Marathon weekend!

I ran a marathon! But first, let’s start on Friday (which is part of the story!). I needed to go into the patent office in order to get a new badge and redo a certificate on my laptop (if you live within 50 miles of the office, this is a once every 3 years type of thing). I decided to take the Metro in because I hadn’t ridden the Metro since the beginning of the pandemic and I thought it would be good practice for getting to the marathon on Sunday because the patent office and the marathon start (Pentagon) are relatively close. When I did commute to the office regularly 2007-2009, it would take me 90 minutes from opening the front door until my butt was in my desk seat. But on Friday, it took me almost 2.25 hours. I misread the Metro alerts and didn’t realize the entire yellow line was shut down until I was trying to wait for a yellow line train. So I had to backtrack back into city center – so I probably blew about 20 minutes right there. I knew that the stations past National airport were closed entirely, I had to take a bus shuttle to King St station – the bus shuttling ran well and without a hitch – I managed to make my morning computer appointment without a problem. Then I met up with Andy, who unbelievably is one of the few people who is working on campus (during the pandemic, they made a strong push for everyone to sign a telework agreement – so I think the office is like 80-90% teleworking now, Andy held out and didn’t sign it!) and we met up for lunch. He is awaiting his retirement date – there is a little countdown clock sitting on his monitor… We had lunch at my favorite Thai place, which was so so quiet! Like weekend quiet. I’m not sure how they are staying in business… We had a great time chatting and eating. Then I retraced my Metro steps backwards to get home. I did stop by the marathon start station to familiarize myself to the start (there was signage up already and parking advisories) and I made a quick stop to the newly renovated Air and Space museum to check it out ahead of family visiting (I’m working out various attractions for them to see while they are in town.)

On Sunday, I got up really early and was on the Metro before 6am. They were running the Metro early for the marathon. I’m so happy I did the Metro test run on Friday because I didn’t make the same mistake I did on Friday and it was super clear I would have because you’d think that all the people were going to go to the same place, but this was not true! At Metro Center, the fuller train was going the wrong direction. I had to stop and confirm with another runner – we’re going to Pentagon, right? He’s like – yeah, that’s right and then we both wondered where the other people in the other direction were going. Anyways, I thought I had left plenty of time for everything, but it ended up that it felt like I didn’t wait very long at the start line before starting. I met up with the 5 hour pace group and the two women pacing were hilarious – one from Minneapolis and the other from NYC and they were both very experienced marathoners and pacers. Like well over 100 marathons run and over 10 years of pacing experience. So I had no doubt about their abilities and therefore, was a relief to me – I didn’t have to pay attention to my watch at all and I didn’t. I ran with my new found friends. I also ran with a young woman named Molly (also wanted to finish at 5 hours) who had unbelievable course support, her family had flown in, her boyfriend made signs, it was fun to see them on the course (sometimes before Molly saw them). It was a gorgeous day. I ended up being dropped by the pace group at about the 22 mile mark (the pacers were very good at trying to pep talking, but alas, I had pretty much hit (unknowingly – only known after the fact looking at the data – my max heart rate and I know that cannot be sustained for very long) and then shuffled/jogged my way to the finish line. I didn’t walk, but at the end I was going as fast as some of the walkers. I ended up with a time of 5:08 which I’m completely satisfied with.

Notes on training (for me, mainly and can be boring for others):

So my longest, long run in training was 18 miles on the C&O canal at 11 min pace (based on my Garmin). This was a completely doable, though challenging, long run for me. Paul suggested for this marathon, that I take it out at that pace and see how I feel. I felt like that was a bit too ambitious because the MCM is not a flat course. It starts off with big hill at the beginning and then a few smaller hill/bridges at the end – the last 4 miles. So with the 5 hour pace group, the pace was going to be 11:27 per mile. But the thing with the marathon is that that’s the per-mile-marker pace. As a runner you always run slightly more than a mile per mile marker. This is because the mile markers are measured to the shortest distance which is not following the middle of the road, it’s running tangents which I know I wouldn’t be able to do well. So the 11:27 pace, correlates to a slightly faster training pace of probably 11:15 ish pace (I didn’t do the actual math). So I did that pace for 22 miles and then I had to fade. The little hills at the end of the course were too challenging for me. I ended up, by my garmin, running 26.83 miles at a pace of 11:30. I know this counts for exactly nothing, but my garmin registered that at 26.2, I came in at exactly 5 hours, and this pleases me as I train to my watch, so I spent the last 8 minutes running the extra distance.

Notes on the weather:

A week ago, I thought the forecast was going to be 40 and raining and this is the absolute worst weather to run in. I was resigned to this fate. Jeremy was a bit more proactive and wanted to find me *just the right thing* and went out and bought a lightweight (expensive) rain gear just for the occasion. He said, if I buy this, then it won’t rain. And it didn’t. It was a gorgeous running day. Freezing cold at the start. And then ever so slightly too warm in the full sun on pavement – but I couldn’t have asked for anything more beautiful.

Notes on pacing:

So went I was stumbling the last few miles in, I was hoping to stay ahead of the 5:15 pace group because if they passed me, it meant that I should have started with them! But I managed to stay ahead of them – which begs the question, should I have started with them and felt better and then picked up the pace and gotten a better time? This is the first race in my memory (though my memory is bad) that I’ve positive split, I generally like to negative split races (where I run faster the 2nd half). But I often like to negative split too strongly which means I should have started out faster. So would I have gotten a faster time if I started with the 5:15 pace group and then maybe at the 1/2 point started to progress? Jeremy thinks no that it was too much time to make up too far into the race and well past my training distance, I think maybe? I’m not sure. Maybe it would have felt better at the end (though I kind of enjoyed in the strangest way the little shuffling at the end, because what is a marathon without an absolute struggle at the end?). Jeremy also still thinks I’m not eating enough. I started eating gummy fruit snacks at mile 6 and then a package every 3 miles at 80 calories a serving. It kind of makes me feel ill to eat the sugar – I never feel hungry during the race and I kind of have to force myself to eat the fruit snacks. I dunno.

Am I going to do it again?

Maybe. It’s a soft finish time, I know I could do better with a bit more training and a faster course. We’ll see. Right now I’m going to rest for a while.

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