Suntrust National Marathon Race Report: Run with me

(take a deep breath, stretch, grab some water and join me for a Long one…)

The Day Before.

In the days leading up to the race, carb  loading was in full swing. I was having an extra 1/3 cup of oatmeal every day, with my usual pb (or ab)/honey/cinnamon add-ins. For lunch on Thursday and Friday, I used up some Fat-free Refried Beans and packed bean burritos. Yes, this is my lunch-obsession flavor of the week – 1 whole wheat tortilla, 1/2 cup FF Refried Beans, 1 tbsp Red Enchilada Sauce, a few slices of Purple Onion, a few chunks of Avocado – mix everything together and microwave for ~30-45 secs, wrap it up and enjoy! Mmm, so good.

My metabolism must have known something was on the horizon; the last few days had me fending off cravings left and right! Where did all this hunger come from?! Gah. For satisfaction, I went to Starbucks on Thursday and Friday and loaded up on their Chocolate-Banana-Vivanno Smoothie (made with protein powder). First of all, these are delicious. Secondly, can we say FULL? Mmmhm.

Friday night, D and I did our usual thing – dinner out at “our” place; yes, I still had my usual pre-LR drink. One glass of wine, and more water. No, this is not an attempt at self-sabotage or self-dehydration, it’s just what I do. It works for me (i.e. relaxes me)! So, why mess up the routine now? Exactly.

One appetizer Hummus plate, side salad and big ol’ Bbq-Grilled Chicken Sandwich later? Time for dessert! Vanilla fro-yo with peanut butter & chocolate syrup. Then? Time for SLEEP. Good night.


Marathon Morning!

I slept surprisingly well; no more than 1 – 2 random middle-of-the-night obsessive clock checks, and no tossing/turning/omg-I’m-running-a-marathon panicking. Small victories! The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m and I was ready to GO.

After double-checking the “pre-race” list, all my ducks were in a row. I got dressed, poured a cup of coffee and made up my oatmeal.  D’s backpack was packed beyond full; extra socks, flip-flops, post-race I’m-SO-hot gimme those shorts!, clean tank top, bandaids, honey packets, Propel bottles, water, kleenex, chapstick and the Nike hat. In other words, everything I could possibly think of that I might want or need. D = My race-day Lifeline!

We picked up Ivan, Elizabeth and Shauna at 5:30 a.m. and headed over. Park the Car + Port-a-Potty pit stop + shed the jacket and go find our Corrals! I parked it at the 8:46-9:00 m/m sign and said my Good-byes and Good Lucks, knowing the next time I saw them would be after we crossed the finish line… WHOA.

The MC had all kinds of things to say while we stood there waiting for the “GO” – the main thing I remember? “The forecast today is looking good! We’re in for ~65-70* at the finish and winds coming from the Northwest at ZERO Miles Per Hour!”…i.e. music to my ears. Time to prep the Garmin, find those satellites, and get the Real music going!

Miles 1-7

Taking advice from Jill, I broke this race down by 10/10/6.2. Also using advice from Yumke, I wanted to know that the first ~15 miles would be “easy” – I would need the energy after that.

We started at RFK stadium and headed to Lincoln Park and then down East Capitol Street toward the Capitol; all familiar roads from my LRs, and a gorgeous view as we headed down Capitol Hill. Up ahead was a sea of runners, sunshine, the Washington monument, and miles to go.

9:25 – 9:09 – 8:47 – 8:42

The Connecticut Avenue hill came quickly; I met D at Dupont Circle around mile 6, before heading UP. I knew exactly where he would be (with the life-line backpack), and loved seeing that familiar face. I needed nothing at the time, other than a big smile, and a quick HEY, hug, high-five, keep going – “See you at mile 14!” – I’d be more than halfway through…

8:49 – 8:43 – 8:58

My legs took that hill in stride; it didn’t phase me and I saved my energy by slowing down just enough. At the top I took in my first Honey packet and sipped on some Water. Running through the ‘hoods I know so well was perfect; spectators were abundant with cheers, signs, smiles, noisemakers and fuel. I took out one of my earbuds so I could take in everything around me.

Miles 8 – 13.1

The “big” hill was behind us; smooth sailing from here, right? The road took us into Howard University’s territory. It was finally a downhill slope, and I could not have felt stronger. I noticed some faster splits and remember thinking “You’re not at 10 YET – take it eeeeasy…”

8:49 – 8:32 – 8:27

The 10-mile mark is, in hindsight, somewhat arbitrary. You’re not half-way done, there are still 16 miles to go, and whatever you feel at this point probably has zero meaning towards what you’ll feel after the next 10 miles. But in my mind, it meant the first “leg” was over. My 16-mile training run was successful; I felt great that day, and ran mostly sub-8 splits. I remembered that day, and that rush came right back. Rounding the corner for mile 11 and seeing “7:55” I told the legs to think twice about their attitude! This was not the time or place for sub-8s, but I was in no way intimidated by what still lay ahead – that was promising.

7:55 – 8:46 – 8:24 (13)

I was warned many times before signing up for this race – when the 1/2-marathoners separate from you, it’s mentally hard to accept what you still have left. My running-mentality was ready to handle the fact that most of the runners around me were done, and I had to keep going for 13 more miles.The road was now split in half;  we ran down. As  runners starting to trickle up the other side, I realized that would be me – that was the transition into the second half of this adventure.

When I saw the sign that read “Full Marathoners – STAY LEFT”, seeing our trail veer off to the side of the stadium while they ran themselves into a finish line? I can honestly say I was happy to keep going. My legs would not have been satisfied with 13.1 that day; they were ready for a challenge!

