Saturday, October 31, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again

Today was the last long run for Reston's PR Training summer distance training program. We encouraged costumes since it was Halloween and had a post-run brunch. It was a fun celebration.

Let's get this party started!
photo courtesy of Coach Meghan

It's been almost a week since I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and this is the first time I've been able to run. I ran a whole mile! Yes, I know how tiny that sounds after running a marathon last weekend.

I've been taking it easy this week while my toe has been healing from the blister that formed under my toenail during the marathon. Friday (yesterday) was the first day I was able to put on real shoes comfortably. So being able to wear shoes again today and actually run in them was a win.

At the end of the mile my toe was still fine, but I was starting to feel my knee so I didn't push it any farther. I've been doing exercises this week to strengthen the weak muscles around my knee so I can get back to 100% again. In the meantime, I will build up mileage very slowly and not overdo it.

"Elsa" checking back in after a whole mile
photo courtesy Lauretina Photography

Congrats to Rock Star Susan (left) on her longest run ever!
15 miles! Go Susan!
photo courtesy Lauretina Photography

Coach Shannon brings the Halloween spirit
photo courtesy Lauretina Photography

Coach Jodi is ready for Thanksgiving already
photo courtesy Lauretina Photography

Treats for the RUNchies
photo courtesy Lauretina Photography

I finally got to try one of the legendary Duck Donuts. Thanks, Jeff!
photo courtesy of Coach Meghan

Next week is the start of fall base camp with PR Training. I hope you can join us!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon Recap

My mind is still swirling trying to process this amazing first-marathon adventure. I fully experienced the race and I'm proud of how I executed my race plan. I achieved my goals and had a great time doing so. That's the short version; here's the longer one:

Marathon Eve 


I packed and headed to the Hyatt Arlington with Jamie. I specifically picked this hotel because it is literally right by the finisher festival. I had visions of a post-marathon ice bath. As we walked to our room I was excited to see that we were right next to the ice machine! So perfect! As we walked into our room I was crushed to see there was no bathtub! So *not* perfect! A call to the front desk brought the disappointing news that there were no bathtubs available. 

Last-Minute Planning

It was still a fantastic room in a great location. We looked out our window and could see things being set up for the finisher festival. Exciting! We laid out our clothes and made sure everything was set for the morning. I decided to wear a lighter tank than I originally planned since it was going to be warm.

Flat Jamie & Flat Kim, ready to race

We discussed the best way to get to the race. We could walk from our hotel to the starting line, which was very appealing. However, we were supposed to meet our training buddies at baggage check, which was much farther away from the hotel than the starting line was. So we decided to take the metro from Rosslyn (across the street from us) to the Pentagon, which had a shorter walk to bag check. We would later regret this choice...

Marathon Morning

I slept surprisingly well considering it was the night before my first marathon and I was not at home in my own bed. We checked the weather when we got up and saw that it was lightly raining, but supposed to end before the race. We ate our usual pre-run breakfasts, got ready to go, and headed to the metro. Outside, we saw two groups of people - those walking directly to the race, and those heading to the metro. As previously noted, we chose the wrong group.


On the down escalator inside the metro, we heard someone calling my name. Coach Meghan was on the up escalator, getting ready to spectate. She saw my "Kim" tiara all the way across the station. Seeing our head coach felt like a good omen. Inside the station, more people saw my tiara and recognized me from the course guide on this blog. They thanked me and told me how helpful it was, which really made me feel good. 

We barely missed the blue line train heading to the Pentagon, and had to wait 12 minutes for the next blue line train. So we were behind schedule and starting to text with our training buddies who were already at the Pentagon station.

Anxiously awaiting the blue line train

Finally, we arrived at the Pentagon stop but there were so many people in the station we couldn't get out. We would inch closer to the escalator, only to be thwarted by another train dropping off more people, some of whom squeezed in front of us because that's where they were dropped off. Eventually we got out and the fresh air was wonderful, even if it was filled with rain that was supposed to have stopped by now.


