Archive for the 'Race Report' Category

Half 51: 2013 Princess Half Marathon – The Race

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

We treated this race morning like we did any other Disney race morning.  The alarm went off at 2:30 AM with the intention of leaving the house by 3:15. Everything went as planned and we were out the door on time.  We went our usual route only something was very different because no sooner did we pull onto Lake Buena Vista Blvd and we hit a long line of traffic.  A ride that normally takes us 30 minutes tops turned into a 1:10+ minute ordeal that had me starting to sweat.  I could seem my “Perfect Princess” disappearing before my very eyes.  Steve could feel the stress and did what he needed to do to get me closer to the start.  I kept in touch with the folks I planned to run with and told them to go ahead and we were determined to find each other.  We made it into the lot around 4:37, I gave Steve a quick kiss and speed walked my way to the runner’s area.  I slid through the “no bag check” line and started eyeing up the port-a-pot lines.  I kept going as I knew the closer you go to the walk to the corrals the shorter the lines got and having passed a dozen or so lines with 30 people in them I found several that had only 7, so I picked the shortest and hoped for the best.

I am still sad that I missed making it to the “H” tent in the family reunion area to see my friends from Running of the Ears.  It is a pre-race tradition and one of my only opportunities to see some friends during race weekend.  Believe me, next year, I will be leaving extra early so as not to miss it.

The line moved very quickly and I could feel my stress subsiding as I started making the walk to the corrals.  I kept looking for the path of least resistance and managed to make it into the C Corral and find my friends before the 5 AM requirement.  I made to sit down with them on a nice blanket they had laid out on the ground and no sooner did my knee hit the ground then the corrals started moving forward, lol.  As we made our way towards the start we made our way to the right like the good little run/walkers we are.  Right off the start things felt very crowded.  I was looking forward to things opening up when we hit World Drive, but the clearing never came.  Unfortunately my now routine nose bleed did.  I unfortunately have had enough experience to know how to manage them and didn’t let it slow us down any on our run.

As we made our way towards the Transportation and Ticket center our little trio grew as we found three more friends on the course to run with us.  We waved to Steve as we ran through the TTC.  Unfortunately he was cheering from the left and we were trying to be good and stay to the right for our intervals.  We exited TTC and started making our way towards the Contemporary where we normally see our wedding DJ, Scooter.  We yelled and waved as we ran past.  People had started jumping the cones and actually running in the car travel lane, which was very different from years past and was a symptom of the overcrowding on the course.  We turned into the Magic Kingdom and found another symptom, where people usually just run on the street people were hopping onto the sidewalk and running down that way.  We joined them so as not to need to transition into our walk on the street itself.  At this point I had my sights set on one thing only, the bathrooms, and I knew which ones to go to – Pinocchio!  It is slightly off course so the crowds stay down and any time you spend running the extra 1/10th of a mile you gain by not waiting in line.

We were back on our way with only a minute lost in the potty itself.  We exited the Magic Kingdom and again waved at Steve as we past him at the Grand Floridian because again he was on the left and we were being good and sticking to the right.  Unfortunately we dropped back down to a trio shortly there after as part of our party needed some extra walk breaks.  We were entering the area where the roads were opening up again and we tried to take advantage of it but again course crowding made it a slow go.  As we progressed we hit more and more areas where there was no option but to walk.  We found ourselves having to move towards the left to have any option and then we would hit a wall of walkers and stop.  It was very frustrating but we all tried to stay in good spirits and enjoy the ride as much as possible.

We made our way into EPCOT and found a little more space to run as we made our way through were able to start out intervals up again unfortunately we had already passed the 3:30 mark thanks to the crowding on the roads in.  We ran for the finish line and raised our hands in victory as we crossed.  It was a fun race with some great friends and I will remember it fondly.  We made our way down through the finishers area and grabbed our special 5th anniversary medals.  In this picture you can see how it compared to the previous years.


I had one more stop to make than my friends as I headed over to the “Perfect Tent” to get my special “Perfect Princess” lanyard.  This picture you can see the 2012 lanyard, the 2013 standard lanyard and the 2013 “Perfect Princess” lanyard.


