Happy Medal Monday…and NYE!

Happy December 31st! 2018 was a solid year with regard to running: five races, one in each of the distances I run. Two PRs (Cherry Blossom and Berlin Marathon), my first World Marathon Major (Berlin), and Perfect Fairy Tale Challenge status!

I’m currently planning for 2019, and I can happily add a third Cherry Blossom 10-Miler for April! I’m setting goals behind the scenes also, and I can’t wait to share those as the year progresses.

Happy NYE and hello, 2019! I hope y’all have a healthy and prosperous year! 💖✨🎀

Berlin Marathon: Conquered!

I conquered my first Marathon Major this year!! Berlin was a success and I got a new PR! Recap coming soon! 🎉

What If?

What if?

What if I can land that dream job and salary?

What if I meet that perfect guy and find my happily ever after?

What if I get that one chance to prove everyone wrong?

What if I achieve those huge goals?

What if I make the seemingly unattainable…attainable?

We’re all plagued with, “What if?” scenarios raging through our daydreams and thoughts. Repulsed by reality, we retreat to these pleasant moments that our subconscious conjures up, ones where everything goes right… The perfect day is had. The victory is won. The meeting gets cancelled. Everyone gets to have class outside. Work is cut short so everyone can play with a pile of corgis.

With the sigh of disappointment, we come off our clouds and back into reality, where life is grounded, familiar, real, stale. A snoozefest. Corgi-less.

But sometimes, you latch onto that one hypothetical memory, the one that keeps playing on repeat. It comes alive any time you are in a familiar room, a favorite song is playing…then you start to time travel…and your imagination soars to the future. Every move that is occurring in the hypothetical becomes more vivid, more vibrant; you can feel, taste, hear exactly what is going on as if it is happening right then.

You can’t escape it. It becomes consuming. You can’t imagine yourself NOT doing what your subconscious is hinting at you to do…


I told myself after the Marine Corps Marathon that I was done with marathons. Done. Donezo. Finir. End game. I did four marathons. Four is an okay number; it’s more than one. I was happier with shorter distances. I was starting to fall in love with 10Ks, possibly moreso than half marathons. I wasn’t stuck on some course trapped in my feelings of grumpy misery hoping that the finish line would come at mile two of 26.2.

Settling on my 99% done with marathons mindset, I ran through my runner thoughts: Giving up now means not reaching Six Star Status with the World Marathon Majors. Means no Edinburgh Marathon in Scotland (but there is a half!). Also means not claiming my deferral for Chicago 2018, which I purposely deferred because of life (like so many of us have had to do in the past).

(…frankly, I was repulsed by reclaiming my Chicago entry because it meant repaying $195…)

That’s a fifth of my rent! And I’m not making $14/hr on 42 hours a week like I was in D.C.

But that “what if” was nagging at me.

What if you put your name in for one last lottery, just for shits and giggles? If you don’t get picked, then you can retire from marathons!

Then the logical side of my brain jumped in with:

Buuuuuut if you get picked….ya gotta run it and eat your words after telling everyone you were done with them!

So this battle went back and forth for awhile. I was eyeing the Berlin Marathon, which I had been denied for previously. Its lottery window was still open, and its price manageable.

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Ah, what the hell. I’ll give them my info.

And so I did.


Time passed and the lottery closed. I went back to my normal routine. Pushed it out of my head.

In that time, I had found a song that I couldn’t stop listening to. I had set it as my alarm on work days. Something I could listen to on repeat and not get bored, a theme song of sorts. I discovered “Back 2 U” by Steve Aoki & Boehm ft. Walk the Moon on YouTube when watching various sorority bid day videos. There’s a lot of references to running in the lyrics…and it made me start daydreaming about my races and running in general…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…

Pairing this song to my recent submission to Berlin, I started dreaming…

About making my way to the airport, passport in hand.

Staring out the window as we fly over the ocean, clouds passing by.

Various Germanic scenes of villages, monuments, landmarks.

Starting that marathon at the pop of the gun with 44,000 other runners.

Racing 26.2 miles to the crowds of over a million, to the wall of cheers slamming into me each step of the way, the ensuing adrenaline propelling me to push myself more than I ever had.

Turning the final corner and racing that straightaway through the Brandenberg Gate to the finish line.

It was like one of those freakin’ montages that you see of an elite just before the beginning of a Marathon Major on TV.

Vivid. Vibrant. Real.

