Sunday, January 24, 2016

Those hills though - Mississippi Blues Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

I changed things up a bit and did the half marathon this year for the Blues.  I have been doing a half marathon training program for a race in February and the Blues fell at the end of week 9 of the program.  I figured doing a marathon was not advisable (who am I?) so I "downgraded" my registration to the half a few months ago.  Plan for the half was to run it moderately hard to see what I could do on a hilly course.  We hit the expo on Friday and then got some yummy takeout from Bravo.  

Hubby was running the half too.  He had not run a step since like August.

The weather race morning was a bit rainy and muggy with temps in the mid 50's.  So not great.  We sat in the car until we absolutely had to get out!  Hubby made head and arm holes in a garbage bag for me.  Turns out he thinks my head is ginormous!

Excuse my ginormous head.

The rain stopped shortly before the race started so that was sort of nice.  I lined up near the 4 hr marathon pacer (couldn't find the 2 hr half marathon pacer).  The first 3 or 4 miles are fairly flat and I was able to keep a good pace (Miles 1-4: 9:15/8:46/8:58/9:08).  Between miles 3 and 4, we hit State Street and the hills started.  These hills are not terrible during the marathon because I am running a bit slower.  These hills suck if I am trying to run a bit faster, so my splits started to deteriorate here (Miles 5-7: 9:44/9:35/9:46).  Between miles 6 and 7, we split from the marathoners and headed towards the highway.  The half marathon course is sadly uninteresting.  You are mostly along busy roads or the highway for the first 10 miles and you don't get to run through the neighborhoods of Fondren or Eastover.  From miles 7-9, you are running along the Frontage Road of Highway 55.  Not so hilly here so I was able to speed up a bit (Miles 8-9: 9:22/9:07).  But I knew what was coming!  Miles 9-12 (miles 22-25 of the marathon) are the worst of the course.  For these three miles you get to contend with the Belhaven hills!  This neighborhood is relentlessly hilly (Miles 10-12: 10:16/10:03/10:24).  I pretty much just wanted to die.  Once you hit mile 12 (mile 25 for the marathon) it's flat as a pancake to the finish. I was able to get my pace down to my goal race pace fairly easily (Miles 13-Finish: (9:10/(last bit) 8:38), which was a huge confidence booster.  I finished in 2:05:22.  Really wanted under 2:05 for this but those hills in Belhaven killed me.   After finishing I walked to my car to get my phone so that I could take a picture of the hubby as he finished.  Since he hadn't been for a run since like August, he was expecting to walk most of the race and finish in like 3 hours.  Uh, yeah.  He finished in 2:11!  Who does that?

Another Blues done.

For the difficulty of the course I thought I did ok.  My goal race is flat so I have been doing all of my faster paced runs on the flattest routes I can find (no easy task around here).  Not surprised that those hills killed me.  Being able to easily get back down to right near goal race pace in the last 1.1ish (flat) miles was a huge confidence booster since it showed I really wasn't dead at the end of the race (just dead on those hills).  I had my longest "goal race pace" run yesterday and was able to complete 9.3 miles at an 8:59 pace on a route with some hills and a pretty strong headwind in some areas.  It's just 3 weeks until my goal race - the Mississippi River Half Marathon - and I hope to break 2 hours again.  The last time I did that was in 2012, which was also the last time that I actually trained to break 2 hours in the half marathon. 

Surprisingly sweet medal!


Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 - Just when you think you have it all figured out

2015........Hmmm.........What a weird/crazy year for me in terms of running!  I started the year with my first really real running-related injury!  And by "really real" I mean that it was virtually impossible for me to try to run through the pain for literally months!  Once that miraculously resolved, I had little motivation to run and spent a few months doing run/walk intervals, but just couldn't get consistent with my running schedule.   Throughout the year I had to adjust my schedule and even had a few DNS's and one DNF (yikes)!

Mississippi Blues Marathon
January 10, 2015

This was supposed to be a PR attempt but my IT band began to flare up periodically a few months prior and knocked out any type of training that I was supposed to do.  IT band was full blown angry with me at every run by this point but, being a stubborn runner, I proceeded to do the marathon anyway.  By the end of the race I was in some serious pain and could barely bend my leg.  

First Light Marathon
First Light Half Marathon
Stay in bed
January 11, 2015

For some dumb reason I signed up for this double again.  After finishing the Blues the day before I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be doing the marathon and at the expo downgraded to the half marathon.   Upon waking up on Sunday, I decided to just stay in bed.  This was my only violation of my "no spending money on hotel rooms for anything other than new states" rule.  I also got to see my Kansas friends Kelly and Mike so it was worth making the trip.

