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Marine Corps Marathon 2016 Race Recap

On Sunday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon – my third full marathon, but my first in nearly 3 years, so it felt kind of like the first time again. Wow – where to even start with this recap?! (Previous marathon recaps: Richmond Marathon in November 2013 and LA Marathon in March 2014.)

marine corps marathon 2016

This was not an easy race (or training season, due to our crazy hot and long summer and lots of travel) for me which makes me even more proud that I earned this medal. I really worked for this one!

marine corps marathon 2016 medal

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Matt very kindly offered to drive me near the start on race morning – we were out the door at 6:15 and snagged my friend Heather and her coworker Molly before ending up at my friend Sokphal’s place at 6:30! She lives right by Iwo Jima, where the race finish line is, and is only about a mile (or less?) from the starting line. Perfect! She normally runs this race and had a bib but unfortunately got injured about a month ago. :( So she was amazing and decided to be an excellent spectator instead – and also offered to be our bag check, so we dropped some stuff off at her place before walking over to the starting area. Thank you, Sokphal!!

There was a security check on the way to the start (right by Ft. Myer) which was quick and efficient, and the sun was just starting to rise as we arrived at the start shortly after 7 a.m.

MY OTHER RECIPES
 

marine corps marathon starting line

We had no problems, despite long bathroom lines, getting everything taken care of and lining up in our corral with 20 minutes to spare. Hooray – I hate being late and stressed on race morning!

marine corps marathon starting line

I was planning to aim for a 3:55 finish time, as you guys know, so we lined up in that general area. Heather and her friend were going for about the same, or around 4 hours.

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I wore an old pair of Matt’s socks (with the toe cut off – and yes, that’s lint and cat hair all over them – just keepin’ it real over here) on my arms to keep them warm before the start – although I barely needed them since it was already so warm out. Bad sign… if you’re comfortable temperature-wise just standing around at the start you’ll be way too hot once you’re running!

how to keep warm before a race

I ditched the arm warmers a few minutes before it was go time. And speaking of go time – how cool was this fly over they did right before starting the race?

marine corps marathon fly over

Here we gooooo!!!

marine corps marathon start

The energy at the start of this race was amazing – it was so exciting to be there in it! Everyone was pumped – let’s do this, DC. :) I felt so lucky to be running such an iconic race – living in DC, Marine Corps Marathon has been on my bucket list for awhile now. It was finally time to experience it!

marine corps marathon start

As usual at the start of a race, it was hard to get into my goal pace because of the crowds – I was doing some weaving but it was so packed that you couldn’t really get around people. Oh well – I just settled in best I could and prepared myself for what I knew was coming – a huge hill from mile 1 to 2. I was pretty nervous about the hill because I know how long and hard it is but to be honest it was totally fine – it was so early in the race it flew by and before I knew it we were done and moving on. Sweet – already on Spout Run headed towards the GW Parkway and Key Bridge!

marine corps marathon spout run

I was excited to run over Key Bridge and into Georgetown because I knew I’d have some friends out cheering for me – that always helps lift spirits so much! Plus, by the time we made it to Key Bridge we were already at mile 4.5 – nice.

We had some downhill after the big first hill which I used it to pick up some speed, but I was still pretty off on pacing between the earlier hill and the crowds. I figured if I felt good I could try to make up the time later. (I was aiming for 9 minute miles earlier on, inching down towards 8:50/8:55 later.)

  • Mile 1: 9:36
  • Mile 2: 9:20
  • Mile 3: 9:18
  • Mile 4: 8:40

Hello, Key Bridge!

marine corps marathon key bridge

My trainer Paul (of Capital Energy Training) was out cheering around mile 5 but unfortunately I missed him – but I did get to see my grad school buddy Steph and her husband Tom around 5.5! Such an nice boost when you see a familiar face during a race. :)

marine corps marathon georgetown

From Georgetown, we headed up into Rock Creek. I wasn’t really paying attention and at first was like, wow, are we on Hains Point already?! Darn – nope! We did an out and back – 2 miles total – in Rock Creek before coming out down on the Georgetown Waterfront.

marine corps marathon georgetown waterfront

I always love this part of races in DC – so many people out cheering right along the water and on the stairs leading up to the Lincoln Memorial! I kept an eye out for Matt, who I knew was out biking around to pop in on various parts of the course, but didn’t see him – darn!

marine corps marathon course

At mile 9, we entered Hains Point! I knew I was still off on pacing by this point and was starting to resign myself to the fact that it might not be my day for a PR – and you know what, I was okay with that, especially given that it was only going to get warmer out. Heat is not my friend for racing! New goal: enjoy the race and cross that finish line, no matter the time!

