Monday, November 1, 2010

MCM - Halloween edition

On Sunday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the 3rd time.  I wore my friend Ann's bib, and removed the chip.  Yes, this is generally frowned upon but it's not my fault marathons tend to have giant sticks up their ass and charge a ridiculous bib transfer fee.

On Saturday night I was inspired to dress up like a zombie.  This is why I wanted to do MCM to begin with! I went to CVS to buy black eye make-up and red lipstick when I ran into Brian, who was on his way to get a bib from a guy in Arlington.  I was excited I'd have a housemate headed to the race with me. I made my costume: I ripped up a 5k t-shirt and shorts, lined the rips with lipstick, and wrote "First rule of Zombieland: CARDIO" on the back. 

We decided to leave a little late because I'm always sitting around the start line forever. But, I didn't anticipate a 15 minute metro wait. We were totally screwed. We got to the Pentagon City metro at 8:05 when the race had already started. It wouldn't have been so bad if we knew where the start was. We were in a car with two guys and we all ran out of the metro station. When we got to a broken escalator (typical) the two guys ran up it when Brian and I slowed to a walk at the exact same time. We burst into laughter... it was the most typical road runner v. trail runner scenario imaginable.

There were no directions to the start. We were running around, hitting dead ends, and wearing ourselves out. Finally, we figured out the route to the start, and we were probably 2 miles into the run. As we neared the start, a spectator yelled "You're almost there! You can do it!" #clever

Brian and I jumped into the start just moments before the police cars that trailed behind the last runners.  There was a sea of slow runners and walkers to work through for the first several, several miles. Brian disappeared ahead of me (and finished in 3:09! Incredible!) and I let go of any hope of getting anywhere near my PR or a BQ time. It was like a fartlek: run slow behind a group then speed up the moment a window opens. My only forseeable problem at the time was a blister that already bothered me at mile 3: the most epic blister ever! It literally takes up 1/3rd of my foot.

The race flew by. I couldn't believe when we hit a new mile marker. I got a little bored, started a few conversations, listened to some good music, and started a list of why I like trail running better.  This is what I came up with:

Trail Ultramarathons
Road Marathons
Better aid stations with food and awesome volunteers who feed you and fill up water bottles.
More water stations so you don’t have to carry water—but almost no food.
Made a wrong decision and wore old shoes?  Change them at your drop bag.
Made the wrong decision and wore old shoes?  You’re fucked.
Lots of trees.
Lots of spectators with funny signs.
Run alone or with a group of friends.  Single-tracks usually get crowded at the beginning but thin out over the first few miles.
Run through massive crowds with people cutting you off and getting knocked over.
Built in walk breaks up mountains.  But, this means more time on your feet.
You have to run it all—and fast.  But, at least you can run it fast.
You have to carry all your garbage.
Volunteers pick up all the garbage.
Friends, housemates, or boyfriend chauffeur me to start.
Metro.  Fuck.  Metro.
You can’t get lost in a loud iPod.  People might need to pass, and you need to listen for rattlesnakes and bears.
You can just ignore everyone and blare your iPod to get you through the race… even though they discourage it.
You can find your friends easily; there is hardly anyone else there.
Trying to find one person in a sea of 35,000 people is impossible.
The trail is gentler on your body.  Unless you’re running on rocks.
The constant pounding on roads hurts more.
Always exciting with falls, wild animals, mountains, stream crossings, etc.
You run a road the whole time.  Sort of boring.
You are sleep deprived and bleed real blood.
To look like a zombie you need black eye make-up and red lipstick.
Pictures from event are free
Pictures from event cost at least $40.
Gear is more expensive.
All you need are the running basics.
Usually in the middle of nowhere.  Requires rental car.
Located in accessible cities.  (Metro.  Fuck.  Metro)
You run through streams.
You run on bridges over rivers.
At mile 19 you realize you have 83 miles left.
At mile 19 you realize you have 7 miles left.
Better value per mile.
Usually very expensive.
Serene and quiet—unless running with Snipes.
People bring cowbells and scream at you as if muscles feed off noise.
After the finish, you can sit right down and start drinking beer and eating food.
After the finish, you are stuck in an unmoving crowd for an hour.  Still standing.
At sunset you are still running.
At sunset you are on the couch watching a movie.

At mile 22 I ran into my hasher friends and I hung out too long and had 4 (or 6) cups of beer. I ran into thisamazingday and stopped to chat.  I thought my 4 hour goal was totally do-able.  Then, my IT band really started to act up and I was really slowed down at the end. I pushed through it and unofficially finished in 4:00:32.

At 6:00:32, I made it through the start area and headed to Chadwicks where I drank several glasses of champagne, then stumbled/limped home (it was to make my costume better, I swear). But I woke up this morning with sore quads, and achy IT band, a swollen ankle, and low energy. It doesn't matter if I proved I can run 100 miles, 26.2 still isn't easy.


  1. LOVE this post—the comparisons are great! Amazing that no matter what your training, or your distance record (100 miles!), the marathon is still a distance to be respected.

  2. LOL...Metro. Fuck. Metro. Someone has to figure a way to work this into a movie! Destined to become one of the greatest quotes ever:) especially for those of us that us Metro!
    THanx for sharing your MCM experience! Loved every word!!

  3. So true. I had to laugh when Brian told me you guys left at 7:15 a.m. for an 8 am race. Sounds like something I would try. :)
    Glad you had fun. Ultras are harder but road running is harder too. :)

  4. I love the comparison chart! Stupid metro, it was a pain in the ass this weekend. :) Congrats on a hard road race!

  5. I like the list you made. Racing 26.2 is never easy, and that is why we do it :) I like road over trail, because I like the masses, excitment, cheering and pep squads you find along the way. It is a team effort with 40,000 people on your team. Good job yesterday!

  6. love this.. what a fun read - thanks for sharing.. and my fav quote "At mile 19 you realize you have 83 miles left." .. like that x

  7. Wow! I just found your blog and I love it!! You are absolutely amazing! I really want to get into trail running... do you find it is way easier on your joints and recovery?

  8. Great stuff. Enjoyed the comparisons. I much prefer the smell of the woods and trails than porta-potties. Some people smell really bad as well, eeks. Asphalt and concrete sucks like the metro! Should be f*&%s,... Metro. Okay, see ya at Stone Mill.

  9. You know you're an ultra runner when arriving late to a marathon is no big deal. Great report!

  10. wow !!! u stopped for beer and still can complete the run in 4+hours ? awesome...

  11. Just found your blog. Your comparisons are dead on. The lists made me laugh and couldn't agree with you more!