We grabbed our drinks and food and headed back over towards the “H” tent to try to catch some people after the race.  I noticed the hubby was missing but he came up and surprised me with cupcakes from our favorite food truck, the Yum Yum Truck, instead of flowers.  Now the weekend is over, and though I still have some cupcakes left, I am sad to see all of my friends heading back to their respective homes.  As prices go up and races get more crowded I find people making the decision to skip Disney races more and more.  I look forward to anniversary years like this that draw the crowds in so I can see everyone.  Now the dust is settling and we are back to real life, but I do have some shiny bling representing some great memories to keep me company.  Hopefully runDisney will be able to find a way to make the course less congested and maybe to freeze the price increases so that they don’t continue to push away some of their more loyal consumers of their races.  Fingers crossed!


Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2012

Monday, November 12th, 2012

This year I ran the Wine&Dine Half Marathon for the 3rd time.  This is one of those races that so far I have hated to love.  It is my favorite race course on Disney propery.  There are many miles on the road but they are nicely broken up by park time.  In the end you actually step foot onto three different parks in the 13.1 miles.  However the 2010 and 2011 races have been some of my most painful racing miles.  Bad formulas of too many park hours, not enough rest and bad hydration lead to some really hard races.  I went into this years race deciding I was going to give night races just one more try and I am happy that I did.

Steve and I started the day off lazy.  Watching some tv and fiddling around with Farmville 2 as we continually sipped water from our Mr. and Mrs. Tervis Tumblers.  We had a few small plans during the day to pass the time till the race start.  We showered and were off to G’s first basketball game.  Few things are as adorable as a bunch of 5 and 6 year old chasing basketballs around a court.  From there we decided to go get my car detailed.  That took longer than planned as there was no wax left on my car.  Then we hit up a local BBQ joint, Four Rivers, for some lunch.  That place is worthy of a blog post of its own, lol.  From there we went home for some quick naps before getting ready for the race.  After about a half hour of napping I snapped awake as one does from a power nap.  I decided not to fight to try to get back to sleep for fear that I would make myself even sleepier.  I slipped into my Sparkle Skirt, ROTE bondi band and shirt and we were on our way.

We arrived at the parking lot at EPCOT just before 7 and had little to no trouble getting a spot and then hopping on a bus to the start line area.  When we got there we quickly ran into Todd from ROTE and chatted as we made our way towards our usual meeting spot int he middle of the field.

It was fun as always catching up with all the ROTErs in attendance.  We waited till around 9 PM then headed into a port-a-potty line.  This is where I first started to notice the crowding.  These were the longest lines I have waited in at a Disney race since the inaugural Minnie Marathon.  We headed to our corral and hung out with a few ROTErs.

The time flew by as it always seems the corrals were off one by one to their own private fireworks.


The crowding in the first few miles really had me nervous for when we entered the parks.  We certainly didn’t have the roads free up like they usually do. In fact I think I spent the entire race having people passing in the grass to my right as I tried to go in and out of my intervals.  I was so nervous that I was going to see someone go down hard.  Especially since everyone was distracted by the beautiful Christmas decorations that were up in all the parks. In addition to the Osbourne lights we usually see there were wreaths, garland, trees, lights…everywhere!

The course never did clear up, but I have become used to that after running the half in January and Princess so many times.  The time and miles were flying by.  As we passed certain milestones like exiting the Animal Kingdom parking lot and going back stage at Hollywood Studios where you usually see Doug (this year it was Wreck it Ralph!) I kept noting to Steve how great I felt compared to years past.  After we passed Doug I felt lost.  I must have felt so awful in these areas that I lose familiarity with the course, lol.  We ended up picking up the pace and running a negative split in the last 5K.  It was fun and felt oh so great!

The finish line was spectacular.  I didn’t even try to catch it on my phone.  As we passed the 13 mile marker fog machines were set up and they had a lasor light show projected through the fog.  It was beautiful.  We crossed the finish line and grabbed our bling.  It almost sucked for us to both feel so good because we couldn’t stay for the party.  We grabbed our water, Powerade and food and tried to find an exit.  Only we found ourselves stuck.  It was crowded and we found ourselves having to walk away from our car past the changing area and the drink voucher redemption section before we could find a way out.  I think it added about 1/4 mile to our walk back to the car which was annoying with it being so late.

