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…

Florida Countdown: Two Days! ☀️🌴🏖

It’s almost time! Two days to go! 

It has been very sunny this week, perfect for walking around and playing tourist. I’ve been getting more of my favorite places checked off my list before I leave. While there are many things I won’t miss, there are just as many things that I will miss, and I didn’t really have that realization until I started taking the scenery in. I’ll be composing a detailed “Letter to Washington D.C.” blog post shortly!

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.

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…


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.


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.



Thank you, Clyde’s!


2. Medal Monday


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



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

4. Chicago Marathon Training Plan


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!


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.!


Summertime In the City

Gear up for several picture-heavy posts that recap my summer. We start out with some scenes from D.C.! Enjoy!

Storm’s a-comin’. D.C. was plagued with some fantastic thunderstorms this summer. I ran outside of The Hamilton and took this (facing West towards The Treasury). 
The best Ambassador to France we’ve ever had!
Leg day, anyone?
Arlington National Cemetery…you really never know who you’ll stumble upon.
Steps at the ANC.
Neighborhood in the NE quadrant.
One of my favorite buildings ever!
Scaffolding is slowly coming down. Hooray progress!
Union Station is becoming one of my favourite haunts. Incredibly historic and picturesque.


Classic Starbucks.
Supreme Court. Chris and I sat in on a lecture back in August.
Supreme Court staircase…sepia tone.
Staircase again…black and white.
Sunshine through the trees by the Reflecting Pool. Traditional summer shot.
It was a sweltering summer, with heat indexes well over 100 degrees on most days. I had a #MileageMonday through Georgetown during one of these hot, humid days!
Columns on columns.


I traversed the Constitutional Gardens one afternoon and stumbled upon this memorial commemorating the 56 Declaration of Independence signers.



Life Update!!

Hello, hello, hello! Long time, no blogging.

Since RnR DC, my life has gone from 0-60 in two weeks. It’s about time that I got you all updated with what I’m doing (besides listening to the Hamilton soundtrack 24/7).

First of all, it’s time for a new adventure. After all, life is meant for good friends and great adventure.



I’m happy to announce that I landed a job (YAY!) and will be moving!

YAY! Congrats!! Where to, runDisneyBelle?!

So glad you asked.




…to Washington D.C.! To the place where I can’t seem to stop visiting! Woot woot!

I’ve accepted a position in the hospitality/restaurant industry (I won’t divulge the specifics until everything gets clarified and whatnot), and will be relocating within the next couple of weeks. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. But with all the excitement, there is a lot of anxiety involved since I’m really winging the timing and planning on this. Trying to relocate to one of the more expensive cities in the nation without a lot of money to do it with makes my stomach flip a few times. While I recognize and acknowledge this, I’m focusing on the more positive aspects. 

Being able to move out of Pennsylvania is also going to restore my sanity and my soul. Staying in the same state for years/decades on end with similar living environments can render one stale and lifeless. (Edinboro and Troy are spooky similar with their farmlands and cow poo scent in the background.) I have been naturally drawn to Washington D.C. ever since running the Historic Half in 2014. I had contemplated moving down there after graduation, but my employment in Maine last summer took me away from the potential city life and thrust me in the middle of the middle of the woods. That experience was also refreshing (and the area was absolutely beautiful), but still reminded me a little too much of rural PA. I’m bracing myself for culture shock, and I’ve tasted a bit of that as I’ve looked at apartment rental prices in the area and how much everything DOES cost there. I’m surprised you don’t have to pay for the sunshine.

I thrive when given a challenge, and this may be the biggest challenge I’ve accepted so far in my life. I’ve already made peace with the fact that the first couple of months are going to be focused on one thing: survival. What’s nice is that it’s not like I haven’t experienced situations similar to this before when the survival concept was at the core of my life for an extended period of time. I’m no stranger to hard work, and am absolutely willing to put in the hours needed (no matter how long and arduous they have to be) to make this work. Grit and tenacity will take you places, and I’m happy that I know and value what hard work is, even if it won’t be taking place behind a computer with an extensive salary. (Not to say that might not be an option in the future, but hey…everyone starts from somewhere.)

