I love reading race reports and always offer for our Cruisers to write a recap for Deb Runs after their race.  Two weeks ago Amanda ran the 38th Marine Corps Marathon and took me up on my offer.  Without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Amanda to take you along on her very first marathon.


After running consistently for about five years (minus the pregnancy of my youngest child), two half-marathons and a handful of shorter race distances, I decided to see just how hard it is to run 26.2.  I took the guaranteed entry route by finishing the Marine Corps 17.75K in March 2013.  I picked a 20-week training plan and stuck to it, for the most part in fear that I wouldn’t finish the race if I didn’t do the training.

As race day approached, I figured I could run a 4:30 in a best case scenario.  I woke up an hour before I planned to head for the start, same as I always do for long runs.  Even in the hotel room I had my go-to breakfast of coffee, banana and oatmeal.  I brought with me a half of a Fig Newton bar because I knew it would be over  two hours from breakfast to race start.

I walked to the Crystal City Metro and took it to Pentagon and followed the crowd that grew and grew as we shuffled to the Runners’ Village.  I saw lots of cool glow in the dark and flashing accessories on runners along the way.  I moved through the Runners’ Village, checked my bag and moved towards the starting corrals.  It was cold, but not freezing.  I was glad I had my throw away gloves and hand warmers.


You can see everyone’s throw away clothing behind me in the above photo before the start of the race. The marines donate the tossed clothing to charity.

Paratroopers with flag parachutes dropped from the sky as the national anthem played.  It was the most impressive start to a race I’ve ever seen!  After the paratroopers, it was much like any other race, standing in the corral doing the stay-warm-dance in close quarters with all the other runners, until the howitzer fired.  When I felt the boom, I remembered this wasn’t just any race, it was The Marine Corps Marathon.

It was still more than 15 minutes before I approached the starting line, but before I knew it I was running.  My focus for the first half was to not go too fast.  My goal was to run the first half at a 10:30 pace and then pick up the pace based on how I felt at the half, knowing that 10:06 pace for the second half would get me a 4:30.  The key piece of advice I used was to save half my total race energy for the last 6 miles.

I ended up with some accidental mantras during the race.  For the first half, I used, “This is my all-day-long pace.” A little yin and yang with that… hold myself back to keep going. I ran at a pace that really felt comfortable. Then for miles 13-20, I thought, “Save half for the last six.” I didn’t want to go too fast just because I had made it halfway.  Miles 20-25 were “Heard there are porta-potties and medals at the finish.” It made me laugh, I think a little silly had set in.  I saw a lot of people stopped just after the 20-mile marker and lots of people in line for the potties all along the way.  In my head I was talking to them as pep talk to myself. The last 1.2 miles was really the hardest and the first time I really wanted to just walk. But, at that point I was so close.  Just. Keep. Going. My mantra in that last 1.2 miles was, “I didn’t come because it would be easy.”


Another key for me was that finishing was more important than my goal time, but I didn’t want my goal time to be out of reach from the start either. I went with the conservative first half pace to increase my chance (or maybe confidence) of finishing.

After most other races I’ve run, I usually doubt I’ll ever want to do it again.  Not this time!  Even before the Marine could place the medal around my neck, I was thinking about next time.


Time – 4:31:00, Overall Pace – 10:20

Split paces:
5K – 10:28
10K – 10:25
15K – 11:12
20K – 10:12
13.1M – 9:55
25K – 10:13
30K – 9:35
35K – 10:03
40K – 10:34
26.2M – 10:14


  • Questions:
  • What mantras do you use to get you through a race?
  • Have you ever run a race to get guaranteed entry in another race?
  • Who raced this weekend?