Marine Corps Marathon weekend in Washington, D.C. is one of my FAVORITE weekends in the city. Flags line the streets, signs are up all over the place, the expo is huge, and and runners from all around the country head to our Nation’s capitol to take part in “The People’s Marathon.” It’s different than other marathons…there’s no huge prize purse, the winners are often members of our Armed Forces, and the course is one heck of an emotional roller coaster. Each year the organizers offer a 10k (the last 6.2 miles of the full marathon) and that’s right up my alley. Perhaps one day I will get to full marathon status…but I’m sticking with my 13.1’s for now!
This year I was lucky enough to run with my bestie Christy (check out her blog here), Amanda, and her bad ass dad. We met bright and early at 7:00 AM on the National Mall and headed to the security check points — and the weather was already pretty warm! Thankfully, we didn’t have to use any of the mile long porta potty lines and were able to line up in the 1:20:00 finish time zone easily before giving a round of hugs to our cheerleader Matt and starting off. Up in the sky, Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter parachuted down with the FASTRAX sky diving team carrying a 7,800 square-foot American flag as the National Anthem played down on the ground. How can you not get emotional? The cannon *yes…cannon* shoots off and the music starts pumping as we make the long trek down the shoot and get ready for this beauty of a course:
Just a few weeks ago Christy and I set our new individual 1/2 marathon PR’s at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon and some medical problems sidelined me for much of my training time that followed. So training for this was…well…non existent! It consisted of a 2 mile run about 15 hours before the race to make sure I would be ok…but more on that in a later post! Stay tuned! So I turned to Christy at the starting line and asked her what her game plan was. She said she was shooting for a 13 minute mile, so I asked her if we could shoot to stay just below that and push it!! She agreed to my craziness and the next 6.2 miles were AWESOME! I could not be more proud of her (and thankful that she didn’t kill me)!!
About a mile and a half into the race we were passed by the leading hand-cycle from the FULL marathon course with his police escort and everyone cleared a path and cheered like crazy for him. The inspiration on this course if my favorite part: people running with photos and signs of their loved ones, single and double amputees, soldiers running in full combat gear, veterans of all ages! By mile 3 we grabbed our first drinks at the aid station and at mile 4 we ate our energy (a Gu for me and ShockBlocks for Christy) before heading into the final stretch. We were consistently hitting just above a 12:00/mile pace just like we wanted and at mile 5 we ran into Sgt. Carlos Torres who I read about after last years MCM 10k in an photo that because quite famous. Check out his story HERE. We chatted for a bit and thanked him for all he’s done before continuing on.
A porta potty stop put us a minute or two behind where we wanted to finish…but we still came in at 1:20:31 at a 12:58 pace…2 seconds below Christy’s goal!!!!!! We sprinted up that final hill and were SO excited to see our favorite cheerleader (Matt) waiting for us at the finish. After getting our medals and taking out obligatory photo with the Iwo Jima Memorial we met up with Amanda and her dad who finished just a few minutes behind us. OORAH!
The energy around this race is absolutely electric. We left the medal area and made our way to the snack bags and then to our cheerleaders. The MCM does food RIGHT! Our bags had water, chips, protein shakes, fruity snacks, granola bars, bananas, and more! YUM! Then the delicious watermelon festival people were at the finish line as well and you know I ate two of those ;) delicious!
Every time I run this race I carry with me those who have served, currently serve, or are getting ready to serve with. My USNA brothers from Christy’s family like Matt (who supported us today!), Coleman, Ross, Jener, and Hunter are in there…Max’s best friend Evan who is deployed in Afghanistan right now was there…my cousin Eric was there…all of our veterans…they’re all with me when I run this race! I love it! So thank you to all of sacrifice everything to keep our great country free. God bless you! This one’s for you!