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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Shaw
Race: Marine Corps Marathon
Date: Sunday, October 28, 2007
Location: Arlington, VA
Race Type: Run - Marathon
Age Group: Male 45 - 49
Time: 3:40:46
Overall Place: 2166 / 20622
Age Group Place: 212 / 1524

Race Report:

I woke a little before 5:00 am got some coffee brewing and took my dog for a walk. It was chilly and a little breezy which did not make me feel all that comfortable about what might lie ahead for the day. If it was breezy now, then it could really blow later, in more ways than one! I really hate it when itís windy and Iím running.

Once back in the house, I made sure Suzanne was awake and changed into my running gear, race ready shorts, cool max socks and Nike Air Zoom Elite 3 running shoes (my new fave) and Baltimore Marathon training shirt, because I love the saying on the back ďThe Pain is Temporary, the Pride lasts ForeverĒ. I ate a banana, blueberry Clif bar and mocha chip swirl bagel along with a glass of water.

Suzanne and I drove to the Metro; our plan was to meet at the Reston Runners Tree located at the finish line and meet up with some other Reston Runners. We got off at the Arlington Cemetery stop and walked a short distance to the Iwo Jima memorial and after a bit of work, found the tree, It was harder to do in the pre-dawn than it was a couple of weeks ago post dawn. We finally found the tree and our running friends. As more Reston runners showed up the excitement really kicked in. We got our Reston Runners tats, some went on better than others, and joked around and took pictures of the group.

It looked like our friends were going to mosey a bit slower than I liked over to the start line so I talked Suzanne into going over there at about 7:20, the race was to kick off at 8:00 with wheel chairs starting even earlier and I didnít want to have to have to try and cross over the street among them.

In the 3:30 starting area, Suzanne and I ran into Reid and Ross fellow Triathletes, Reid is a fellow RAT and Ross, from Cleveland, was our swimmer at Savageman. It was great to see them and we got a chance to chat briefly before the start. It was nice being able to hang with Suzanne before the start of a big race for a change, we are usually separated by a large distance in races like this.

Finally the start canon goes off. My plan, set up by my Coach David Warden was to run the first 13 miles at a HR of under 144 BPM, then the next 8 mile at a HR under 148 BPM and the final 5.2 with whatever I have left, in other words go wild if I can.

The beginning, in Virginia.
Mile one is a bit of a gradual up hill on route 110 into Rosslyn, VA,. I saw Tim, Donna, Ellen, and Anna in the first half mile and ran with Donna for most of this mile as we chatted about our goals for the race. There was a bit of a head wind that I was not enjoying, did I mention that I hate the wind? I managed to keep my HR at an average of 136 with a peak of 143, not too bad split time 8:02. The crowds in Rosslyn were super! Mile two the climb continues, I passed DC Mayor Fenty early in this mile gave him a shout out and he returned the encouragement, nice. My HR alarm went off a few times as I peaked twice at 145 and 150, the average was 144.8 so still not too bad, split time 8:12. Mile three is were we reach the summit and then get a nice down hill on Spout Run, I kept the peaks under better control at 146 and 148, and the avg HR was down to 142 split time 8:23. Mile four is down hill and then flat for the last bit I had a peak HR at the end of this split of 145, as I pushed the pace just a bit but the AVG HR was 141, so Iím feeling pretty good at this point with a split time of 7:06.

Key Bridge and into George Town.
Mile five begins another bit of a hill as we have to climb up to the Key bridge. I begin my nutrition strategy here as I eat a few cola Clif Blocks to get a bit of caffeine and then hit the water stop near the top of the hill to wash them down. My timing on this was pretty good, the water stop is not too crowded and I get through it ok. It did take a bit of a toll on my HR as I peaked at 152 but then eased it back down into my range as I crossed the bridge. I Donna motored past me and then Ellen as we approached another climb that will take us up to the reservoir. AVG HR was 146, a tad high and the pace was 8:18, pretty good. Mile 6 begins with a steep up hill section and then eases a bit put maintains the up hill. As I chatted with Ellen for a bit and ate more Clif blocks before the water stop, my HR started to creep up to 16 so I let her go, then the hill came and I struggle to keep the HR down but I did peak at 155, I managed to get it back down to 145 but then at the end of the mile it was creeping back up to 150: avg HR 148, too high, split time 8:27 too low. Mile 7 takes us past the reservoir and then the turn around and the end of the major hills. My HR crept up to 151 as I crested the hill and then dropped steadily down to 143, as I wondered if this stretch would come back to haunt me later: avg HR 146, still a bit high, split time 7:49, too fast. Mile 8, did I say the hills were over? Well this stretch felt more like a false flat to me, as it was not flat but not really that much of a grade, it was not the easy down hill I was anticipating though. I started noticing some guys heading for the tree line and with not a porta potty in sight, and a bit of an urge I decided it might be better to take care of things now rather than later. My reasoning was that if I waited for the porta potty, it A) might be too late b) there might be a line and c) I knew the woods were going to end and soon there would be no place to simply pull over! This stop cost me 28 seconds and at the time I wondered if it was a good move ore not. A little ways up the road and I saw about 4 porta potties with one guy waiting, So I thought my earlier decision was probably good. Donna caught up to me and said hi so she must have made a stop herself, but then shoe motored on ahead of me. I had a couple of HR peaks at 148 an 147 but my avg HR was 146: split time 8:28. Mile nine and it was time to sneak in a small snack before the water stop I also took a Succeed tab get some extra sodium and potassium in and ward off any cramps later. We came back on canal road, near the Key bridge. Peak HR was once at 148 and average was 147,I began to wander how this peaks and high averages were going to affect me at the 20 mile mark: split 8:10 according to my 3:40 pace band Iím up over 2 minutes from where I should be so Iím a bit fast. Mile 10 takes us on to the Whithurst freeway and we get a bit of a down grade. The crowds here were great! I get my HR under better control but the avg is still 146, I see Reid and Ross and we chat a bit, they are looking great and motor on a head as we neared the Kennedy Center: split time 8:02 but Iím feeling pretty strong.