And I would tear up every time that I thought about it. For days. Because, “What if? Like, holy shit, what if this actually happens? It’s like I’m clairvoyant. I’m seeing all of this unfold in front of me. I’m getting goosebumps.”


I had a trip to Washington, D.C. planned at the end of November for the Cherry Blossom Kickoff Party. It was two days full of fun and friends while exploring around the city, like I always did when I lived up there.

During all of this, I was refreshing my email. Results would begin the 30th and would take several days to finish…but would they start midnight Germany time, or when their offices opened up the in morning at 9AM Germany time? Honestly, they never gave us direction on the timing. Just the date.

So I waited. And waited. Refreshed my email a million times. Checked my credit card statement (and got fooled into thinking it was the amount taken out. Nope. Just a payment I had made that was so close to the actual amount. Damn.) I tried to stay distracted by not constantly refreshing every five minutes. So I did some laundry, some cleaning, took my cousin’s dog out for a walk, watched some TV…

I was texting Chris when I popped over to my mailbox again for the 593rd time.

There was something new. I looked.

Congratulations!

My eyes went wide. Oh, my, goodness. I clicked open the email and read it. And I started crying.

I. Was. In.

I’m not sure if it was good vibes and good thoughts, or the runner gods wanted me to do this one last marathon, or what was going on, but holy shit. I couldn’t believe it.

My, “The Simpsons are going to Germany!” moment had arrived.

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Now, typically when I apply for lotteries, I blast it all over my social media. However, after proclaiming that I was done with marathons, I didn’t want the word to get out that I had entered yet another marathon lottery. I told just a couple of confidants through twitter DM, but I knew would have to be sneaky about it. At least for a little while.

Chris was ecstatic, as were Adriane and Robert (cousin/cousin-in-law), and my confidants. Social media was erupting, but I resisted jumping in on the party. Instead, I walked down the road and attended the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Kickoff Party, which was the reason I had flown up to D.C. in the first place. Not only did I partake in meeting up with my friend, Heather, and meeting her husband, Roswell, but I got a T-shirt preview, lots of delicious garlic knots and salad, met other runners (including the race director for Marine Corps Marathon, Rick Nealis), and landed a guaranteed entry for CUCB 2018. So see ya in April, D.C.!

As I posted the news on socials and got on the plane the next day to return to Orlando, the fantasy montage that I kept myself entertained with for the days and weeks leading up kept rolling through my mind. Only this time, it felt concrete. Secure. My subconscious fantasy daydream stuff had been right. I’m not sure what good vibes the universe was giving me, but I wasn’t going to complain.

I got in.

I am going to Berlin, Germany.

My marathon journey is not yet over.

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Berlin-Ville

I was a child walking with giants a hundred feet tall
Out in the wild, you wouldn’t believe all the things that I saw
I took a high road out in the open under those stars
And all the while, I just got closer to going too far…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…


Now, fast forward to the present day. There’s one teeny little detail that I have left out of this entire monologue. Until now.

Whilst on the plane heading to D.C. the day before lottery results began, I pulled out my travel journal. I often write when I fly, as it calms my nerves and gives me a fantastic distraction.

I got my song going, cracked open my pen, and started writing….

Berlin results will be announced shortly, starting tomorrow. I’m tellin’ you…being selected will change so much. Having #BQinBerlin on my mind and striving to achieve something that perceived to be unattainable by so many will shatter that misconception. I want to make the seemingly unattainable attainable. Part of me wants to be that role model for others, to show that determination, discipline, and dedication are all required—not optional—to achieve the biggest dreams and goals.

That third line. The little tidbit that I have held from the internet:

#BQinBerlin

You read that right.

I went into this process with a mindset: if selected, I would be going out with a bang. I would be attempting to BQ. To train for, and to qualify for, the Boston. Freakin’. Marathon.

If Berlin truly is destined to be my last marathon, I am going to go out having put my best foot forward. If I qualify, then I’ll pull a Shalane and scream, “Fuck yeah!” I’d wrap up my marathon career on the biggest stage in the running world at Boston. If I fall short, then I know I had the best race of my life and I can retire happily having completed at least one World Marathon Major, and an international marathon.

No matter the results, there will be plenty of beer and bratwurst consumed post-race. And maybe some cake.


Welcome to my 2018 goal. There are many miles yet to be traversed, and it’s not going to be easy. Grab your running shoes and passports. The world is waiting.

