in which Pooh runs the 38th Marine Corps Marathon

Pooh talks a lot about the support he gets from his friends and family.  But there’s truly only one person without whom none of his exploits would be possible.  That’s his wife, Karen.  She is unflinching in her support.  When he needs to go for a run she is there to make sure the kids are cared for.  When he wants to do a race she just asks when it is and what she can do to help.  Pooh hopes others are as lucky as he is to have found someone like that!

Back to our story… The night before the race was no different than any other big race Pooh entered.  Sleep was slow to arrive and Pooh was nervous that he’d oversleep.  The longer he lay awake the more nervous about oversleeping he became.  But finally the eyes closed and he was able to get a couple of hours sleep.  When the alarm went off he was instantly awake.  He had set out everything he would need the night before including his clothes, his gear, and his race bag.  After showering and getting dressed he headed downstairs to put together breakfast for himself and his two compatriots, Megan and Shawna.  Pooh’s friend Deb had gotten up and helped him prepare the pre-race food selections for the girls.  Pooh definitely has great friends as the weekend had proven already.  In fact the night before the race he finally opened up a card he had been given by Stacey with explicit instructions to open only on the day or two before the big race.  Of course it was signed by all his running posse from the Hundred Acre Wood.

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With care packs in hand Pooh headed to the hotel to meet the girls and head to Metro for the ride to the Pentagon.  The folks at the Courtyard Dunn Loring were fantastic, by the way, helping to fix a snafu of Pooh’s own making and then allowing him to park his car, free of charge, in their garage.  After walking to the Metro station it was a fairly short trip to the Pentagon station for the trio.  And now race day had officially begun for Pooh.

Shawna, Megan and Pooh pre-race

Shawna, Megan and Pooh pre-race

The race day began with chilly temperatures but you could tell it was going to be a perfect day for running. During the training Pooh had determined fueling and hydration strategies and with his coach, Jeff Gaudette from RunnersConnect, had put together a pace plan based on race course and that was programmed into the Garmin. Everything under his control was in place. Time to go run!

The beginning of the race was incredibly motivating. The singing of the National Anthem was accompanied by an 11 member skydiving team parachuting into the starting line, one of them trailing a 7800 sq ft American flag. It was spectacular. Pooh lined up near the back end of the 4hr flag as per his race strategy but then decided he needed to use the porta-potty one more time. By the time he finished he was stuck with a much slower crowd and it was to prove problematic as he spent the first 8 miles unable to hit the scheduled race paces. He was stuck in rush hour traffic. The second thing that cost him time, and was worth every second, was that at the water station at 6.5 miles one of the amazing people pushing a wheelchair could not get across the road to get some Gatorade and was calling for a couple of cups. Pooh and another runner stopped and grabbed a couple of cups of Gatorade each and brought them over and gave them to the pusher and the wheelchair bound young man. He felt so good doing that and with perspective in the right place he continued on. At about 8 miles is when things started to clear up a little bit but Pooh had to weave in and out of traffic for the entire rest of the race. But he stayed disciplined and didn’t try to make up the time by going too fast but every time he came to a water/Gatorade station people would jump in front of him and come to a complete stop which was frustrating to say the least.  Pooh had spent some time during a training race practicing the water stations and had gotten quite good. But again, he didn’t let it frustrate him and kept to his plan. Pooh fueled and hydrated when needed and when he hit 20 miles it was time to shift gears and pick up the pace. All the training paid off as the legs responded and for the next couple of miles the pace dropped 30sec/mi. With 4.2 miles left it was time to throw caution to the wind and drop the hammer and see what was left in the tank. The training led up to that moment and the last 4.2 were the fastest of the race for Pooh. When he finally reached the HILL at 0.2 miles remaining he was so ready to finish that it was almost anti-climactic. In truth the hill wasn’t that bad because he had trained properly and was able to sprint up the hill, turn right and finish up the 0.1 miles. Seeing the Iwo Jima memorial and getting to shake hands with so many heroes who serve in the Marines was so awe inspiring.

Pooh’s “A” goal was 3:50 and despite finishing in an official time of 3:50:12 he feels that he achieved what he set out to do. Here’s some of the numbers:

– placed 3518 OA out of 23,591 total runners who finished
– placed 2673 out of 13,533 men who finished
– placed 297 AG out of 1711
– race breakdown by my Garmin:
— 3mi @ 9:28/mi
— 5mi @ 9:01/mi
— 12mi @ 8:43/mi
— 2mi @ 8:15/mi
— 4.57mi @ 7:50/mi (technically Pooh only got credit for the 4.2 miles but these are the raw numbers)

A couple of anecdotes…

Pooh Celebrating at the Memorial

Pooh Celebrating at the Memorial

… on Saturday Pooh and his wife Karen had lunch at DC-3, a hot dog place in the Eastern Market district of DC. While there he was wearing his yellow race hat with the Marine hat pin on it that Bess G had given to him (and features prominently in the second story). A young Marine came in and sat down and seeing the pin asked if Pooh was in the service and he explained that he wasn’t but told the young Marine where he had gotten the pin. He said he’d be at the race and wished Pooh luck. After Pooh finished the race he got his picture taken at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) and headed to the family meet area and shook hands with as many of the Marines as he could. Pooh took every opportunity the thank all those true heroes.  As he neared the end of the line of Marines who she he see but the young Marine from lunch the previous day. He pulled one of his buddies over and told him that he had seen Pooh at the hot dog place and it was just really a cool moment.

… Pooh got a lot of motivation during the race thinking about different people. He thought about his dailymile friends. He thought about his RC (RunnersConnect) friends. He thought about his local running besties. He thought of his family. He thought of Gozling a bunch of times and wished she was there to see it in person. He thought about his grandfather who had passed away this past June and got some strength from that. And He thought of Maj James Hardaway, Bess G. ‘s pop, who passed away this past summer. He was a Marine and Bess had given him a hat pin her father worn. Pooh put it on his race hat and any time he needed some strength he would reach up and touch the pin and say, a few times out loud, let’s go Major. There’s no doubt there were people watching over Pooh and it gave him extra strength to keep going!

Pooh, Shawna and Megan post-race celebrating PRs

Pooh, Shawna and Megan post-race celebrating PRs

Well done Pooh, you silly old bear! (you too, Shawna and Megan)

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