In Which Jenn Is Determined To Embrace The Suck

I’ve been thinking a lot about my last Marine Corps Marathon vs. my last WDW Marathon. In both races I felt my energy flagging the middle. The difference? In MCM, it was a downward slope – but in WDW, I rallied in a big way.


Any number of factors can be influential when it comes to race performance – training, weather, injuries, hydration, fuel, the works – but in this case, I think the deciding factor may have come down to one thing: attitude.

Everyone knows the WDW Marathon is full of joy and fun – how can running through the parks be anything but? Sure, the bare stretches of road in between can be rough, but I never fail to be bolstered considerably by the incredible spectators and energy of the Hollywood Studios, Boardwalk area, and World Showcase finish.


Alas and alack, they can’t all be runDisney races. But having thought back on my last Marine Corps Marathon experience, I think maybe I’m giving that race’s own vibe too little credit.

Specifically I think back to the last couple miles of the race, in Crystal City, after you’ve conquered the dread 14th Street Bridge but still have a bit of a slog to the finish line. This is exactly where you need to pick up your chin and fight for your finish, but I must admit I sagged a little without that Disney boost.

And yet now that I’m not actively in the moment I remember so much good energy – the little kids holding out their hands for high fives and the spectators and their signs and their candy and, oh yes, their booze. The Fireball people and the very nice men who were carefully portioning out tiny cups of light beer which I gratefully took because COLD BUBBLES YES.

Why not take selfies with these incredible helpers like you might a runDisney photo stop? Why not collect all the high fives you can from streets lined as thick as the Boardwalk? Why not, as a self-same spectator sign suggested, embrace the suck?

Much easier, of course, to paint this happy picture after the race is over. But perhaps if I remind myself before my next non-Disney marathon to look for the little joyful touches, I can port some of that same spirit into plain normal boring real life and charge for the finish.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 11/07

Hi.


I just got back from Walt Disney World.

I am not happy.

Not that I’m being melodramatic about it or anything.

But I am happy about my newest WDW memories, which are by and large magnificent and include some truly marvelous miles. Trip report forthcoming, of course! And at least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that in a mere two months I’ll be back for my beloved WDW Marathon.

The workout log generally comes next, but since it was the lovely rest week after the Marine Corps Marathon I feel you’ll find it less than stimulating. Feel free to skip it if you want.

Sunday | Marine Corps Marathon – ran 26.2 miles outside in 4:53

Monday | 55 minute ballet class

Tuesday | rest
My knee was bugging me just a bit, so I elected to skip even walking in an effort to speed its convalescence.

Wednesday | rest
Ditto.

Thursday | walked 2.37 miles outside in 40 minutes
Cautiously. Then I skipped ballet so I could drive over to my parents’ house in anticipation of leaving for WDW in the morning. 😀 😀 😀

Friday | walked around WDW!

Saturday | Wine & Dine 10K – ran 6.34 miles in 1:24

And now on to the roundup, which will be lots more interesting, I promise.

– Kait Around The Kingdom takes on Epcot at night.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The 2018 Marine Corps Marathon (FIREBALL!!!)

I believe this was what NASA might refer to as a successful failure.

After a fitful night’s sleep, I rose before my 5:30am alarm, taped up, dressed, and rolled out the door to catch the first Metro train of the morning. Despite that it took several billion years to make it to the start line as 30,000 people do not move quickly in a herd. Some pro tips: 1) don’t bring a bag as the bagcheck lines are lengthy; 2) ignore the monstrous lines for port-a-potties in the staging areas and proceed all the way to the start line for the largely ignored ones there; 3) store your pre-race snack in your pocket so that your body heat renders it nice and warm when you eat it.

Despite the slow collective movements of the pack I made it to my start corral with time to spare (this year’s MCM had people grouped into 3 color-coded categories by predicted time but I didn’t see anyone enforcing it). The wheelchair competitors took off followed by the scarlet group, and then gold group was off!


Sort of. There were sooo many people in the race that you could scarcely have taken off too fast if you wanted to. It was the running equivalent of mincing little baby steps for awhile there. I don’t think it really started to thin out for at least the first 10 miles, although matters did improve a few miles in.