  • Mile 5: 9:21
  • Mile 6: 8:56
  • Mile 7: 9:13
  • Mile 8: 9:01
  • Mile 9: 9:03

marine corps marathon mile 9

Hains Point was very powerful because it’s where the Blue Mile was, which has photos of fallen military members lining the course. Everyone was very quiet during that mile – so many young faces and families in those photos. The organization that puts this on (they also have Blue Miles during Rock ‘n’ Roll races and other races) is called Wear Blue: Run to Remember; it is a national nonprofit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military.

the blue mile marine corps marathon

Following the photos were dozens (hundreds?!) of volunteers in blue holding American flags – so amazing.

blue mile marine corps marathon

It was a great reminder to run strong in honor of those who no longer can. <3

blue mile marine corps marathon

Hains Point can be a bit long and boring during races but I didn’t mind it – it went by quickly. By the time we exited, we were already just past mile 13.1 – half way done!

  • Mile 10: 9:18
  • Mile 11: 9:10
  • Mile 12: 9:19
  • Mile 13: 9:20

marine corps marathon course hains point

Hello, Washington monument!

marine corps marathon course

Coming out of Hains Point we ran down towards the Lincoln Memorial. This part of the course was insane – there were SO many spectators! The photo below doesn’t do it justice at all – they were packed in 4 people deep in some spots. So much great energy – it helped a ton!

marine corps marathon course

I was also super excited to see Matt around mile 15 – he actually thought he had missed me and was packing up and saw me last minute. Hooray! He was wearing a bright neon yellow zip up so I knew what to look for to spot him later. Perfect!

Miles 15 and 16 we were running down the National Mall towards the Capitol, and I was starting to feel pretty worn out – yikes because I still had so far to go. I was also having some really bad chafing under my arms – I was thrilled when I saw a couple medical tent people standing along the side of the course around mile 16 handing out popsicle sticks with vaseline on them. YES!! That was a lifesaver – I still have terrible chafing under my left arm in particular but I’m sure it would have been wayyyyy worse without the vaseline.

10 miles to go – I could do this!

marine corps marathon mile 16

I was looking forward to getting to the Capitol at mile 17, where I knew I could look forward to seeing my friend Kathleen and her husband and their baby out cheering. I spotted them no problem and Kathleen ran alongside me for a few seconds too to say hi – thank you guys so much for coming out, it helped a ton to see you! <3

  • Mile 14: 9:33
  • Mile 15: 9:33
  • Mile 16: 9:34
  • Mile 17: 9:31

I also saw Matt again at mile 17.5, just before the big bridge – it was an uncrowded area so he was able to bike alongside me for a second, which was fun. I was definitely feeling rough by this point but seeing him was another great boost. Hi Matt!

marine corps marathon

Just after mile 18, we hit the 14th street bridge. This is one of the hardest parts of the race, according to those I know who have run MCM in previous years – not only do you still have a long way to go but you have some slight uphill getting on the bridge, and it lasts for a long time (you get off the bridge almost at mile 20). Mile 18 of a marathon is also just a tough mile in general – you’ve gone so far but you still have a pretty long way to go.

marine corps marathon 14th street bridge

The bridge was definitely where things really went south for me – my left hamstring, which had started to feel tight a few miles earlier, basically started flipping out. I never stop during races and I actually had to stop for about 30 seconds twice on the bridge to try to stretch it out because it was bothering me so much. Oh man – how was I going to make it through 8 more miles of this?! I started wondering if I might have to walk the rest of the way, to be honest. But I did my best both times to quickly stretch, pull myself together, and get moving again. Running actually felt slightly better than walking and I knew running meant I’d be done sooner, so I kept going, but it wasn’t easy to motivate.