We headed toward security. And it was just a huge mass of people. There were no organized lines, and no one could even see to the front. People nervously chatted with each other, in the rain, not moving forward, and the mass of people kept getting larger as more people kept emerging from the metro station. Jamie and I were getting concerned. Our training buddies were through security (after very long waits), and we weren't moving. And it was getting close to time for the race to start!

Was this normal? No, the people around us who had run MCM in the past said it most definitely wasn't normal. I heard afterwards it was largely due to (1) delays/congestion on the metro after one of the trains hit a deer and (2) the introduction of metal detectors into the security screening this year, and that those detectors didn't function well in the rain.

this is what the security wait looked like
(and it was much, much wider than you see here)
photo courtesy of JC Carmon

Jamie and I did a remarkable job of staying calm. We figured that eventually we would get through, and even if we started at the very back, we would still be able to beat the bridge. We wouldn't be able to run with our regular buddies, but we could start with each other (Jamie is faster than I am). I am truly amazed that I wasn't freaking out. I told myself it was beyond my control, and I needed to stay calm. And I did.

View of the parachuters from the security mob...
photo courtesy of Jamie

...much better view of the parachuters from the corrals
photo courtesy of Sam Pait

Race to the Start Line

Miraculously we were directed to step over a barrier and follow a volunteer if we didn't have bags to check. Jamie and I were over that barrier and following her quickly, along with a herd of people, many of whom actually had bags to check. It was a mess, we were screened and wanded really quickly and rushed through. Some people ignored the lines and just walked through without being screened. 

Jamie and I were walking as fast as we could because we still had a hike to get to the starting corrals - you know, the ones that are closer to our hotel? There was no one to meet at baggage check any longer since our buddies were already in the corrals. If we had walked down from Rosslyn, we would have gotten there so much quicker, and entered at a different security checkpoint. We would have missed much of the mess.

"We just got through security - get us to the start on time!"
photo by MarathonFoto

Fortunately Debbie & Natalie texted me exactly where they were - on the edge of the corral by the 5:30-5:59 expected finish time sign. These signs were gigantic and easy to spot and I was able to find them. Jamie went up a little further in the corral and found Rachel. We got there just in time for our corral to start moving towards the start line. Talk about cutting it close! I shed my throwaway clothes and was ready to go.

Pre-Race Fuel: 
  • Clif bar & coffee with almond milk (breakfast at the hotel)
  • Two honey stinger waffles in security "line" (I had planned to only eat one...stress eating)
  • One gel just before the race started
  • Water throughout the morning

Miles 1-5

We crossed the start line 23 minutes after the howitzer fired. It was still raining - so much for that weather forecast. It wasn't hard, but it was enough to make the roads somewhat slippery. We saw someone go down 3/4 of a mile into the race. We had already been planning to go slower in the first couple of miles, with the slick roads we were even more conservative. 

We were oblivious to the photographers at the start,
focusing instead on the slick  & crowded roads
photo by MarathonFoto
We respected the hill in Mile 2 and power-walked it. We similarly power-walked the ramp onto the Key Bridge and the steep incline when we were leaving Georgetown. These choices helped keep us from going out too fast and from wasting energy early in the race.

Elevation chart from my Garmin - it's a hilly start

  • At the entrance to the Key Bridge we saw Coach Meghan and Coach Adam, which was uplifting. I could see how proud they were of us.
  •  A giant bear was giving out "performance enhancing hugs" and we saw him several places on the course. I didn't go in for a hug (there was always someone else already getting a hug!), but I loved the idea and it was fun to see so many people enjoying their hugs.

These two are cheering for their mom, Leigh Smith, who was running the race.
They brought joy - and performance enhancement - to many!
photo courtesy of Rebecca Chirevas

Memorable Signs:
  • People dressed as ketchup and mustard in Georgetown had signs that said "Hurry and Katch-Up" and "You Passed Muster-d"

  • Gel at Mile 3
  • Water sipped from my hydration vest during walk breaks (I continued this throughout the race and won't repeat it in the sections below)

Miles 6-10

It was still raining for much of this stretch, and we continued with a bit of a conservative pace, but faster than the pace for the hilly miles in the first section. When the rain finally stopped we picked it up a bit.

