Marine Corps 17.75K race recap

For those of you who know me or have been following for awhile you will know that when I have a plan in my head, it needs to be executed in that way and nothing else.  When things don’t go according to plan, well let’s just say that it doesn’t end so well(foreshadowing…..hmm read on).

That being said I participated in the Marine Corps 17.75k this past Saturday.  Upon completion of this event, you get guaranteed entry into the marathon in October.  Everything is centered around the year 1775 because that was the year in which the Marine Corps was founded.  I got in luckily(race sold out in 9 mins) and I selected this race because I got in through the lottery for Broad Street in May and I did not want to try my luck again for the marathon.  So it was prep time.  I did two long runs and some speed work prior to this weekend and went in feeling really good.

9:00 for 9 miles and I was thrilled!
Friday rolled around and it was go time.  I took a half day at school and I was gone.  It felt like the morning dragged on but finally lunch hit and it was time to do my shake out stuff and get on the road.  The race was down in Virginia and I had about a three hour car ride ahead of me.  So I went to the gym, got changed and went outside for my shake out run because it was beautiful.  
Garmin portion of the run.
Then it was back inside for a light 15 min swim and off I went.  I stopped and filled the car with gas, got some soft pretzels to start the carb loading and headed south.  I got to Maryland and just as I was about to get on I-95 south there was an accident, DETOUR…Ok no big deal.  I turned around and found a different route and before I knew it I was off.  I could take a breath and just settle in for a bit, or so I thought…..Somewhere around an hour in I hit traffic.  I thought hmmmm maybe it is just an accident. From there on I was in on and off traffic all the way down 95.  My eta on the GPS just kept going up and up and up.  My three hour ride turned into a six hour journey.  Yes you read that correct SIX HOURS in the car the day before a race.
I arrived at my hotel somewhere around 10pm and I just wanted to find some pasta and go to sleep.  My car ride didn’t go so well, why did I think that was ever going to happen.  All the local places that would have pasta were closed, so Pizza Hut it was…..I put in my order and they told me that I would have it by 11:15…..ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I had to be up at 4 so that I could get to the race site and pick up my packet, I was not about to wait that long to eat.  I got in my car and drove to McDonalds, got food and came back home(more on that decision later). 
After finishing my food I went to bed, I had to put this day and road trip behind me and go to sleep.  Luckily I had a gorgeous hotel room in a brand new and quite hotel so I could get some sleep.  When my alarm went off at 4am it was not the same feeling as any other race day.  Normally I am excited and ready to go, this morning felt a bit different though.  I felt like I was just going through the motions.  I gathered my stuff, mixed up my gel and water and went down to the car.  I knew I had to get on the road because I had a lot to handle yet.  
I arrived at the race site, grabbed my packet and put my bib on.  Unfortunately we were shuttled over to the start because there was no parking right there.  I have a weird superstition that you do not wear your race shirt until you have completed your race.  You get it and you put it in your bag, don’t try it on, don’t wear it to the race until you earn it.   It all stems from nothing new on race morning.  It is a new shirt and you have never run in it before so don’t run in it on race day.  Well I couldn’t take it back to my car because the shuttle wouldn’t have be back in time so I had to have it on me while I ran.  Luckily I could tuck it in the band of my shorts and not wear it.  
Now to the race.  We went through opening ceremonies, national anthem and all that good stuff.  Heard some very inspirational stories of people who were 70+ years old doing the race, some who lost 100+ pounds and who were looking to do the marathon etc.
Snapped this just before I set off.
Now to the run itself.  It was through a beautiful corse in the Prince William County Forest.  The first 2 miles were on a trail and then we turned off onto the road.  As we were approaching the first mile marker I could see the mile marker for the 10th mile at the bottom on a hill.  I thought hmm that’s strange.  As I went on I realized, we were going to climb that hill at the start of the last mile…..As I was running I felt good, didn’t look down at my watch and let it control my race, I was just running.  Things were a little congested through the first mile but then it opened up.  Somewhere around mile 4-5 I felt this pit in my stomach.  Not a pit like I needed to hit the next Porta John or find a tree but one that was saying “Hey dumby you didn’t carb up enough.”  That was when I knew McDonalds the night before had caught up to me.  It was a stupid choice, but it was out of my control.  