Sedona Marathon 
Yuma Territorial Marathon (AZ - State #25)
January 31, 2015

Another change of plans although I still got to run a marathon (probably should not have though).  Upon the cancellation of the much anticipated Sedona Marathon, GK and I made the rational decision to drive the 5 hours to Yuma to run their marathon instead of just driving 2 hours to Phoenix to run their marathon.  IT band was still hating me, so this was another painful race.  But state #25 was in the books!

Mississippi River Marathon
Mississippi River 5k 
February 14, 2015

And yet another instance where I had to change my plans.  And this time no marathon.  On the advice of my PT, I reluctantly downgraded my marathon registration to the 5k for this race.  And I walked it.  So I basically left my house at 2AM to drive 3 hours to WALK a 5k.  Makes total sense.  Husband did the half marathon so I got to see him finish up his race.  I also got to see my friend GK who ended up walking the 5k with me.

Columbia Marathon (SC - State #26)
March 7, 2015

At this point I was in complete denial about my inability to run.  In the month of February I had run a total of 27 miles.  So why not try another marathon?  Seems reasonable.  This was a double loop course so I had an easy out at the half if things were going badly.  By mile 4, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to finish the marathon and even had doubts about making it through the first loop to the halfway point.  But by mile 10, I was dead set on finishing the marathon.  I walked about 75% of this marathon and found out that I'm pretty good at power walking, even passing some runners.  This was one of my last driveable states and I made the trek with my friend Evelyn.  In SC, my friend Kristen opened her home to us for the night and even made us a tasty dinner.  This is one of the best parts of this adventure - all the different people you get to meet!

Garmin Marathon (KS - State #27)
April 18, 2015

A week or two after the Columbia Marathon, my IT band made a miraculous recovery and I was able to run/walk pain free from then on!  I maybe ran 2 days per week using a funky run/walk strategy - I'd walk fast for 10 minutes followed by 2:1 intervals for 20 minutes.  Repeat.  I was able to get up to 15 miles using this strategy before this marathon.  I was cautiously optimistic going into this race and everything turned out great!  No pain whatsoever and I was able to finish in a decent time considering that I walked over half of the race.  I also got to visit the awesome Truckhenge and see so many friends!  My friend Sarah came up from Wichita to run the half marathon and Kelly and Mike opened their home to me for the weekend. 

Magnolia Meltdown Half Marathon (MS)
May 9, 2015 

This was a local half marathon so I figured why not.  I used my run/walk strategy.  It was pretty hot this day.  I liked the course.  I never blogged about this race.  Sorry. 

North Olympic Discovery Marathon (WA)
June 7, 2015

Yikes!  My first (and only) DNF!  I also never blogged about this.  My training at this point was still pretty inconsistent and involved almost all treadmill runs.  Race day was fairly warm, which wasn't good since I had about zero training in the heat!  My stomach was not happy with me and it was making my entire mid-section hurt.  I assume I had some sort of fluid imbalance because of the heat.  I pulled out of the race around mile 17.  I couldn't even bring myself to walk the rest of the race because my tummy/back/midsection were just not cooperating.  By the time I was transported back to the finish area, I felt fine though.  Grrrr.  This was a good one to DNF since I tagged the race onto the end of a work trip, so no loss on the flight.  I also met a new friend in WA!  I plan to go back to NODM in 2018 to conquer this race!  

Utah Valley Marathon (UT)
June 13, 2015

Another DNS, but not because I was hurt.  This was supposed to be the beginning of a week long vacation in Utah with the hubby, but my dog ended up getting sick right before this race and had to be hospitalized.  I delayed my trip out west by a few days until I knew that she was getting better which caused me to miss this race.  Once I did get out to Utah, hubby and I had a great time exploring the National Parks and the great state of Utah.  