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Welcome to #BQinBerlin.

2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I didn’t enter Marine Corps Marathon weekend with high expectations. With my resentment towards the 26.2 distance aggrandizing since the WDW Marathon in January, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out with minimal injury. Having flashbacks of my 2015 experience in DC still fresh in my mind, I didn’t care what my pace was. I wanted to cross that finish line and be done.

I slept terribly the night before, getting about four hours total. Chris and I woke up around 4:45, and before I knew it, it was 5:45 and we were out the door, heading to the Metro. I swear, no matter how much time you give yourself to get ready, it’s never enough!

We arrived at the Metro slightly after six. I was sort of excited to ride, as MCM partnered with WMATA to open the Metro two hours early to accommodate the runners, with extra Blue and Yellow trains to the Pentagon station. Okay, so we’ll have trains operating every five minutes or so, easy peasy. I won’t have to freak out about being late.

I should’ve known better. This is DC Metro, after all. The first train didn’t arrive until 6:30 AM.

We arrived at Pentagon station by 6:45, and it was a madhouse. With each arriving train, the platform got more crowded. The crowds were moving at a snail’s pace to begin with, probably due to those not being prepared in advance with their Metro cards to tap out of the station. It took us about 15 minutes to exit.

Following the swarm of runners to the starting area, the sun started to cast a beautiful yellow and orange glow in the sky. Rosslyn was off in the distance and its buildings were reflecting the rays as a sort of welcoming beacon for us. The weather was slightly chilly, but that was going to change quickly once the sun peaked. After walking roughly over a mile, we came upon the UPS drop off location.

Over the booming speakers, we heard: “If you’re here and running the 10K…ouch!” -announcer guy

(The MCM 10K, which is also on my list, was taking place IN the city as the last 6.2 miles of the marathon course. If a 10Ker was at the Pentagon, well…)

Chris and I found our other Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and running buddies, Lauren, and her husband, Patrick (who was playing support crew with our other friends Chris and Ema). After a quick picture, we headed to the starting area.

With the fear of being swept fresh on our minds, and after careful analysis of our previous races and paces from this year, we decided to line up around the 5:00 area. We’d have a somewhat decent barrier between us and the sweeper vehicles, and be in the vicinity of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups in case we wanted to join.

The parachuters did their performances, and the Ospreys did their flyover to the cheers of the crowds. At 7:55, the Howitzer fired, and the race began!

Sort of.

Any Marine Corps Marathon veteran will tell you that it takes, on average, twenty minutes from the time the Howitzer fires until you cross the start line. So it’s a perfect representation of the military: hurry up and wait.

Around 8:17am or so, the three of us finally started our journey! First stop: Rosslyn.

I posted several times on social media that the first 5K for this race is the worst. It has the most elevation changes, and staying conservative will be beneficial in the later miles. The crowds were ample and puppies even moreso. We stayed steady, walking the hills and running the flat areas. The energy was amplified, and, trust me, greatly appreciated. We hit the 5K mark and descended into Spout Run along miles 3.5-4 on the GW Parkway. (This turned out to be my best mile of the whole damn race.) The views of Georgetown University were gorgeous as we headed towards Key Bridge.

The crowds started to thin a little as we ran down M Street in Georgetown and flew down Wisconsin Ave.

Our next stop was Rock Creek Park, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Lauren and Chris were definitely faster than I was, whether running or speed walking, so I tried to keep up the best I could.

RCP was shady and pretty as always. Having run the same route during several other DC races, I knew what to expect. The turn around at mile 7 led to a nice downhill (same downhill as NAFHALF and halfway up the evil hill from RnR DC), and back into the shade. As we headed past mile 8, we saw the sweeper busses coming up the other side. Already?! There’s no way in hell I was getting on that bus this year.

My lower back was starting to hurt, and it was getting harder to keep up with Chris and Lauren. I didn’t want to bog them down with my slowness, so I told Chris to just go ahead without me. He didn’t want to leave me behind but I didn’t want to screw up their race plans. I watched them get farther away, and I had no doubt that they would finish their first marathons strong and in one piece.

The sun was starting to rage around mile 10 as I headed toward Hains Point. I was starting to feel dehydrated and weak, and slowed to mainly walking with some running bursts in between. My new friend, Christine, whom I met post-expo and is also Ms. United States: District of Columbia, caught up with me around mile 11.5 and we shared some encouraging words before taking off for the Blue Mile at mile 12.