The Capitol Mall
Mile 11 and Iím starting to get excited, not because of my pace or performance, but because there is just three miles until my HR zone changes and I hope to not hear the alarms so much! We ran past the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Memorial, I had a couple of peak HRs of 148 bpm and the avg was 147 my split time was 7:58. Mile 12 is up Constitution Ave and past the White House, I wonder if the Prez is peeking out his window? The crowds here are great! I have a few more high peak HR of 149 and the average is 147, my split time was 8:03 and again I wonder what it will do to me later. As we make the s turn onto the mall the crowds really pumped me up and they are so thick that we can only run about 4 abreast and I wonder what it will be like when the middle of the pack tries to squeeze by. We make the turn in front of the US Capitol and a small head winds as we turn back down the mall. I do know that I am running this first half better than last year or any previous marathon, but I have that nagging thought that I might have run this first half too aggressive anyway. I had a peak HR of 148 with an avg hr of 147 and split of 8:22. Halfway there at 13.1 and Iím at 1:46:50, heck this isnít a bad Half marathon time but I have a long way to go. At this point Iím 3:10 ahead of my 3:40 goal. Can I keep this up? Will the head wind increase? I know there is still the dreaded Haines point and mile 18 where things started take a turn for the worse last year, but for now Iím feeling good my HR average 149 with no real spikes to speak of, spit time is 8:24, right about on track. Mile 15 takes us around the Tidal Basin and past the fame Cherry Blossom Trees. There is a water stop and I take more Clif blocks and another Succeed. The crowds are fantastic here. And I let my HR creep up to a steady 150, no spikes just 150, my split is 8:17, right on track and next up , Haines Point. We turn and run past the Jefferson Memorial, but I donít really see it as the crowds are thick and very exciting. I am focusing on this stretch and monitoring all my bodily systems for any sign that I might be falling apart. Iím able to keep the HR at a fairly steady 149 bpm and my split time for mile 16 is 8:21 just about on target. Mile 17 takes us south along the Potomac river. While it is a very pretty run it is difficult for spectators to get down here so not much crowd support. I just start to focus on monitoring my body and start to get a crampy tight feeling in my gut, uh oh, are the Clif blocks taking their toll or is it the Succeed? The folks from Marathon Photo have a crane over the course here and are taking pictures, I smile big and start to feel better as I roll under the crane that looks low enough for a tall runner to actually hit their head! I feel like I need to dial it back a bit as I make sure there isnít a problem brewing internally and for this stretch I keep the HR down to and very even average of 148 with no peaks or valleys to speak of: split time 8:30. Now we are nearing the Haines point Turn around and a water stop. Iíve been saving my Peanut Butter Power Bar for this stop and eat half, Oh my did that ever feel nice! I take water and then pass the Awaking Sculpture, that will one day be moved to the National Harbor a few miles south on the Potomac River. I will miss this statue, if you havenít seen this it is huge and depicts a man emerging from the soil, pretty cool. What isnít cool is the head winds we now face. I try to find a large runner to tuck in behind but canít seem to find one big enough or going the right pace. This stretch is where both the 3:40 paced groups and 3:45 pace groups cam thundering by me last year. It is where my left hamstring tightened up and I had to stop and stretch a few times. This year is much different as I motor along with and avg HR of 149 and just on peak of 151: split time 8:43 and Iím falling back a bit. My elapsed time at this point is 2:27:51 and Iím still ahead by a little over 3 minutes. However, there is still a long way to go! Mile 19 is pretty uneventful, still fighting a head wind on Haines point but we are getting closer to the crowds, I can hear them and that means getting off Haines Point and to the bridge. I absolutely love the next mile coming up but for this mile, I have a steady and avg HR of 150, a bit high still but since it is getting late in the game I forgive myself a bit: split time 8:42 still a bit off pace. Mile 20 and the crowds are back; this is the part of the race that makes you feel like a rock star, if you have a name on your shirt they scream it at you. It is probably the most motivating part of the course. For back of the packers it is also critical to get on the bridge before the 5 hour mark. No problem for me as I face the next challenge which is like a desert over the water,