Zion National Park
Arches National Park

Bear Lake Races:
Bear Lake Idaho Marathon (ID - State #28)
June 19, 2015

Bear Lake Utah Half Marathon (UT)
Bear Lake Utah Marathon (UT - State #29)
June 20, 2015 

Bear Lake Wyoming Half Marathon  (WY)
June 21, 2015

The Bear Lake Races are yet another example of changing plans this year.  After spending time exploring Utah's National Parks with the hubby I met up with my friend Kim in SLC and we headed up to Bear Lake.  The area was gorgeous!  I was apprehensive about these races since DNF'ing in WA less than two weeks earlier.  There is no time limit on these races so I took them very slow!  The Idaho marathon went off without much problem (other than being HOT)!  Since I missed out on the Utah Valley Marathon the weekend before, I decided to upgrade to the marathon for the Bear Lake Utah race (I was originally registered for the half marathon).  Because a double sounds reasonable less than two weeks after DNF'ing!  Utah was a suckfest.  It was so hot and so sunny and no shade!  But I finished both marathons when I was barely even prepared for one of them.  After running two HOT races, there was no way I was doing the half marathon in WY!  I slept in the car while Kim ran it! 

Bear Lake Idaho
Bear Lake Utah

Mad Marathon (VT - State #30)
July 12, 2015

This race was a late edition to my 2015 calendar.  The RD was looking for a MS runner and I just happened to fit the bill.  This course is crazy hard and it was also crazy hot!  The scenery was amazing though and that made the 26.2 miles fly by!  I highly recommend doing this for a VT race! 

Crater Lake Marathon (OR - State #31)
August 8, 2015

Oregon is my absolute favorite state that I've visited and now I can say that my favorite race is in my favorite state!  If you've never been to Crater Lake National Park, get your butt there pronto!  This course is at elevation and has a 5-ish mile constant uphill (mile 9-14).  After mile 14, it is mostly downhill, so you can coast for the rest of the race (except the last 2 miles).  I felt really good at this race due to the fact that I had actually been been running (and not run/walking) consistently for the previous month or two.  This is probably one of the hardest courses that I've done.  The scenery was spectacular though and I just never wanted it to end. This is a MUST DO race!  Do not be afraid of the elevation or the 5 mile hill!  It is all worth it!  You miss so much if you don't go out of your comfort zone every once in a while.  This whole trip was a dream come true!  Before the race I got to have a sleepover with sloths!

Lake Michigan Trail Marathon (WI - State #32)
September 6, 2015

This was also a late addition to my 2015 calendar.  I was browsing Southwest one day (I shouldn't do this) I found that flights into Chicago were very cheap for this weekend!  So I obviously had to find a race.  Can't pass up a ~6,000 point RT flight!  I even talked a friend into joining me!  I had a 15 mile training run on the schedule for that weekend so why not do it as part of a marathon.  Of course I always bring the heat with me, and this was apparently one of the hottest weekends of the year for Milwaukee.  This made even getting the 15 miles done quite hard.  I walked most of the second half of the race.  The course was nice though and had about 6 miles on actual trail.  

Clarence DeMar Marathon (NH - State #33)
September 27, 2015

After my previous 5 marathons, I was pretty sure that sucking at marathons was the new norm for me.  Apparently not so when given an easier course and much cooler temps!  And some consistent training doesn't hurt either!  I had an 18 mile training run on the schedule, but my legs just wanted to go faster than my usual training pace so I let them.  Felt really good until after mile 20 when I didn't really start to feel bad, but just lost some of the juice in my legs.  The course was lovely, especially the first half.  We followed a little river and went over a dam.  This was the first marathon of the year where I actually ran the entire distance.  I also got to see some friends from grad school who opened their home to me for the weekend.  

Marine Corps Marathon (VA - State #34)
October 25, 2015

Well I hate extremely large races and this was one of them!  This was supposed to be my "goal" race, with the goal being just running the whole thing.  But I met that goal at my previous race.  I'm glad that I did too since I could barely move the first 10+ miles.  Too many people for my liking.  Someone punch me in the head if I ever sign up for a race this big again!  This was the first race since 2013 where I wore absolutely no KT Tape!  

Triple Crown Holiday Race Series
12k's for the Holidays
November 21, 2015

Turkey Day 8k
November 26, 2015

Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon 
December 5, 2015

These were all local races.  I scored a free entry for the 12k last year so of course I had to do it again.  I ran this race with everything I had in me (and that's not typically something that I do).  I needed to know what my current level of fitness was so I could determine some proper training paces for a half marathon training plan that I am now doing.  I finished the race with a 4 second PR!  Woohoo!  I was also pleased with my 8k time with an overall pace of 9:10 since I was able to keep a conversation going with a friend almost the entire time.  Hubby and I made a delicious vegan Thanksgiving meal when I got home.  As for the half marathon, I do this race every year.  And every year it's usually hot/humid.  This year it was nice and cool though!  

