This past weekend in the hotel bar, when I was attempting to find my first real meal of the day at 9 pm the night before the race, I bumped in to someone who I worked with when I worked for National Marathon {Before Rock N Roll DC was RNR DC it was owned by someone else and was called National Marathon – I was the Director of Volunteers in 2010}. We chatted briefly about race logistics and how most runners have no idea the amount of work that goes in to planning huge marathons. All the behind the scenes stuff, like filling pot holes race morning, or the cost of hiring all those DC cops to stand at intersections, or the fees that big races pay DC Metro to open early, race day permits and why the second half of the marathon isn’t as scenic as the first.

We talked about complaints and how running The Great Wall of China Marathon really changed my perspective on what the human body can and can’t do and further why I’ll basically never complain about race logistics again.

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When I was describing my race day in China, his immediate reaction was that the day sounded terrible and not like a fun race to run. ONLY it was fun, lots of fun, the fun overshadowed everything else.

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Race morning Eric and I got up around 2 in the morning. The bus ride to the start of the race was 3 hours. YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. The bus ride to the start was 3 hours {and you have already made this 3 hour trip once before earlier in the week for inspection day}. They let us know ahead of time they would be stopping once and only once on the way there to let us use the bathroom so to plan accordingly. What that meant to me was that I really couldn’t hydrate because there was no way I only use the bathroom once before a marathon. We stopped once, as did all the other buses, so the lines for the bathroom were ridiculous and in China their “toilets” are different, so using the bathroom was always an adventure of sorts.IMG_20150514_064331

When we made our way to the start it was COLD, really cold. As I huddled to stay warm by a building, a veteran of this race said, just you wait till the sun rises over those mountains, you will wish you were here cold. It’s going to get hot fast.

China 5*The above photo is from the first half – I really don’t know what I’m in for yet! My legs were already screaming there and I wasn’t even finished with 10K of the race.   

The sun rose over the mountains just before the race was about to start and immediately I knew we were in for a very toasty, muggy day. But how can you complain about anything when you are about to run your favorite race distance on The Great Wall of China. How can you complain that you are dead tired from the travel, time change, and a three bus ride to the start? You can’t.

Related: Photos From The Great Wall Marathon

The first three miles were through the town and then up the mountain on the roads, the next 5K or so was on The Great Wall, the miles from that point on where through the mountains and around towns. You have to make it back to the base of the mountain where the race is by a certain time, or they don’t let you enter The Great Wall again and your race is over. You then do the reverse of what you ran earlier in the race and then the last section is the same from the beginning, only now it’s down hill instead of up. I wrongly assumed that the last bit of the race was going to be the easiest and I would fly down that mountain. When you have climbed over 5,000 stairs of various sizes over the course of 23 miles or so, going down hill is the last thing you want to do. My legs hurt so bad that last part, that I literally had to walk a good portion of it because I just couldn’t take the pounding going down.DSC00082

My secret goal in my head for this race was sub 5 hours. I really believed based on my fitness level and leg strength that this was reasonable BUT man this race humbled me. I expected it to be hard, and it lived up to those expectations but I’m not sure I fully realized the type of pain that came with that hard. It wasn’t like anything I’ve experienced in a marathon before. The stairs were no joke and some were literally so high that I had to bear crawl climb them on my hands. DSC00100

I’ll write a full recap soon, but for now here are my Garmin stats for the day and some pictures! I find the stats to be the most interesting out of all the marathons I’ve run.

China Elevation 1 China Elevation 2China Elevation 3China Elevation 4

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