The weather was kind of all over the place, with initial predicted temperatures in the upper 40s – but I found as soon as I started running that my jacket was unnecessary. I stripped it off around mile two, tied it around my waist, and was fine with a tank, arm warmers, and gloves.

I felt pretty solid in the beginning, through Georgetown (always a fun spectator spot; extra points for the bagpipe band), and even Rock Creek Park with its endless out-and-back. That part was at least kinda funny as random joggers out on the trail would call out encouragement as they lilted past in the opposite direction. There was an orange slice station toward the end of the area and since other runners kept taking them ahead of me a volunteer shoved like 5 into my hands with a hearty “Here you go, honey, go nuts.” >D

Mile 12 was the “wear blue to remember” mile, lined with photos of fallen servicemen, and I busied myself reading their names as I passed. Then it was through the corridor of American flags and to the mile 13 marker – halfway, baby!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling super great about it. My pace so far was acceptable but my energy was already flagging. On the bright side, my knee, a potential weak point, was holding okay. Of course there was nothing for it but to soldier on.

At that point we were in West Potomac Park, where some organization or other had pre-set up signs lining the course. My favorite read as follows: “I love running. I hate running. I love running. I hate running.” This could basically serve as my recap for the race. Thank you for reading! See ya.

Haha, just kidding; as if I would ever be that succinct. Anyway, at this point the weather was getting weird again: it was actually starting to feel kinda warm. I took off my gloves and even pushed my arm warmers down, which is an unusual move for me.

Finally we were coming up on the National Mall, my meetup point with Pat. He was running late but cleverly doubled back and caught me at mile 19, just as you leave the mall and enter the dreaded 14th Street bridge. I stole a quick kiss before facing my nemesis.

And immediately slowed to a walk, but justifiably: mile 19 seemed like a great time to bust out some music. I shoved my headphones in my ears and started up the Happily Ever After soundtrack as I resumed my run, hoping for the same magic that worked on me during the National Capital 20 Miler, but for some reason it didn’t happen this time. My legs were just too tired.

But I kept it up, following HEA with the White Stripes’ album Icky Thump, which is full of the sort of rock guitar riffs that can motivate a gal. It at least kept me going as I left that God-awful bridge and entered Crystal City.

This is generally one of my favorite parts of the race, and my personal iffy performance notwithstanding the spectator support was top-notch as always. My personal favorite was a booth offering Fireball shots while playing Pitbull’s “Fireball” on repeat, which I liked to pretend they did for the entire 7+ hours of the race. And guys, I GOT AN ANSWER!

A good 5 hours of… FIREBALL!!!!!!

There were also tons of people with signs and drums and cowbells and candy and beverages, and I even grabbed myself a shot of beer because the bubbles sounded so refreshing. (Beer shot people, are you out there too? Thank you!!!)

After Crystal City, around mile 24-ish, all you have left is the death march to the finish. The sun vanished behind the clouds and it got cold enough that I pulled my arm warmers back up. My legs and feet hurt and my knee, while not painful or twingy, was doing that harbinger thing where you kinda actively feel that you have ligaments, if you know what I mean? Morale was not good. But who’s gonna quit at mile 24? Not this kid!

Mile 25 was rough, and I even indulged myself in some run-walk-run intervals. I caught Pat again right before the the 26 mile marker and threw my arms around him because I hurt. But he told me “You’re almost there!!” and I was like “Hell yeah I am!” and was able to run the rest of the way, including that stupid hill right before the finish. Take that, hill!


My final time was 4:52:47, which is a course PR of more than 7 minutes but is way slower than my fastest marathon or even my last WDW Marathon where I stopped for like 15 photos but whatever. I finished! 

I collected my fancypants medal and snack box and then ducked out of the incredibly slow jacket line because I didn’t really need one. As nice as it sounded, neither did I need the free beer or anything like that. Instead I met up with Pat by the bell tower and we headed back to the Metro because what I did need, ever so desperately, was a long hot shower.

Worst pocket watch ever.