We saw porta-potties with short or no lines and wondered if we should take advantage of the opportunity and stop. We decided not to stop yet.

Rock Creek Parkway
photo by MarathonFoto

Overhead shot
photo by MarathonFoto

  • Someone told me I looked like the Statue of Liberty. I liked that interpretation of my outfit.
  • I heard my name often, which really kept me motivated. The tiara with my name was easy to spot since it was on top of my head and distinctive. 
    • I had been a bit hesitant to wear it since it was kind of goofy, but I am really glad I did. I highly recommend running your first marathon with your name prominently displayed.
    • It was energizing to be cheered for by name, and it also made me recognizable on the course. So many people told me throughout the race that they had read my course guide and appreciated it. 
The perfect accessory!
  • We had our first sighting of the "Rainbow Pony" - a "Moms Run This Town" hubby who was cheering on his wife and everyone else in a way that brought a smile to our faces. We saw him again later on the Mall.

Rainbow Pony - now that's a supportive husband!
photo courtesy of Stephanie Motal-Nguyen

  • We loved seeing Humberto, Eduardo, Dirk & friends twice by the entrance to Rock Creek Parkway. They are from the PR DC training group and just came back from running the Berlin marathon. They were full of spirit!

100% motivation - thank you Humberto, Eduardo, Dirk & friends!
photos courtesy of Coach T

Memorable Signs:
  • "The Kenyans are Already Drinking Beer" 
  • Gels at Miles 6 and 9
  • Gatorade at water stop #4

Miles 11-15

This section brought us into the Hains Point Peninsula. I was both apprehensive and anticipatory about the Blue Mile. I knew it was going to be deeply emotional and moving, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to honor our fallen service members. I was concerned, however, that this emotion would leave me feeling drained and potentially impact my race.

I found the first part of the mile to be somber and gut-wrenching, as I looked at photos of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. When and where. So many of them so young. I was choked up inside. 

I expected the second part to be harder - to be looking into the eyes of the flag-holding volunteers, so many of whom had lost loved ones. But it wasn't harder - it was amazing. I looked into the eyes of people who said my name and said encouraging and inspirational things. I high-fived many of them. I said thank you. I felt energized and uplifted by them.

I carried this energy with me and kicked my pace up a notch. We had been running a conservative race for the early miles, but it was time to move into my planned pace now that the rain was behind us. But with the move to the faster pace, we lost Natalie. We had agreed to run our own races, but it was still really hard to part.

Around Mile 14.5 we saw the last of the park bathrooms with no line. We knew it was time to make our pit stop. It was a real bathroom with stalls and toilet paper and sinks and soap. And no line. Score!

The Hains Point Peninsula
photo by MarathonFoto

  • Gels at Miles 11.9 and 15
  • I refilled my gel pocket with 4 Clif Shot gels from food stop #2, which meant I didn't need to take the extra gels out of the back of my hydration pack
  • Gatorade at water stop #6

Miles 16-20

We left Hains Point and headed towards the crowds, buildings, and monuments of the National Mall, where friends and family awaited us. The sun came out and Debbie & I retrieved each other's sunglasses from the back of our packs. We kept up our pace during this section, energized by our surroundings.

Scenes from the National Mall - Washington Monument
photo by MarathonFoto

Scenes from the National Mall - The Capitol
photo by MarathonFoto

Scenes from the National Mall - The Smithsonian
photo by MarathonFoto

Spectator Bonanza:
  • At Mile 15.5, we saw the minion balloon flying that signaled the location of Rick & Freddy (my husband & son). I was thrilled to see them. Debbie's husband Ken was in the same spot, so she also got an energizing lift.

Rick with the minion balloon,
checking on my location in the MCM app
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography
Coming in for a high-five from Freddy at Mile 15.5
photo courtesy of Rick

  • At Mile 17, we saw them all again. I high-fived Freddy & squeezed Rick's hand. Ken took pictures of us. A bit later in the mile Ken rode past us on a Capital Bikeshare bike and asked how we were doing, and if we needed anything.
  • At Mile 17.5 we saw Coach Laura and Catherine, a PR training buddy of ours. Laura took photos and Catherine cheered for us. Catherine is partly responsible for brainwashing me into running a marathon.

