Marine Corps Marathon: The Expo

Things are getting real! I made it over to the D.C. Armory for the Marine Corps Marathon Expo last night. Other than a few wrong turns on the way to the expo that made it a much longer trip than it should have been, things went very smoothly.

The Marines have this one down to a science, so I was in and out of the tent to pick up my bib in just a few minutes. After going through another round of security (first one was to get into the tent to grab my bib) I made my way into the armory and it was time to explore!

I made Ian take some silly pictures of me when we first walked in.

expo2 expo1I cannot wait till I have The Iwo in my sights on Sunday and am getting my picture snapped in front of it with my finisher’s medal. Does anyone know how I could just fast forward to that part of things?!?

After that I picked up my shirt and for the first time of my three MCM’s I will actually wear this one and not just keep it as a souvenir. Don’t get me wrong, the bright red and mustard yellow cotton unisex mock turtle necks in the bin under my bed do hold a special place in my heart…they just don’t get worn very often (read ever). This year they unveiled newer technical long sleeve shirts that look a whole lot better and might actually get me to “rock the mock” as they like to say! Kudos to MCM on making this change!

expo4After grabbing my shirt, there were a handful of free samples you could grab before heading into the Brooks official merchandise area.

expo3The lines were really long so I didn’t end up getting anything, but I may try to find my way back there before it closes. My only complaint about the gear was the sheer amount of pink women’s MCM gear. I like pink as much as the next girl, but it doesn’t seem to fit with this race in my mind, and I also get frustrated when people think all you have to do to sell gear to women is slap some pink on it. Regardless there was still a lot of good stuff!

I also wanted to get a new pint glass for this year to go with the one I have from 2011, but didn’t see any. I very easily could have just missed them though. If you were there and saw them, let me know!

I wish I had more time to explore the booths, but we were there pretty close to closing time and hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so I moved through pretty quickly checking out all the different running gear and goodies. I did stop by the Clif Bar booth to pick up my 3:35 pace band!

All in all, it was a pretty great expo and I left feeling motivated and excited for race day!

Are you racing MCM? How was your expo experience? Are you a fan of large race expos?


Race Recap: Navy Air Force Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the Navy Air Force half marathon in D.C. and the conditions could not have been more perfect. After temps in the 90s mid-week, a cold front came through giving us all a reprieve and a starting line temperature in the mid-50s. I went into the race fairly optimistic about my chances as I’ve been training hard and running much longer distances on my Saturday long runs than the 13.1 I’d have to run on race day.


Before I get to the race, I’ll start with the expo. Packet pick-up was available Thursday and Friday, and I was a bit worried I’d run into long lines and crowds going after work on Friday near the end of the expo, but that ended up not being the case at all. Other than waiting in 5-10 minutes of traffic to get into the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, it was a breeze. I had my bib in no time, wandered around the expo floor for a few minutes and grabbed my shirt on the way out. It was very well organized and a decent expo for a smaller race.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Saturday morning I was up at 5, and Ian and I were in the car by 6. It’s amazing how easy it is to drive into D.C. at 6 a.m. on a weekend morning – we were parked in the Reagan Building parking garage by 6:15 and walking to the start line. Thanks to all the water I drank in the past few days and probably my nerves I ended up making a few bathroom trips then got in a full warm-up before heading toward the starting chute. I handed my jacket off to Ian as I made my way to the line and he headed toward the first mile marker to snap some pictures and cheer me on when I came running by.


A great rendition of the National Anthem led to the 7:15 start for the Wounded Warriors and other wheel chair athletes. So inspiring, and holy, they are fast!


At 7:25 it was time for the rest of us to go. The start and the course were very familiar to the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler except that there were a lot less people so you could actually stand comfortably at the start line. That also mean less crowd support, but those that were out there were very encouraging. I was able to start fairly close to the front so I didn’t have to do any weaving during the early miles. I really love this course and have run and raced on it so much now I feel like I could do it with my eyes closed – except then I’d miss the great scenery and D.C. monuments!



Last week I mentioned I was thinking about running without my watch and got a lot of great feedback, so I was all set to give it a go, but ended up wearing a regular stop watch (no garmin) at the strong suggestion of my coach. I kind of regret doing this and wish I’d just gone no watch at all or garmin. I was still very aware of my pace by looking at the watch keeping me from going just by feel and it really just meant I had to do more math in my head along the way. Oh well, lesson learned and I’m sure there’ll be another opportunity to truly go watchless.

My coach gave me a goal time of 1:41:36 or a 7:45 pace, which I thought would be very doable. I did my best to not go out too hard and hit mile one along Independence Avenue just 10 seconds ahead of pace. I waved to Ian and kept on going toward mile 2 feeling very comfortable and trying to slow down just a touch to get myself at that 7:45 pace. Well, unless I easily ran the fastest mile of my life mile marker two on the Memorial Bridge was very incorrect as I hit in in 12:35, haha. After that I didn’t take much stock in the mile makers although they could have all been correct the rest of the way for all I know – it just didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in them.


