Race Recap: 2013 Marine Corps Marathon

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Here goes nothing. It’s my long overdue 2013 Marine Corps Marathon race recap!
Marine Corps MarathonWhen I woke up to my alarm the morning of 2013 Marine Corps Marathon, I was excited, but I felt a nervous pit in my stomach that I had not felt in a long time.  I quickly grabbed my race gear and tried my best not to wake up Cora and Jake (oh the joys of staying in a hotel before a race).  Within a few minutes I stuffed a whole lot of extra gear into my bag check bag, for fear that I would forget something, ate a banana, and headed out the door.  When I left the hotel, I made my way to the metro.  After getting off one stop later, I had a long walk to the Runner’s Villiage.  I didn’t realize the walk from the metro to the staging area would take so long but it was okay considering it gave me a little bit of time to calm my nerves.

I entered runner’s village pretty early.  I had plenty of time to use the bathroom and found a spot to rest and eat until I met up with Christine and Danielle.   They were planning on running together and it was so nice to have them there to help distract me from my nerves about the race.  By the time we each checked our gear and made it to the corral area, I felt like we barely had any time before the start of the race.

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At the start with Christine (We Run Disney) and Danielle (Live, Run, Grow)!

The corrals were a self seed system.  I felt as though I accurately put myself in the 4:30 corral area.  But, I honestly wish I had moved up just a bit because of the insane amount of congestion I felt for the first twenty miles of the race.  Yes, you read that right.  I felt like it took twenty miles for the roadways to open up. But, to get back to the start, my favorite part of the morning was watching the parachuters jump in to the start area.  The howitzer signaled the official start of the race but where I was standing but it took quite a while to get across the starting line.

Marine Corps Marathon 2

Miles 1-6:  (10k in 1:02:33/10:04 pace)

The start was incredibly congested.   I knew I wanted to take it easy so I didn’t mind the pace.  It was difficult keeping up with moving around runners, dogding potholes, and finding a rhythm.  As we made our way through Rosslyn, I realized that we would be passing almost directly in front of my hotel.  Sure enough, I was pleasantly surprised to see Jake and Cora on the corner near the hotel.  I thought that they would still be in bed since we had plans to see each other much later in the race.  I was so excited to see them and after a quick hug and kiss, I was off again.

I was surprised by the few inclines around this point.  They felt pretty easy and the crowds were still filled with excitement as we ran along Lee Highway and the George Washington Parkway.  After we crossed the Key Bridge, we made our way into Georgetown around Mile 4 and 5 before heading out on Rock Creek Parkway.

Miles 6-12 (20k in 2:05:05/10:03 pace)

Rock Creek is beautiful.  Yet, I couldn’t help but remember an enormous hill at the end of the Rock Creek Parkway that killed me during the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half.  Since I couldn’t remember the course map, I was freaking out a little about having to tackle this monster hill mid-marathon. So, I was very excited when we made the turnaround at the base of that killer hill!  Also, somewhere along the out and back section on Rock Creek, I saw Megan killing it on the other side of the roadway.  It was so awesome to see her doing so well!

Miles 12-18 (30k in 3:05:14/ 9:56 pace)

From Rock Creek, we made our way along the Potomac.  Haines Point was a particularly tough spot for me mentally and emotionally.  I ran along the left hand side of the road where there were Run to Remember memorials for those killed in action lining the roadway.  I hit the half marathon mark at 2:11:41 (10:02/mile pace) and I felt amazing.  To be honest, I didn’t really have a particular goal time in mind since it was my first marathon.  I felt very comfortable at this point so I figured that was a good sign.  After making our way out of Haines Point, we were able to take in more views of the tidal basin.  These were some of my favorite miles of the race as we passed the  Jefferson Memorial, MLK Jr Memorial and the FDR Memorial.  Running around the National Mall and seeing Jake, Cora, Niki and Mary, really helped these miles fly by.  Even better, I was lucky enough to see them twice on the mall. Marine Corps Marathon 3

Miles 18- 24 (40k in 4:13:20/10:11 pace) Each time I stopped to hug my crew, it was harder and harder to get my legs going again.  After I saw them for what would be the last time, I knew I had a tough road ahead of me.  Luckily somewhere just before the 14th street bridge, I ran into Kat.  We were able to run together for a mile or so before her poor shin needed her to pull over and take it a bit easier.  At this point, I was slowly getting faster and faster.  And then, BAM. SHIT HIT THE FAN somewhere in Crystal City.  The pain train entered the station.  I think that is what they call hitting THE WALL.  I could barely move and felt so cramped.  I slowed to walk, stopped to stretch, and took a salt tab because I felt some insane cramping in my calves.  After two miles of struggling to maintain a 12:00/mile, I pulled it together for the final push.

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Bringing it home, up the hill, to the FINISH:  04:26:49 (10:10/mile)


As I mentioned in this post, it’s truly difficult to put words to my experience.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about how I felt when I crossed the finish line.  It’s a moment in time that I want to hold close to my heart.  It’s one of those feelings that I just want to bottle up and never forget.  The utter exhaustion and sense of pride and accomplishment is incomparable to anything I have ever felt before.

And, I am so thankful to have the support of my friends, running buds, and family on this crazy journey.  Marine Corps Marathon Collage
Who knows, I may just get the bug to run another one sometime.

I would love to hear about your first marathon experience?  Which race was it?  Have any of you run MCM?