Had my plan worked out and I made it to my hotel in three hours like I thought, I would have had a nice pasta dinner on my beautifully balcony and enjoyed the sunset.  But instead I watched the sunset from 95 and was forced to make the decision I did.  I hit mile 6 and decided to look at the garmin…I was going slightly slower than I wanted.  I tried to pick my pace up a bit but when I pushed I could feel my stomach saying no.  I sipped my perform and gel combo but it didn’t help much.  I was just trying to survive at this point.  I hit mile 10 and I knew that hill was just around the corner.  As I approached the hill I could hear a guy say to the girl he was running with, “don’t worry this is out last hill!” I was amazed at the number of people who were walking the hills.  I am not sure if it is because of my journey or what but I have always told myself that no matter how slow I run, I will NEVER walk during a race.  Today I did just that, no matter how slow I climbed those hills I did not walk one time and I am very happy about that.  As I conquered this hill I thought about what that guy said, I was done with the hills.  As I rounded the corner though and made it a little further I found myself facing another hill!!  I looked for the same guy as if to say “You son of a gun you lied to me!!” I may have even laughed out loud as I started to climb this hill.  After that I knew that I was in fact done with the hill.  Coming out of the forest I caught a guy and stayed next to him.  I told myself no matter what he was not going to beat me to the finish line.  Well he must have told himself the same thing because it was a foot race to the finish from there on out.
As I was coming down the finish shoot I got chills, this immediate swarm of emotions took over my body.  It was the same rush last year at Broad Street and Atlantic City.  It was a swarm of I did it, I am done, another race, I made it, I can’t believe this…..A million things all at once.  In an instant I thought of every person who made fun of me, every fat joke, and every person who has supported me along the way.  I had a time goal in my head and a placement goal in my head.  My time goal was 1:30, my placement goal was 10th or better for my age group.  Unfortunately neither were reached.  I crossed the finish line at 1:44 on the nose and ended up missing 10th place by 2 mins.  I took 11th, but more importantly I learned a lot from this race.  It’s funny because as I was talking with someone about this race they said “well all you need to do is finish” and yes they were right, the main reason I selected this race was for the entry to the marathon, but it is still a race and I still want to give it my best.  Maybe that is just my mentality.
Garmin report from the race.
Now let me side track for just a moment and comment on something that I was not so thrilled about.  Upon crossing the finish line I grabbed a bottle of water and looked for the voulnteers handing out medals.  I have grown to love race medals.  They are a sign of accomplishment, you get to wear it around after and it shows you did it!  I didn’t see anyone so i got in line to grab more water and some food.  As I went through the line I was still searching for my medal……nothing.  As I exited the tent I found some marines and this is what they were giving out
A chip……REALLY?! I was slightly annoyed and almost offended.  I wanted a medal, I just completed my race, I ran 11 miles, give me a damn medal!  Sorry rant over…..
I learned that sometimes things don’t go according to plan and you need to plan for the worst.  I learned that I need to train for hills a lot more than I did and most importantly I learned or reaffirmed that nutrition can be your best friend and your worst enemy all in the same day.  I will continue to work with my nutrition and practice my hills through workouts.  My next race is the 10 miler in Philadelphia and my time for 10 miles this past weekend way about 5 mins faster than last year there so I am excited to see what happens there.  As for now it is back to my normal training schedule for this season.  For a rather unplanned race I can’t be too upset about the out come.  Not to mention it’s 11 miles and a rather successful 11 miles if I can say so for myself.  I said to a friend last night “I have come a long way and things aren’t going to happen over night” this is very true and it is the one piece of advice I can offer to anyone on a similar journey.  Things take time, it doesn’t happen overnight and there will be setbacks or days where things just don’t go according to plan.  That is my take home message from this race.   
As for now it is another day of recovery and then back to training.  I was tight today but felt surprisingly well considering.  I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone for their support, the countless texts, comments and messages of motivation I received.  You guys rock and I really appreciate it!  Next Up is Broad Street!! Until then……
All for now
Keep FSU and Do It For Yourself!

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