So that did not go as well as I had hoped. But it didn’t go as terribly as I feared it might! I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, as my training was solid. But what can ya do. Instead I shall remind myself that I did achieve my A goal, which was not too eff up my knee too badly. It was a little cranky post-race but nothing a couple day’s rest won’t cure. 

Onward and upward to Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge, because doesn’t a 10K followed immediately by a half the weekend after a marathon sound like a great idea? >D >D >D

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Confronts Her Eleventh Marathon

I have now run 10 marathons. When you’ve done 10 marathons, you’ve done a lot of different kinds of marathons.

There’s the cold marathon

… and then the even colder marathon.





There’s your first marathon

…your last marathon

And of course, always and against your better judgment… your next marathon.

My next marathon – my eleventh marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon – is next Sunday. I have had a good training cycle. I’ve experienced some minor inner knee issues. The weather looks like it might be advantageous for running if we can avoid rain. 

We’ll see what happens, but here’s the main thing about 10 marathons: I know that no matter what comes my way, I can do it!


When’s your next marathon?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/22

It’s been quite an eventful week for running – I ran a marathon, then I signed up for more races – not only Wine & Dine (more on that later), but also the Marine Corps Marathon! How? The MCM race organizers unexpectedly provided a “rush” option Wednesday morning, releasing 11,000 guaranteed registrations, and I snagged one. Once again, I’m gonna run with the Marines!

Workout log, prove I can do it:

Sunday | ran 6.01 miles outside in 60 minutes
I was hoping Moon could join me for a post-bachelorette 10K, but alas, she had to ship up to drive back to Boston.

Monday | walked 2.08 miles outside in 35 minutes

Tuesday | ran 5.21 miles outside in 55 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran ran 3.29 miles outside in 35 minutes
One final pre-marathon jaunt.

Thursday | walked 2.01 miles outside in 35 minutes
And then I packed for my marathon weekend trip!

Friday | rest
Drove down to Wilmington. I started in the early Maryland morning at 36 degrees, and by the time I hit NC I had my air conditioning on. It. Was. AWESOME.

I drove straight to UNCW for packet pickup, where the man who gave me my bib did a double-take at the second line. Look, if you’re going to ask me to “show my school spirit” at registration and then make the field mandatory, you’d better be prepared for the truth.

The expo itself was otherwise unremarkable – I was there about an hour after opening and it seemed like people were still setting up their booths. I didn’t spend much time there, but did stop for a free can of an energy drink called Sunshine that I actually very much enjoyed. Plus I really needed the hydration!

After the expo I rolled over to my parents’ place to prep. And then…

Sunday | Wrightsville Beach Marathon, official time 4:33:06
BEASTED.

Roundup:

Elbowglitter ponders mental health and how exercise alone might not be the answer.
I Run For Wine can help you fuel up for your next race.
easyWDW performs a thorough exploration of the Magic Kingdom’s menu changes.
The Tomorrow Society considers Disney parks and their place in the consumer landscape.
– On a similar note, The Disney Tourist blog wonders if Disney is relying too much on banked fan goodwill.
Disney In Your Day got to attend an official Toy Story Land preview event.
– Getting hitched in WDW? This Fairy Tale Life has some tips and tricks to know.
Living A Disney Life offers an insider look at the Disney College Program.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

Baltimore Marathon VS Marine Corps Marathon: An Investigation



You could, conceivably, run the Baltimore Marathon AND the Marine Corps Marathon the same year. They’re never on the same day. They are sometimes on the same weekend, and historically they’re always within a week of each other.


This year the two are spaced apart by about a week (Oct 20 & 28), so the feat is a little less daunting than last year, when the guns went off within 24 hours of each other. Perhaps you are one of those who would like to double up. If so, class dismissed!

But if you want to run one or the other but not both, this post is for you. Since these races are so close in date and locality I thought it might be helpful to make some comparisons.

MY MARINE CORPS MARATHON EXPERIENCES | 2014 | 2015 | 2016
MY BALTIMORE MARATHON EXPERIENCE | 2017

REGISTRATION
The Marine Corps Marathon bibs are awarded by lottery, so you have to get in, for starters – or run for a charity. (The lottery opens in March, so keep an eye out.) 