  • Mile 18: 10:02
  • Mile 19: 10:05

I’m pretty sure the hamstring situation was due to the crazy intense hike that I did the weekend before (that time I summited Mount St. Helens only a week before my marathon… not smart, I know), because my hamstrings are not something that normally bother me at all on long runs. If anything, it’s always my knees/calves that ache. Also, my left leg in particular (I think because I favored it more on the hike) was definitely more sore from the hike – it was basically sore until Thursday right before the race, which I knew was not a good sign.

I remember having this moment while on the Mt. St. Helens hike where I was about 1/3 of the way up. I thought to myself: “This is a lot more intense than I thought it would be. If I turn around right now and go back down or just wait for the others, my legs will be fine for next weekend. If I keep going, I know it’s going to seriously impact my performance at the marathon.” And you know what – I decided to keep going. I obviously wasn’t going to bail on the marathon or not finish (a DNF was not an option – when I say I will do something I will do it barring anything extreme), but I knew that by continuing that crazy hike (which was essentially a 7 hour stair stepper followed by 3 hours of quad trashing downhill) that I was throwing away my chances at a PR. And I did it anyway. I wanted to do both, and I would accept the consequences. Do I regret this? No. It obviously made this marathon a MUCH rougher experience than it would have been, but to be honest I don’t think I could have set a new PR in such warm temperatures anyway. Plus, my training was solid but not exactly stellar given all my travel and the really hot training runs – I wasn’t 100% confident I’d put in the tough work necessary for a PR.

That said – wow, was this hard. By the time we got off the bridge and hit mile 20 I was seriously falling apart. Despite how I felt, though, I was determined to get to that freaking finish line, even if I had to crawl.

marine corps marathon mile 20

I think the absolute biggest low point of the race for me was mile 21, when we were in the Pentagon parking lot. I had 5 miles left, which seemed so far, and I was at that point of exhaustion where I was having trouble regulating my emotions, especially with how much my hamstring was bothering me. I remember feeling so overwhelmed at how much farther I had to go that I almost burst into tears. That was when I stopped, walked for a second, and thought to myself: “PULL IT TOGETHER. You are out here because you want to be and because you CAN be. Do this for those who can’t. Stopping is not an option, and neither is not finishing. This will not be fun or pretty, but you CAN keep going, and you will.” And so I did.

  • Mile 20: 10:50
  • Mile 21: 10:56
  • Mile 22: 10:23

I was still feeling really rough once we hit Crystal City at mile 21.5, but it was basically one massive party and there were TONS of spectators which helped a lot with lifting my spirits. I started stopping at all the water stops, walking through, and drinking a big cup of water because I had actually drank my entire 2 liter hydration pack (that never happens!) due to the heat and was really thirsty, so that took some extra time but helped mentally. I’d just tell myself: “Just run to the next water stop, then you can walk again. Just. Keep. Going.”

marine corps marathon crystal city

Around mile 22 a blog reader who was also running said hi, which was fun – she was looking so strong and I was really excited to hear she was eating some of my Nut Butter Stuffed Salty Dates. Yay! (I was eating them during the race, too!) Way to go girl – I hope you crushed it out there! Thanks for lifting my spirits when I really needed it. :) I was also really pumped to see one of my AnneTheRD clients around mile 23!

I kept up with my “just run to the next water stop and then you can walk” approach the rest of the race. Around mile 24 I saw Matt again – I’m so impressed he was able to bike around and find me so well! He was in an area where almost no one was spectating and it was so good to see him because the excitement from Crystal City had worn off. I was so tired and emotional I nearly burst into tears when I saw him but instead I smiled/grimaced and was like “This is really hard and I just want to be done!!” He was so sweet and just said: “You have so much to look forward to later today – a nice epsom salt bath, and brunch, and a delicious dinner, and all you have to do is run 2 more miles to get there.” Thank you for cheering me on, Matt – you’re the best. :)

  • Mile 23: 10:13
  • Mile 24: 10:52

By the time we reached mile 25 I was still really struggling but thrilled – it was SO CLOSE! I just had to hang on a little bit longer and that finish line would be there.

marine corps marathon mile 25

Soon we started to enter the spectator-packed last half mile. Ahhhh – almost there!! I was still hurting and the sun was out and beating down on us but knowing I was so close was amazing.

