RACE REPORT: 2016 Marine Corps Marathon

This past Sunday, I ran the 41st annual Marine Corps Marathon which took course through our Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, after running the Brooklyn Half Marathon back in May, I had my sights set on completing a full marathon by the end of 2016.

I had a devastating experience after running the 2014 New York City Marathon and had taken a bit of a break from training for any races up until this year.

It felt good to be back in a regular running routine and have that feeling of working towards an end goal.

Initially, I had no idea what marathon I would end up running. It wasn’t until June that fate stepped in and a friend was looking to transfer her Marine Corps Marathon bib to someone. The minute that I found out, I immediately reached out to her and before I knew it, I was signed up for it.

I had almost forgotten what it was like to train for a marathon. The last time that I was actually following a legitimate training plan and taking it seriously was when I ran the 2013 Big Sur Marathon (which is my marathon PR to this day.)

When I began training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I told myself that I really had to get back into race mentality – that I had to take it seriously instead of just “winging it.” I followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Marathon Training plan, which is what I typically have used in the past. It’s straightforward and easy to follow.

After 4 months of training, and a few weeks of setback due to a foot injury, I felt that I was ready as I could be. When it came to travel arrangements, however, not so much.

I booked my hotel in Alexandria, VA which was conveniently located near both the race expo, start line, and finish line. I booked my flight very close to the weekend leading up to the race. In that time, train prices from New York to DC had already drastically gone up, and the bus just didn’t seem like an appealing option.

My sister and I landed late Saturday afternoon after already experiencing some flight delays. We went straight from the airport to the expo and arrived there only half an hour before the expo closed. I picked up my race bib and hardly had time to scan the exhibitor booths. When we left, we were starving after not eating lunch, so we went right to our hotel and ended up ordering Dominos (Not the wisest decision I’ve ever made. More on that to come)

That night, I laid out my race clothes, did yoga, and just tried to relax and mentally prepare for what I wanted to accomplish the next day.

I woke up at 5AM the next morning with a ton of energy and pre-race jitters. It hadn’t officially hit me that I was running a 26.2 mile race until that morning.

The hotel shuttle transported us near the start line, where we ended up walking nearly a mile to get to.

By the time we arrived, the sun was starting to rise and so were the temperatures. It was forecasted to reach near 80 degrees fahrenheit that day and surely, it did.

The race took off around 8AM.

I took the first 5K of the race very slow, knowing not to make the mistake of starting too quick too soon. I was feeling good when I started, but stopped at mile 6 to use the restroom. From that point, I already knew that I’d be behind and would have to make up for it later on. Stopping for the restroom took about 10-15 minutes off my time, so I tried to pick up the pace.

I ended up crossing the 13.1-mile mark in a time of 2:04, which I was fairly pleased (and surprised) about.

With half of the race behind me, I continued to feel good from miles 14-19. I managed to keep a steady 9:30 minute pace and had planned to really crank up the gears at mile 20.

And then, my worst fear happened.

I hit a wall at mile 21, was having stomach issues, and made the heart-breaking decision to stop, stretch, and walk a bit (which I had told myself I wouldn’t do). From there, it was a long and grueling 5.2 miles of alternating between running and walking.

At that point, I had to accept the fact that I was not going to make my goal time of finishing near or under 4 hours.

I did finish strong, using everything that I had left in the tank to stride across the finish line with a time of 4:38:44. I wasn’t ecstatic, but I wasn’t nearly as devastated as I was after the New York City Marathon.

Though I didn’t finish near my goal time, I did learn many lessons, which I’d like to pass along. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone reading.

  1. Give yourself an extra month to train just in case something happens along the way such as an injury or a cold
  2. Pick a training plan and stick to it
  3. Do NOT order fast food (especially with cheese or dairy in it) the night prior, or even 2 nights prior, to your race. Don’t even order anything out of your normal diet. The last thing you want is an upset stomach.
  4. Make sure your bowels are empty before the race
  5. Get to the expo early. If you can’t make it a day before, then try to make sure you go a few hours before it closes. It’s not worth it to rush or be stressed about whether or not you’ll get there in time
  6. Try as hard as you can to reach 20 miles for your furthest long run
  7. Look at the course map and elevation early on so that you know what to train for
  8. Incorporate speed training
  9. Even if it’s a flat course, incorporate some hill training just in case there are even the slightest of inclines
  10. Make sure to stretch A TON in the days after the race 
  11. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t the time you were hoping for. Even finishing a marathon is a huge accomplishment in itself
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RACE REPORT: 2016 NYRR New Balance Bronx 10 Mile

This morning, I ran the NYRR New Balance Bronx 10 Mile race.