So for 2015 I did 11 marathons (10 new states - AZ, SC, KS, ID, UT, VT, OR, WI, NH, and VA), 2 half marathons, a 12k, an 8k, and a 5k.  Much less than last year but that's ok.  I did keep track of all my costs and my total came out to about $5,370 for the year (that included pretty much every penny that I spent compared to my cost analysis for 2014 that was missing food, some parking, and some other costs because I tried to determine cost at the end of the year instead of keeping up with it all year.  This year I legit kept up with every penny that I spent on/at races.  I'm not trying to be "showy" or anything, I just like to have an idea of what this all costs.  My lifestyle is one of the many perks of being child-free!

I am excited to get 2016 rolling!  I'm spending the first few months trying to get a bit faster and would love to break 2 hours in the half marathon again (haven't done that since 2012).  If all goes well with that I may go for a PR at the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota in May.  We shall see.  What I'm most excited about for 2016 is going to ALASKA!  Yay!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Short and local - Triple Crown Holiday Race Series 2015 Race Recap

Since the Marine Corps Marathon I've kept myself busy doing a few local races.  Here is a quick recap of each race in the "Triple Crown Race Series"...............

12k's for the Holidays
November 21, 2015
1:06:22 (8:54/mile) - New 12k PR!!!!!

I've done this race every year for the past 3 years.  Last year I surprisingly got a really good time (1:06:26).  Even did this wearing a costume (which scored me a free entry into this year's race).  This is a pretty hilly course.  It runs a lot of the Blues course through the neighborhoods in Fondren.  My plan for this race was to run it as fast as I could so that I could determine proper training paces for a half marathon training plan that I am now currently doing.  I surprised myself again and got a new 12k PR - 1:06:22 (no costume).  Only by like 4 seconds but I'll take since I'm about 5+ pounds heavier than I was last year for this race!

This is what happens when you don't have any friends to take your picture.  You get a selfie stick picture :(
Turkey Day 8k
November 26, 2015
45:24 (9:10/mile)

I wasn't going to do this race because I am pretty low on funds right now!  This year has just been awful to my bank accounts!  I had to get a new car because some asshole decided to cause an accident (and now I have an awful monthly car payment); pretty much all of my dogs decided that this was the year to have major problems (one with pancreatitis, one with a slipped disk in his neck, and one is just old and needed to have lots of blood work done); and I had some pretty steep medical bills myself (a few steroid injections in my back and lots of PT).  But, due to the generosity of one of my friends, I ended up doing the race.  I was pleased with my finish time since my goal right now is to work towards breaking 2 hours (9:09 pace) again in the half marathon.  This course is pretty much flat or gently rolling except for a half mile hill between miles 3 and 4.  

So many people in my way!
Not sure what is going on here.

Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon
December 5, 2015
2:13:19 (10:10/mile)

Again, I wasn't going to do this race either.  I do this race every year and it's always a humid suck-fest on a mind-numbingly boring course.  But this year the weather looked to be better (30's at the start) so I decided to give it a go again.  I usually run this race way too fast for the first few miles and then die a few miles in, but this year I took it easy and just used it as a supported training run.  The course was a bit long this year (by like 1/3 of a mile) and I also had to make a pit stop at Starbucks to use the potty so I ended up with almost 13.5 on my Garmin.  I pushed it the last mile and got my fastest mile by far for the race (8:57/mile).  Not bad for an old fat broad!

Yes.  That's a giant unicorn on my shirt!

So that's it for me until the Blues.  And I'm only doing the half marathon for that.  I decided that I would like to attempt to break 2 hours again in the half marathon and I am going to do that at the Mississippi River Half Marathon on February 13, 2016.  Hence why I downgraded to the half marathon for the Blues.  I used to have FOMO about races now I really don't care.  If it's not a new state, I really don't care to run 26.2 milesMy next marathon won't be until March 20, 2016, when I get to attempt to (finally) cross Oklahoma off my list.  OK is my last state within a reasonable distance to drive.  After OK, I'll be heading to MN (April), ND (May), and AK (June).  And that will put me through the first 6 months of next year.  I have a plan for next fall, but things can always change.  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Get me away from all these people - Marine Corps Marathon 2015 Race Recap

It's no secret that I abhor large races.  Why then, you may ask, did I willingly put my name into the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), a race with about 30,000 runners?  I have no f&#%ing clue!  And with my dumb luck I actually got picked!  I blame my friend Kim since after seeing that she threw her name into the lottery I thought that it might be "fun" to try for it too so we could get in another race together.  Never again!  Never again!  

