I’m going to start by warning you that this is a very long post, and also by introducing myself. My name is Hina and I’ve been a triathlete since 2008, marathoner since 2000. I started working at the PTO just one week ago, so I’m glad to have found the PTO Triathlon Club! Here is my recent race experience:
This past Saturday, I ran the Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon. It used to be sponsored by Wirefly, and then by Suntrust, I think, but I’d never run the entire course. I decided that I’d take the plunge this year. Unlike the super-popular Marine Corps Marathon, this course didn’t stick to the pretty, tourist-attraction areas of DC and Arlington. Instead, the Rock ‘n’ Roll course went through all of DC, all four quadrants: several areas that I don’t normally see, and a few others where I have bike-commuted at various times.
There was a half-marathon that took place simultaneously and, true to history, the course became drastically less exciting when the full and the half broke off just before Mile 13. I wish the organizers would work on that issue, because the second half of a marathon is when runners really need that support, whether it be a scenic course, entertainment, great crowds, or some combination thereof. As exciting as the first half was, the second half was not so much. But I had wanted to run the full 26.2, since I’d decided this would be my spring marathon (I generally do two a year).
The day itself was gorgeous! Very mild weather in the morning. In fact, it was the first time in a few years that I have not been absolutely freezing before a race. It’s always been a struggle to figure out what to wear, what to toss, what not to toss because you might need it later, but not this past Saturday! And let’s talk about Metro. I had been envisioning that it would be insanely packed when I got on at Virginia Square. Luckily for me, that was not the case, though there were no seats left. As the train progressed east down the Orange Line, more and more people got on. At some stations, like Metro Center and L’Enfant Plaza, there were HUNDREDS of people. There was NO way they were getting on our (now packed) train. Poor people had to wait for who knows how long. I’d jumped onto the first train that came into my station around 6:15am, and I think we got the Stadium-Armory stop around 7, maybe before. But OMG there was a sea of people when we got off the train. Standing on the escalator, I looked back and saw nothing but heads. No floor space anywhere in the station. Just people. It was insane. But I got to my (pre-race) destination safe and sound, with plenty of time to spare.
Speaking of the weather, it got ridiculously hot during the course of the race. Like, so hot I was dousing myself with water during the later miles. It was reminiscent of the times I’d run the LA Marathon and I’d show up at the finish line sticky with sweat, water, and Gatorade. Not that we’ve had a cold winter or anything, but I wasn’t used to training in the heat, so that was a doozy. And I know I didn’t do enough long (20+ mile) runs, which is why I starting zoinking at Mile 19. Contrary to what I had hoped, doing (bike+run) brick workouts does NOT help with marathon training. Should help with triathlon training, but not with marathons. Lesson learned.
At least I finished. Not my best time by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not my worst. 3:53:18. Eh. Can’t say I’m jumping for joy, but I’m also not beating myself up over it. These are all learning experiences, and I’ve learned that I need to incorporate more super-long runs into my training. Also, it wouldn’t hurt me to try to improve my speed. I am very happy, though, that I did not get seriously injured during my training. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve had shin splints, or calf pain, or Achilles tendonitis, or a stress fracture(!!), or something else that prevented me from training. Well, I did have a week in February during which I had some mystery pain that prevented me from running, but that fortunately disappeared as quickly as it had materialized and I was feeling absolutely wonderful come Race Day.
So now I’ve run one more marathon and that brings the total to…. 21. Yikes. When am I going to stop? Umm, never. I love running, and I plan to continue running two marathons a year. At the same time, I’m trying to become a better triathlete and would like to compete in an Ironman-distance event in the near future. If the Ironman race comes to Williamsburg, VA, as is rumored, then I am DEFINITELY signing up. Right now I’ve got one half-IM (Kinetic, which’ll be my first of that distance) and one Olympic (Nation’s) on the calendar for this year, and am stillcontemplating signing up for another half-IM (National Harbor). With the prohibitive cost, if I sign up, I have to become much smarter about training.
To conclude, the aftermath of the marathon was that the lower half of my body was incredibly sore and my tummy was feeling really icky, but that always happens to me after a marathon. It usually takes a day for my stomach issues to resolve themselves; all that water and Gatorade sloshing around for hours can really wreak havoc on the system! While my legs are still a bit sore today, I guess I wasn’t all that bad off. I was able to do a short bike commute just a few hours after I finished the race, a longer bike commute, plus some yoga, yesterday, and today I went for a swim, followed by a short jog home. And a short jump-rope workout this evening proved to be fun! I’ll take it easy for a few more days, and then I’m excited to fully dedicate myself to training for Kinetic- less than two months to go!