minutes per mile blog

#7: the longest, fastest marathon yet

Six days ago I decided to run my seventh marathon and I think I made the right decision. YAY for a new PR!

This morning I lined up with 10,000 other runners at the big, red Marine Corps Marathon start line. 4-marine_corps_marathon_2013I had my game face on which is not very intimidating at all.marine_corps_marathon_2013_2Since I typically stick to small races in Amish land and the Tennessee backwoods, running such a big race was a bit of a change-up for me. For the most part, though, I liked the support from other runners and loved masses of people cheering!marine_corps_marathon_2013_1I started running and tried to stick to eight-minute miles like I’d been practicing last week. The results (which I put in pink to make prettier):1-2013-10-27So, I pretty much stuck right within ten seconds of my goal pace, except for the beginning warmup/hill miles and mile 24 which was boring and hilly. And then it was OVER! Seriously this marathon was the fastest marathon I’ve ever run. Not just physically of course, but mentally too. Apart from the deep-burning pain in my hamstrings I had a lovely time and crossed the finish line before I knew it.

A photo with the best running/blog/pizza support man in my life and a man driving a tractor who is clearly considering running us over:5-CAM00032The BEST thing was the race ended about a mile from our house which meant we got to (sloooooowly) walk home and cook up a monster omelet without worrying about flights/hotels/suitcases.1-omelet!!!!I’ll probably have more stuff to say about the race as the week goes on, but for all you running nerds here’s some more in-depth contemplation of my first Marine Corps Marathon:

  • This race was a first for me in many ways: My first time to “bandit” a race (woo!), my first time to run a marathon without music, my first time to consistently pace myself, my first time to run a marathon in DC, and my first time to fuel strategically. Also I think it’s the first marathon I didn’t cry during! HA.
  • I’m not sure whether I could have gone faster. Maybe a litttttle bit, but probably not. I really, really tried to calm down and chill out for the first 13 miles and not go too fast — and also made sure to keep a steady speed up to mile 23 or so. Luckily my friend Alison popped in at miles 7-16 to keep me company and help keep the pace :) After I totally bonked out at mile 23 in my last marathon, I didn’t want to sabotage the race by speeding up before the bitter end.
  • Um, did anyone else run this race with a Garmin that told them it was 26 POINT FOUR miles long? Not sure what was up with that. Officially my longest and fastest marathon yet = PR and PDR.


  • Best signs I saw along the way: “You’re running better than the government”; “Run fast for my hipster pumpkin” (with corresponding sad, small pumpkin); “NICE ASS”; “Free sex & beer at the finish line”; “Run now, poop later, don’t trust a fart” (??); “You run faster than the Metro”; “If it hurts, that means it’s working”; “YORO” (You only run once); “You’re beating everyone behind you.” Also there was a man who was literally wearing a pumpkin on his head. And on a non-funny note, there were many signs and shirts and cheerers supporting our armed forces which I found very inspiring and touching.
  • This was the strongest and most confident I’ve ever felt during a race. I didn’t mess around with negative or doubtful thoughts and just found my zen like I practice on the track. I definitely had fun and engaged with the crowd but didn’t let the energy distract me. I treated each mile like it was just a 1600 on the track and didn’t dwell on the miles before or after it.
  • Um, also, I would have never told myself to run this race given that my training consisted of a handful of 18-milers and ONE 20-miler. But my coach said that I could do it and he must be really really smart. Another reason I’m so happy I hired him! High-quality training miles > high-quantity training miles.
  • The race itself: A+. Well organized, great cheering, FLAT route, not too congested. Plus the weather today was amazing so that is always a huge help. Also I love living and running in DC and this run was basically just a big ole’ celebration of that.

My finish time was (officially) 3:30:49, which is an 8:03 pace; my Garmin, however, had me hitting 26.2 somewhere around 3:29 with a 7:58 pace. I’m going to compromise and tell myself that I hit my 8-minute-mile goal on the dot. :)

Thanks to everyone who cheered/read/commented during my training period and race day. That was fun!

  • Local readers: Did you race or cheer for MCM today?
  • What are your mental tricks/mantras for race day?
  • What is your #1 post-race meal?! :)

Of completely un-related interest:



40 thoughts on “#7: the longest, fastest marathon yet

  1. Hey, Mary, congratulations! But you had a bib, so you were not a bandit. I’d forgotten that story Brian told us in the spring about getting MCM bibs for his sisters, hoping they’d come here and run. Glad to hear at least one of them didn’t go to waste.
    Oh, and my favorite post-marathon food: linguini tossed with shrimp and garlic.

    • okay then, i am a wannabe bandit! yeah it was fun being brian’s “sister” for the day. haha. that is a pretty specific post-race meal

    • ohhhhhh! i think i saw you around mile 24… so close! awesome job anyways. also, did your garmin say 26.4? i’m so mad my splits were off!

      • Mine actually said 26.6 something. I have no idea what went wrong…maybe being under several bridges? At least I can depend on the running clock feature. Also, I had no problem with bottle necking. Just get yourself towards the front and you’ll be okay. I was running with the 3:15 group for about 2 miles. Ha!

  2. Congratulations Mary. Your time is awesome. The best time I have ever posted is 3:43. Judy & I love your writing. Stay well.

  3. This was my second year running the 10K portion and I have to say that it was amazing (on a smaller scale, obviously). It completely gave me the drive of training and (hopefully) running the MCM next for it’s 39th year. Congrats to you!

    I personally am aiming for the Penguin Award if I run next year :-)

  4. I spotted you while I was spectating yesterday! I was that stranger cheering for minutespermile somewhere along mile 17. Congrats on a great race!

  5. Well done!!

    I’ve done the “not my bib” race bandit thing a number of times. I was a 14 year old boy in the Ottawa Race Weekend 5K, haha! At my school, we usually have over 100 people sign up, but always a few drop out, so we hand out the bibs to anyone that wants them.

  6. Congrats!!!! I knew you could do it!!!! Btw what brand is that long sleeve shirt? It’s super cute….I’m looking for some comfortable winter running clothes.

    • really random, but it’s from costco! champion brand. my mom saw it and bought it for me about two years ago. i love the thumb holes! :) my other favorite brands for cute long-sleeved tops are nike, aerie fit, and gap fit.

  7. Congrats Mary! Nice splits!

    Your GPS is going to show you ran longer than the official distance because you did run longer than the official distance. You would need to run the straightest lines and all of the tangents on the course to exactly match the measured course. But with all of the other runners, there is no way you could do that. Some marathons have a painted line on the roads which shows the exact measured course.