After sending an email to a friend about the Marine Corps Marathon, I realized I had essentially written a race report, so I decide to tweak it a bit, and put it on the blog. As normal, I am not short of words. . .
The MCM was a unique race to do. I have done several mega-marathons now (Disney, Chicago, New York, and Grandma's), but MCM had something "different". You really felt like you were part of something special. . .
- 22,000 people screaming OH RAH before the race was cool.
- Having the Marines every step along the way was a unique experience.
- Finishing at Iwo Jima is amazing
- The patriotism was strong.
- The Finisher's coin and what it represents is something I will treasure
These are all things that are unique to this marathon. You will not find them anywhere else.
The race was kind of odd/good for me. I never really felt like I "settled in". The entire time I was waiting hit the wall so I could give up, and was thinking of my excuses along the way. I ran the first five miles or so with Ryan. The parts heading towards Georgetown are beautiful! Probably my favorite section of the course. Lots of fall colors overlooking the Potomac. Eventually we caught the 3:20 pace group. I explained to Ryan that "I have no business passing them". I knew I had not trained for that pace.
Running in a pace group can be good, but it can also be hot, stuffy and crowded. I decided to hang behind it while Ryan went ahead. After a while I caught up to the pace group again, and found out Ryan was sticking right with them. I continued to drift back and then up on the pace group, but never really ran with it. I also never let Ryan know I was so close. At times I was 150 yards back, and at other times 15 feet back. I felt like we both needed our space, and did not want to mess up his rhythm.
Coming back by Georgetown the second time, I got to see Ursula going in to the loop. I was shocked she found me in the crowd. I was scanning like crazy, and could not find anyone until she shouted my name. I did however manage to see a girl dressed as Madonna (golden cones and all) on the way.
Around mile 17 we were on the Mall and I let Ryan know I was there. We pulled out to the side of the pace group where it was less crowded and easier to breathe. We really did not talk too much (except for some complaining) but ended up running together from there forward. I think we were both waiting for the other one to break, so we could both give up. We did not say it, but we both knew it. Through emails after the race we confirmed this was the case.
Crossing the main bridge was horrible. It was long, boring, and there were no fluids (which I needed for my GU). When I saw the grim reaper I was not amused at the time (now I can enjoy the humor). When we finally got to Crystal City we walked through the fluid station to get well hydrated. This was an out-and-back part that I thought would be horrible. It was a struggle, but turned out to be great. The streets were lined with about 1,000 colorful teardrop flags, plus we got to see Jeff on his way back to the finish. We knew he was on a Boston qualifying pace.
We made it through that section, and then started the two mile finishing stretch from the Pentagon to Iwo Jima. I was in "shuffle mode" now, although my pace never went above 8:30. There was a water stop at mile 25, which I did not need, but it gave me an excuse to grab a cup and walk a few steps again (I wish I had those 10 seconds back now).
Somehow around 25.5, I found my stride again and really started running. I put my head down, said the Lord's Prayer and pushed all that I had. I said Amen just as I heard Sarah and Tessie cheering. The final short/steep hill towards Iwo Jima is a pain. This killed my stride, but I was able to finish still moving at a good pace. Ryan and I congratulated each other and limped for our medals and pictures. It was great to see Jeff smiling at the finish line. We knew he had made it.
It took several minutes for it all to sink in, and I am very proud of my time, but more proud that I did not give up.