The Baltimore Marathon is sold until unavailable. My bib was given to me last year so I didn’t keep an eye on when it sold out, but I don’t think it’s super quick. Registration is open now.

DATE
The races are within a week of each other, hence this comparison for those not looking to double-dip. There are a few differences to consider, though.

First, it’s worth noting that MCM is on Sunday, giving you Saturday to travel as needed. Baltimore is on a Saturday, which means that you’ll have to find a way to get to the expo on a Friday. That may require taking some vacation hours depending on your work schedule.

Second – and this may be silly – but MCM is the Sunday before Halloween. This means most Halloween parties will be going down on Saturday night… while you head to bed early. Many won’t care, but if you’re one of those people who just loves Halloween and its accompanying shenanigans, you might want to go with Baltimore instead on the strength of its timing alone.


COST
Last year MCM was $160. Ouch. 

Baltimore is currently $110. It gets incrementally more expensive as the race date nears, topping out at $140 at the expo.

WEATHER
Total crapshoot. They’re close enough in location and date that this can’t really be a deciding factor, but I figured I’d make a category anyway precisely to point out that fact.

Anyway, weather around here in October is usually reasonably mild, but it can get chilly toward the end of the month. That being said, every October marathon I’ve run since 2014 has ranged from comfortably crisp to downright hot. And now that I’ve said that, this year it’ll probably be rainy and 2 degrees outside. You’re welcome!

GETTING THERE
Both have hotel partnerships with associated shuttles as needed if you’re traveling. If not, Baltimore is easier to get to by some measures – they don’t close off the roads until about an hour before the race, so you can be dropped off right at the start line by an Uber/Lyft (or, if you’re me, by my dad). Light rail is also available.

On the other hand, if you live on the DC Metro line, MCM is very convenient. Barring years where the administration is being especially cranky about track maintenance schedules, the Metro opens early Sunday morning and you can take the train right to the start area. Driving is not as easy as many roads are closed and you’ve got to take shuttles and crud, but it can be done.

START LINE
MCM is a much more regimented and grand experience, as you might imagine. There are bag inspection checkpoints, extensive personnel, skydiving with the American flag, Ospreys, and a line of Marines ready to high-five you as you start off on the course.

Baltimore is humbler, but it has its perks. Real bathrooms in Camden Yards are open for you, for starters, plus there’s a gas station nearby where you can pick up coffee or whatever. It’s just kind of a homier vibe.

COURSE
MCM is pretty flat and pretty fast; it’s considered one of the best marathons for beginners in the country. The course winds through DC and northern Virginia, with some highlights being Georgetown, the National Mall, and Crystal City.

Baltimore definitely has some rolling hill sections. I didn’t encounter anything too mountainous, but if you hate hills you won’t be thrilled with certain portions of the course; this IS somewhat mitigated by the final couple miles being largely downhill. The primary highlight to me was running through the Maryland Zoo, although to be honest you don’t get to see much. They did have a penguin out for photo ops. Under Armour World Headquarters was pretty fun too.

MCM is the only race on its course for the duration. Baltimore includes relay marathon runners as well as a half marathon that mixes into the second half of the race.

Both have excellent course support as far as spectators are concerned, with lots of random neighborhood people cheering you on.

Course support for both is comparable. Gatorade, med tents, water stops ever couple miles.

FINISH LINE
MCM ends in Arlington, near the Netherlands Carillon, or bell tower. This is technically near the famous cemetery but not appreciably close. There’s a post-race finisher area where you can get food and beer and such but it’s always overrun with people. I generally meet Pat at the bell tower and get the hell out of dodge.

Baltimore has the advantage of ending in the Inner Harbor, in the center of the city’s most tourist-y area. In addition to the many, many runner’s village tents, you’re welcome to branch out into the Inner Harbor and its many restaurants, shops, and other attractions. (Shout out for the National Aquarium!)

At MCM you get one of those pre-packaged snack boxes a la runDisney. Baltimore has more of a free-form, grab-what-you-want method. I thought the inclusion of indigenous Utz chips was a nice touch.