That being said about the walk to the car, besides that and the crowding I didn’t have much to complain about and this race renewed my hope for me and nighttime races.  I plan to try to follow the formula we did for this race for next year’s Tower of Terror and Wine&Dine and then I will decide if my love affair with nighttime races is over.

MCM 2009

Monday, October 26th, 2009

My planned approad to the MCM was to treat it as a 20 mile race and a 10K fun run, but it turned into a 20 mile race and a 10K walk, but I will get to that later. Let’s start from the beginning.

The MCM weekend started with me picking Andi up at BWI. When she was coming down the escalator I noticed a bump, where I did not expect to see one. She walked up, put her hands on her belly and grinning announces “BABY!” If that wasn’t enough good news she said her race plan was to stick with me. Yay! A partner in crime!

We headed down to the expo straight from the airport so that we could avoid the Saturday rush. We decided to take the metro in and met Margaret and the lovely Ms. I for the ride down. When we were walking into the expo we ran into Erica, Jen and Sean. Lots of screaming and hugs followed and Andi shared her news with them as well. Then we parted ways and tracked down Kelly for some expo shopping. The packet pickup went extremely smoothly. Despite the streams of people walking into the expo there were no lines at any of the pickup locations we went to. We then hit the official merchandise store where I optimistically purchased a jacket, water bottle, pin, sticker and gloves for myself as well as two shirts for Dad. The one shirt I purchased Dad was just like my MCM In Training shirt but where I had In Training Dad’s has Support Crew. Too cute!

From the expo we headed back up to Baltimore where we picked up some dinner for Dad, Mr. Mike and ourselves. We had to do a small packet pick-up at Dad’s house so that Mr. Mike and Mr. Dave could get their packets. After a very busy and exhausting day we headed to my house and went to bed.

Saturday morning we spent relaxing. I did some packing and made us some pasta for lunch. We got a call from Annie that she was headed back to the hotel so we hopped in the car and started our drive down to Crystal City, VA. It was pouring down rain for much of our ride, which we were not going to complain about because it meant that the weather system was moving through and would be gone before the start of the race the next morning. After checking into our room we met the ROTE crew downstairs in the lobby to head to dinner. While we waited for everyone to arrive Erica presented me with a small red canvas bag. When I pulled out the contents I found a framed picture from the Cherry Blossom race. She told me it was to remind me of all the people I had supporting and believing in me for the race. I gave her a huge hug. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a great group of friends.

Mustapha worked his magic and talked the gentleman who drove the shuttle for the hotel to drive us to and pick us up from dinner. It was a tight squeeze but we did manage to get everyone into the car. The dinner was delicious and there were many laughs had among friends. After dinner we took our group picture and stood around chit chatting. The shuttle came back to take us back to the hotel. Now it was arts and crafts time.

From the idea of buying tubesocks to keep our arms warm at the start line and Ernie’s imagination the idea of arm warming sock puppets was born. So we all sat at a table in the breakfast area of the hotel and we made sock puppets to wear the next morning. We had Mickey, Minnie, Beaker, a Prince and a Princess, a witch and a vampire. All sock puppets were complete with googly eyes. After we burned our creative energy it was bedtime.

I quickly realized when arriving back to the room that I had forgotten my PJs, so I was stuck sleeping in my street clothes. Oh well! Could have forgotten worse things right? I sat my framed picture on my bedside table and attamped to get a good night’s sleep. At about 3:45 AM I woke up and rolled over to look at my picture. I started cracking up laughing because attached to frame was one of the googly eyes from our sock puppet arts and crafts project. I snapped a picture when it got to be a little later and sent it off to Erica and Jen when the caption “Sometimes I feel like somebody’s watching me…”

Our alarms went off and we prepped for the race day. I realized I had accidentally grabbed the almost empty bar of Body Glide so I was trying my best to make it last. We had some PB sandwiches, loaded our gear, and headed down to the lobby to meet everyone for the shuttle ride to the start. Luckily Mr. Mike found us and was already in the lobby when I got down there. We all made the short walk over to the shuttle and hopped in line. The bus ride to the start was fairly quick. Nothing more than 5 minutes I would say. We hopped off the bus, checked bags, used port-a-pottys and walked to the start. I have to say the start area was ran just as efficiently as the expo. I was very pleased.