Waving to Laura & Catherine
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

  • Just past Laura and Catherine, we saw PR training buddy Lynn. She asked how we were doing, we asked how the 10K was, and she went to the other side of the Mall to tell Marian and Jen we were coming.
  • At Mile 18 we saw Coach Jodi, and PR training buddies Jeff & Susan. So many people were so proud of us! Telling us we looked great, keep it up!

Coach Jodi and Jeff
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

  • At Mile 19 we saw Coach Mike dressed as Captain America and handing out Sport Beans. We had now seen all five of our coaches.

Captain America handing out Sport Beans - a welcome sight!
photo courtesy of Chiao Chang

  • Lynn, Jen, and Marian were supposed to be at Mile 19, and I watched for them on the right, thinking they would be just across the Mall from where I saw Lynn. I missed them because they were on the left.
  • At Mile 19.5, we saw the minion balloon again. Another high-five for Freddy and hand squeeze for Rick, and they said they would see me at the finish, which I mistakenly interpreted to mean the finish festival.
  • Just before the 14th Street Bridge I saw Jade and an MRTT cheering crew, congratulating runners who were "beating the bridge" while the driving rhythm of Batala, an all-women Afro-Brazilian percussion band sent us onto the Bridge with an energetic push.

About to beat the bridge!
photo courtesy of Jade

Memorable Signs:
  • Political signs were plentiful so close to the Capitol:
    • "Trump said he'd withdraw if you crossed the finish line...No Pressure!" 
    • "If Sarah Palin can see Russia, you can see the finish line" 
    • "Unlike Joe Biden, you're still running"
    • "There are as many people in this race as there are people in the GOP primary"
  • A boy dressed like Chewbacca had a sign that said "May the Course be with You"
  • "To all the Moms: SMILE if you are enjoying your 'me' time!" - I grinned and the woman holding the sign asked if I were enjoying my 'me' time. I told her I was. After the race I realized that I should have recognized her - it was Sandra Lynn from the Vienna/Oakton MRTT chapter.
"My heart is full just from watching.
Mile 19, 5 hours in...these runners are rocks stars!
So glad I came down. This sign got lots of smiles, laughs, thumbs up and more.
Women told me how many kids they had,
one told me she was 15 weeks pregnant,
another told me her daughter just got married last week.
 I love runners." - Sandra Lynn

  • "It's a Bridge. Get Over It."

These signs were from the November Project group;
some explicit recognition for beating the bridge!
photo courtesy of Rick

  • Gel at Mile 18

Miles 21-23.1

Debbie and I power-walked up the steep entrance ramp to the bridge. We had made it to Mile 20, and beat the proverbial bridge. We congratulated each other. 

Debbie told me it was time for me to run ahead, that she was going to walk for a bit. I asked if she was sure and she said she was. We picked a landmark up ahead where I would start running. We said encouraging things to each other. We knew we were each running our own races and it was time for them to diverge. At the landmark, we said good-bye and I starting running on my own.

I turned on the RockMyRun app on my phone (quiet speaker, not headphones) so I would have some background music while I ran. I thought of Tai Fung's advice about the bridge: don't prolong it, get past it. And I proceeded to do just that. I ran my fastest mile of the entire race on that bridge so I could put it behind me

In Crystal City, the spectators and the energy of the crowds returned. I was continuing to run strong, but the streets had narrowed and so many people were walking that I had to weave a lot to keep my pace and it was frustrating. But I kept up my pace and felt good.

  • I was surprised and thrilled to see Lynn, Jen, and Marian in Crystal City. I hadn't known they would be there, and was still bummed about missing them at Mile 19. I hugged them each and they told me how proud they were of me.