It may not be the “perfect” job, but someone somewhere saw what I can potentially contribute, and they want me on their team. Feeling needed and wanted in that regard is so…I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s satisfying. Humbling. And a hundred other words. The support that I HAVE received from my runners, friends, brothers, and everyone else has been amazing. Trust me, I’m appreciative of every single one of you. ::insert champagne, cupcakes, and confetti here::

I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. It may not appear to be lucrative or the “perfect” job, but it is providing me the chance to begin my professional life. It may not be $40k a year starting out like many young professionals, and I KNOW that it will be nothing short of survival-mode for the first couple of months while I get settled in to the city life. I’m willing to give it a chance. I might not be able to do anything truly fun for awhile, but that’s okay. Why? Because being financially stable with benefits and a future 401K sound perfectly fine to me at the moment.

Now, in the meantime, my racing will take a bit of a hiatus until I can get settled. My priorities at the moment include saving for rent/apartment hunting, networking to meet new people, and striving for the highest in all the things. I may contemplate a race for later in the season, but there’s no set “tour list” for DMV-area races in the near future.

I look forward to documenting my new city adventures. If you are in the D.C./Metro area, I would love to network and meet new friends!

’til next time….

Penn AveT.Jeff

I look forward to blogging from the nation’s capital soon! ❤



Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Expo Volunteer Experience


To kick off this D.C. racecation, I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer for the RnR DC weekend by my fellow Team Shenanigans member, Jenn (@Jenneral1 on Twitter!). I arrived at the D.C. Armory around 8:45 on Friday morning ready to work and give my fellow runners a fantastic experience.

The majority of the volunteers would be downstairs in the basement doing corral check-ins and changes. After receiving instructions from the Race Crew supervisors, Jenn and I called dibs on the Corral Change booth.

Yep, Team Shenanigans was in charge of making decisions.

For those that have never run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, the corral changes for this series is a LOT easier than, say, runDisney. RnR corral changes are based purely off of an honour system. If you know that you’ve been training at a faster pace than the corral you are placed in, you can request to be bumped up. We make a little tally mark on the spreadsheet for statistical purposes and to make sure the corrals are filled evenly. That’s all! (There were many comments of, “That was so easy!” It is. You don’t have to sacrifice your firstborn or sell your soul to transfer corrals.)

One of the most humbling things I experienced during my time at the corral change booth was being asked questions and confidently giving advice to other runners about pacing and to provide corral options. Jenn said that it is better that experienced runners are at this booth to act as a mentor and source of information. It was awesome seeing many runners walk over with a harried, worried facial expression about their corral placement and leave with a smile and newfound energy to rock their race day.

Plus, it was great seeing runner friends, Ken (#kenthumbsup) and Malinda of @TwinsRun!!

Around 3:00, I jumped over to Corral Check-Ins. Around this time, until 7:15 or so, the traffic picked up a bunch, and volunteers were leaving their morning shifts. At one point, I was manning two corral sections due to the area being temporarily understaffed. I was put in this chaotic situation many times last summer—I worked for a whitewater rafting company, and the pre-rafting paperwork/logistics craziness that would occur in the hour before everything was to start (which I called “Power Hour”) truly prepped me for these Corral Check-In tables. (Thank you, Three Rivers crew!)


(…after the storm at 7:15 PM. It was quiet. Too quiet….)

Our Race Crew leaders were incredibly hospitable. They made their rounds roughly every hour or so, making sure we were fed and watered appropriately. (I ate so many fruit snacks and Cheetos it was unreal.) We also got lunch and time to explore the expo. They made it known that our service and time were greatly appreciated. (If it isn’t for the volunteers dedicating themselves for however long they will be there, these races will not have the same fluidity. So make sure you thank your volunteers when you see them!)


I will be more than happy to volunteer for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series again. I had a fantastic experience, and I encourage anyone that is even thinking about volunteering to do so. I noted that the majority of the crowds at this expo were very friendly towards us volunteers, even during peak periods. There was no drama, nothing getting broken, no craziness… just smiles and thank yous. It’s very different being on the other side, but volunteering gives you a better perspective on everything a race weekend needs to run right.


Next up, the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. 5K!

2014 Marine Corps Historic Half Recap


So here we are once again. Today’s adventures will take us to the 2014 Marine Corps Historic Half. If you recall, I signed up for the HH while I was in Disney for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge. Like the previous races, this one will come with its own set of lessons learned and whatnot. Sooooo let’s get started!


Out of all the races I have done, this one may have been the most complicated driving-wise. The Historic Half took place in Fredericksburg, VA, which is about an hour from Washington, D.C. Once again, Adriane (my cousin) had come to the rescue and provided me a place to stay. However, since I was still in school at Edinboro at the time (far NW corner of PA), there was going to be a LOT of driving to do in a short amount of time.

About 7 hours’ worth in one day. But I finally made it!