I’m glad I wore sunglasses for this race; I got really emotional watching other runners stopping by the signs of their loved ones and just pausing to reflect.

I also got a lot of high fives in this section, which was great because I was about to fall over.

I wasn’t planning on taking Run Gum until the halfway point, but I took it just before I entered this section. Holy crap, was that a bad idea. I didn’t have water to wash the flavors down, so the sugars coated my mouth and throat and felt thick and suffocating. This error would affect the rest of my race as the ensuing dehydration made me feel sick and gross.

My half split was a 3:09, which is surprisingly decent compared to some of my other half splits over the years.

The second half of the race was torture. My stomach and back weren’t cooperating, the sun was blazing, and I was so ready to be done. However, just past the halfway mark was the Funny Sign Mile. I was SOOOOO happy that they didn’t take these down prematurely, unlike in 2015 when everything seemed to disappear after all the faster runners went through.

The objective here to focus on was making it to the “D.C. Gauntlet” at Mile 17 by 12:33. I had about 45 minutes to make it three miles. Not an easy feat when you feel like dying and are walking the entire distance. The pace car (white car with colored handprints) was annoyingly riding alongside of us (and we honestly didn’t know if it was the official pace car or what it was doing), but I was just happy to not see those stupid sweeper busses riding my ass.

I saw fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother Katelyn at Mile 16! 💙💙💛

I came up on mile 16 and, after taking liquids, thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stepped in and tried to go. Nothing happened. At this point, I knew I was going to be diverted past the first gauntlet and to the bridge. I took a moment, gathered myself, and got back on the course. Even with the copious amount of liquids I ingested, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. It would actually be several more miles before I saw water again.

I missed the cutoff for the D.C. Gauntlet by 13 minutes, and to be technical, I’m not considered an “official finisher” due to this. Cutting across Jefferson Drive and right to the Beat the Bridge portion at mile 19.5, we slowpokes merged in with the bulk of the other runners here, and rejoiced over the fire hydrant that happened to be open and spraying water about. I also heard my fellow Team Shenangians member, Meghan, cheering me on as I went to the bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge…I had no doubt I’d get over this, as I started around 12:50-ish. Still walking, the sun was beating down on us, and its effects were affecting all of us. Still feeling ultra dehydrated, I was very tempted to ask another runner if they had water I could take a quick sip of. Embarrassing as it was, I ran around asking random support groups if they had water. One of them—I didn’t quite catch a name—actually seemed reluctant to give me a bottle, but they did. If it wasn’t for that water, I probably would have dropped on the bridge…or over the bridge.

I got over the bridge and into Crystal City at 1:36, 13 minutes before that cutoff. As I was heading in, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Chris! He was soooo confused as to how I got ahead of him, and I told him I got diverted. Still confused, I told him I’d explain later, and he started getting ahead of me. He was a man on a mission at this point, and I knew he’d finish. I asked where Lauren was, and he said she was behind him a ways.

During the Crystal City section (and at other points on the course), I had other runners come up to me and ask if I was @runDisneyBelle, seeing as they had seen my flat runner on social media. One of them was @runnerchick29! Trust me, I am ALWAYS happy to meet other runners on course. Look for the bow and say hi 🙂

Having run MCM before, I can tell you that no matter how many fire hydrants and hoses were open, Crystal City is awful. It’s neverending, and runners drop like flies. The crowds were really good this year, had lots of food, and I caught quick glimpse of the medal from a distance. I knew had to finish (and to justify buying the jacket prematurely!). I swing around Mile 23, and saw Lauren on the other side of the road! I ran over to her and we were just like, “…mehhhhh….when’s it gonna be overrrr?”

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

The last 5K was just as brutal as the first 5K, but with water and animal crackers, and more sun. By the time Mile 25 arrived, we had swung back to where we had started about 6.5 hours prior. This time, we’d be taking the hill to the Iwo.

I ran into fellow Shenanigator Kristin here, and it was a great boost to get us to the finish!

Left up the hill…

Support crew selfie!


So I crossed the finish line for my fourth marathon, if you can even call it that. Due to being diverted from those miles in the city, the Xacte splits actually calculated predicted pace for the 30K and 35K marks for me. I appreciate its generosity as it gave me 12:33/ppm and 13:17/ppm respectively.

