Note: I wrote a review for this event over on BibRave to cover all the logistics of the race. Check it out, and if you ran the MCH, make sure to submit your own review! This recap will cover everything from my end. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen a lot of these pictures before! This recap is a little long, so sit back and enjoy!
I signed up for this race months ago, figuring it would be a good way to get in a "test race" prior to NYC. Since I was (at the time) brand new to marathon training, I thought I may be able to do a really long warmup and make this my 20 mile run. Of course, there are still 4 weeks till NYC, so this couldn't have been my last long run. I also wanted to do this race because the course features 2 bridges, which I thought would be perfect preparation for the mountains in NYC. 2 weeks before race day, they announced there would be no bridges because of construction. Well...great...
I did packet pick-up on Friday and got lots of goodies. A long sleeve shirt, two Marine stickers, my bib number, and even a Marine rubber duck!
What kind of pre-race meal is complete without carbs? I had to make my own chicken parm because Publix didn't have any in the grab-and-go section. Boo!
I set my alarm for a very unfriendly 4:45 AM. After having coffee and a bagel with peanut butter, I headed out the door. About half way to the stadium, I realized I forgot my gel at home. I didn't know how traffic would be, so I didn't go back to get one.
All week I had been obsessively looking at the weather, and I was so bummed to see that it would be in the mid-to-upper 70s and humid during the race. I've been running in these conditions all summer, and we were ONE DAY away from cooler temps (it feels amazing right now outside). I ran around the stadium for a 1.5 mile warmup, and I was absolutely drenched in sweat by the time I got back to my car. All I could think was, "Well, this sucks." I got back in the car and turned the AC on high to try to cool off. In the car, I had some Hoist water for some extra hydration, as well as half a LaraBar. Right around the time I took this weather screenshot, I got out of the car to hit the restroom and stretch.
Right after I got out of the car, I muttered to myself that I wanted it to rain. Someone must have heard me, because out of nowhere it was pouring. A lot of us ducked under a tent for cover, but my shoes were drenched from the puddles. It did help to cool us off though...
I hit the restroom (no wait, and hurray for a real toilet!), did some stretching, and hopped into the corral. I realized I was right behind Rebecca, who leads our Wednesday night group run!
My PR going into this race was a 2:10:30 (a 9:58 pace) set back in February after months of running in the cooler temps. Even though I wanted to shoot for a PR today, I knew it wasn't going to happen because of a few factors. 1. The heat and humidity turn me into a snail traveling through Jello. Last week during my long run, I felt like I was running really strong - I was holding an 11:20 pace, which is more than 1:20 more than my PR. 2. I didn't taper in any way, shape, or form. Friday morning I went to spin class, and I think I got a total of 8 hours of sleep between Thursday and Friday night. I loaded my playlist to be about 10 minutes longer than my PR, and I figured I'd be finishing in silence. I even posted all over social media that a PR was not in the cards.
After the National Anthem, the gun went off (louder than normal, which was startling) and we were on our way. I was running with my Garmin set on the pace mode just so I could get an idea of how I was doing. After about a half mile, I looked down and realized I was running at a 9:25 pace. Way too fast. "Slow down" I kept telling myself. Most of my easy runs during the week are around this pace, and while I can tough out 4-5 miles going that fast, 13.1 was not going to happen. While it was tempting to shoot for a huge PR, I knew I would bonk due to the weather and didn't want to finish in miserable condition.
This race was a lot of fun, because there were Marines scattered all throughout the course to encourage you. I guess the MCM in DC is similar, only with 1,00X more people. After we hit the 1 mile mark, I realized the course was about .1 longer than what my Garmin said. My first mile split was a 9:45. I didn't slow down - I actually ran negative splits through Mile 6 (9:45, 9:39, 9:31, 9:31, 9:23, and 9:20).
Even without the bridges, this was still a pretty tough course. We went up an exit ramp/bridge thing (I don't know what it's called) after Mile 1. There were a lot of smaller hills through, so I could never call this race "pancake flat." Mile 7 was a 9:24 pace, and I was starting to get excited at this point. But then...
One wrong thought in your head can destroy your race. I had run this entire way without stopping to walk at water stops (I don't know how to drink out of a cup while running, so I usually only walk through the stops), and I was afraid to start now. At the 8 mile water stop, I stopped and walked. My legs were starting to get sore, so I tried to focus on my music ("Titanium" by David Guetta) and press on. Around this point I saw one of my old coworkers out for a walk, and seeing her wave to me and call out my name perked me up.
For this race, we hit the River Walk at around Mile 10 (Miles 8-10 splits: 9:37, 9:27, 9:50), and I grabbed a Power Gel (Green apple...ick) and a few cups of water/Gatorade. My sunglasses were on, since the sun had finally come out. If you live in Jacksonville, you know that the River Walk leads to a big "hill" followed by an even bigger downhill right near the Landing/Main Street Bridge. This final uphill was brutal on my legs. Around Mile 11, I realized I had my first ever cramp-while running. My left calf was starting to hurt, almost like a Charley Horse. I stopped to walk a lot more than I wanted to for Miles 11 and 12 (10:13 and 10:43 splits).
Finally, we turned back towards the Stadium/Metropolitan Park for the last part of the race. I knew I had a PR as long as I didn't quit. Of course, I still wasn't running wisely, and found myself alternating sprinting and walking. My calf wasn't hurting anymore, so I tried to finish as strong as I could. Mile 13 split: 9:40.
The finish to this race was in Metropolitan Park, which had been turned into a mud pit during the rain. My feet kept getting stuck in the mud, and I crossed the finish in (officially) 2:08:03 - a PR of 2:27!
After crossing the finish line, I got my medal from one of the Marines. I couldn't even speak because I was so happy/surprised at how I did. A volunteer gave me a beer glass with the race logo on it, plus a bottle of water. I walked around for a bit, then found Rebecca and one of her friends. Before I left, I hung around the finish line cheering on the runners as they came in. The sun had come out, and it was really warm out by this point.
I'm really happy with how this race turned out. Despite the warm weather, I got really lucky with the rain beforehand. I probably wouldn't have gone out as fast, since I really hit the wall at Miles 11/12. NYC will be way slower than this, but this was a great lead-in race and the perfect way to cap off a summer of training!
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!