Race Recap: A Marathon Like Weekend for the Navy-Air Force Half

When I signed up for the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon back in February, I had no idea that two things would happen: first that my friend Cecile would get engaged and then that my friend Bianca would get pregnant. I mean, I was hoping these two things would happen at some point, don’t get me wrong. I’m talking more about the timing. Cecile is getting married in October and had her bachelorette party Saturday night and Bianca is due also in October and her baby shower was planned for Sunday afternoon. And somewhere in the middle of this celebration filled weekend, I had to run 13.1 miles 😉 

Busy weekend means I got my bib pick-up out of the way as early as I could. The expo at Stadium Armory was pretty small and not very exciting, though I still managed to spend close to $100 there.

Cecile’s bachelorette party kicked off with a rosé happy hour in the party room of her building, followed by diner. Luckily diner was at Osteria Morini, an Italian restaurant at Navy Yard, so I was able to get a generous plate of pasta. I tried to keep my wine consumption down (easier said than done) and skipped out on the earlier side to try and get a decent night rest. Mission semi-successful as I still went to bed a little later and drunker than I had planned….

On race day I woke up at 5:30AM so I could eat a proper breakfast (Kodiak cake’s flapjack cup blueberry and maple as well as a small cup of coffee — I needed it!) One of my favourite thing about D.C. races is that I can typically walk to the start from my place. I basically never check out bags so I didn’t feel the need to head out until 6:25AM. I met up with Lien James, who is a bit of a Marine Corps marathon celebrity having ran it 16th time (she’s 67 and so inspiring… she’s ran 122 marathon already!) and a few other girls at the Willard and we walked to the start together with just enough time to snap a few pictures!

I was in the second wave, of course, because I’m such a slow runner. I was looking forward to running this race because the course is basically the same as the National Women’s Half Marathon which I ran back in April: Hains Point then Rock Creek Parkway… it did have a MUCH better start line though (National Monument vs MLK memorial!). But it’s a pretty boring if standard course through some unexciting parts of the city, routes I’m pretty familiar with by now since I’ve been clocking some 12+ miles run for the last month and half. Like the Women’s Half, this race wasn’t well-attended by spectators and there’s nothing to distract you (sorry, East Potomac Golf Course). I’ve been training so much since June, religiously attending track sessions on Thursday and putting in the work on Sundays for my long runs. So you can imagine my disappointment when I crossed the finish line at 2:38, 14 minutes above my Brooklyn Half PR (recap here) and just 3 minutes faster than both the Women’s Half, a race I absolutely did not enjoy (recap here) and the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon, a race where I walk most of the course because I was dying of heat. It’s also just 6 minutes faster than the Rock’n’Roll half in 2013, which was my first marathon ever and for which I had barely trained. I’m basically crushed to see that I’ve made no progress whatsoever, which isn’t how I want to feel 40 days before my first marathon. 

I couldn’t linger too much on these feelings, or at the finish line, because I had a baby shower to go to.  After a quick shower and a recovery snack, it was time to head out to Southwest to help set up the event (did I mention I was one of the host?) It was lovely toasting Baby B’s upcoming arrival into the world with so many of Bianca and Branden’s friends (and my first time attending a co-ed shower, which was interesting.) Her friend Frida did such a wonderful job with all the food and the cake. I was SO hungry! 

Needless to say, I was pretty wiped at the end of the day/weekend. I know I “only” ran 13.1 miles but it definitely felt like a marathon weekend. The worst part though is that creeping self-doubt I just can’t shake off right now. I can barely handle a half-marathon, how am I supposed to run twice as much? Maybe I should have focused on becoming a stronger/faster runner before biting more than I can chew. I know they say for your first marathon your goal should just be to finish, but I know that’s not going to be good enough for me. And if I’m not going to feel good about myself at the end of the race, should I really be running it at all? I have about 48 hours to decide if I transfer my Marine Corps Marathon bib or not, which is basically choosing between two different ways to fail: I can try and fail or I can fail by not trying. I lose either way. Whichever I decide, I’m off to Paris on Friday and I’m just really looking forward to the break.