Kerry found us at the start when we were lining up in the corrals. We were under orders to stop him if he tried to pass us because he was recovering from a stress fracture and I had planned to take my job seriously. Right before the start he ran off to use the facilities one last time. It took about 15 minutes to cross the start line, which I knew was eating up my time to Beat the Bridge. For those that don’t know about the bridge: There is a 7:30 cut off for the MCM course with one exception. You have to make it across the 14th St bridge before the 1:15 PM cut-off. That roughly works out to 14 min/miles for the last person to cross the start. If you start earlier the pace requirement varies.

Andi, Annette, myself and Tricia ran together for a while. The hills for the first 8 miles or so were tougher than I expected. The elevation chart did not show that much change, but some of these hills were really steep. Annette, training in TN, was much more adapt to the hills so I spent much of the first few miles chasing her and Andi up them. I started to feel like I was using way too much energy getting up them. At one point when Andi slowed to check on me we ended up losing Annette altogether. With the crowds I was only able to track her for a minute or two and she was gone.

Andi, being the AWESOME friend that she is, stuck right by my side. We finished the hills, headed through Georgetown and then back to downtown DC. We passed the Washington Monoument the first time and headed down to Haine’s Point. We could see some great crowd support for the runners leaving this area and I was excited to get to it. The only aggrevating this is the spectators in line for our port-a-potties. WTH??? This is where things started to turn for me. I was getting annoyed by everything. My belt was bothering me, the wind was annoying, and I could have done without the constant helicopters buzzing over my head. This area of the course is not the place to get annoyed. Unfortunately Andi was started to sense my frustration, especially when I asked to please stop talking to me, lol. I think miles 12 through 16 were harder on my emotionally than the first 8 were on my physically. Around mile 14 I started to realize that I was going to be really close to the bridge cut-off and I didn’t want Andi to get swept on my account so I asked her to leave me. She looked at our average pace and seeing that we were right on top of the 14 min/miles she aggreed.

Once Andi was gone I was able to withdraw back into myself and concentrate. When I got to where we had seen the awesome crowd support when we were heading towards the tidal basin I found that it was gone. I gutted it through the new few miles just trying to keep on pace. I know I lost some time here, but I think I also was able to recover some. Around mile 17 1/2 we came up to the mall and started heading towards the Capitol Building. From here you could see the turn to the bridge on the other side of the mall. It gave me a new shot of adrenaline especially when I looked at my watch and saw that I had a good amount of time to make it over there and still beat the bridge.

I charged toward the Capitol Building, rounded the two turns started heading back down the mall. At this time I heard a siren behind me and a police officer come on speaker announcing, “I am the official MCM pace car. If you are behind me at this point please move to the sidewalk.” I just about crapped myself when I glanced over my shoulder and noticed they were only about 1/10th of a mile behind me. The adrenaline definitely kicked in and I gave up on my pre-defined run walk intervals and just started running as much as my body would let me. I kept glancing back over my shoulder and watching he distance between me and the car increase. I heard the announcement two or three more times, but before I knew it I had turned the bend and had the “Mile 20 Beat the Bridge” sign spinners in my sights. You could tell there was a renewed energy in people when we saw them and everyone picked up their pace heading towards them.

The official timer at mile 20 was announcing the clock time and then announcing how much time we had left to beat the bridge. I heard him say “You have 5 minutes left to Beat the Bridge!” Someone asked him where we had to be to Beat the Bridge. The time got a big smile and said you just have to pass me. At this point we were only about 10 feet away from him. As we passed him I decided I needed to hug someone and picked a random stranger next to me. We made friends and chit chatted as we started walking across the bridge. My body was beat and I was exhausted. I tried several times to get running again and my body just wouldn’t do it. My hamstring started getting tight. I stopped several times to stretch it some and had people walk up concerned I about my safety. I guess my stretching didn’t look too poised, lol.

Part way across the bridge I saw a bunch of police motorcycles lined up and I panicked thinking we hadn’t really beat the bridge and I tried again to run towards them as they started up their engines. They ended up driving back towards the time guy to be the blockade for the bridge opening. I have to say this bridge was LONG and I was thirsty. My water belt had been long depleted. I knew the ROTE support crew was up ahead and they would have water, so they became my next goal after the bridge.