marine corps marathon finish

I know the steep but short hill that leads to the finish line very well – I finished a lot of my long runs on it, and I was ready for it. It actually didn’t phase me – I was SO CLOSE and the adrenaline had kicked in big time. I wanted to finish out as strong as I could, and I powered up it.

marine corps marathon finish

I saw Sokphal out cheering right before the finish line – she snagged this photo of me running by!

marine corps marathon finish line

I spy the FINISH LINE – YESSSSSS!!!

marine corps marathon finish line

marine corps marathon finish line

I was so proud to have made it to that finish line – it was not easy! It was such a cool finish line, too – there were tons of Marines lining the sides after the finish giving us high fives and fist bumps and lots of congratulations. I was thrilled to be there. :)

marine corps marathon finish line

Final mile splits:

  • Mile 25: 10:27
  • Mile 26: 10:57
  • Last 0.69 mile (watch distance was long) nubbin pace: 10:02

Official finish time: 4:19:28 – average pace 9:53 minutes/mile. My slowest marathon but damn I was proud to have made it through – especially that last 10k.

MCM_results_

Shortly after finishing, we were funneled into little chutes and our finisher’s medals were put around our necks. Hooray! Aren’t they gorgeous? I realized later on when I got home that they actually open up too – Iwo Jima is inside! So cool.

marine corps marathon finishers medal 2016

Here’s the inside:

2016 marine corps marathon medal

Shortly after finishing everything ached so badly that I found an area to the side where I could sit down – it felt amazing and I didn’t move for about 10 minutes. I finally got myself together and got up to slowwwwwly walk/hobble the rest of the way through the finisher’s chute to try to find Matt. Yay – there he is! Matt, thank you so much for putting up with months of me being gone for hours on long runs, going to bed early for long runs, or exhausted after long runs. And thank you for being out there supporting me on race day – you’re the best. <3

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Once we were reunited we went and found my Watermelon Board friends and got some watermelon! As you guys know, the Watermelon Board is the whole reason I had the opportunity to do this race – they are a race sponsor and as part of a multiple month partnership involving some recipe development (see also: Roasted Salmon with Watermelon Salsa and Watermelon Rosemary Popsicles) they also gave me a bib for this race. I also received two extra bibs to give away to blog readers – a HUGE congratulations to my bib giveaway contest winners, Molly and Caryn, who both rocked the marathon – so proud of you ladies! My Watermelon Board friends were at the race giving out free watermelon in the finisher’s area – it was especially amazing on such a hot day – hello, rehydration!

marine corps marathon free watermelon

Here I am with Summer and Stephanie from the Watermelon Board – loved meeting you ladies in person after months of emails! :) Thank you again so much for the opportunity to run this race – and for that delicious watermelon post-race!

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Matt snagged some post-race photos of me by the Brooks apparel tent after saying goodbye to my watermelon friends. :) I was feeling good at this point and basking in the post-race glow!

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The last stop on the post-race adventure? Sokphal’s apartment right by the finish line! She is AMAZING and since she couldn’t run the race she instead decided to make breakfast for all her friends running the marathon. Seriously, how nice is that?! She also let me shower at her place which felt absolutely amazing – I was so gross between the heat and all the vaseline glopped all over under my arms.

Post-race breakfast at Sokphal’s featured pumpkin pancakes with butterscotch chips, berries, and bacon! Plus some unpictured crackers and cheese that she brought home from her Europe trip. I went back for more multiple times. :) So good! She also had chocolate milk which I drank while showering – also majorly hit the spot.

post-marathon breakfast

So there you have it – my third marathon is officially in the books, and given how deep I had to dig to get to that finish line I’m especially proud of this one. If I wanted to do something easy, I wouldn’t be doing a marathon, right? But damn, you guys – that was tough! I’ve been wearing my gear all week with pride.

One last thank you to the Watermelon Board for having me, and to all of the spectators and volunteers who were out there supporting us on race day – we couldn’t do it without you!

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And now, I am looking forward to a nice break from long distance running. :) Can’t wait to re-incorporate boot camps and shorter miles back into my rotation!

Did you run on Sunday, too? How did it go?!

Comments

  1. 1

    You are a ROCKSTAR!