I got across that finish line and my “time” was a 6:41:43. To me, that’s all that matters at this point. Mission Accomplished. Woohoo.

I’ll jump on my soapbox for a moment and shout I AM SO PROUD OF LAUREN AND CHRIS FOR FINISHING THEIR FIRST MARATHON! Chris kicked my ass by twenty minutes and Lauren finished just a couple minutes behind me. I am SO proud of my fellow brothers for accomplishing their goals.

Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

1. I say this after every marathon, that I’m done and completely over the 26.2 distance. Then I find myself toeing the line for another full. But after this one, I feel like I am truly done. I got my “redemption” by crossing the finish line for this race. I didn’t get swept, nor did I die due to the heat. Calculating the miles from Metro excitement and heading to the start line, it gave me roughly 27-ish miles post race, according to my Garmin pedometer. I will call that a win.

Getting back to future marathons…I am supposed to do Chicago next year due to deferring this year. However, I would have to repay $195 just to claim my deferral. That’s literally a fifth of my rent and over two days’ worth of work! With this being the biggest reason to skip, and the ever growing resentment towards the distance, I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Chicago 2018. Let me also remind you all that I will also not be running in Disney in January for Marathon Weekend. I ran the last two years and abhor the course. Why continue doing a distance that I cannot stand, and dealing with the, “I’m so done with this.” angry feeling before, during, and after the race?

2. Weather all around the nation has been obnoxiously hot this year. I suggest to race officials that an additional water stop be put on the bridge for future races. For those like me who got diverted at 17, we did not get the convenience of the two water points that were in the D.C. Gauntlet. We went from the mile 16 water stop to mile 21.75 without water in the blazing sun.

3. Major thanks to everyone who came out and cheered for us during this race, even for us turtles in the back. Trust me, we greatly appreciate it. Cheers are not reserved for just the fastest runners on a course.

4. I was disappointed to see so many vendors packing up their stuff as I made my way into the Finisher’s Festival. I understand y’all have places to go and things to do, but we turtles would like to partake in what you have to offer, as well! I wanted bacon and watermelon.



Congrats to everyone who finished this weekend! It was an arduous course, and the weather moreso. Great job of Charging the District, Beating the Bridge, and Taking the Iwo. You ran with purpose and finished with pride. Extra confetti to the first timers! You deserve it!!

Thanks for a great racecation, D.C. Until next time…

The Weekly Review

Happy Sunday, and Happy Easter/Eat Chocolate For Breakfast Day! This past week was really just…blargh. I felt sunny and happy on Monday with our first eighty degree day, and I think I used up all my happiness in one day, because I fell into a depressive state on Tuesday and it hasn’t let up. Hopefully this week will be different.

But let us review!

1. Clyde’s 10K. Time 1:12:33 (chip time).

 

I am on a PR roll right now! Three races, three PRs. This course, which took place in Columbia, MD, had a variety of terrain (aka a lot of hills). I was honestly surprise with how well I did, seeing as I hadn’t trained at all between the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and this race.

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Clyde’s of Columbia, right along the lakefront.

The route wound its way around the Columbia lakefront and surrounding neighborhoods. It provided a nice distraction as we ran up and down a million hills…

Including THE hill…the Route 108 Hill…

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Another runner suggested, “Don’t look at the hill. Look down at the road and just keep going!” This was sound advice.

I finished 1:12:33 on the results page (which begs the question of why my Garmin was significantly faster, by 34 seconds!). Regardless, it’s a PR of 4 1/2 minutes. I’ll take it! Afterwards, I met up with the Dunkin’ Donuts crew and just had to get a picture of the donut skirt/headband and truck combo.

 

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This was not coordinated! Promise!

 

The Clyde’s of Columbia crew and the Whole Foods next door provided a smorgasboard of goodies including muffins, bagels, fruit, Powerade, etc. I honestly pushed myself during this race, and thought I was going to throw up everywhere. I was sad that I didn’t eat more than I did, but it was delicious nonetheless.

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Afterparty!!

 

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Thank you, Clyde’s!

 

2. Medal Monday

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The Clyde’s 10K was the official conclusion of my 2017 winter/spring racing season. I had told myself that once that race was done, I would go on a racing hiatus for an undetermined amount of time. (Mainly for financial reasons; I know that Chicago is going to be a pretty penny.) This is definitely the most active I have ever been in a four-month period:

  • One marathon
  • Three half marathons (including the unofficial WDW Half)
  • Two runDisney challenges
  • Two 10Ks
  • One ten-miler

3. Tulips on Tulips

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Tulips are one of my absolute favorite flowers, and DC has been blooming with them!