This race, for me, was particularly nerve-racking due to the setback that I had with my foot injury a few weeks ago. Somehow, I managed to run one of my best races in years.

I finished 10 miles with a time of 1:19:49. 

Again, I did not feel mentally or physically prepared leading up to it.

To backtrack, my weekend wasn’t off to greatest start. On Friday night, I had a stomach bug and was in bed by 9PM. The following day, I went for a short 2 mile warm up run in the morning, walked around the city all day, then hung out with my sister and a friend at night. When it came time to go to bed, I couldn’t get my head in a pre-race mentality. I ended up tossing and turning for hours and probably didn’t sleep until around 2AM (maybe even 3AM).

A few hours later, it was time to wake up. My first alarm went off at 5AM on the dot.

My sister and I left around 6AM and faced, what could have been, one of the worst journeys to a race that I have ever gone through.

The trains took forever, I had to pee entire time, and we thought we were going to be late.

Fortunately, we arrived with enough time for me to go to the bathroom, warm up, and even calm my nerves.

When the race finally started, my corral moseyed through the start line and we were finally off. The sun was shining and it was perfect race conditions with enough shade from the buildings surrounding to keep everyone from getting overheated.

My first mile was fairly quick and I only sped up from there. It wasn’t until mile 8 that I felt my speed impacting me.

The course was relatively flat with some slight elevation, but not overwhelming. It was my first time running this race and running in this particular part of New York, so I had no idea what to expect (even though they do provide you with the course info ahead of time).

The crowds were great and coming to mile 9 and 10 felt just like running during the New York City Marathon.

My sister was there to cheer me on right at the finish and I held my pace to get under 1:20, which was the unconscious goal that I placed in my head once I knew I was feeling good.

It was an amazing morning and a nice surprise. I honestly loved this race, not only because I was pleased with my performance, but the overall course, crowd, and distance. 10 miles is the perfect distance to know how much you can handle and know how to pace yourself properly. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested at trying their hand at a longer distance race.

RACE REPORT: 2016 NYRR 5th Avenue Mile

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a race report.

Frankly, up until this year, I have been a little out of the game when it comes to determinedly training for a race. Now that I think about it, I’ve completely neglected to write a race report for my most recent race, the NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon.

In any case, this blog post will serve solely to recap the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile, which I recently ran this past Saturday, September 3rd 2016.

After having been through a wave of changes from the Fall of 2015 up until now, I was eager, more than ever, to get back into a race training mentality.

For this Fall, I signed up for the NYRR 5th Avenue Mile, NYRR Bronx 10-Mile, and the Marine Corps Marathon. So far, one down, two to go.

The last marathon that I had run was the 2014 New York City Marathon in which I completely fell apart and regard as possibly the worst race of my entire life. This race taught me one valuable lesson: You get what you give. 

After the 2014 New York City Marathon, I told myself that I would never under-train or even run a race that I knew I wasn’t prepared for.

I used to think that squeaking by based on pure will and determination was enough to help me succeed – The truth is that unfortunately, it’s not.

I’m drifting off topic – Now, let’s back to what I really wanted to recap

I’m not too sure why I even signed up for a 1-mile race in the first place. The last time that I ran a timed 1-mile race was during spring track of my senior year of high school. I chose this race mainly because:

  1. I had nothing better to do on Labor Day weekend
  2. I heard good things about this race and figured I’d see how fast I can still run

I had absolutely no expectations or goals in regards to time. I had no idea where I was in terms of speed. I had not even done a single speed workout since I’ve started training for the Marathon Corps Marathon. Ultimately, I had nothing to lose with this race.

On Friday night, the night before the race, I picked out my race outfit, did yoga, and was asleep before 10PM.

Saturday morning, I woke up around 6AM, ate a light breakfast, did yoga (again), changed into my race outfit, and departed for the race. I showed up well over an hour prior to my start time and had a decent amount of time to warm up.

