Saturday, March 28, 2015

#AccessGranted #MissionComplete

This morning I ran the Marine Corps 17.75k (11.03 miles) and earned an #AccessGranted code to register for the 40th Marine Corps Marathon. Spoiler alert:


My ever-supportive friend Kathryn (previously cited in this blog for giving me hotel points for a room before last year's Cherry Blossom race and for doing a Warrior Dash) picked up my bib and loaned me her guest room the night before the race, which gave me 30 extra minutes of sleep this morning. Thank you Kathryn!

Shirt & bib, thanks to Kathryn!

I got up at 4:45 and got ready for the race. It was going to be windy, so I had layers, a throwaway coat, and hot hands. I ate a Clif bar and drank my coffee before heading out to one of the parking shuttles.

Race gear all set

I arrived at the Dumfries commuter lot around 5:55 (later than I had planned), and there was still plenty of parking. They had nice buses to shuttle us over to the start of the race, which was less than a ten-minute ride.  When I got off the bus, I headed to the church which was open to help folks stay warm before the race. Marsden (aka, Running Lonely) was inside, and I was looking forward to meeting him in person. After all, it was his tweet that accidentally got me into this race in the first place! Alas, the line to get into the church was long and not moving.

Fortunately for me, Marsden gave up his warm spot and came out to say hi. Not only did I meet Marsden, I also got to meet the Flying Pig! Marsden shared some tips on the race course and we talked about Cherry Blossom in two weeks. It was really fun to meet in person after following each other's blogs for the past year.

Marsden & me

The Flying Pig

My next pre-race meet-up was with Moms Run This Town for the multi-chapter picture. I am usually not at the big races early enough to make the picture, so I was pleased to finally be there on time for the big cinematic moment. While waiting for everyone to gather, I had a honey stinger caramel waffle and some water.

Moms Run This Town Multi-Chapter Picture
(note my lovely coat which served me well over the years)

With about 10 minutes until start time, I was beginning to get a little anxious about connecting with Karen and Shannon. I knew they were at the race and had gone to the portapotties, but we hadn't found each other yet. Karen texted me that they were in the church and I headed back that direction. 

It was still hard to get in to the church; not because there wasn't any room but because the flow of traffic was now steadily pouring out of the church and I was fighting the current! But I made it in, we found each other, and did our dynamic warm ups. I also met the pastor and thanked him for opening the church for us. He also said he would donate my coat so I gave it to him instead of tossing it on the ground at the race start. I was fond of that coat and it felt like a nice way to let it go.

The Race

Karen, Shannon, and I planned to run the race together at a very easy pace. We set 3:1 run:walk intervals and treated it like it was one of our regular Cherry Blossom training runs. My mantra was "Just like Reston. A training run. Lots of fun!" And we had a great time together. The course was hilly and about half of it was on gravel. And hilly. Did I mention it was hilly?

Elevation profile from my Garmin data

It was also pretty chilly at times. I kept hot hands in my gloves for the first two miles, and then I was ready to ditch them. I waited until we got to the first water stop so I could throw them in the trash instead of on the ground. Not 30 seconds later a volunteer gave us tissues and mentioned how cold her hands were. I was irritated with myself for having thrown the hot hands away. 
Lesson for future races - if it is cold enough to start the race with hot hands, there is a volunteer or spectator who would be grateful to have them when you are ready to give them up. Find that person!
We took it easy, we stopped for a potty break, we thanked all the volunteers, we yelled "Oorah!". Towards the end of the race we saw a sign that said: 211 days until you can say, "I ran Marine Corps." We paused and were so grateful when Renee, who was running by at the time, offered to take our picture. Thank you Renee! Hope to see you again at MCM!

from left: me, Karen, Shannon

We also talked about actually running a marathon. Shannon has run two, Karen & I have not run one (and have repeatedly said we have no plans to do so). Shannon was full of encouragement, which is really helpful. Karen and I are a mix of emotions ranging from excited to nervous to downright terrified!

We crossed the finish line together, holding hands clasped in the air. We received medals and the much-lauded #AccessGranted codes that would allow us to register for the marathon. Our mission for today was complete; our mission for the next 211 days has just begun.

proud finishers!

I came home to a special medal made by my son & my dad!



  1. we waited in the church and i was so grateful that they let us use their beautiful space. great recap - it was SO cold and SO hilly! congrats - i hope you choose to run MCM :)

    1. Thanks Courtney! The church was indeed so beautiful and welcoming. And I have chosen to run MCM - I am in!!

  2. Congrats!! So sweet of Freddy to gift you a medal. That is a good point to gift volunteers with hand warmers, I've only used them for training runs but will remember that for the future.

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I think I like Freddy's medal even more than the race medal :)

  3. It was great to finally meet you! Great job and I look forward to reading about your marathon training!

    1. Thanks! It was great finally meeting you, too. And just remember - this is all your fault :)

  4. Congratulations on the finish, and taking what will be a fun step (ha) towards an amazing adventure. MCM is a great first marathon to do. You'll have support over almost the whole course. Even Hains Point isn't that bad because of the inspiration you'll find there. Best of luck this season.

    1. Thanks for the good luck wishes! It will be a journey for sure. MCM Hains Point > CUCB Hains Point

  5. Running it this weekend (even though I registered for the marathon during the rush reg on wednesday!) Wish me luck, it's gonna be a cold one ;-)

  6. Running it this weekend (even though I registered for the marathon during the rush reg on wednesday!) Wish me luck, it's gonna be a cold one ;-)

    1. Good luck! I know you are going to do great. Also, it's an automatic PR :)