I left Edinboro early, didn’t die on the way down, and made it to the Expo to pick up my race packet and other goodies, then took off again for the city. I arrived around sunset, and my cousin-in-law, Robert, decided to take me out for dinner and a little nighttime sightseeing. The Washington Monument had just reopened the week prior due to the 2012 earthquake that left the structure a little no-so-sound for tourists. (This provided a perfect topic for my Crisis Managemnt class on geologic crises and D.C. tourism later that week.)

I finally got to bed around midnight, and I knew I was going to be hurting in four hours when I had to leave for the race. I got up around 4:00 AM, and got on the road shortly thereafter. I was pumped as I was driving down, jamming out to some tunes and eating EnergyBits. I was a little shaky about where I was going, but the traffic was VERY tame and rather sparse. I soon found other cars with their various race stickers on them, and followed them to the starting area. I parked over in the Wegman’s parking lot, caught a couple more zzzz’s, ran in to buy some breakfast, and waited patiently for more time to elapse before exiting my car.

Lesson 1: Parking lots at the start/finish area, with a Wegman’s RIGHT THERE, is like heaven for a runner. Get there early for prime parking.


The race started at 7 AM, and by comparison to the PHM, the field was tiny. Maybe 7,500 runners at most. This was fine by me; I could actually run without getting trampled!

I blazed my first 5K in 38:36. For me, a 12 mpm was relaxed, steady, and fast by my standards. As the course began to weave its way through the little suburban towns, I couldn’t help but notice that EVERYONE BRINGS THEIR PUPPIES. CUTEST RACE SUPPORT EVER.

Lesson 2: Take time to pet the puppies. And shake the hands of the veterans that cheer you on. Your time may drop a bit, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.


Around the halfway mark, I started feeling incredibly fatigued. More Energybits were consumed and more miles were checked off with more walking than running, of course. Thank you, Jeff Galloway, for ensuring us turtles that it’s okay to walk during a race without feeling lousy about it.

Lesson 3: Seriously, if you need to walk, go ahead and walk. You’ll save your legs and prevent injury.

Then…Hospital Hill came.

What is Hospital Hill? Well, I’m glad you asked…


This feature is the crowning glory of the Historic Half, and it is constantly talked about online in the months and weeks leading up to the race. At the HH expo, there is a treadmill you can jump on that simulates its 12% gradient. The hill lasts slightly over half a mile, but let me tell you, it seems like an eternity. And there are no trees for shade. This hill makes or breaks runners, but you have to conquer it in order to get that medal!

Lesson 4: Do NOT shy away from hills and stairs during your training. Running these will seriously help your overall fitness and your VO2 Max levels, plus you can make it up Hospital Hill without dying (as much).

I sloooooooooooowly made my way up the hill. I was so tired and achy at this point, all I wanted to do was sleep. But I was almost finished, so I couldn’t just crash in the middle of the street for napnap time!

I finished in 3:10:04, and got medal #5 for the collection! (This medal is made of pewter, I believe, and it is heavy!)



Post-race adventure:

So, remember that fatigue I was talking about earlier? Yeah, all of the Energybits in the world couldn’t quell it. I ran into Wegman’s, bought lunch, and sat down for about an hour eating it. On my way back to D.C., I could barely keep myself awake. It was warm outside, I was exhausted, and coupling those things together meant that it was prime sleepytime.

Result: I almost rear-ended a car on the beltway. I swear, I was about an inch away from its back bumper. Squealing tires and all.

After this, I knew I had to pull over somewhere. So I found a parking lot and parked under a big shady tree, where I proceeded to nap for about 1 ½ hours.

Lesson 5: DON’T DRIVE WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. BAD THINGS MAY HAPPEN. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your backseat nap-ready.


After-race thoughts…

If you’re looking for a serious challenge, do this race. The variations in elevation make the course really interesting. The course support is wonderful, from spectators, Marines, and puppies alike. The field is NOT as large as other mega-races as aforementioned, so it’s nice to attempt a PR at. To this day, this race is my second-fastest half marathon time, and still reigns first for 5K and 10K splits. (38:36 and 1:20:15).

I’m still aiming for a sub-3 hour half marathon, which has eluded me thus far in my running endeavors. I guess my new theme song should be, “Someday My PR Will Come”.