I loved the stretch up toward Rock Creek from miles 3-5 although the slight uphill slowed me a bit, but I hoped to regain it on the downhill back towards Hains Point. At mile 7, I was still averaging about an 8-minute mile, so I’m not really sure how I slowed as much as I did. It was definitely between miles 7-11 though as my breathing felt fine, but my legs felt a bit sluggish. It was nothing like the Nike half though where I let myself get so tied up in my goal time that I was absolutely miserable. I was still having fun out there and really enjoying the run on such a perfect D.C. morning.

Mile 8 was the last time I looked at my watch until I stopped it at the finish. I saw Ian again about 8.5 in just before getting to Hains Point. It’s always great to have support along the course and brought a huge smile to my face. I know everyone hates running Hains Point, but I was actually looking forward to this mostly flat, final stretch of the race, especially since it wasn’t super windy there for once.


I got a second wind around mile 11 and started moving quicker again and passing a lot of other runners. Ian who is getting pretty good at navigating a race course was waiting for me at the 13-mile mark before my final push to the finish. I crossed the line and gratefully accepted a water bottle and my finisher’s coin before making my way out of the chute and stretching a bit before heading back to the car.

I was almost surprised to see 1:50:11 as my final time, which put me in 584th place out of nearly 2,500 runners. I didn’t feel at all miserable like I did during the Nike Half, yet this time was even slower. I wasn’t unhappy and I really enjoyed the race and had fun running it, but my time does concern me a bit. The 8:25 pace is slower than I ran my last marathon and definitely slower than what I need to run Marine Corps in to get my Boston Qualifier.


Still, I have six weeks left of training and learned some valuable lessons and key takeaways from this race that I’ll detail more in a later post, so I’m counting this as a positive experience. While a PR would have been awesome, it just wasn’t in the cards on Saturday. With the goal race of my season still a month and a half away though, that’s okay.  Time to move forward and keep working!


How did your weekend runs and races go?

Congrats to one of my favorite run bloggers, Maureen of Running on Cabernet, for absolutely crushing her sub 2:10 goal at RNR Philly!!

Nike D.C. Women’s Half Marathon Expo

I can’t even believe my half marathon is TOMORROW! It’s time to put so many weeks of training to the test. I’m not particularly thrilled with my last two weeks of training, but am hoping the foundation I built will be strong enough to still go for my goal. Yesterday I headed into Georgetown for packet pick-up and the expo, and thought it was a great experience!

Ian dropped me off around 3, and I headed straight to the packet pick-up tent since I’d volunteered to help out for a shift there.

Packet Pick-Up Tent

Packet Pick-Up Tent

I was really impressed by how many volunteers they had an how organized it was. No matter how many people poured in, there never seemed to be much of a line if any at all. I got my volunteer shirt, went through a quick training session and sat down at a computer to check runners in and assign their bibs for the next three hours.

Bib Pick Up

Bib Pick Up

The time flew by. It was really fun to see how excited everyone was for the race. Before leaving I picked out a bib for myself and saw that I may have been a bit ambitious when I registered placing myself in the 6:30-7:29 pace group. I’m hoping for a 7:30 pace so I’m debating whether it’s smarter to start near the back of this group or drop back and start at the front of the next group. It’ll likely be a game-time decision.

Bib and Pace Corral Bracelet

Bib and Pace Corral Bracelet

From there I headed to the Expotique on the Waterfront. I thought it was pretty cool. It was fun, loud, energetic and crowded once I entered the tent. I breezed through pretty quickly since I was starting to get hungry and had a dinner date with Ian planned at Pizzeria Paradiso coming up, but I did make time to stop and test out several of the Nuun Hydration flavors. They were all pretty awesome, but I especially liked the Cherry Limeaid and Fruit Punch varieties.



You could also get a quick hair style from Paul Mitchell stylists and a free makeover with Bare Minerals make up – the only kind of make up I wear. I love the natural look it gives and the fact that it never feels caked on. I took my card from my packet that gave me three chances to win Nike shoes and gear and tried my code on all three walls with no luck…bummer! Then I took a quick look at the wall of sneaks, selection of sports bras and inspiration wall where everyone was free to write why they run on it.

Fun things to do at the Expo

Fun things to do at the Expo

There was still more to see at the Nike Store, so I made my way up Thomas Jefferson St. towards it with a stop at the We Run DC wall. This was so cool. It had the names of every participant on it.

We Run DC Wall

We Run DC Wall

I even managed to spot mine!

Finding my name on the We Run DC wall!

Finding my name on the We Run DC wall!

The Nike Store in Georgetown is pretty great with three levels of awesomeness. They even had a DJ in the store. It was a mad house and they had tons of NWM DC specific gear.  I found a black tank with the DC race logo on it. I actually have the same style tank in three different colors so I knew what size to get and knew I’d love it!

During my Sunday stop at Pacers to pick up my Gu and Body Glide for the race I asked about the special Tiffany Blue Nike Frees I’d heard had been designed for this race. They only had one pair of size 8’s left in stock…my size! I figured it was a sign I just had to get them.

Nike Frees - DC edition

Nike Frees – DC edition

Now it’s time for some spaghetti and meatballs and hopefully an early night! Good luck to everyone running tomorrow!! See you out there!