  2. 3

    Congratulations on your 3rd Marathon complete! It sounded ROUGH, I am so impressed that you powered through and finished strong!!! Go Anne!

  3. 5

    Reading your recap was so REAL. So many props to you for fighting through and finishing that race with grit and determination. Congratulations! I’m running my first one on Saturday. I’m a mix of feeling scared and excited!

  4. 7

    Huge congrats! I was waiting for your race recap since Sunday. hahahah…. This is a great race recap. I wonder how you managed to take so many pics and remember all what you went through.
    I love how you talked yourself out of the pain/discomfort. It is really empowering.
    I’m planning to run first marathon next year, either NYC or MCM. Super excited to feel what you felt. Isn’t amazing how such a painful thing can make us so accomplished?

    As I was reading the beginning, why you didn’t run MCM as your first marathon?

    • 8

      Thank you! :) I actually pulled up the course map on the MCM website to prompt my memory of what was happening every mile! :) And regarding running MCM as my first marathon, I actually wanted to but the timing didn’t work for me and my training buddies – we had something going on that weekend I believe. So Richmond it was – loved that race, though! That’s awesome you want to run your first full next year!!

  5. 9
    Alexandra says:

    Great recap – way to power through!!! I also ran it on Sunday, and missed my PR by 35 minutes (making it my slowest marathon to date) and reading this totally brought back all of those emotions in the final 6 miles. Never have I wanted to be done with something so badly, and yet still have so far and could not push myself any faster. It is such a helpless feeling.

    I followed the FIRST Run Less Run Faster training program for the first time this training cycle, and definitely won’t do that again for a marathon. I felt my endurance was severely lacking and at this point, plan on completely switching gears and trying out the Hanson method. Once you’ve had more time to process the race and your training, I would love to hear more after thoughts about your training as well and what you would change, if anything!

    p.s. how AMAZING was that huge fan of cool mist in Crystal City??? That was totally unexpected and was definitely a race highlight for me (besides finishing, of course!).

    • 10

      OMG THAT COOL MIST WAS EVERYTHING!! I totally forgot about that – it felt sooo good! I’m sorry to hear you had a similarly rough last 10k but proud of you for powering through too! Don’t give up on the Run Less, Run Faster approach just yet — that’s what I used for my first marathon (Richmond) where I finished in 3:56 and felt great the whole time. MCM is not only a tough course with the hills but that heat would have crushed anyone. The only thing I would have changed about my training was all my travel – doing long runs on weekdays was not awesome, and it meant I didn’t always do the full distance I was supposed to, either, although I did get in a 20 and 22 miler. I was also just exhausted the whole time so I felt like my long runs weren’t my best performances. Anyway – I’ll share more on that soon. :) Thanks!

  6. 11

    Congratulations on a tough race!!

  7. 12
    Track Buddy says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! Incredible performance on such a hot day!!! Hope to see you out there at the track soon. :-)

    • 13

      Thanks my friend! I’ll be there on Thursday so I can say hi and debrief with Ray! I will also hobble a few laps slowly. :) See you then!

  8. 14

    Congratulations!!!!!

  9. 15

    Congratulations!!! A marathon is never easy especially when you add heat and a hamstring injury to the mix. I love how raw this recap is….I have ever felt many of these same emotions during my marathons. Congrats again on an awesome race!

  10. 16

    ugh, that bridge at mile 20 never ends. I feel like I step out of time when on the bridge. Forever long. great recap. MCM is one of my favorites races, great fan support, and great reminder of people who sacrifice for our country, American pride :)

    • 17

      I’m so used to running the pedestrian bit of the bridge which is so short since you get off on the Parkway trail – I was like why is this still going?!? Ha. Thank you!

  11. 18

    Congratulations and great recap!

  12. 19

    What a beautiful, powerful, and emotional read. I loved that you showed your vulnerability because the fact you finished and picked yourself up – amazing! Beautiful inside to the medal and I am sure one you will truly cherish. Congratulations!!!!!

  13. 21

    Congrats on finishing! It was a really tough day and I felt the same way in the 20s… there was a point where I literally just wanted to cry because I thought maybe my legs wouldn’t hurt so bad. Awesome job pushing through!!