Kim and I met up in DC on Saturday and promptly made our way to the expo via the Metro.  I do love big cities and riding their public transportation, I just don't like running in them with a million of my worst enemies best friends.  Packet pickup was surprisingly painless and I ended up running into a few friends there.

Not gonna say anything

We were then starving so we ate at Busboy's and Poets on 5th and K.  I had a tasty tempeh sandwich and Kim had a delicious vegan "tuna fish" sandwich.  We then ended up at the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian.  Did you know most of the Smithsonian's museums are FREE?  Very cool.

But we all know that dinosaurs never existed and are just some elaborate hoax thought up by thousands upon thousands of scientists from all sorts of disciplines.  Those sneaky scientists.  Nice try but you're not fooling me!!  I's iz smart.

Since we ate sort of a late lunch, Kim and I picked up some snacks to take back to our hotel room for "dinner".  I have actually been trying to eat A LOT lighter the day before a marathon and it makes for a race experience that is about a billion times better.

Dinner of marathon champions!

We got up semi-early race morning but apparently is wasn't early enough.  Our hotel was about two blocks from the shuttle pickup in Crystal City, VA, and we had no problems getting on a bus.  We were dropped off at the start location at the Pentagon over an hour before race start. We basically saw a very large crowd of people just standing there.  And when I say very large, I mean like 1000's of people!  

The "line" to seemingly nowhere

There were no signs anywhere so we became sheeple and just stood there with everyone else.  Turns out this was the security "line" (although there was no actual line(s)).  Also turns out that the whole family can stand with you in this line and also gain entry into the start village.  Mamaw, papaw, aunt, uncle, your newborn octuplets, third cousin on your dad's side twice removed, your plumber, your veterinarian, etc., etc.  And all these people had all sorts of STUFF with them.  STUFF that needed to be inspected before gaining entry into the start village.  Now I'm glad your mamaw and your papaw and your third cousin on your dad's side twice removed are all there to support you.  But do they really need to hold your hand all the way to the start corrals?  I have two complaints about this race that are not related to the fact that I just don't like large races (and shouldn't sign up for them) and this is one of them.  Spectators should not be allowed into the start village with the runners!!!!!!!  This is practically unheard of at other large races.  Let the runners get to where they need to be!  We moved at the speed of about 6 inches every 10 minutes.  It also started to rain pretty significantly while we were in this "line", but we had nifty garbage bags to keep us nice and dry!

Bag ladies

After almost an hour they finally opened a "line" for the "uncomplicated" people - those of us that didn't bring enough provisions for a 10 day Mount Everest expedition!  Seriously people?  Do you really need all that STUFF?  Seems like a lot of wasted energy to even think about packing it all!  With less than 10 minutes to go before the official start, the uncomplicated people pretty much just started running through the security line holding their hands up like they were being taken hostage.  Now there were less than 10 minutes to get to the start which meant no time for port-a-potty line!  All the men were lined up at the trees along the Potomac River (lucky), but then we saw that on one end all of the women were doing the same.  So, that's what we did.  Backed our asses up to the river and pissed right on the Pentagon lawn.  

Pissing at the Pentagon

After pissing (I unfortunately saw other things happening too) on the Pentagon lawn, we hurried to the corrals which were almost a mile away!  To my surprise, there were absolutely NO "real" corrals.  This is my second complaint about the logistics of this race.  Why on God's green Earth for a race this size are there no corrals?  And why is there no wave start?  Again, these are things that are common practice at other large races and would totally alleviate the congestion along the course.  At the start area there were signs with expected finish times and it was 100% left to the runners where they wanted to line up.  Oh you're a walker?  You should definitely get in front of the 3:45 pacer.  Yup, totally reasonable.  The race started on time (7:55am) and since I was just running up to the start area after 8:00am that meant that I (and about a billion other people) was going to be stuck behind people that were much much slower than me.  Add to that the people that also seeded themselves incorrectly in the corrals and this was a recipe for a Krissy meltdown!  

Let the torture begin

I had been training specifically for this race since June.  I knew that I wasn't going to PR, but I wanted to run a strong race.  Then after I did so well at the Clarence Demar Marathon last month, I sort of had a time goal in mind - finish faster than I did at CDM (so under 4:28:57).  Within the first mile, I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen.  There were just so many people.  And about half of them I wanted to punch in the head!  People walking 5-6 across.  People running and then all of a sudden stopping with no indication that they were going to stop and not even looking behind them before stopping.  People taking selfies with the other 20 people they were with.  I have never seen so many idiots in one place at one time!  The course was also very narrow at some points which made it near impossible to pass anyone.  This went on for about the first 10 miles.  I couldn't get a groove on at all and kept having to abruptly slow down and speed up.  I definitely felt that in my shoulders and upper back the next day.  