Running past a water stop for the Full-ers, and a mile marker that read “13.1” with no finish line to match? That was a moment; my racing-mind was entering a whole new world.

Miles 14 – 18

Rounding the stadium and coming out on the other side brought mile 14; D’s next stop! Right before meeting him I slipped off for a quick bathroom visit, with an empty bladder {finally! whew} I could feel that hunger. He whipped out the snacks – quick Hello!, “you look strong!”, Propel refill, and grabbing a pb+tortilla wedge or two – and I kept going, walking while I ate.

8:32 – 9:17 (walk + snack)

At the mile 15 aid station I knew a friend would be there – fist pump, heyo! Moving on down East Capitol street (yes, again) I was greeted with a running buddy! Jan came from behind and asked how I was doing, ran with me for about 1/2 a mile, ask if I had seen anyone else (from our Group) and kept me entertained down the straight stretch. He veered off right and wished me luck – nice quick distraction!

Hello, nausea. Uh-oh. It was only mile 16; this is not good. It was getting hot, I was doing my best to stay hydrated and keep the pace even, but my stomach did not agree with one or all of the above.

Right before heading under the 9th St bridge I saw Kenny! Thanks for the shout-out; you looked happy to be out there! Under the bridge, into the tunnel, up the hill back out….ouch. I looked down and counted the tenths of a mile until the next D-stop – mile 18!

8:44 – 8:41 – 8:35 (18)

My strength was weaning quickly; all I wanted was a kleenex, a quick stretch, and a plan for how to stash some snacks because this would be the last time I saw him until the FINISH LINE. Nausea had set up camp and wasn’t in the mood for more fuel, but I definitely wasn’t going to make 26 miles on just having had 1 tortilla wedge, 2 honey packets, water & gatorade…

I squished part of the whole-wheat Arnold thin into my water-bottle pocket and stashed  a honey packet in my Capri pocket with my iPod. Moving on….See you after I’m DONE! (omg omg)”

Miles 19 – 24

Right at mile 20 I took my first walking-break. Physically, my stomach needed it. Mentally I was trying to process what was ahead. Turning the corner brought the bridge into view – our transition into Anacostia marked the last leg of this race.  Shauna {training for Boston, needed 20 for the day} was right at the bottom of the bridge, shouted my name and started cheering, then jumped in to run Up with me.

Anacostia was it – when we cross back into DC there is less than a mile left. Just. Make. It. Through. This.

Oh, rolling hills? CRAP. The elevation map of the course did Not do these hills justice. I looked at every upcoming incline and had to let my brain tackle them individually. I made a deal with myself  – walk 0.1, run 1 mile.  I can Finish; I can {incrementally} make it to 26.

At mile 23 I remembered that whole “refuel” concept. YES, Food! I chomped on my Arnold Thin and realized this was a corner of a bun; roughly 30 calories. Oof. NOT enough! And….there was no honey packet?! What did I do with it?! I couldnt’ remember for the life of me (that it was in the pocket of my Capris! Geeze), so instead I grabbed a Vanilla GU from the aid station and shot it down with some water.

That 12:21 split? That’s me and my legs, rebelling against a hill and losing the battle. Fine! I’ll walk and eat and try not have a mini-panic attack.

9:14 – 8:46 – 10:00 – 9:02 – 9:00 – 12:21

Miles 25 – 26.2

I’m HOT. There has been little to NO shade whatsoever after coming out of the tunnel at mile 17. I trained in winter elements; what is this 70* sunshine business?! What do I do with all this sweat?? Am I hydrated?!

Nothing could have prepared me for racing on a gorgeous spring day after the weather that we’ve been running in. I would Not have changed a thing; I am obssesed with spring sunshine and it was beautiful out there. Perfect for spectating; perfect for a ~10-15 mile run, but challenging for a Marathon.

The last water stopmile 25.  I didn’t need anything, I had already refilled my 9 oz bottle with 1/2 water + 1/2 powerade two miles earlier. I didn’t want to stop, because what if I couldn’t get going again? The more I ran, the quicker I would cross that finish line!

9:21 – 9:33

One volunteer stood alone in the middle of the road, past the two aid tables. He had cups in his hand, and he was cheering like he knew how! He had every kind of energy you wish you had at this point in the race. It was contagious. I took one of his water cups and dumped it all over my head; it felt A-mazing. While doing so, he looked at my shirt (which read “New Mexico State University”….{nike swoosh!}; a Christmas gift from the baby-sis) and said…

“Go, New Mexico! Give me everything you’ve got for 10 more minutes!
You’re almost there!’

Nothing else would’ve worked; that was All I needed to hear. The looong ramp came into view; there was one more incline to tackle as we slowly make our way up and around the stadium to the FINISH LINE. 

With half a mile left, I heard Kate screaming on my right. She jumped right in, said all the right things, and took my water bottle that I shoved at her because I was Tired of carrying it (heh, Thank you!!). She ran with me for 0.1 miles before letting me go and finish My race…

8:55 (o.2)


((The race course was actually ~26.7 miles; I stopped G right when it said 26.2 because that’s what I wanted to see 🙂 My chip time is 4:07:48))



I was completely Exhausted when I crossed the Finish line. I saw D, put my hands on my head (see pics below, heh) and motioned for him to meet me around at the end of the Food Tent. Water, apple, pretzel & powerade in hand – I leaned into him and fought a Very strong urge to just Cry. I could not believe this race was actually behind me and that I actually RAN for 26.2 miles. I couldn’t believe that 4 months of training had brought me to this day, and I could finally say…

 “I’m a Marathoner.”



5 responses to “Suntrust National Marathon Race Report: Run with me

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