  14. 23

    Congratulations Anne! Between the near-record high temps and metro-related course change this year, you definitely earned that medal! This was my 11th marathon and 7th MCM, and, let me tell you, it was not the easiest day! I was off my PR by 8 minutes (I finished in 3:30:38), but I had a blast! The Blue Mile is always amazing! Let me know if you ever need a winter running buddy (it’s so hard to get motivated when it’s cold and dreary out)! So very happy for you!

    • 24

      Wow – 11th marathon and 7th MCM is amazing! Way to go!! Sorry to hear you were also off a PR – but props for finishing strong! :)

  15. 25

    Loved this recap – I had tears in my eyes while reading! You give me the encouragement to do better with my own running – when I think I can’t; I CAN!

    • 26

      So much of it is mental, huh? Knowing you guys were rooting me on virtually really helped to keep me going – if you all believed in me then I was better able to believe in myself. So remember: I believe in you, too! Have fun out there and thanks for reading! :)

  16. 27

    Congratulations on a tough race. I firmly believe the ones where you question your sanity and your emotions go all wacky are the ones that strengthen your character. It’s not always about a finish time. So glad you powered through to get that medal.

  17. 29

    Wow I’m actually really glad that I read this as I’ve sort of forgotten the pain I’m going to be in on Sunday at NYCM and this has been a reality check – the marathon is a BIG deal. Do not underestimate it – and also vaseline ALL OVER MY BODY! Congrats on another awesome race Anne, I think when we look back we don’t think about the marathon PRs but the experience, and climbing Mt Rainer AND running a marathon within a week is certainly a huge accomplishment and awesome experience. Well done xx And now I may have added MCM to my bucket list.

    • 30

      I hope you have an amazing race at NYCM – that’s on my bucket list for sure! Fingers crossed you guys get good weather – run hard and have fun :) xo

  18. 31

    Awesome job!!!! I’m running my first marathon on Saturday and am so nervous! I’d love to finish in the time you did! Congratulations!

  19. 33

    Thank you for being real! Good job sticking with it.

  20. 34

    Congratulations Anne! Awesome journey! Inspiring Run! Great blog! You should be very proud as should all the MCM runners! Well done!

  21. 35

    Just got teary-eyed reading your re-cap. NICE WORK GIRL! Congratulations. You did this race proud.

  22. 37

    Congrats, girl!! Glad you got this one checked off the list, even if it wasn’t our preferred fall day. Loved getting to share the experience with you, from training to race day. Until next time…! ;)

  23. 41

    Well done on such a determined effort, and a wonderfully written recap. I have only ever run one marathon & am not particularly interested in doing another (unless I can get in to NYC one day). I will only consider marathons which include an o/s trip! You reminded me how tough the distance is but also captured the sense of accomplishment perfectly. Maybe I will start saving for New York….

    • 42

      NYCM would be pretty amazing – I might be done with full marathons, but if I’m not, that’s one of the ones that would bring me out of retirement. :)

  24. 43

    Congrats! Can’t wait to hear more about it next week! <3

  25. 45

    What an accomplishment… So impressed you were able to dig so deep for this one. Happy we were able to cheer you on!!!

  26. 47
    Christine says:

    What a great recap, thanks for sharing! Cobgrsys on finishing what sounds like a tough race under hot conditions! Your recap reminds me of the half-marathon I did at Ottawa Race Weekend in 2014 – 7km in, my hip, knee and hamstring freaked out on me and I ran the rest of the race in excruciating pain. I didn’t want to quit. I burst into tears when I crossed that finish line – relief, pride, and exhaustion.

    You just gotta dig deep sometimes. Enjoy a well deserved break from distance running!

  27. 49

    You are amazing Anne! Congratulations on digging deep and making it across the finish line. You can certainly be proud of yourself for taking a tough situation and finding out that you had more to give. What a warrior!
    I hope you enjoy getting back into some more varied exercise once you have recovered :)

  28. 50
    Marcey Thomas says:

    Congratulations Anne!! It was great to read your recap, makes me want to start training again.