I didn't take too many pictures because I didn't want to be an asshole to those around me.  Not sure why I cared since everyone else WAS being an asshole to everyone around them!

The aid stations were absolute torture!  People cutting you off.  People throwing their water/cup at you.  The Marines/volunteers were doing a great job, but many of the runners were just plain rude to the people around them!  Finally around mile 10 I must have reached the people that were going my pace, because I was relatively unannoyed for several miles.  I tried to make up some of the time I had lost in the first 15k and many of my mile splits from mile 10-17ish were below 10 min/mile.  A pace I have no business running right now.  This obviously came back to bite me in the butt after mile 20.  My half split was just under 2:15 so I was able to make up considerable time and my goal of sub-4:29 wasn't out of reach quite yet.

I ran into Alvin on the course!

From what I saw of the course, it was nice.  I really couldn't enjoy it because I constantly had to look at my feet so I wouldn't trip over anybody.  We finally made our way to the penis part of the course and ran past the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building (the Capitol being at the tip of the penis).

A phallic looking structure on the phallic part of the course
The tip of the phallus

At some point I slowed down and a sub 4:29 finish wasn't looking too good.  It also didn't help that every time I went through an aid station I added about 30 seconds to that mile.  The last few miles took us through Crystal City and then on highways back to the finish.  The course became very crowded again in Crystal City and some people were having a very hard time going around corners.  I know it's hard and all but you can just keep running the same speed when going around a corner.  Also, if you are walking, please don't take the tangent!  Ugh!  

I've been to VA no less than a billion times so it wasn't really that important to me to get a proper picture with the "welcome to" sign.

The last two miles were my absolute slowest and the sub-4:29 finish was toast.  Right after mile 26 (yes, I said 26) there was a god awful hill up to the finish!  I just went ahead and walked it.  I crossed the finish line in 4:31:45, which is still a really good time for me right now so I can't really complain.  

Get me out of here!

I didn't stop to hang out at all at the finish line festival.  I didn't even take a picture with the Iwo Jima statue like everyone else did (because I like to be like everyone else).  There were just too many people everywhere and I needed to get away from all of them!  It probably took me a good hour to get to the shuttle bus to take me back to Crystal City.  I loved seeing all the Marines  congratulating all the runners for their finish as I made my way to the bus!  They did a great job handing out our medals, food, drinks, etc.  I also appreciated them yelling at everyone to keep the line moving!    My hotel room and a shower never felt so good!

So my opinion of this race is obviously jaded by the fact that I don't like large races.  I much prefer to run very small races where I can enjoy listening the sounds of nature and my own two feet (see the New River Marathon, Monument Marathon, and Crater Lake Marathon recaps for examples of perfect races).  Besides the security line with the spectators and the lack of corrals/wave start, everything else about the race was perfectly fine - if you enjoy very large races.   

So here are my travel deets:
  • This race was really expensive in my world!  $130 - OUCH!
  • I flew from Memphis to Reagan National Airport in DC.  Gas to get to/from Memphis was $15 and parking in Memphis was $18.  My flight was $133 total.  I had enough Delta points to get to DC and only had to pay for my flight back to Memphis.  I used Southwest for that so it was reasonably priced.
  • No car rental since we were in a city with great public transportation.  I put $20 on a Metro card and took the subway everywhere.
  • We stayed at the Radisson Hotel Reagan National Airport in Crystal City for two nights.  Total bill was $226 and I paid half (so $123 for the mathematically challenged).  I highly recommend this hotel as it was fairly cheap for the area and is about a 5 minute walk to the shuttle stop for the race.
  • I spent about $70 on food.  I probably would have spent less but DC has too many vegan goodies for me to pass up on!
  • So to cross VA (state #34) off my list I spent a total of $509!  Not too shabby for a race in a major metropolitan area.
My next marathon is the Mississippi Blues in January.  Next year I don't "plan" on doing as many new states as this year.  For 2015, I was able to get in 10 new states (AZ, SC, KS, ID, UT, VT, OR, WI, NH, and VA), bringing my state total to 34.  For 2016, I'm planning on OK, ND, AK, MI, either NY or MA, and NV.  Goal for next year is to not pay for any flights so my races will have to fit into that constraint.