PACE REQUIREMENTS
Marine Corps Marathon requires a 14 minute per mile pace. Generally you have to “Beat the Bridge,” or run over the 14th Street Bridge, by a certain time or you’ll be pulled from the course. My understanding is that if you make it in time you’re pretty much in the clear, but I’ve never tested this theory…

The Baltimore Marathon requires a 16 minute per mile pace, so same as runDisney.

EXPO & SWAG
MCM’s expo is MUCH bigger. That being said, Baltimore’s is legit; it’s just not nearly AS big. Both have a fair to expansive selection of vendors, but MCM seems to draw some bigger names. For example, runDisney usually has a booth at MCM but I didn’t see them at Baltimore.

MCM runners get a nice flocked mock turtle neck race shirt. Finishers also receive a commemorative patch.

Baltimore runners get an Under Armour long sleeve tech tee. It has thumbholes!

There are sometimes some random snacks and things in bib bags and at the expo, but nothing jumps out at me as particularly remarkable.

Both have plenty of nice merch to choose from. MCM partners with Brooks and Baltimore partners with Under Armour. I’d say there’s a greater variety of gear and more stock at MCM. Baltimore’s stuff was very nice but stock wasn’t as plentiful (everything I would’ve bought wasn’t available in my size by the time I got there). They had some discounts if you bought a certain amount, though, which is a perk worth considering if you like to buy a lot of commemorative race gear.

Medals for all!

FINAL THOUGHTS
I’ve run both races and enjoyed both from different angles. I think MCM is a bigger deal and has more pomp and flash attached therefore. But Baltimore is not to be discounted – it’s a formidable race with great course support, spectator turnout, and perks.

Personally I’ll be entering the MCM lottery simply due to the convenience factor: it’s on a Sunday so I don’t have to worry about having time to get to the expo, and I live a ten minute walk from the Metro. But if I don’t make the lottery, I won’t hesitate to register for Baltimore instead. It’s a solid race (and I could use a redemption run).

Have your run the Marine Corps or Baltimore marathons? What are your thoughts? Did I forget anything in my comparison?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Considers Fall Marathons That Aren’t MCM

I swear I don’t actively try to turn conversations with strangers toward running. But it seems to be happening anyway.

During a happy hour with some of Elizabeth’s co-workers before the ZOOMA Half, I got to talking about my race schedule. (Did anyone ask beyond “What brings you to Annapolis?” No. And yet here we are.) I talked a little about my winging-it plan, and how that meant that I may or may not run the Marine Corps Marathon this year depending on availability.

“Why don’t you just run the Baltimore Marathon?” one of my companions replied.

I was doubtful. “I hear it’s hilly…”

“Oh, it’s really not that bad,” he said, before clarifying that he’s never run the full marathon, only the half.

So I’m still not sure about that. But his response did convince me to open up my eyes to, y’know, other fall marathons.

Baltimore is indeed a possibility, and one that I have considered. My parents live 15 minutes outside the city so it would be a convenient location. And it’s the same day as MCM, allowing me to follow a similar training plan regardless of which race I run.

Really, it’s only the possibility of hills that give me pause. Although I tackled them gamely during the ZOOMA Half, I’m not sure I want to multiply that experience x2. Of course, if it’s more a matter of hills here and there, that’s something else entirely. After all, the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon rudely hit me with a large hill at miles 22 AND 23 and I survived. I didn’t like it, but I survived. I’ll need to do more investigation into the course before I make a call.

OR WILL I?

I was paging through a copy of Runner’s World a couple weeks ago when I saw an ad for the Outer Banks Marathon and was immediately intrigued. North Carolina in early November should have solid marathon weather, and the course promises to be mostly flat with beautiful nature views. Pat loves to surf the Outer Banks and the best waves show up in the fall; I could more than likely persuade him to come with me on the strength of that alone. Bonus: a bib is less than a hundred bucks. Good looks, good looks.

The impediment comes with the distance – it’d be a 6 or 7 hour drive there and back, and we’d need to get a hotel. If I register, I am committed to what amounts to a four day weekend road trip.

