Marine Corps Marathon Recap

This weekend I completed the Marine Corps Marathon – my 7th standalone marathon (8th including Ironman Austria or 9th including the Jed Smith 50K). It’s the first marathon I’ve done “for fun” and the most undertrained I’ve ever been for a race this distance.

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It was also, surprisingly, a lot of fun!

We flew to DC early Saturday morning – might as well get on the east coast schedule, so we could go to bed early on Saturday night. We packed in only backpacks, so we could go straight from the airport to the expo. Having done this race last year, we knew how long it took to get that location and wanted to get it out of the way.

I hoped to find Running Skirts at the expo and found it as I had almost given up. Knowing it was a risk, I decided to buy a new skirt for what I thought would be a really rainy day. I had read good things about the skirts and my packed one was so old it was really starting to chafe. I took a risk and bought their new pattern, which features distances from many of the races I’ve done:

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As soon as we got to the hotel, the first thing I did was lay out my race day outfit. Better to know early if I forgot anything!

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In my bag:

If you’ve been following for the past few posts, you may notice that both my skirt AND my shirt were new. I broke a cardinal race rule on Sunday, wearing TWO new items for the race. It was a fun race, so decided to risk it. And I was happy to discover that both the skirt and shirt were as comfortable as can be!!

And I LOVED the side pockets in the Running Skirt – I am a new fan of this company! I put my phone in that pocket and it was super-comfy under my tutu.

Okay – so on to the race. I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about this race. When you know you’re undertrained, it can be a little scary to start a marathon. I chatted with people around and trying to block out the distance I had to run. Honestly, I try to forget the distance for most long races I do. It’s too overwhelming, so I ignore it! =)

Instead I focused on running slow, smooth, and easy. It took me a few miles to settle into my pace, but I targeted 9:30s knowing it was going to get tough with the limited mileages on my legs. I focused on just running 10 miles.


Photo courtesy Matt Swilling

The first 10 miles were NOT what I expected – very residential with beautiful fall trees and houses. There were lots of hills in the first 3 miles and I was thrilled to find that they felt easy. I am terrible at running hills, always have been, it’s a huge weakness of mine. But the past few miles of running hills near my house at 6000+ feet really paid off this weekend…it was comfortable!

Around 10.5 miles I found my friends Melody & Matt – cheering me on near Lincoln Memorial. Somewhere around 13 or 14 I passed a group of posters with fallen soldiers pictures which were really moving. I’m not an emotional person, but I’ll admit I got choked up on this section. I am so appreciative of those who serve our military and put their lives on the line for my freedom. Thank you!!

At around mile 16 I looped back into the heart of DC to see Matt & Melody again. I was tired, things were hurting, and I was in denial about the remaining 10+ miles I had to run. Denial is a fabulous thing…


Photo courtesy Matt Swilling

I started walking most water stops around mile 18 – knowing that was my longest run this training cycle and I had done better than I had in training. Success!!

The rest of the race starts to blur together a bit. There was certainly pain, pushing through to where it becomes background noise, a little walking (but not much), and more running. It really was much better than I expected, although I know that sounds weird. I also got to see Stacy! The first time she caught me walking (oops!) while my foot was bothering me. The second time I tried to encourage her and her friend (although it may have come across as obnoxious). It’s always helpful to know someone’s right behind you – good motivation to keep running!

Finally, I got to the last hill up to the finish line. What evil person put that hill there? I put my head down and refused to walk up that hill… past Lauren, Greg, and Sarah apparently! But eventually, I crossed that darn finish line with my 3rd fastest time (somewhere around 4:19:xx). I was pretty happy with this time – not bad for an unprepared race!

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I immediately pulled out my phone, snapped a pic, and instagrammed. Wow, I’m a social media dork, huh?!

I then noticed that Sarah had instagrammed she was coming to the race! Really?! I started looking around, texted Melody & Lauren, and finally saw these awesome ladies and signs waiting for me!


Photo courtesy Matt Swilling

This was such a fun surprise – I love these ladies and check out these awesome signs!! And of course, there were many more photos of my goofy smile, obviously so happy to be done running for the day!

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Photos courtesy Matt Swilling

And that sexy man next to me? He ran a PR race – I am so proud of him!

After the race, the line for the metro was incredibly wrong that we decided to walk instead. We found a pizza place I knew had Daiya cheese and amazing beer – perfect post-marathon food in my opinion.

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Photo courtesy Melody Swilling

It was a great day, a great race, and I am so grateful to have amazing friends. Thank you SOOOOO much to Matt & Melody, Lauren & Greg, and Sarah – I love you all and I am so blessed to have friends like you!!


Questions for you:

  • What race distance would you like to ENJOY that has always been a serious race?
  • What is your favorite thing in a race?
  • What was the last race rule that you broke?
  • Girls – what are your feelings on running skirts?

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  1. Lee says

    I honestly can’t imagine enjoying a marathon! Props to you, Heather, you did great. I’d love to enjoy a half one day. I’m always enjoying it until about mile 8 or 9 and then I want to die.

    What pizza place did you go to for future reference. We’re going to DC in 2 weeks and I’m trying to not eat cheese anymore for tummy reasons.
    Lee recently posted…Two Ingredient DessertMy Profile

  2. tim says

    Yeah, daughter! Good job. You’re welcome for my miltary service ( even though you weren’t alive, yet. I was thinking about you. Og, gross!

  3. says

    Congratulations to both you and Kirk!!! That is awesome!! I’m glad all your new things worked out well and that you had fun! I’m with Lee on enjoying a half one day. 15k is the longest distance race that I’ve enjoyed throughout.
    Carol @ Lucky Zucca recently posted…Happy Halloween!!My Profile

  4. says

    awww, SO awesome they all came out for your race, and their signs are too cool! I love the second photo of you, holding your bottle, GREAT photo!

    I love running skirts – I think all my years of tennis (and just that I wear more skirts than pants in general…) is why.
    Kristina recently posted…ginger wasabi filled chocolate skullsMy Profile

  5. says

    Yay! So much good stuff here. You already know I love the tutu, so I’m glad it made a reappearance. I’m also soooooo happy to hear you had fun. I know training had you down, but it sounds worth it! Visits from friends, delicious re-fueling, and a hubby PR are all just icing on the cake! Well… those are actually pretty big too, so maybe it’s all like the fruit and nuts in a fruitcake or something. Enough about cake… good job!
    Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers recently posted…Pumpkin Tempeh PieMy Profile

  6. says

    Just now reading this…so amazing, especially for a race you didn’t want to run and were dreading! Wow…Great time, fun recap, and way to go Kirk on his PR! 😀

    And as for running skirts, I’m a fan! Didn’t think I would be, but after I tried them a while ago I loved them! Hike in them, run in them, wear them around town… :)
    Bonnie recently posted…Weekend: Workouts & WanderingsMy Profile


  1. […] with Veggies, Marine Corps Marathon Recap. And finally Heather, who ran in a rainbow tutu, and was doing this race “for fun.” […]

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