As I was coming near the end of the bridge I saw a group of supporters in the middle of the bridge. I had trouble focusing my eyes but then I recognized Jen L and threw my arms in the air. Jen H and Margaret, my looper running partners that helped me train for this race, came running towards me and gave me big hugs. I told them I just needed water. I walked up through my water belt into Margaret’s wagon and downed a bottle of water. I ended up taking two more for the road and asked them to take care of my friends that were kind enough to hug me after I crossed the bridge and they did.

I spent some more time with the ladies from the bridge before getting seperated from them. The bridge was finally over arond 22 miles and now we were heading into the out-and-back. I have done races with out-and-backs before. Disney has an out-and-back between miles 20 and 21. This particular out-and-back seemed cruel. We it just seemed to take forever. However it did lend to some great spottings. I got to see Mr. Dave, Mr. Mike and Annette all running back towards me. Whew! We all made it! Then I spotted Andi and Erica at a port-a-potty right in front of me. I yelled Andi several times but she didn’t hear me. So then I yelled “Erica! Princess!” and she spun around. Andi came running towards me and gave me a big hug telling me she had been so worried since she had left me. I was very happy to hear that Andi had run into Erica shortly after leaving me and they two ended up sticking together all the way to the finish.

I made friends with a guy that had a cramp in his leg around and his girlfriend around mile 23 and we chit chatted for a while. Then started the most lonely part of the race. The miles between 24 and 26 wrapped around the Pentago and the road was very wide with very few people. You could tell that everyone left on the course at this time was just hurting. I stopped a coule times along the way to stretch. Got a butt cramp at one point I think because of the tight hamstring. Came up to the last water stop and they were starting to break down some of the tables. The mile 26 sign spinner’s shift must have ended as they were walking towards me with their signs tucked under their arms and talking on their cell phones. Then I came across a marine that pointed down the road and said the finish is 400 yards past that white tower. I walked up until I came to an area where marines had lined the road. I slapped 5 several times and the last one said, “That white tent is the finish.” I looked straight ahead down the road for the white tent and I could not see it. I then looked up in the air slightly to the left and spotted the tent. It was at least 200 feet higher than the current roadway I was on and the hill to get there was STEEP!

I made to to the bottom of the hill and it was also lined with marines. At that point I was elated to have the finish line almost in site. The marines along the hill slapped 5 and it just brough a smile to my face. The last marine stepped out of line and said “YOU ARE THERE! YOU DID IT!” Put both hands up for a hight five and I almost started laughing. When the course leveled out again I started running, scanning the crowds for my friends. As I got close to the finish line the announcer called my name, so I threw my hands in the air and crossed the finish line. After the finish I was slightly confused where to go. I just wanted my medal, lol.

Finally after searching for a little while I noticed the chutes directly in front of me with a marine at the end of each with medals on their arms. I tried to pick a cute one and walked down it and got my medal. After I passed him a photographer snapped my photo. I did not make my way over to the official finisher’s photos because I was in pain and very tired. I heard peopel screaming my name and turned to see Margaret, Jen L, Jen H, and Stephanie running towards me. Margaret handed me a Diet Dr. Pepper. OMG it was SOOOO good. They then helped me find my way through the finisher’s area and to where the rest of the group was waiting for me. It was SOOOO nice to have all of them there at the finish. I know some of them had to wait a long time for me to get there. I snatched up my finisher’s coin and we started the long walk back to the shuttle.

I think we walked probably 2 miles after the finish before we were in the shuttle line. The shuttles were coming very slowly, so we waited maybe 45 minutes for it to get there. Then the shuttle ride back to the hotel was nearly 30 minutes itself. At this point Andi and I decided to just head home stinky and shower when we got back to my house. We waited at the hotel to tell everyone how proud we were of them and that we would see them soon. Andi drove us home as I have a tendency to get hip cramps when I sit down after a full marathon.

It didn’t seem to take us long at all to get home. We showered quickly and then had Dad drive us to dinner in my car (no way were either of us getting in and out of the back seat of either a BMW 1 series convertible or a Honda Element). We had been very much looking forward to crab cakes and we both were starving. We started eating and only made it half way through our meals. Jackpot for me as I have some REALLY tasty food for lunch at work today.