So I’m not ready to pull the trigger on either race just yet. Luckily, I don’t think either tends to sell out waaaay in advance. I’d like to hold a decision until August if I can. MCM bib transfer opens in mid-July. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

Have you run the Baltimore Marathon or Outer Banks Marathon? Which would you recommend? Got any other race suggestions?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is Done With Early Race Registrations (For Now)

The Marine Corps Marathon lottery is open now. I’ve run it three times and enjoy the course, spectators, on-course support – everything. I’d like to run it again. But I’m not entering the lottery, and here’s why:

Time.

The marathon is in October. It is March. That’s seven months away. Pat and I share a relentless wanderlust, and as of right now I’m just not sure what’s gonna go down over that kind of time. The same problem plagues this race as plagues all runDisney races – registration is just too far out.

I kinda get it for marathons; after all, they take awhile to train for. And if this system is working for most people, then great. I take my place among the minority. But I’m not prepared to scramble for a spot at this time.

After all, there are other ways. I don’t think I’d want to be a charity runner again – I’m not extroverted enough to raise money efficiently – but MCM does allow bib transfers, and an official place for people to offer up their bibs. I’m willing to bet that if I decide I want to run after all, I’ll be able to pick up a bib somewhere. I mean, I could be wrong, but two years ago I was offered two bibs the weekend before the race, so…

Even the insane fear surrounding runDisney race registration doesn’t frighten me like it used to. Time spent following the runDisney Facebook groups has led me to glean that if you’re willing to toss a night’s worth of hotel money at a travel agent, there are bibs for the taking. Naturally there are no guarantees, but every inquiry I’ve seen posted has quickly been met with a travel agent eagerly declaring “We have bibs for all the races!” (Except sometimes the 10K. People are all about that 10K life.) I’ve even seen Dopey and Goofy available a mere handful of months in advance.

This somewhat runs counter to my personality, as I am not a fly-by-the-seat-if-your-pants kinda gal. I prefer to know exactly what I’m doing and get my registration in early. But I also hate the idea of tossing out large amounts of money for a race I won’t be able to run – and as MCM registration has gone up by $20 this year, I want to be sure before I make that commitment.

So there you are: why I’m not as crazed about registration now, and why I think that’s okay. Now to adjust my natural aversion to spontaneity…

What do you think of my new attitude? Have you ever signed up for MCM – or runDisney – or some other popular race through unconventional channels? Am I playing it way too fast and loose?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Freaks Out About Race Morning Alarms

I skirted the edge of an honest-to-God panic attack the night before the 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Not because I was nervous about my performance. Not because I was missing any part of my gear. Not because I was sick or injured.

I was terrified of sleeping through my alarm.

To review: I had three alarms set on my phone. I also set up a wake-up call. But then I worried about sleep-answering it and/or sleeping turning off all the alarms. So I set ANOTHER alarm. Then I tried to add a second wake-up call, but as it turns out the automated system won’t let you do that.

I was alone in the room, and there’s no one unrelated to your race you can reasonably ask to give you a call at 3am to make sure you’re awake. Out of options, I started to get the shakes. My mind was racing. What if I missed the race??? It was Daylight Savings Time clock change night – what if my phone failed to update? What if the wakeup call system failed to update?? I flew ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE and I LOVE these races and what if I slept through all my alarms and missed it and wasted all that money and didn’t get to run and and and????

You may recognize all this as Totally Unreasonable Behavior. I know this. But ever since I very nearly slept through the Marine Corps Marathon I’ve been hyper-paranoid about the possibility. It’s bad enough under normal circumstances, when I have Pat or a friend around to sync alarms with and make sure I’m up, but when I fly solo I get really nervous. In this one particular case, heart-poundingly nervous.

I managed to calm myself down enough to get a couple hours sleep and ultimately woke up with my alarm no problem, but I do wonder: does anyone else have this crippling fear? How to you handle it? What extra insurance do you put in place to ensure you get up on time? And does anyone want to be my race morning text message buddy?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Plays The Post-Marathon Blame Game

I run the Marine Corps Marathon for time. I run the WDW Marathon for fun. So when I blew MCM and trounced WDW (but no PR because of character stops), I wanted to break down why. Prepare for many Thoughts On The Matter.