Lynn & Marian with signs for the race

Jen, Marian, & Lynn with their MCM 10K medals
photo courtesy of Jen

  • I passed the Arlington/Alexandria MRTT cheering crew, including my friend Coco from the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Blog Team. They were enthusiastic and energetic.
  • Gels at Mile 21 and 23
  • I didn't see the munchkins and food station #4. I had no intention of eating them, but I was curious and wanted to see them. I later heard they had run out.

Miles 23.2-26.2

I felt strong at the beginning of this section. I was excited that I hadn't hit the dreaded wall. "Only the Young" by Journey started playing and I had this absolutely euphoric feeling about how great everything was. I was thinking about my mantra "This is Someday." It really was some day.

"This is Someday"
photo by MarathonFoto

Around Mile 24, however, my knee started to throb. I'd been wearing a cho-pat strap and kinesiology tape on it to ward off the discomfort I'd been experiencing since my 22-mile long run. It wasn't tracking well and the cho-pat strap helped lift my kneecap for smoother tracking. It had worked well for most of the race, but my knee was starting to complain about what I was putting it through. 

The last couple of miles were a mental battle to block out the pain and keep up the pace. I focused on the crowd and the signs as I headed toward the finish, grateful for the many spectators who saw my name on my tiara and used it to encourage me.

Battling the pain
photo by MarathonFoto

Memorable Signs:
  • "Pain is Temporary, Online Results are Forever" 
  • "All Black Toenails go to Heaven" (I laughed when I saw it...I was not laughing 20 minutes later...)
  • "Tired? Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!" - the woman holding this sign said it out loud, too. It was a great location for her.
  • Gel shortly after my knee starting hurting (not planned, just thought it might perk me up)
  • Gatorade at the last water stop (another unplanned perk-me-up)
  • I had a lot of fuel over the course of this race, and I think that was a big factor in keeping me from hitting the wall. 


Finally I saw the hill that would lead to the finish line and Iwo Jima. I was so focused on it and being almost done that I didn't even realize Rick and Freddy were standing just before it. I completely missed them. 

The hill was steep and lined with Marines. I may have power-walked the other notable hills in this race, but not this one. I ran up it and high-fived each Marine. The last one said, "The finish line is just around the corner ma'am."

The finish line is in sight!
photo by MarathonFoto

I looked to my right and I saw it! I kept running, blocking out sensations from my knee. As I neared the timing mat the announcer called out my full name - Kimberly Westrich! It felt amazing! I had done it! I high-fived all the Marines by the finish line. It was exhilarating.

I started moving through the chute. A Marine put a medal around my neck and congratulated me and I thanked him. I can see his face in my mind so vividly. When I imagined how that moment would feel I always thought I would be overcome with emotion and cry. I was overcome with emotion, but it was a mix of pride and gratitude, and I didn't cry.

Mission Accomplished!
photo by MarathonFoto


As I continued moving through the chute towards Iwo Jima, my left knee kept throbbing. When I shifted my weight to my right foot, I felt a sharp pain in my second toe. Putting weight on either foot was uncomfortable. I moved gingerly and reluctantly decided not to go stand in line for the iconic Iwo Jima finisher picture.

No iconic photo for me
photo courtesy of Laurentina Photography

I sat down on a crate and took off my right shoe and sock. I had a huge blister under my toenail and the pressure was intense. I was amazed at how bad it was, and that I had been completely unaware of it during the race. And I was so grateful that I had been so completely unaware of it. I took a band-aid out of my pack and wrapped my toe up. It didn't help at all, other than to give me the illusion that I had done something to take care of it.

I got up and continued moving very slowly. I gathered a plastic bag, bottle of water, box of food, banana, and a finisher poncho. The gatorade was gone already (and soon the boxes of food & ponchos would be gone, too). I ate the banana and kept moving. 

Contents of my post-race food box

I saw the long line for Brooks finisher shirts. I really wanted one, especially since the 1+ hour line in the Brooks booth at the Expo had prevented me from buying any MCM-specific gear. But the pain was considerable and the line was long, so I didn't stop. I was surprised and filled with gratitude when I later found out my dear friend Lynn had bought me a finisher shirt earlier in the day when she finished the 10K. 