  29. 51

    That is awesome, Anne! You should be SO damn proud! I have been working fulltime and so miss reading your blog everyday…:(

  30. 52
    Jenny Paxton says:

    Absolutely loved your recap, Anne! Congrats on being a MCM finisher! This was my third time running it and I have felt ALL of those emotions at least once. This year, I seriously debated taking my left sock off when we were looping the Pentagon parking lot it hurt so badly :) I also loved reading your decision between summiting Mt. St. Helens with your brother and husband or setting yourself up for a stronger race. Last year, I made the choice to attend a close friend’s wedding in Chicago the night before the 2015 MCM and arrived home to run it as they were closing the roads for the race. I would make that choice a million times over even though it made for my toughest race to date and it added a lot of minutes to my time. Like you said, we got to do both and that’s a huge win. MCM offers its runners much more than a finish time, I’ve decided!

    • 53

      Oh man – the Pentagon parking lot seems to have been a low point for many others too! And wow – a wedding in another city the night before the race?! That’s hardcore. But I’m with you – sometimes we make choices knowing that while we CAN do both things, it will make one of those things a lot harder – and it’s still worth it.

  31. 54

    This was awesome. So many times, I read marathon recaps on fitness blogs, and they go, “Man, it was tough…but I ran my 7-8 minute miles and got my PR.” Running is HARD a lot of the time, and I found this recap inspirational. You should be really proud!

  32. 55

    Stumbled across this on google. Very well written and reflects my experience. The heat made this a hard race. I was fading after 21. I finished but it was hard.

    Congrats!

  33. 57

    Congrats, Anne! Sunday was such a hard day. I was not expecting that heat. I had troubles with my leg as well starting around the bridge, so I know how you feel. But we did it! I was very happy with my run until my knee locked up, so I guess that means I’ll just have to do it again one day ;)

  34. 59

    Huge congrats on your finish. Sounded like it was a really tough race for you and you totally pushed through.
    Your story of the hike the week before reminds me of my second marathon in Seattle. I did the exact same thing. Lesson learned for sure. You’re supposed to taper for a reason, ha ha.

  35. 61

    Loved reading this recap!

    This Sunday’s MCM was my first marathon… and I’m so glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling the last 6 miles! I was so close to bursting into tears; at one point one of the Marines ran beside me to encourage me! That to me was the essence of the whole marathon; everyone encouraging each other. 😊

  36. 62

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and for being vulnerable yet inspiring throughout your training! I have enjoyed following along your training on the blog. I was thinking of you at MCM on Sunday– I live in Philly and was doing 22 miles in prep for the Philadelphia Marathon and was struggling by the end. CONGRATS and way to push through!

    Just wanted to pop in to say I really appreciate your realistic mindset and willingness to forgive yourself to enjoy the experience! A great reminder that life experiences like climbing a mountain are what matters! Hope you’re still basking in the post-race glory :)

    • 63

      Thanks so much, Grace — hoping you have an amazing race in Philly! Remember to run with your heart – and to have fun out there! :)

  37. 64

    A huge congratulations to you, Anne! I think you did a phenomenal job. =D

  38. 65

    Congrats, Anne! Your time may be way off your PR, but that is my goal pace for my second marathon (the Seattle Marathon November 27) in just a few weeks! Enjoy your recovery!

  39. 67

    Okay, so I cried reading your recap. I ran my first (and only, thus far) marathon about a year ago. I STRUGGLED through it so much and I felt so frustrated and defeated with a less-than-stellar time. Reading running blogs, it seems like you guys always have great (and FAST) races, so hearing how much you struggled on this race helps. You are such an inspiration and all the work you do on those early morning track workouts is seriously impressive. Way to go, Anne!

  40. 71
    Julia Oddy says:

    Enjoy a break from the long runs, well done! Thank you for such a honest and inspiring race recap.

  41. 72

    I’ve been so excited to read your recap! Congrats on making it thru! When I read your post on hiking Mt. St. Helen’s I thought to myself, “I’m so glad she did this. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing, & I think she really would have regretted missing it.” That being said I also have never run a long distance race so it’s easy for me to say that I wouldn’t have passed up the hike because I have never trained for a race for months like you did. I’m glad you were able to do both & that you’re happy w/ the outcome. I think it’s amazing the way you perservered; you should be very proud of yourself!

  42. 75

    Hi Anne, I’m the reader from mile 22!! You said I was looking strong, but I think I was just excited to meet you! Actually I had really been struggling after the bridge and Pentagon parking lot too – seeing you gave me a great boost, so I’m glad I could return the favor :) Congratulations for staying strong and finishing the race!