NOT REMOTELY MY FAULT: The weather. One can reasonably expect that the Marine Corps Marathon, on October 30, would be cool. The WDW Marathon, in the unpredictable land of Orlando winter, is something of a crap shoot, but one wouldn’t necessary lay down money on real cold. And yet MCM enjoyed a high of 78 degrees and, starting at 7:55am, that meant that the sun was beating down for the hardest, end miles. By contrast, WDW, starting at 5:30am, was coooooold all the way through. I’m not a cold weather runner but even I have to admit that cooler temperatures make for faster speeds. I’m just lucky my lungs didn’t seize up.
Which leads us to…

MOSTLY NOT MY FAULT: Hydration. I say mostly because I suppose I could’ve drunk even more water/Powerade in the days leading up to the race. Other than that, though, this was an extension of the weather. I took one cup of either water and Powerade at every stop during WDW and felt totally fine. During MCM, I took a water AND Powerade at every stop (and sometimes more toward the end) and felt like I was dying. At one point I took a beer shot from a spectator because ANYTHING liquid sounded amazing at the time. It was sunny and I was hot and I just couldn’t suck it down as fast as I was perspiring it out.

MOSTLY MY FAULT: Fueling. The heat also messed with my appetite during MCM. I refused all fuel during the race (although Dunkin’ wasn’t handing out munchkin donuts – what’s with that?). I distinctly remember running past Clif Shots and thinking, ugh, no, not hungry. MISTAKE.

During WDW I took all both Clif Shots offered to me, because mocha is AWESOME and whether or not you think you’re hungry, self, you need the fuel, okay? You’re running 26 MILES. Take the damn Clif Shot.

PRETTY MUCH MY FAULT: Pushing too hard. I was soooo determined to run all of MCM outside of water stops. I knew I could do it because my only real downfall in past attempts was the 14th Street bridge. So I pushed myself to run over that stupid, incline-y bridge, and I was so proud when I did it… only to collapse in on myself a mile or two later. I have a feeling this contributed to the pain I experienced.

By contrast, during WDW I took bathroom breaks and character stops and felt a-okay the whole race, only experiencing pain after when I tried to run for a bus (do NOT do that right after a marathon). I’m not ready to go full-Galloway (totally respect it but intervals interrupt my ability to zone out). But maybe, just MAYBE, allowing myself a break now and again isn’t such a terrible thing.

Incidentally, I don’t regret any of those character stops, even if they did destroy my PR. I think that’s kinda what runDisney’s ABOUT, don’t you?

POSSIBLY MY FAULT BUT I’M NOT SURE: Over-training. I ran a 20-miler before MCM, and then a 15-miler about 3 weeks before. Is that too much? I know this is personal and I’m really not sure. All I did before WDW was a lone 15-miler, also about 3 weeks out but that was the longest run during that training cycle. I suppose you could argue that my muscles retained a lot of the strength from MCM a couple months earlier, and I couldn’t get away with such a light training cycle otherwise. But I do wonder…

NOT REMOTELY MY FAULT: My GPS watch. My stupid GPS watch died during MCM. I only had a few miles left but without the feedback I felt lost, which didn’t help mentally (and I firmly believe something like 50% of a marathon is mental). For some reason my text message alerts didn’t work either, so I couldn’t even extrapolate from pad times.

Luckily, Pat got me a brand new, totally amazing GPS watch for Christmas that I used during WDW and it kicked all known forms of ass and some that haven’t even been invented yet. I didn’t even use half its battery. I looooove it.

Do I wish I could switch my MCM and WDW performances around? Kinda, yeah; sure woulda been nice to get that PR. But hey, you live and you learn. Or so I hear. I’ll try again next time. Speaking of which, anyone run the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon DC? What’s that like? I got a Groupon discount and couldn’t resist… Lucky number seven?

What do you think of my breakdown? Have you experienced any similar issues? What’s the best marathon training advice you ever received?

Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @fairestrunofall. To see how our training is going, check out Jenn’s dailymile here and Moon’s dailymile here. If you have any questions for us, leave a comment or email us at fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!