Sunday, April 28, 2013

Race Recap: Marine Corps 17.75

It has been a little over a month since I ran this race.  My recap is a really behind, but I wanted to write about it still.  My friend Tod, who's also a Red Felt Runner (my awesome running club) did an excellent race write up on his blog also.

Thanks to one of our club members, Will, many of us were able to stay cheaply down at the Fredricksburg Fairfield Inn the night before the race.  I could have driven down in the morning, but I would have had to wake up very early and it was so nice to get some extra sleep.  Many of us met for dinner the night before and had a great time.  After dinner we set up corn hole in the parking lot behind the hotel and shared a few laughs.  It was a great night.

I was able to connect with some old friends and meet new friends at our dinner.  I have really fallen in love with my running club.  If you've never done distance running I feel like it's hard to grasp just how much support and encouragement is necessary.  I pretty much trained for the Marine Corps Marathon last year by myself and it was so hard.  I had my aunt Carolyn running with me and would check in with me to see how I was doing, but she lives in Oklahoma so the running was all on me to get out there an do it.  If she had not been running the marathon and flying in for it, I'm almost positive I would have quit.  The training is rough!  Carolyn was/is a member of Red Felt Running Club and told me to join about a week before.  I took a leap of faith and joined the club not really knowing about it or what I was getting into.  I met a few of them the night before MCM at a dinner, but didn't have a real connection to anyone yet because I was new and had missed all the action leading up to the race.  Since then, RFRC has really become my family.  They get my struggles, they understand just how much the accomplishments mean and they are the best support group ever!  My family and friends have been wonderful, but sometimes all they can say is, "that's great" because they just don't know.  It's not a bad thing and I love their encouragement, but it's nice to have a place to go where I feel like people are like me and who know the ups and downs of distance running.  We are all runners and we are a special breed.  We're different in more ways than I can imagine, but have the common bond that brings us together and allows us to get each other in a way that non-runners don't get.  Plus, non-runners probably get annoyed with all my running related posts on Facebook and my RFRC peeps can't get enough!  This is a tangent, but I just had to put that out there.  Getting to see them and spend time with them at a dinner or race is awesome.  Race meetups are a reunion :)

I ducked out a little early after dinner to try to get some rest.  I LOVED my room.  It was so nice and I felt like a big girl in a hotel room all by myself. It was my first time doing that.  The race started at 8am and I believe I woke up around 6am.  I turned on the news as I was getting ready and saw news about the race.  It was fun to see that so I snapped a quick shot.  I went down to the lobby for our 6:30 meet up and it was so fun.  There was so many of us getting ready and pumped up to run, although you could see a few of us were sleepy too.  It makes a race so much more relaxing when you are surrounded by great people because you don't have time to get nervous.

We did a caravan to the parking area and then the Marine Corps shuttled us to the starting area.  They put us on charter buses!  I was impressed because other shuttles I've been on were school buses.  It was nice to ride in style and as usual, it was very well organized.  I love Marine races.  (They even made a video to help participants know all the details.  They are top notch race planners).  We met up with our other club members and got the insider scoop on a restroom inside one of the office buildings near the start.  It was a gift!  No one likes to wait in the long portapotty lines so it was nice to have a real, clean bathroom to use before the race.  And, there were no lines.  That was a first.  Once we were all out we took our standard pre-race photo.  I'd say we have a pretty good looking crew!

The race had only about 2500 runners so we pretty much all started together.  That was such a nice change.  Usually we'll split up into race corrals so it was a great treat to hang out with my running family longer.  No one was worried abou getting a specific time.  It was all about getting the access pass and having a good time.  We had some fun.  I think you can see from the pictures that we were having a great time.  Even though it was cold and we all woke up early, we were able to laugh and have fun.  You need that when you're about to run 11 hard miles!  The MCM 17.75k (11.03 miles) guaranteed all finishers access to the Marine Corps Marathon before the general public and we all wanted that.  We wanted to EARN our way in.  Considering last year MCM sold out in 2 hours and 45 minutes this access pass was well worth the time and energy to travel to and run this race.

This picture to the right tells a great story about our club.  You can see many of us making silly faces and having a ball.  In this picture you can see Tod, Mynor, Jeremy, Elizabeth (crazy eyes), Jennifer (just eyes), me being silly, and Lesley with her claws.  Once we started the race I hung with them for a little less than a mile.  They were running about a 10ish minute mile and at the time that was too fast for me.  I don't mind going at it on my own.  It's fun to meet up in the beginning, feed off of everyone's energy and then get out there and pound some pavement.  The course was tough.  There were some pretty brutal hills, but we all got it done.  My only complaint was hearing the Marines on the sidelines saying, "only one more hill."  I heard that way too many times and they were always lying!  There were LOTS of hills.  Below is the course map and elevation.  There were a couple of intense hills.

When I crossed the finish line I was surprised to run into many other felters.  Usually I'm so slow that the party is over by the time I get there.  It was great to spend some more time with my fellow runners.  After getting some water and some food, I walked to the access tent to get my access code.  It felt great to get that bad boy.  Even though most of the RFRC members had already taken some photos to celebrate, I was able to get Neeli, Tod and Will to take one with me.  After more good times we all waited in line for the shuttle buses back to the parking lot.  The line was quite long and that's when it started to get cold, but we entertained each other.  Thankfully I did a late checkout so I had time to get back to the hotel to shower and clean up a little.  I went to lunch with Neeli and Jennifer and then headed home.  It was a great race with great people!  Below are more pictures.
This is what it was all about!  I am so grateful I did not have to deal with the registration mess this year. It was bad.

We were so excited to finish!! Give us that acces :)

This was the shirt and commemorative coin we got for running.

Elizabeth and me before the race.

I was so happy Elizabeth got this shot.  I saw that sign along the course and wanted to take a pic, but I was by myself.  There were awesome signs throughout the course, which was great because there were very little crowds.  It wasn't really a spectator friendly course.

This is Mynor and Larry after they finished the course.  I'm copying the comment I put under this picture on Facebook... I think this photo encompasses all that RFRC means! It was a simple post-race congratulatory hug that says more than words could express. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone when I say that this group has been so encouraging and supportive and I think this picture just sums all of those feelings up.

Larraine came to cheer us on at the finish.  She is awesome!

This is Elizabeth getting her hug from her boo, Chris.  I love this picture as well because like Elizabeth, I also get very emotional at the end of races.  Distance running is hard on you body, but mainly your mind and there is such a feeling of accomplishment at the end. I get teary eyed at most of my races when I cross the finish line.  I just can't wait for the day that I have someone to support me like that!

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