Over the River and Through the City
The bridge is long, undulating and hot and boring but you know at the end is a water stop and the crowds of Crystal City. For me this stretch mean that I will no longer look at HR, I will now see what I have in the tank and go by feel, this is my ďgo wildĒ part, but how much wild will I have left in me?? The 3:40 pace group catches me and I try to hang with them, I donít want to loose sight of those balloons., My pace picks up, what? Where did that come from so late in the game? For this stretch my avg HR is 151, too high but I donít care, I just want the HR alarms to stop and that wonít happen until I hit mile 21! We hit the water stop after mile 21 and it is really crowded here. I lose the 3:40 pace team or rather they lose me and that hurts a bit mentally I focus and maintaining a good cadence and try to feel loose, The winds coming into Crystal City are horrendous, strong and swirling around the tall buildings. Last year on this stretch there was a ďMotivation TunnelĒ that was loud and annoying. Thankfully it is not here this year. The crowds are even better this year and it felt good to again hear my name being called out. Iím so glad I put on that extra name bib! I have a peak HR of 156 and the average is 151, but I doní really care Iím focused on pace at this point and knock off a nice 8:25. My 22 mile split is 3:05:21 and Iím behind by 0:45, I wonít make the 3:40:00 goal but fell like Iíll bust out a nice PR. I think it will be close though! Back up Crystal City I manage a 7:58 split and my avg HR is 155 bpm. I feel pretty good and take my final Clif block before the next water stop that is coming up at mile 23.

Out of the Crystal and into the Fire.
We make the run out of Crystal city and around to the Pentagon. Who doesnít love to run by this building? The crowds here are great and my avg HR is 156 with a split time of 8:18 and Iím back on pace, but there is a nasty head wind to come and a final hill to conquer as well. Itís time to dig deep and see whatís left. We turn onto Washington Blvd and run by the part of the Pentagon that was hit on 9/11, I look to the left and see the new Air Force Memorial that depicts the contrails of three jets blasting skyward. This is a very moving part of the run. My avg HR is now 157 bpm and my pace is 8:12, but I donít notice. We hit a water stop and the ramp around to route 110 and the final stretch. We pass Arlington Cemetery on the left and cross over where the start line was. We run past the finish area, and that is pretty demoralizing as we attach the last hill, it is not big but those Marines really know how to hit you where it hurts! My avg HR 161 and split pace is 8:18. Iím actually not feeling too bad but I canít wait for this to be over!

The End
Where will this ever end? It seems like the turn around will never get here, the road plays tricks on you, you can see runners returning from the turn around but canít see the point where that happens. You also know that there is another climb before the last charge up the hill to the Iwo Memorial. Finally I see the turn around and hit it, climb up the exit ram and then enjoy a nice cruise down. I actually spot Donna ahead of me. Do I have what it takes to pass here and still charge up the final hill. Hey now guts, no glory! I motor by but Iím over to far to greet her. I turn right and charge up the hill. The crowds here are even more amazing than last year. Since they added the final out and back there are spectators down here on rout 110 and it is simply amazing. I pick it up the hill my HR climbs to 173, near my max of 180, my pace pick up as I crest the hill and sprint to the finish line I run the last hundred yards at a 7:30 pace and Iím spent.. Itís over! Final time 3:40:43 a huge PR but 43 seconds short of my 3:40. I donít care. I smashed through the 3:50 and 3:45 barriers and am ecstatic! I turn and see Donna and shake her hand. We get our medals and return to the Reston Runners tree where I see Ellen and Bruce and a few others; they did amazingly well!

What more running to do!?
I sit on my space blanket drinking water while trying to choke down a plain bagel. I try to stretch a bit but I have to get back out on the course and find Suzanne. I walk and jog the 2.5 miles back to Crystal City to the mile 23 water station. I donít see her along the way. I stop and stretch behind the water tables and then walk and find a place in between the course so I can watch runners in each direction. I never do wee her and Iím getting pretty cold. I wait down here for about 45 minutes and realize that I must have missed her so I begin the jog 2.5 mile back to the finish. This is pretty good training for JFK. As I make my way back to the Iwo Jima I go into the runner tracking station. A portable building with kiosk where you can check a runners progress. I type in here name and see that she has finished with a great PR! She took 10 minutes off of here time and finished in 5:19:32! I run back to the tree and there she is sitting on here pace blanket talking with our friend Keith, Karen had gone to get his stuff for him. It was great to see her. She looked great and was very excited about her day! I think sheíll do another one after all.

So we both had marathon PRs and I also had a distance PR of 32 miles for the day! Next up JFK 50 in less than three weeks!