. I think the lottery is one of the easier ones to get in to, and they also have some charity options as well. 

Marine Corps Marathon 2016 | Crazy Running Girl

Have you ever run the Marine Corps Marathon? What did you think? 

What’s the worst weather you’ve ever run a race in? How did you make it to the finish? 



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