I have to say that overall I was impressed with the organization of the MCM. Packet pickup and the start line were both ran very smoothly. The on course support from the marines was excellent. Overall I expected more spectators on the course. I could really have used the encouragement in certain areas and it seemed to be lacking and I was very disappointed when we left Haine’s Point and the crowds there had dispersed. While I plan for Goofy to be my last marathon I have no regrets about this event and will hobble around with my marathon work at the office today very proud of what I accomplished yesterday.

BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED ME GET TO MY RACE TODAY! My parents of course. The Loopers who were there for all of my long runs this summer, cheering me on and pushing me to go further than I ever had before. Jen L, Erica, Sean, Kelly and Mustapha who I think had more belief in me than I had in myself. Margarent and Jen H who were with me on those tough long runs. I am looking foward to returning the favor as we train for January. Laura for bringing so many smiles to my face as my mobile support crew. Everone on ROTE for their encouragement, good luck wishes, and the smiles they brought to my face as I read their race day tracking thread. My run blogging friends that always had words of encouragement for me. I will admit I cried many times yesterday, not because of the pain, but because you all have been there for me so much as I trained for, ran and completed this race. I am very blessed. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Dundalk Heritage 5K

Monday, July 6th, 2009

The only race I have consistently completed in my 4 years of running is the 4th of July 5K in Dundalk. This is the area in which my grandfather lived and my parents grew up. I probably mentioned it before, but as a child every 4th of July we would go to Pop’s house and then walk up a few blocks to sit on the parade route where I would get a box of poppers and Mike and I would throw them at the ground while we waited for the parade to come through.

The first year I ran it was the year they had rerouted the parade and instead of being a couple blocks away it went right past my grandfather’s old doorstep. I have been asking my father to run this race with me for years. I couple years he was in FL and last year he came with me but didn’t feel ready to run. This year was the year! He finally came to the race with me.

He pulled up in front of the house about a quarter till 6 and when I got into the car we realized we were dressed alike. We both had on black bottoms (he doesn’t wear skirts, yet) and red shirts with blue and black print. Luckily we didn’t have on the exact same shirt. He had on the one from SH7 and I had on my MCM training shirt.

Without telling me my father had decided the night before the race that he wasn’t just going to run this race but he was going to run it with me. It turned out to be a really fun time. We stayed together for almost the entire race. At one point my father turns to me and said that he heard someone yell my name. I had missed it because I was “in the zone”, but it turns out it was a woman that works with my brother. That was a nice and energizing moment, but I felt bad that I didn’t hear her. I have thanked her several times since and I will do it again. Thanks Jen!

As we got near the finish I started to pick it up and Dad fell back a little bit but started to push his pace himself and started to gain on me as we finished. If you believe the race results at Charm City Run he beat me 1:36. Also seems that 12 other people crossed the finish line at the same exact time that he did, which was physically impossible with the narrow finishing shoots. I will let who actually won be our little secret since it wasn’t a race between us but instead a father and daughter enjoying a nice race together in celebration of the birth of their country and the life of my grandfather.

MCM Run 2 Register 10K

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Looking at my running career prior to March 28th I completed 48 races.  48?!?  I can hardly believe it myself.  Of those 48 not a single one of them was a 10K.  10K actually is not a very popular race distance around the Baltimore area.  Of the few that there have been I have always had a conflict in my racing schedule.  That is until March 28th. 

Back in January my friend Jen and her husband Sean took on the task of talking at many club members as they could into participating in the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge next year.  While they were at it they also urged people to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon.  I of course said I wouldn’t do either and then decided to do both.  Both can be difficult races to get into.  To get around the registration rush for the MCM Jen and Sean offerred up an alternative: The MCM Run to Register 10K in Quantico, VA.  Having never run a 10K distance and not wanting to deal with the stress of trying to register for MCM I was all for this race. 

The race itself took place on the Marine Base at Quantico, which is about 2 hours away.  Packet pick-up was also at the base and needed to be done before race morning.  Thankfully Jen volunteered to go down and retrieve our packets for us.  I owe her one for this because I wouldn’t have been able to get down there myself.  So race morning I set my alarm for 3:30 AM and drove to meet Jen, Sean, Erica and Mustapha at Erica and Mustapha’s place.  There Jen gave me my packet which had my bib and shirt in it.