4. Chicago Marathon Training Plan

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After much deliberation, I have settled on a Chi Marathon training plan. It’ll start in June, and from now until then, I’ll be focused on building up my base, both physically and mentally (great advice from Leah and Malinda of TwinsRun.) I haven’t officially decided on whether I want to try to train to BQ this summer or not, so we’ll see.

5. Cutest Post Its Ever!

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Ohhhhh my goodness! I found these at Target and they are the cutest!! *squeee*


One last note:

Best of luck to everyone running the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday! I look forward to cheering you all on from D.C.!

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‘T’was the Night Before The MCM Lottery…

And here we are. The night before MCM lottery.

If this is your first time attempting this lottery, congrats! You’re one of us crazies!

One of us. One of us…

In all seriousness, the Marine Corps Marathon lottery is a day of epic suspense. Starting at noon, the process will begin. It will go a little something like this:


If you are selected, the above will apply.

1 & 2. A pending race registration transaction WILL APPEAR FIRST. Keep an eye on your bank account.

3. It may take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours for the acceptance email to hit your inbox. Don’t panic. There are a TON of runners that registered for the lottery. I didn’t get my email until almost 6pm in 2014 (my first MCM).

4. Celebrate! You’re gonna run a marathon! 🎉🎉
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this process takes awhile. Pack your patience. If you haven’t gotten notification in the first couple hours, don’t get discouraged. Keep checking back periodically.

Good luck, runners! I hope to be on the course with you! 🖤❤️💛

2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Weekend

Very long story short: I had every intention on completing the RnR DC Marathon on Saturday, and to help Chris to finish his first 26.2. However, due to exceptional logistical ignorance and lack of proper course preparation from race officials, our attempt at the distance was soured and resulted in us finishing the half marathon instead.

But you all know that all my racing adventures have a story to tell, so let us begin this journey starting at the expo on a blustery cold Friday morning…

Wintery mix and temps in the 40’s. Not cool, weather.

Chris and I journeyed to the expo at the DC Armory on Friday morning and stayed about two hours. The weather was projected to be in the mid to upper 20’s with wind on race day. This was colder than the WDW Marathon, by the way!

The highlight of the day was getting to meet Olympian and NYC/Boston winner Meb Keflezighi!

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series had a huge banner, which would be one of 21 to line the course at their season finale in San Antonio to celebrate their 20 Years Running campaign. Of course, we had to sign it.

Keep it in perspective, always.

After the expo, Chris and I walked around the city a little bit, and ended up at Shake Shack at Union Station. So good!!

We ended up in bed around 10pm and readied ourselves for the bitter cold that would accompany our marathon the next day…


Race morning comes around and we bundle up in layers (I wore three, plus two sets of gloves) and walk the mile or so to the staging area. It was 26 degrees outside with a real feel of 16 degrees. Coldness aside, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise as we gathered into the corrals. I had projected a 4:30 time finish when I signed up last year–which was a tad too ambitious–and I ended up in Corral 5. I had studied the map and saw that there were 26 corrals total. Okay! That’s cool! I thought. With a 2-3 minute launch between corrals, we should have no problem staying ahead of the pacing vehicle.

I found coffee. I was a happy camper.

Slightly after 7:00am, we started. Chris and I agreed on a :45/:45 interval pace, which served us well for the majority of the race overall. All we had to be concerned about was making it to the half/full split at 10:40am (according to the website). The first 5k was relatively decent, coming in around a 41:00-ish split. But one thing we noticed very quickly, was…where were all the runners? Were there really 26 corrals for marathoners or were there 26 corrals for the half marathoners? Was our math wrong?

The second 5K took us through Rock Creek Park. Sticking with our intervals, we suddenly found ourselves in No Man’s Land. Seriously…where was everyone? With all those corrals on that staging map, you’d think there would have been more people in the back.

#shenanigans ⬆️😜

Around mile 5.75, the Wear Blue to Remember mile started, and with it came The Hill. Chris and I agreed to walk this hill, and I’m glad we did. Future runners: It is at a 10% incline for .10 of a mile. Nevertheless, we persisted: it was lined with American flags and the best course support of the whole race (IMO):

It snaked up like an “S” and all we could do was keep pushing forward. I got many compliments on my Sparkle Athletic skirt, which made me really happy. We got to the top and the 10K split timer was there. Woot!