Thanks for reading! All past race recaps are now complete. Until next time…

2014 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I had a surprisingly decent sleep the night before the marathon. Granted, I kept waking up about once an hour, but I felt eerily rested. I woke before my 4:30 alarm and located some coffee in my cousin’s apartment (my liquid gold), and my pre-race chow (bagel and EnergyBits). At 5:30, I departed for the Shaw-Howard Univ. Metro station. (which was a 10-second walk from the apartment). The station was empty, save for maybe two or three other travelers. I found a young woman lacing up her sneakers and instantly made a new friend (she told me that the UPS bag sticker was on the back of the bib, which was news to me! <— note to those running in the future).

Once the metro let us off at the Pentagon station, it was about another mile and change walk to the corrals. Tents, UPS trucks and port-a-potties dominated the huge parking lot. I dropped off my stuff, then made a beeline for the potties for the first of about eight pee trips during the day. I walked over to the corrals and realized that 1. I was insanely early, and 2. It was breezy and I had no addditional warm up clothes with me. (BIG mistake…by the time we lined up for pre-race ceremony things, I was shivering and shaking.)

Pre-race anthem was done by United We Sing, and being a veteran anthem singer myself, I absolutely approved this version: it was short, to the point, and done with gorgeous harmonies. The parachuters did a great job with the American flags, and the military aircraft was an impressive touch.



The Howitzer fired and we slowly shuffled to the start line. It took about twenty minutes to get from my spot in the 5:30 corral to the start line. (I had originally shifted near the ClifBar 5:30 pace group, but lost them almost immediately.) I crossed the start and realized that the next 26.2 were mine for the taking.











I had studied the course elevation chart and knew that the first 5K was going to be uphill and arduous. Lee Highway at Mile 2 was steep and hilly. I held back a TON during this, reaching the 5K around 40 minutes in.

The crowd support during this first 5K was fantastic. (And, as always, there were So. Many. PUPPIES!!! :D)



Georgetown University along the Potomac

Miles 4 and 5 went past the waterfront by Georgetown University, across Key Bridge, and provided great scenery and delicious smells as we went down M Street. Restaurants are getting ready for their morning brunch crowds, so be ready for the tease!


Georgetown’s historic M Street



I found two women to run with for a little bit, running with 1:1 Galloway intervals. Running through Potomac Parkway and into Rock Creek Park was wonderful; this was a scenic, tree-lined, forest-y, shady kind of run. The sun had not quite kicked in, but you could tell it was creeping up. At this point, I needed to pee. Again. I also needed to take some EnergyBits. I had a terrible time trying to hold a cup of water in one hand, tear the runner’s bag open with my teeth, and run all at the same time. I had to stop (and thus losing my interval girls), take my Bits, and pee. I lost a ton of time and my groove trying to do this; I’m a person who can’t think straight if I have to go to the bathroom. The world essentially has to stop and restart after I get done.

At this point, the runner grumpies started to get to me. I wasn’t even at the halfway mark and I was pissed off at the world. Mile 12 was dedicated to Team Blue (wear blue to remember those who have fallen) and was lined up with American flags. It was significant and touching, but I didn’t get lost in the sights too much. Halfway came around and I was on Haines point. Humourous signs lined up the sides of the roads and provided much needed giggles and happiness. (One of the best signs was “Run like the person behind you has Ebola.”) I also found a pack of Kappa Sigma brothers cheering, and upon recognizing that they were Greek, I shouted, “Everyone gets a high five!!” and ran down the line for high fives.


1925189_730850596970363_23775239605698309_n10710975_730850573637032_3212737196771477628_nThe race had started to get hot and sunny at this point, and while there was a strong breeze, there were no clouds in sight. Just before the National Mall, I began to observe my watch more and more, determined to Beat the Bridge. (MCM 101: Make it to the 14th St. Bridge by 1:15 PM and you’re safe from being swept.) Once again, I had to lose time by peeing. (Those Marines certainly know how to keep you hydrated!) I took more bits before hitting the Mall. Around Mile 16, I noted that it was around noon. Hour and fifteen minutes to go.


Being near the back of the pack, I kept looking around behind me to see how many runners were still there, and where the pace vehicles were at. At a couple of points, they were on the other side of the road that I was running in the opposite direction on. (If seeing pacers doesn’t motivate a runner to go faster, I don’t know what does.) Passing by the Washington Monument, I proceeded down the National Mall towards the Capitol Building (which I kept mistaking for the White House the entire time I was there). I saw a small group of Alpha Phi Omega brothers that I shared cheers with on Mile 17 🙂10685560_730850713637018_7866336727615202433_n

Heading back up on Miles 18 and 19, I began to run with two other women. We were all calling out times to each other and to those around us, encouraging each other that, “We were going to maaaaaaake it!” with regards to the Bridge. 12:55 hit and we were a mile out. We kept scaling the hill that was right before the bridge, wondering, “Is this the spot? Is…*this* the spot? When are we saaaaaafe?!” (Note to race coordinators: there should be blinking signs, balloons, and Hollywood-style spotlights at the “safe zone”.) We saw the Mile 20 marker in the distance and agreed to take pictures of each other when we got there as proof that we Beat the Bridge!