I have to say I love the bib.  They definitely took the concept of getting access to the MCM and ran with it.

The shirt followed the theme as well.  The front had the MCM R2R logo on it and the back had the words Access like the bib and then an “Granted” stamp with the MCM logo as the A.

We left Erica and Mustapha’s place and continued south with only about an hour more of travel.  When we got off the exit for Quantico things were already backed up some at the gate.  Just outside the gate there is a replicate of the Iwo Jima statue that the finish line photo for the MCM is taken in front of.  That seemed like an appropriate touch to the start of our race.  As we waited in line it continued to grow quickly, which made us thankful that we got there when we did. 

We drove onto the base and found a parking spot then set off in search off the port-a-pots.  We made our way down into a small stadium on the campus that had a track and some bleachers.  They had brought out the blow up finish line from the MCM and put it across the track as the finish line we would cross for the 10K.  One interesting thing was that the race had a waved start but it was based on the honor system.  I stayed back for the second wave as my bib number indicated along with my friends, two of which stayed back with the second wave even though they were first wave.  After the national anthem was song and the color gaurd did their thing the race was off.  I could feel that we were heading out really fast, so I mentioned to Jen and Erica that I needed to slow down and then slowly watched them disappear from sight. 

We started winding our way around the Quantico Base.  I was trying not to get too distracted so that I didn’t let me pace drop off too much.  I cranked out miles 1, 2 and 3 at 11:20, 12:01. and 12:24 respectively.  Somewhere between Miles 1 and 2 another member of blew past me but not without a quick hello.  Mile 4 started out great but held a surprise for us.

As we were looped back around to go past the stadium again I knew we were making our way towards the trail portion of the course.  For several days leading up to the race the weather was damp, so the announcer at the start forwarned us of slippery conditions.  With a quick left hand turn we made our way onto the trail that was marked by a small sign with the word “START” on it.  At first it wasn’t bad at all as there was gravel mixed with the dirt which was giving us traction.  Mile 4 ended with a pace of 14;17.  As we made our way things gradually got slippery.  At this point we started to travel single file along the sides of the trail where our footing was its strongest.  As the brush grew we eventually ran out of the stable side portion.  As runner after runner made their way along the course it was getting more and more torn up.  We passed a sign that said “.5 mi” and things went from bad to worse.  The once slippery mud started to turn into the kind of mud that would suck the shoes right off your feet.  All along the trail there were marines posted and I can’t help but feel that they were amused by all us non-soldier types trying to trek through mud that they have probably regularly trained in.  They deserved to get a good laugh out our expense though. :D 

As the mud got stickier the hills got steaper and we passed the “1 Mi” mark.  The trail made a sharp left and there was a marine posted just at the bend.  We asked him how much further and he said just at the top of the hill by the water tower.  I turned the bend and looked up and just about slid right back down the muddy hill.  It was a rather steep incline to the water tower.  At this point the runners were all working as a team to get to where we needed to go.  We knew we had a 14 min/mile pace cut-off to earn our spot in the MCM and we weren’t going to let a little mud get in our way.  As we reached to the top of the hill we found the second water stop just before a gracefuly down hill to the finish line.  After a 18:10 min mile 5 through the mud the downhill was a very welcome sight to see.  Thanks to the hills mile 6 was an 11:30 mile.  As we neared the end of mile 6 we can back down to the stadium where it all began to do a circle of the stadium and one of the track before crossing the finish.  I looked down at the stadium to see Erica and Jen making their way to the finish line.  As I circled the stadium my friends all lined up along the track to cheer me on to the finish.  I slapped 5 with everyone and at an 11:03 pace ran it on home.  After we crossed the finish we handed in the bottom of our bibs for the coveted Registration code and password for early registration into the MCM. 

As we headed back to the car we all began to survey the damages.  Seemed that we all had evidence of the trail run splashed all over our shoes.  Luckily we all had planned ahead and brought a change of shoes with us for the trip. 


On the way home we stopped at the Silver Diner for a celebratory breakfast.  When I got home that afternoon I tooks a shower and a nap then I hopped online to register myself for my second marathon.  Ready or not Arlington, here I come!