Rick sent a text asking where I was, and I told him I was making my way to the family-link up area. I wanted to move faster but each step hurt. Finally I saw Freddy running towards me to give me a hug. My journey back to my family was complete.

Getting congratulations from Freddy
photo courtesy of Rick

My own version of an iconic finisher picture
photo courtesy of Rick

Goals Achieved?

I finished the race in 5:42:54, well under my 6-hour goal, but not my "wildest dreams" goal of 5:30. I was pleased. I knew I had run the best race I could given the circumstances of the day - light rain in the morning and a stubborn knee kept conditions from being perfect. But conditions were very good, and I executed my plan well.

I was thrilled when I realized I ran negative splits for the race; and even more thrilled when I realized our potty break had been in the second half of the race, making those negative splits even more pronounced. I am so proud of how I trained, how I raced, and what I accomplished. 

Negative Splits: 2:52:09 for the first 13.1,
2:50:45 for the second 13.1 (not accounting for ~5 minute potty break!)

What's Next?

Am I going to run another marathon? I don't plan on it. My intention is for this to be a bucket-list one-and-done kind of thing. But I've learned never to say never. Eight months ago I would have truthfully told you I had no intention of ever running a marathon, and we all know how that turned out.

I'm going to take the next month to recover and get my knee back to normal. I suspect I will also be losing a toenail in the next day or so! I wonder how long that will take to grow back? At least I know all black toenails go to heaven, thanks to a well-positioned spectator's sign.

I'll be focusing on coaching again for the near future. I'm helping with PR Reston's Fall Base Camp Training Program which starts next week. Then in February I'll be coaching the Cherry Blossom Training Program. While I'm coaching, I'll be thinking about what my next running goal will be. Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

MCM Training Week 19

I've finished Week 19 of Marine Corps Marathon training and the marathon is tomorrow! I am as ready as I can be and really looking forward to the race.

My knee is still twinge-y and I hope it behaves tomorrow. My chiropractor gave me a cho-pat knee strap to wear if it starts hurting. The strap will help support my kneecap and assist it in tracking properly. I also got some cool camouflage KT tape at the expo that matches my outfit - bonus!

Limited edition KT Tape

Jen went to the expo with me and we had a lot of fun. My only disappointment was that the line in the Brooks store was over an hour long because they were having technology problems. I decided it wasn't worth the wait. Later I found out there was a cash-only line that I could have zipped right through. Hopefully my size will still be left when things are available online.

Expo highlight - a massage at the Aetna booth

Lynn and Marian came by on Saturday to do a shakeout run with me before the race. It helped me feel less anxious to see them and run with them. They are running the 10K tomorrow, along with Jen, and then spectating afterwards. I'm so excited to see them on the course, and grateful to have such supportive friends. I'm also looking forward to seeing my awesome coaches on the course - Adam, Jodi, Meghan, Mike, and Laura. And my awesome friend Susan!

Lynn & Marian with signs for tomorrow. Freddy says he has a "black sign"

My son (Freddy) won't really have a "black sign" - look for him and Rick on the course with a minion balloon. Rick and Freddy have been so supportive of my training. Thank you to both my guys - I love you!

Look for the Minion balloon tomorrow!

Rick's 2013 MCM patch - I will carry it with me tomorrow
Week 19 Statistics

I ran 3 times for a total of 7.3 miles. I kind of cringe at that tiny number, but rest was the priority this week. I didn't want to aggravate my knee more than it already is.
  • Track: Fartlek Cutdown workout - easy warm-up followed by 4:00-3:00-2:00-1:00, with 2 minutes jog recovery between them (2.6 miles)
    • Like last week, I did a lower intensity version of this workout in case my knee acted up. Ideally I would have started at marathon pace and built from there. I ran a bit slower than MP and built to it. (my paces)
    • Track Coach Adam had some inspirational words for me about how hard I had worked this training cycle and how ready I am for MCM. I will carry that with me tomorrow.
  • Easy run: 3.0 miles 
  • Shakeout run: 1.7 miles
  • Strength training: none! I'm sure my knee appreciated the break.
  • Yoga: One yin yoga practice 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MCM: Mantra, Goals, Race Plan

Just a few more days until MCM. I am well-trained and I am ready!