    • 76

      Yay – hi Robyn! You looked awesome out there – so happy I could give you a boost, too! :) I hope you had a great rest of the race!

  43. 77

    Congratulation Anne Nice and you are Amazing :)

  44. 78

    Awww damn that sucks about the Hamstring issue! Luckily, you’ve got your whole life to run the PR races you want to PR! I think you are still an inspiration and I’m happy you are just as proud of yourself as all your blog readers are proud of you! I mean hiking that hike is a once in a life time experience, there will be plenty of races! Way to stick it through I bet that was INSANELY tough, great job!

  45. 79
    Roadrunner says:

    Very, very well done, Anne. Tough conditions, but you did it! Congrats!

  46. 80

    Congrats! I also ran and fell apart after the bridge at mile 18. It’s actually nice to read that I wasn’t the only one (I have read a few recaps where people had slower times). My slowest marathon of the 7 I have run, but still so glad I did it and finished. Thanks for the great recap!

  47. 82

    Congrats Anne! You beat Oprah! I also ran this race on Sunday. When all said and done, my Garmin showed exactly the same distance as yours, 26.69 :)) First of all, the course wasn’t flat at all (too many ups and downs, too many tight turns). Secondly, it was a very warm day (I live in Minnesota). But it was a good run. I googled for 2016 Marine corps Marathon and this race recap came up. A job well done!

  48. 84

    I am SOOOO proud of you! Honestly, taking care of you guys and making sure you got those calories back – made me forget that I wasn’t running MCM. And did you really drink the chocolate milk while showering? Please see yes, it reminds of me the Seinfeld episode where Kramer washes the salad while he’s in the shower. :)

    • 85

      I mean, duh. And clearly I should start washing salad in the shower, too – multitasking! ;) Thank you again – you rock, my friend! We’re lucky to have you. Excited for some short run dates once I’m back from SD! xo

  49. 86

    Congrats! It was a tough and HOT day! I was out at mile 20/21 with the Oiselle gals cheering and saw you both coming right off the bridge and heading to Crystal City. You looked strong at that point – but dang it was hot. I LOVE the medal this year. Congrats again!

  50. 88
    Kevin Kotansky says:

    Anne, I found this article / blog almost by accident while I was searching something else. I live in Indianapolis, work for Kroger and am very good friends with members of the Illiana Watermelon Association! We use the IWA for many grand openings and the IWA supports our local children’s hospital efforts.

    I, too ran the MCM! Or I should say I hobbled my way to the finish line. I suffered a foot injury a week before the run and I’m more proud that I completed the marathon. AND….I most proud that I raised over $3,000 for the charity Back on My Feet Again. I enjoyed the run and ran the last 20 miles flat footed to ease the pain. But I made it. Great time….I love your photos! I also took a camera along the course. My photos are too zany to post.

    Congrats to you and everyone who ran this!

  51. 89

    you should be SO PROUD of yourself!!! really, outstanding job, Anne! My brother was spectating and said it was really something to watch…he’s dying to do it someday, too. enjoy your rest. you deserve it and congrats :)

  52. 90

    This recap is amazing. So open and true. Thank you for sharing your experience with us in such honest words. You can be SO PROUD of yourself for not giving up! And know what? You could have been proud of yourself if you had stopped, too. Because giving all you can is the most important thing. And if there is a day where you fight and can’t win, it is OK, too. The most important thing is that to get out and fight and give your best in the first place.

  53. 92

    Bravo!! Well done! What an emotional rollercoaster! Glad you had so many friends out cheering for you and were able to finish strong despite the difficulties and the heat. Congratulations!! :D

  54. 93

    Well done Anne! Sounds like it was a seriously hard fought race, but impressive that you powered through. Thanks for an honest and “keeping it real” recap too.

    I’ve only run one 26.2 (Boston back in 2012) and wearing my jacket *after* the race (I’m superstitious too) as well as all my gear made me feel so proud! Even now when I bust it out, I feel like a rockstar. Haha

  55. 95

    the fact that you pushed through all of that is amazing. you’re so tough. i love your thought process, “run for those who can’t”, great jon<3 <3

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