Sunday, March 29, 2015

Access Granted! Marine Corps 17.75K 3/28/15

On Saturday, K and I ran the Marine Corps 17.75K in Prince William Forest, down just outside Quantico in Virginia. Since the Marine Corps Marathon went to a lottery system, they added a special perk to this race: a guaranteed entry code for the Marine Corps Marathon for all finishers! Apparently this is a big deal, since 1) there is a lottery system for the marathon; 2) active duty registration (a chance for active duty service members to skip the lottery) sold out in 9 hours this year; and 3) the 17.75K sold out online in 7 minutes. Yes, 7 minutes.

Since the MCM is about 7 weeks after my due date, I'm going to skip it this year and put it back on my bucket list of races, and giving my access code to a friend.

Since this is a smaller race, there wasn't any big expo, and from what I found out, you could even still pick up your bib the morning of the race! K and I drove down to Woodbridge on Thursday night, though, and picked up our bibs and t shirts, and then got some delicious Korean BBQ.

Saturday morning came bright and early! There was no parking at the race start, and everyone was going to have to take shuttles from one of three parking lots around the area. With a race start at 7, that meant parking and getting on a shuttle before 6:30 and leaving Bmore by 5. Ugh. On top of all that, it was freezing cold! It literally snowed in Baltimore, and down in VA it was about 30 degrees and windy. I layered up in my Oakley tights and a ColdGear top under my SOAS tank, but K and his friend who went down with us were both wearing shorts, because they don't want to own running tights. Jokes on them.

After finding a tight parking spot, hopping on the (warm) shuttle, and then standing in line for 20 minutes for the portajohn, we finally lined up for a mass start. Though I was originally planning on keeping up with K and keeping a ten minute mile, the hills, crowds, and my feet quickly held me back while K and his friend surged ahead. I'm not sure if it was my older shoes, which are now officially retired, or the pregnancy relaxin, but my arches were definitely hurting by about mile three, and I had to stop a few times to adjust my laces to make sure I had enough support to keep running. Thankfully I was able to do this while waiting in line for the bathroom at some of the water stops. At the end of the day, I was able to keep just over a 12 minute pace by run/walking, took a gel and a mini clif bar, and tried to drink lots of water, but it was so cold, it hurt. I finished with a watch time of 2:15 (I stopped it for bathroom breaks) and chip time of 2:26.

The course itself was interesting, but a little crowded at first. It goes through the Prince William Forest, and about half of it is on trails rather than pavement. There are a few "rolling hills," and miles 9-10 include about three pretty nasty uphills. I'm sure there were more than a few people who rolled ankles or took a bad step on some of the rocks, or got whacked in the face by tree branches along the more crowded areas. Course support was pretty great, with water and portajohns about every two miles. Take a gander at this elevation chart:
Pretty much everyone who ran this, was running for the access code at the end. Even still, I think they didn't skimp on other things, like the medal, which says Access Granted, and the green tech t shirts, which also say, you guessed it, Access Granted. They had bananas and very cold water at the end, as well as cups of gatorade, and handed out baggies so you didn't have to worry about dropping anything. They were also handing out those paper jackets, which I'm guessing were leftovers from last years MCM. And, last but not least, was the access code card!

Afterwards, we celebrated with some delicious dim sum, and then a shower and nap back at home. I would have liked to go to bed early, but instead went out for a friend's birthday party! At least I had a good excuse to leave at midnight, and fell asleep about five minutes after walking into my place. K stayed out much later than I did, and has been hobbling around in his UA recharge gear. Next up for him, his first marathon! 

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