Once pictures were done, we began to trek across the 14th Street Bridge, which is a lot longer than it looks. There was NO cloud cover, the sun was beating down on us, and I could feel my skin frying. It was 1:15 at this point, and knowing that I was safe, I didn’t care about my pace at all. As I slowed down to a steady walk and my big toenails began to feel the strain, the runner grumpies resumed and I knew that the last 10K was going to be the most arduous. Crystal City was beautiful, but a pain in the butt. Being a “turtle”, I could tell that the majority of the crowds had dispersed from earlier. (Even when I was running down the National Mall, the crowds were sparse, and pedestrians were risking walking across the road in front of us, which was highly annoying.) Before Mile 23, there was this humongous water sprayer that cooled us down, but once again, I found it annoying. Between 23 and 24, a spectator called out that even though we were at the back of the pack, we were doing fine and that “you’re almost there!”

{Spectator etiquette: First of all, don’t shout out where our location is in reference to everyone else. Yes, we’re at the back, but don’t make us feel inadequate by pointing out the obvious. Also, unless we are on the last mile, we are not “almost there”.}

10354088_730850736970349_2425747227096470059_nThat last 10K had me counting down the miles. Finally, the final ascent by Arlington National Cemetery was conquered and I crossed the finish line. I could officially call myself a marathoner! 1901705_730850773637012_8415929836316732961_n

My time was 6:51:51. I had improved my 10K and half times by about five minutes for each. (1:21 and 3:01 respectively.)

As I rested on the grass by the Iwo Jima memorial, I told myself that this was a one-and-done deal. As the likes and comments and favorites came flooding through my social media, it didn’t relinquish the pent up tension that had built over the second half of the race. I was grouchy and I knew it. I’m not sure of what this “runner’s high” elation that others experience feels like, but I had the opposite. From now on, I’m definitely sticking with anything below a half.

I am happy that I set out and accomplished this race. With all races, it had its highs and lows. Congrats to those who participated and extra thanks to those who allowed me to run with them.


Next up: Recovery. Then Glass Slipper 2015. Yaaaaaaaay Disney!

Marine Corps Marathon: Day 2


(^^^^adorable ornament I found at the Natural History gift shop. Can’t wait to hang it up on the tree this year!)

After 12 hours of melatonin-induced sleep, I got around to having more adventures.

-I finally got to channel my inner Abigail Chase/Ben Gates by going to the National Archives! We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but take my word: it is a must-see. The rotunda was the highlight, as it showcases the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. One of these days the academic in me will have to return to conduct research.

-Got word that two Kappa Kappa Psi brothers were in the area! After wandering about for a little while trying to find each other, we met up at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Kelly, Doug, and I wandered about and geeked out at the science-y goodness of the place, including the Hope Diamond and butterfly exhibit.

-Got back and ate more carbs and food. Washed my clothes. Pinned my bib. Finally relaxing for a little. I’m so glad I read that the best night’s sleep you can get is TWO days before the marathon…you’re gonna be so excited/nervous/insert emotion that you won’t have much time to sleep!

I would be lying if I didn’t say I was at least a wee bit nervous about this. I’ve never raced more than a half before. This is a full freakin’ marathon….26.2 miles….two half-marathons back-to-back! I’m thrilled for the race course, as it should provide me with enough distractions to keep my mind off the mileage. It was mentioned that the first 20 miles should be run with half your energy, and the last 6.2 with the other 50%. Non-runners/athletes don’t understand what a mental game a race or event is (even musicians are drained after a performance because it’s so mental). The main objective: Beat the Bridge. Get to the 14th St. Bridge by 1:15 and you’re good to go. If not, well, you’re SOL.

I’m ready to make this super fun. D.C. has been good to me. If there is a time to Strive For the Highest, as my fraternity motto says…this is the time. And what better time to do it than running with 30,000 best friends through the streets of D.C., being shadowed by some of the most prolific figures in American history?

The Howitzer firest at 7:55 AM. OORAH!