We were halfway through the first half of this race, and suddenly we found ourselves running through neighborhoods…with hardly anyone lining the streets. This was rather sketchy and kind of scary. We felt like we were in another world…I mean, were we even on the right course? When were the half marathoners going to catch up to us? Where were all the runners?!

I was getting very frustrated around Mile 11, and contemplated just skipping the full route and finishing with the half. I felt pathetic and slow, and even though we were sticking with our intervals, being lonely at the very back of the field with no direction or little support was mentally draining. I had researched the average finish time of the marathoners from past races, and it averaged around 4:15, 4:30-ish. This race clearly wasn’t made for turtles, and it was beginning to show.

However, after petting some very adorable puppies on the course, I changed my mind and started looking for that half/full split, which should have been coming up at 12.3. There were signs…

…and we stayed to the right of the road as loads of faster half marathoners breezed on past us (which we were cheering along, of course). We reasoned that there would be arrows or signs or cones or actual course officials directing this split. We ran along and couldn’t find it. Did we pass it? Where was this marked?

Reached this at 9:58am, according to the timestamp on my camera. That’s 12.4 miles.

We ran over to a couple of police officers who, unfortunately, gave us no answer. (I guess they weren’t briefed on this.) We kept following the course, staying to the right, and saw that the finish line was just over the hill.

What the actual hell. WHERE WAS THE SPLIT? Did we miss it? Did they close it? It was 10am, and the website said that full runners would be diverted at 10:40am:

See? Says so right there. 👆🏻

We crested the hill, and saw the full/5k finish and the half finish. I pulled myself off the course and started crying out of panic and frustration. I couldn’t believe it. We were going to be forced to finish this on the WRONG DISTANCE that we didn’t sign up for, of no fault of our own because someone somewhere screwed up. No signs, no officials, no nothing. We had a 40-minute advantage, and yet, we were still going to be penalized for logistical ignorance by the race directors.

Chris hugged me and said, “Let’s go finish the half.” (“There could be Hamilton tickets at the finish!”…which I will forever quote him for.) Angrily, I walked back across the course and took off toward the finish line, finishing in 3:02.

This ended up being a PR for me (finally, after three years!) by four minutes, but I was so wrecked with emotion I didn’t even think about that until waaaay after the fact. When we took our medals from the medal ladies, we explained what had happened, that it wasn’t our intent to do the half but we really had no other choice because we had no clue what was going on. They were sweet to give us the full marathon medals in addition to the half medals.

I walked to the Mylar station and got a blanket from our friend Lauren (whom you may remember from last year running the RnR 5K together), and I started sobbing again, blanketed with confusion and anger and frustration. We walked through the rest of the recovery stations, and rang the PR bell because, after all, we did technically PR the half distance…

By the way, Chris got a PR of 35 minutes. #ProudGirlfriend

While we were over there, I got my marathon jacket, and then we slowly walked back to the Metro…dejected, upset, and very, very cold.


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

*This was the coldest race I’ve ever done. It took me roughly a day to thaw out. I know the weather was a big deterrent of spectators cheering us on along the course (or maybe this just isn’t that popular of a DC race for people to do so?), so it was a lonely run.

*So…no signage right at the half/full split and not adhering to your own time standards? Rock ‘n’ Roll, get your shit together. You would think that a race series that has been established for 20 years they would have these sorts of things down to a T. I have never participated in a race with such a poor execution of direction and communication. I will, unfortunately, never again sign up for the DC version of this race.

*Also, a word of caution for those of you that aren’t pulling BQs with every marathon you run: don’t sign up for this race in DC. It doesn’t cater well to the slower runners. With a 5:30 finish time, that would equate to a 2:15 half split, essentially (12:30-something pace).  I would highly recommend the Marine Corps Marathon series or something similar.

In the end, I’m glad I got a PR (albeit a small one), and am very very grateful that I had Chris there to maintain the intervals. I am really looking forward to seeing Chris come back in October and crush the Marine Corps Marathon (which he’s wanted to make his first marathon for quite some time now).

I was also relatively okay-ish with my splits, which included a couple potty stops:

What will I do with the marathon medal and jacket? That remains to be seen.


Did you run RnR DC? Did you experience any types of issues like mine?

Next race:Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!