One of the big features of the Marine Corps Marathon is the Beat the Bridge challenge: participants must cross the 14th Street bridge by a certain time before the majority of the route reopens to city traffic, otherwise they are swept from the course and are unable to complete the marathon. It's an intimidating cutoff for a first-timer, and it's been looming on my mind all year. Would I be able to Beat the Bridge?
Normally, the Bridge is at mile 20 along the MCM course. Runners have about five hours to make it across the bridge before the roads open, and that probably shouldn't have put me in so much of a panic considering my half marathon times get me through 13 miles in a reliable 2.5 hours or less - 20 miles in 5 hours should be no problem, right? But still, I've been nervous. Then, MCM released an updated course map when the DC metro service announced it would not be opening early this year to accommodate runners trying to get to the starting line. In an attempt to give runners a little cushion, the route has been changed to put the Bridge at mile 18 instead of mile 20, which means it's even more likely that I'll be able to make it (provided I am at the starting line in proper time). Even with the shorter distance, though, I knew I'd be much more confident if I could prove to myself I would make it.
Of course, my marathon training schedule was ready to accommodate me. With my long runs getting increasingly longer, I'm running distances I've never dreamed I could. And about a week ago, I actually completed my first 18 mile run! Thanks to a great running buddy (slash training coach) I cruised through the run with far more ease than I expected. Though I struggled at the tail end of the run from poor electrolyte planning (it's my longest run by a lot, I wasn't sure how to prepare properly), I still finished my trial Beat the Bridge run in 3.5 hours - proving that I will have AMPLE time to cross the bridge and stay alive come MCM race day!
With additional long runs coming up, I'll be well-practiced at the long haul in plenty of time to make MCM my first complete marathon. I have to admit, right now I'm feeling pretty accomplished: following a training program, seeing results, and completing a half marathon every month along the way... So I guess I'll be linking this post up with Deb Runs and the rest of the Wednesday Word gang since today's word happens to be "accomplish"! Check out what other bloggers think about their accomplishments by visiting the linkup via the button below - and tell us about YOUR biggest accomplishments in the comments!