When it came time to finally line up, all that was going through my head was “run as fast as you feel.” And just like that, the race had started.

Short distance races don’t give you enough time to think. All you can do is just go.

So, I started off strong, kept a steady pace, and by the time I realized that I had more in the tank, the race was over.

I crossed the line in a finish time of 6:08, shocked that I was even able to get that close to 6 minutes. After replaying the race in my mind, I knew I could have gone faster, but my body just didn’t know how to do it. It didn’t know how to incorporate “the kick” at the end. I replayed it over and over again in my mind, thinking of how else it could have gone until I finally came to terms with the fact that I had not trained for this distance. 

My mind has been set on Marine Corps Marathon since the minute I signed up in June and I didn’t take into account the importance of speed training.

When that realization came to mind, I thought back to my performance at the 2014 New York City Marathon again and I just kept thinking, ‘You get what you give.’

In race training, in relationships, in work, in life, it’s always the same concept: You get what you give.

The amount of time and effort that you put into anything you do will eventually reveal itself in the end.

RACE REPORT: Electric Run

I’d like to preface this race report by saying that I should hardly be calling it a “race report”.

This past Saturday, I participated in the newly trending fun run called the Electric Run in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a 5K evening race that took place at Floyd Bennett Field at the Aviator Sports & Events Center at 8PM on both Friday night and Saturday night.

I signed up for this race several months ago after being convinced by someone that I met from Nike Run Club to join with her group. I didn’t know what to expect and I always like to try something new, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve never ran a race without being competitive or training before, so this was definitely an experience for me. At first, I couldn’t even comprehend the idea of running “for fun” To me, every race that I’ve ever signed up for, I was aiming to set a PR (personal record).

When I picked up my race packet at the Sports Authority on Third Avenue on Wednesday, the line wrapped around the entire store. I went during my lunch break at work because I figured it would be easier to get it over with earlier on in the day. Apparently, everyone had the same idea as me. Once I was on line to pick up my race packet, I finally started getting excited as I saw the herds of people coming in. This seemed like a pretty big deal. Up until a week before the event, I had completely forgotten that I was even signed up for the Electric Run; although, I don’t know how I possibly could because it was the most expensive 5K that I’ve ever signed up for.

The total cost was around $65 and that was only because I signed up with a group. The cost to sign up as an individual was approximately $5 more ($70 total). I had anticipated that it would be worth what I paid for and just hoped for the best.

On Saturday afternoon, I headed to Brooklyn from Manhattan to meet up with my group at the Buffalo Wild Wings near the Barclays Center. I wasn’t quite sure why we were were meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings before a race. Typically, I’m very conscious of what I eat or drink before running. Once I got there, everyone ordered beers and baskets full of fried wings. I was in absolute shock. Everyone kept reassuring me that it wasn’t a big deal to drink and eat unhealthy prior to a race like this. I still didn’t understand. In my mind, I was still thinking that I was going to run the entire thing.

Three beers and many wings later, we finally left Buffalo Wild Wings around 7:30PM. The event started at 8:00PM and I was starting to get anxious. Another thing that I’ve never done before was be late to a race. As we were in the cab, I was panicking, thinking that we were going to miss the start of it.

Once we finally arrived at Floyd Bennett Field, it was a few minutes past 8:00PM and we still had to find the rest of our group because they took a separate cab. At this point, my nerves were spinning out of control. I looked around and saw crowds of people who were still mosey-ing their way through the parking lot. Once our group was reunited, we walked over to the start line. No one seemed to be in any immediate rush. I, then, remembered that this wasn’t a timed race.

This was single-handedly one of the weirdest experiences of my life.

We walked almost the entire course which took upwards of about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. The entire time, we just admired the flashing lights, elaborate costumes, and glowing golf cart that was driving around blasting electronic music. We stopped about every 5 minutes to take pictures.The only reason for running was to get it over with quicker.

As an experienced and competitive runner, this was not an ideal situation for me. I must admit that I did have fun, but the cost and reward that I felt I received after participating, I’d like to inform people who are contemplating doing this, that it is definitely more of an experience to enjoy and not take seriously at all, instead of a “race”.

If you have the same mindset that I have, it would also be difficult for you to comprehend the meaning of a “fun run”.

Although it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I’m glad to say that I tried it for myself. After all, if you never try, you never know.