  1. Love it – great recap Lisa!!
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  2. Oh my goodness, I TOTALLY agree that the course didn't open up for 20 miles! It was frustrating at points, but in the end I think this race is really more about the experience and about being part of something bigger than just a run.

    I'm so glad that you had a good first marathon experience and I love that you got to see your kids a few times a long the way, it must have been such a nice boost! Awesome job and hope to see you soon!
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    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      I totally agree on it being about the experience. It was definitely a race to take in the sites and the people around you. And, since it was my first, I had no intention of trying to run for time. Heck, I didn't know what to expect at all! Hopefully we can see each other again soon! It was so great having you and Christine there at the start. It really helped ease the nerves 🙂

  3. YAY! I don't care that you didn't post your recap until now because I still love reading them and reliving that race experience. You know, I never really thought too much about the course crowding but I think it definitely opened up a lot after the 14th street bridge. The only section where I felt a little annoyed was out on Rock Creek, especially for the hand cyclists…didn't envy them on those narrow roads one bit!
    You are a rockstar and I can't wait until our next race experience together. 🙂
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    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      I felt terrible for the hand cyclists. And, I was really frustrated by folks that were wearing headphones during those super crowded areas of Rock Creek. At least take one ear bud out after you see the trouble that the hand cyclists are having making their way through the crowd.

      I can't wait til we can run together again too! I really wish you were running Princess BUT I totally understand your need for a runDisney break after DOPEY!

  4. Fabulous review and congrats on doing so well. I can't imagine going through the cramping but you really kept it together to finish so strong. A first marathon is hard to forget and I absolutely loved the Disney marathon last January. Looking forward to my second in less than 2 weeks!
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    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      Next time, I think I might start taking the salt tabs before the cramping starts instead of waiting until I could barely move. Either way, it was still so much fun (in a really hard kind of way!).

      Best of luck at Dopey! And, you really need to run a marathon not attached to a weekend full of running. I see a BQ in your future!

  5. the recap I've been waiting for!! tears in my eyes 🙂 so proud of you!! see you in Disney!
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  6. I'm SO GLAD we ran into each other in the race! Reflecting upon it, and being on 2 bouts of prednisone, i realized that I should have run/walked more but I TOTALLY hit the wall after you sawme haha! You ran on strong and finished in an awesome goal time girlie! WHAT an experience for sure!!
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    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      It's funny because I felt so good when I saw you and then it all went down hill as I entered Crystal City. We need to work on not hitting the wall for our next marathon!! It was definitely a learning experience 🙂

  7. Congratulations on such a fantastic race! I loved reading every word. You did a great job and should be very proud.
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  8. runningsouthern says:

    Congrats! Your recap brought tears to my eyes! I have never ran a full marathon, but have big dreams to conquer it one day.
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    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      Thank you so much! If you want to run a marathon, you will do it! It just takes a lot of determination and a bit of training 😉

  9. I'm so glad this experience was a good one for you. No matter how good or bad a marathon is, that feeling after crossing the finish line is very similar. My first marathon was Chicago and it was not a good experience. My body shut down and I had to walk a lot. I was ready to run a sub-4-hour marathon and didn't come close to my time. My second marathon was much better. We learn from every race we run. I ran MCM in 2012 and really loved it. It is a special race. Congrats again! xoxo

    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      You are right! I felt like I was trained for a better time. But, since it was my first, I told myself that I was not allowed to complain or be upset by my time no matter what it was. I'm looking forward to my next marathon, whenever that may be. There are certainly things that I want to change when it comes to my training and I want to run more of those LONG, long runs. Glad to hear that experience with the distance helped in your case!

      And, I can't wait to see how you run in your next marathon. You are crushing it these days 🙂

  10. Congrats!! Loved the recap…as you know I ran MCM as well and loved every second of it even if it wasn't my best run time wise. I was in a lot of pain the last 6-8 miles from tendinitis but the sights and the crowd energy was what pulled me through. Truly an amazing race and hoping to do it again in 2014!

    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      Yes, it was a race that was hard not to love, despite some of the issues with the crowding. I think that I will try and enter the lottery for 2014 too. I want another stab at it now that I know what I would change about my trianing for the next marathon. Man, I can't believe that I just admitted that I want to run another marathon!

  11. Run, Karla, Run says:

    Congratulations!! So exciting and I love you finisher photo. I'm always surprised when really large races like MCM have self-seeded corrals. It makes me appreciate all the races that separate corrals! My first marathon was NYC. But MCM is on my bucket list. Now I have to go write my Kauai Half Marathon recap from September… you're not the only one behind!

    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      I have to say that it surprises me that there are big races that don't have corrals. I will be a little bit more appreciative of the corrals and the work that goes into monitoring them at my next races! MCM is a must run… the sites, the crowds, the support of the Marines make it an amazing race experience. I just put my name in the ring for NYC in 2014. If that doesn't happen, I might put my name in the lottery for MCM again.

      Can't wait to read your recap. Kauai sounds amazing!

  12. I have been waiting to read more about your marathon!! Congratulations again on a great race. Your first marathon is always one to remember, and no matter what crossing a marathon finish line is a huge accomplishment.

    • Lisa_Cupcake says:

      Thanks Kristen!! I was such a slacker writing this post. Then it just hung out in draft for a long time. Maybe I just didn't want to really close that chapter!

      We need to find a race to run together in 2014! What's on your schedule?!

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