Quick summary: I think the chart with my splits is the easiest way to see what happened
I went after work on Thursday to pick up my packet. This turned out to be a really good choice because the expo was not very crowded. I did have to ride almost the entire orange which took a while but my stops were so far out from downtown I was able to get a seat both ways.
Getting to the race was very uneventful as well and I took the shuttle bus from crystal city parking instead of the metro. The start area was not as crowded as I expected it be which was good, there was hardly any wait for bathrooms. An interestingthings at the race was the Brooks VIP bathroom. You only got access if you had on brooks shoes or gear. The bathroom was lit, with hot/cold water, a mirror, and flushing toilets. It was a funny site to see they had a red carpet with a ‘bouncer’ for the line to use the bathroom.
They had multiple corrals at the start which helped with congestion at the beginning of the race. I made the decision to run with the 3:50 pace group so I went and found the pace group getting ready for the start. They had a V-22 fly by before the race which is always nice to see.
The start of the race was really crowded and I wound off losing contact with the pace group in the first couple minutes. Instead of wasting energy weaving through the crowd to catch up I decided to keep them in sight and just wait.
First few miles:
The first mile was really crowded with people arm to arm like you see in the picture. I ran the first mile slower then I wanted but that was expected and I was feeling good and excited to be running. The first few miles on the Virginia side were boring scenery wise but a lot of crowd support was out and the general excitement was nice. After the first mile I settled into my pace and was feeling good.
The race went across the river into Georgetown and crossing the bridge was neat because there was still kind of dark out a heavy fog was sitting on the Potomac so it was very picturesque. The race went uphill along the river and then back towards Georgetown. The crowds in Georgetown were fantastic the sidewalks were packed with cheering people. I was still holding on to my pace and feeling good.
The race went for an out and back on Haines Point. This stretch was kind of boring without a lot of crowd support but there was one neat section before Hainespoint withthe steps by the river packed with people. Haines Point included the half marathon check point, and I was at 1:52 which was right where I wanted to be.
The race then took a turn and made a loop around the National Mall. Again the crowd support was awesome, it was running through a tunnel of cheering people, it really keeps you moving. On the mall at about mile 17 was when I started to not feel so good anymore. I was stillkeeping up my pace but it was getting a lot harder.
14th Street Bridge
This is where things went bad for me. The race goes across the Potomac back into Crystal City. The bridge has almost no spectators along it and is very barren. You are very tired at this point and it messes with you moral. I made it to the mile 21 marker and then had to start doing some walking which I was not excited about.
I made it across the bridge run/walking and had only 10k left in Crystal City. I tried to keep running but was out of gas and it turned in to more run walking. In a cruel twist the finish line is on top of a short steep hill. It was painful to get up but I was able to run up and it and finish strong.
I was exhausted after the race and really wanted to keep moving. I got my medal and picture by the memorial which should be nice. By the way, the medals are gigantic.
Overall this was my best marathon, not the time I was looking for but I am still happy with it. I was able to hold the pace I wanted a lot on longer in this race then my other two.
Overall this was a fantastic race that was very well run. The crowd support was awesome the entire time and the course was relatively flat. I would definitely do this race again and if you are looking for a good first time marathon I think this would be a great one to start with.
I am going to be writing some posts on a season summary/review and my plans for 2009 in the next couple of weeks so I should have more thoughts about this race and where things went wrong.