My mantra for this race is: This is Someday

It has two meanings for me: 
  1. It is the powerful phrase I saw on March 11 on my commute home, after the bizarre day that started my marathon journey seemingly out of thin air (click for the story). The phrase that pretty much pushed me over the edge to accept the challenge.
  2. It also means "this is some day" - I want to recognize how special the day is, how special the race is, be in the moment and really soak it all in.
the advertisement I saw in Runner's World


I listed my goals in my recap of training week #12. They were:
  1. Get to the starting line injury-free
  2. Be in the moment and really experience MCM
  3. Beat the Bridge
  4. Cross the finish line
  5. Time goal? Uncertain if I will have one. TBD...
Those are still my goals. As for #5, I would like to finish in 6 hours, and I would be thrilled to finish in 5:30. But my primary goal is #2, to be in the moment and really experience MCM. If I achieve that, I have succeeded, no matter what else happens.

Race Plan

This is my plan for the race. The segments align with those in my course guide (four 5-milers and two 5Ks).

Miles 1-5: Settle

During these early miles, I will settle into my pace. I will start slowly (~13:00), especially for the first uphill miles, moving closer to 12:30 after the hills level out.
  • Gel at Mile 3 - visual prompt, Moms Run This Town cheer station close to the Italian Store on Lee Highway
  • Water - sip from my hydration vest during my walk intervals throughout the race
Gel #1: Arlington/Alexandria MRTT Cheer Station

Miles 6-10: Relax

Relax into my pace, stay in a groove and keep rolling along.
  • Gels at Mile 6 & 9 - visual prompt, after passing the photographers
Gels #2 & #3: After smiling for the camera

Miles 11-20: Focus

Stay focused on my pace. Recognize that I will feel tired at times and that this is normal because of the distance I've run. Expect this, know it is okay. It will feel predictably uncomfortable, don't panic about feeling this way.
  • Gel at Mile 12 - visual prompt, approaching the blue mile. Swallow gel before I start crying, which I suspect will happen here. (take Clif Shot at food station to have as an option later)
  • Gel at Mile 15 - visual prompt, leaving the Hains Point peninsula behind
  • Gel at Mile 18 - visual prompt, mile marker sign, which signals I have passed the cluster of photographers (take Sport Beans at food station to have as an option later)
  • Reload Gels - I should see lots of friends/family during this section. I will stop and get help taking gels out of my vest & reloading my front storage pocket.
  • Water - add water to hydration vest at Mile 19 water stop as a precautionary measure
Gels #4 & #5: at Miles 12 & 15

Gel #6: at Mile 18 (after the photographers!)

Miles 21-26.2: Evaluate

I will wait to evaluate until I am coming off the 14th St Bridge and heading towards Crystal City. The question to be evaluated - how do I feel?
  • Terrible? - stick with what I am doing, try to hold the pace
  • Great? - pick up the pace 
  • Not sure? - pick up the pace a little
I will evaluate periodically throughout the remaining miles.

  • Gel at Mile 21: visual prompt, I am across the water. If the bridge is rough, I will have it sooner, or eat some Sport Beans as a treat
  • Gel at Mile 23.5: visual prompt, the munchkins I am not eating
  • Gel at Mile 25: optional bonus gel - see how I am feeling at this point
Gel #7: still on the bridge but across the water

Gel #8: instead of a munchkin
Gel #9: bonus gel if I need a pick-me-up

And that's my plan. Between now and Sunday, I am going to focus on two things:
  1. Imagining different things that could go wrong during the race (e.g., my shoe comes untied, I slip and fall at a water station, I drop some gels) and plan for how I would handle them. Then if something does happen, I am more likely to stay calm and know how to fix the problem without derailing my race.
  2. Visualizing myself running the race, crossing the finish line, and successfully executing my race plan.

    My vision board - I'm ready for this!