More than a week now has passed since I ran the beloved MCM. You can thank schoolwork and my not feeling 100% for my delay. In true Erin form, though, we can’t have a race without a lengthy race recap, so here goes.
The MCM experience was not only a race but also a little mini vay-cay for my parents, C, and me, as we all ventured down to DC the Friday before the race and stayed through the Tuesday afterward. We stayed in Crystal City, which ended up to be pretty cool since we ran right outside the hotel around miles 22-24 of the course. Prior to race day, my family and I took in the sights a la a bus tour. It was a blast, and we got to see a lot of DC (and the respected monuments, of course), in a relatively short amount of time.
Race day morning was a bit chaotic. Instead of taking the Metro, which was only a few blocks from my hotel, I decided to take the pre-race shuttle. Long story short, I got there with about 2 hours before the race began, and by the time I got on the shuttle, got off the shuttle at the starting line, and dumped my stuff at packet drop-off and got in line for the port-a-potties, I had BARELY enough time to run to the beginning of the start line and begin to run a marathon. Yea, it was that sort of chaotic. When I realized I could hear the national anthem being sung as I was doing my business in the port-a-potty, I realized that time definitely was not on my side!
At any rate, the race began in lovely late-October temperatures, probably around 40s or so. The first 13 miles or so I thought were somewhat uneventful, though still pretty scenic. We ran through a lot of different wooded park areas (and some neighborhoods) in VA before cutting across the river and running through DC. It’s a bit misleading to say that you can see the monuments while you run because you can… but not really. Granted, you can see the Washington monument pretty much anywhere in the DC/Arlington metro area, but we ran by many of the other statues and monuments only briefly… if we ran by them at all. (for some, we actually seemed to run BEHIND them. I got that impression from the Lincoln monument, anyway).
A big bonus to the race was catching up with long-lost Boston training buddy of mine, Rob, and his newly-announced fiancee, Magda. The three of us ran together from about miles 6-8, through what looked to be the hilliest parts of the course. Seeing the two of them was a great pick-me-up! Later in the course, around miles 17-18, I got to see two college gal-pals of mine, Kelly and Bridget. They both gave me lots of good tips prior to my trip, so I was just tickled when I saw them on the course cheering me on. Then, toward the end of the course, in the very colorful Crystal City, I saw my parents and Connor hanging outside our hotel. It was great to see them, too, for I know that I was almost to the homestretch and that we’d be reunited soon.
Seeing all the Marines and other military women and men was both cool and a bit unnerving. Granted, they were doing a top-notch job at the water stations (I was routinely called “ma’m” and told that I was doing a “good job, ma’m”), but it was still a *different* sight than what I’m used to, living in Chicago and all. There were good portions of the course that I truly didn’t care for, especially when we were running on a highway to get back over to Virginia from DC and vice-versa. If memory serves correctly, I think we did this once or twice at the beginning of the course and then again at the end, toward miles 20-22 and then 24-26. All in all, though, the race was well done and a pretty cool experience overall.
And how did I run? Great, considering. The primary goal of the day was to run sub-4. If I felt great, I’d shoot for 3:50. If I felt like a rockstar, I’d shoot for 3:40. I lined up with the 3:40/3:50 pace area and never found the pace group leaders, so I just ran my own race. All told, I clocked in around 3:57 and felt great. The slowest splits (towards the end, and when I was ingesting fluids and drinks) were in the high 9s, but I never broke 9:59. The course was hilly, but not too bad, and definitely not hilly like Akron or Boston. I think if I had done speed work over the summer and trained for the race like I had trained for the springtime races, I could have done better. But for now, I’ll gladly take a 3:50. I have been thrilled, and I feel elated to see that 3 of my 4 marathons this year have been sub-4: 3:47, 3:39, and 3:57.
The MCM was a great way to end my racing year and also a great little mini-vaycay for my family and me. Put it on your list of races to run someday. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
What’s next? Not certain. I’m signed up for Boston in April, and though I’d like to run another marathon prior to, I need to build up my savings account (having used a considerable portion of it for my upcoming travels to Kenya and the DR). We’ll see. Until then, I’m just reveling in the love and joy that is running… for no other reason than to simply do it.