Virtual Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

by - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Running the Marine Corps Marathon virtually has to be one of the most challenging things I've done. Regular marathons, with spectators and aid stations, are hard. A virtual race, where it's just you and all the little demons in your head, is kind of brutal. 


I woke up Saturday morning nervous but also kind of excited about attempting this race. I did all my usual pre-race prep. Toast and peanut butter. Lots of water. About a million trips to the bathroom because of nerves. 

And then I walked outside to drive to where I was starting and got whacked in the face with humidity. It was only 62 degrees, but it was 95% humidity, so even though there was a slight chill, the air felt very heavy. 

I had planned a route that would largely eliminate many hills and would let me loop past my friends and family a couple of times so I could restock my water and fuel.

I set off down along the water with my first loop of Hains Point. There were tons of other runners out, and I think many of them were doing the same thing I was. My plan was to start off slow and steady and try to maintain something around 10:30 per mile for as long as possible, and then just basically gut my way through the rest. 

I was also planning to use my trusty run one mile, walk one minute race plan. 

The first few miles were fine, but because of the humidity I was draining my water bottle a lot faster than I expected. I had planned to refill around mile 8, but I knew there was no way I was going to make it that long. 

I passed my friends around mile five, took my first Gu, and set off up Rock Creek Parkway. I had an out and back planned along this stretch, and it was a familiar path that I used to run all the time when I lived in DuPont Circle. 

I refilled my water somewhere around mile 6.5 and took my first sips of Gatorade just past the turn around point around 8.5. I had another Gu at mile 10.

I got stuck at a traffic light around mile 12, and honestly, I was so grateful for the pause. I was not feeling good. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking I hadn't expected to feel quite that bad until closer to mile 17. 


Mentally, this is where things started to fall apart a little bit. It's not so great when that happens before the half way point of a very long race.

I passed another friend just beyond mile 12, and seeing her put a smile on my face and gave me a small motivational boost. Thank you for being there Emily!

The next stretch along the Mall was by far the worst part of the run for me. I just couldn't shake the negative mental thoughts about how hard this was and how bad I was feeling already. As I looped past the Capitol, I started sneaking in a couple more walk breaks trying to get my head back in the game. I took another Gu and some more Gatorade, hoping maybe some more fuel would give me more energy.

By mile 15, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to finish. 

At mile 16, I knew there was no way I could run 10 more miles. 

I was falling apart. 


Me and my t-rex arm in the deep dark pits of running despair

I knew I was going to see Emily again sometime around mile 17, so I trudged on, walking even more than I had been. Seeing her again gave me a little bit of a second wind, and the boost I needed to get to mile 18 where the rest of my friends and family were. 

I almost cried when I saw them. I felt so crappy, and they were cheering and clapping and waving signs. 


At that point, I had single digital mileage remaining, and I was determined I was going to somehow grit out that last eight miles. I took my second to last Gu and set in for my final loop around Hains Point. 

In some ways, this loop felt easier than the first one. I changed up my strategy and I was running half a mile and walking a minute, and that seemed to be working for me both mentally and physically. 

I passed my friends and family one more time around mile 23. I stopped for some Gatorade and I knew I was so close. Just one last out and back stretch.

I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Slowly, really slowly and with plenty of walking when I needed it, but I hit the turn around point and knew I could make it back to my people even if I had to crawl.

The kind of crazy part is that even though I felt terrible my form was pretty great. This video clip is me at mile 25.


I slightly miscalculated where I needed to turn around so I over shot my friends, had to run a little more, turn around and run back again to get the full 26.2, but I did it. 

My final Garmin time was 4:49:00. But that can hardly be considered a real race time. I stopped my watch at traffic lights. I stopped it when I needed to get more Gatorade or refill my water bottle. Basically, any time where I was forced to deal with something that I wouldn't have dealt with in a typical race situation. 


I'm glad that time isn't a PR for me or I would have had mixed feelings for the rest of my life talking about my marathon PR.

This race was ugly. And if it hadn't been for my friends and family, I'm honestly not sure I would have finished. But I did, and I'm really proud of that.


I cannot say enough thanks to my friends and family who came out to cheer me on. To my family, and Emily, Emily, Emily, and Erin, you are the best. (Also, I have a lot of friends named Emily...)

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  1. Congratulations! That's still quite a fun time

  2. Congrats on your race! I always love seeing the big red Garmin...I still have mine as a backup.