Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

Meditations in Motion

After months of agonizing over the best course of action to take regarding whether to run the Marine Corps Marathon on an injured hip, race weekend was finally here. The moment of truth. There was actually very little doubt about whether I would go. As my friends and family know, I can be a just a tad stubborn. Giving up on running the race without giving it my best shot is just not in my nature.

My hubby Bill was not registered to run the race, but he came along to Washington, D.C. with me for moral, logistical, and physical support. We met up with my Marathon Maniac friend Nancy, her daughter and two grandsons.

Meditations in Motion

The expo, where I picked up my bib, was crowded, as expected. We didn’t hang out there too long, as there was nothing I wanted to buy, I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet, and I was starving! We did, however, see this Brooks display of weird mechanized mannequins “running” in slow motion.

Meditations in Motion

The race shirt is…different. I like it. I definitely do not have another one that is similar. What do you think? It’s colorful!

We wanted to find an Italian restaurant for dinner to get some pizza or pasta before the race and the desk clerk at our hotel recommended one close by that sounded wonderful, but when we called to see if we could get reservations, the person who answered the phone just laughed. There were over 30,000 runners and their families in town, so pasta was at a premium Saturday night.

Meditations in Motion

We wound up at The Cheesecake Factory. When I travel, I don’t usually like to go to chain restaurants, but I liked this restaurant and there is no Cheesecake Factory near us at home. And those cheesecakes!!!

Meditations in Motion

Sunday morning dawned overcast and cool. Perfect running weather. We made our way to our corral, took a quick selfie at the start line in our throw-away shirts and watched the skydivers do their heart-stopping plunge with the American flag that kicked off the official pre-race ceremonies. After the flyover by an MV-22 Osprey (a helicopter/airplane hybrid) and a very stirring rendition of the national anthem, the howitzer, signaling the start of the race, went off and we inched toward the start line.

Meditations in Motion

My hip has been taking a little while to get warmed up in my training runs, so a little stiffness and soreness at the start of the race didn’t bother me. I was happy to look around and soak up the surroundings. I am partial to smaller races where the logistics are easier, but I have been wanting to run the Marine Corps Marathon ever since the flu and bronchitis caused me to cancel out of the 2009Β MCM at the last minute.

I was people-watching more than scenery-watching at the beginning of the race, and there was plenty to see. I saw many husband-and-wife teams running together, which made me wish Bill was running with me. There was a fireman running in his boots and full gear, including an oxygen tank, and a group of men running together who made me do a double-take.

Three men were making their way through the course, one of them in a wheelchair. One man was pushing the wheelchair and one was running interference as they wove through the crowd of other runners. I realized at second glance that the man pushing the wheelchair had one leg and one prosthetic running blade.

Meditations in Motion

I learned later this incredible veteran, Retired Staff Seargent Jose Sanchez, was injured in Afghanistan in 2011, and is now on a mission to motivate and inspire people. He wants to show that indomitable Marine perseverance and keep on pushing himself. I was certainly inspired and motivated by his courage and strength.

By mile eight, however, my hip was hurting too much to continue running, so I began to alternate walking and running intervals. This is how I finished my previous marathon in August, my slowest one ever.

Meditations in Motion

At mile 12 I entered the famous Blue Mile. All along both sides of the course at regular (frequent) intervals, there are signs emblazoned with pictures of servicemen and women who have been killed in action, arranged in chronological order according to their dates of death. Along with their pictures, their ages at the time of death were given. Many of them were in their early twenties or even younger.

The dates on the pictures ranged from World War II-era to this past August. Runners, usually a chatty bunch, especially during a marathon, were uncharacteristically silent. After the mile of haunting pictures, family members of the deceased servicemen lined the path waving flags, giving high fives, and cheering runners on. I ran nearly the entire mile with tears in my eyes. The selflessness and bravery of those men and women and their families are incredibly touching.

Meditations in Motion

I could not do a race report of MCM without mentioning the Marines and members of the other armed services assisting runners on the course. There are medical people at regular intervals, volunteers at water stops, and service men and women handing out sport beans and gels, oranges, and Vaseline (for chafing). I cannot praise them highly enough. These service people were enthusiastic, polite, helpful, and attentive. Our country’s defense is in excellent hands.

As the miles for the last half of the race rolled by, my pace increasingly slowed. I did more walking and less running with each mile. Before the race, I was concerned about making it through the two gauntlets and “Beating the Bridge” in time, but my initial pace for the first eight miles gave me a comfortable cushion. I never really had to worry about getting swept from the course. The miles seemed to go by fairly quickly, considering how slowly I was running.

At mile 26, I ran (yes, ran) past the grandstands, walked up the final hill, then ran across the finish line. Another marathon adventure, done! Or as the Marines say, “Mission Accomplished!

I walked through the food and beverage line, picked up my medal and throw away jacket (much nicer than a mylar cape), and was congratulated by what seemed like 100 still-enthusiastic Marines. After finding my hubby near the beer tent, we made our way back to our hotel and headed out of town.

Meditations in Motion

On the way home, we stopped in Baltimore at Nacho Mama’s, one of our favorite restaurants, for a celebratory margarita (hey, it’s practically Gatorade; it contains sugar, lime juice, and electrolytes) and some delicious burritos. It was the perfect ending to a great race day.

I recommend the Marine Corps Marathon to anyone looking to try this distance. It is a uniquely moving experience. The course is mostly flat, spectator support is fantastic, and the organization is better than any race I have ever run. I give it five stars out of five.

 

I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team, Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for Coaches’ Corner,Β Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 5, andΒ Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

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79 comments

  1. Congrats on finishing another marathon with a smile on your face! I loved reading your recap because the MCM is near and dear to my heart. It was my very first marathon and I’ve run it ten times. The Blue Mile is new since the last time I ran the MCM and I can only imagine the magnitude of running through there.

    Just curious which Italian restaurant concierge recommended to you? We might want to try it on a non-big-race weekend! And having a margarita with dinner after the race sounds like a great idea to me!

    Congrats again! You make me want to register for another marathon…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The friend who I ran it with has now run it 11 times. She first ran it in 2001, right after the Pentagon was attacked.

      The restaurant in D.C. we didn’t get to go to was called Il Radicchio. It looked really nice.

      Thanks! I kind of want to register for another marathon now, too! Thinking about Alaska. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. I was happy to read this post Laurie after we had commented back and forth several times on it as the October 28th date neared. It sounds like a memorable experiences, not only for the high of having completed it, but the various stages you passed through along the route and the chance to interact with the serviceman or view the Blue Mile … very emotional as well. Congratulations on a job well done. Wow to 30,000 runners and families chowing down on pasta before the race!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on finishing! I hope your hip is recovering well.

    There was a veteran with a blade who ran the Bridger Ridge Run this year also (different man, I’m pretty sure). Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was signed up to run this race this year but ended up selling my bib. One day. πŸ™‚ I cannot believe the person laughed when you asked about reservations. How rude. Personally, I am not crazy about the shirt. But what do I know since I rarely keep my race shirts anyway.

    Congrats on finishing a marathon!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. MCM gets a 5 out of 5 from me as well. Definitely one of my favorites and the Marines along the course are so inspiring. Puts the discomfort I was feeling in total perspective. I’m so glad your hip held up for you! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats on pushing through the race! It sounds like it was worth the effort. Just reading about the blue mile almost made me tear up, I think I would cry if I ran through that! I’m also a fan of smaller races, when the gun goes off I want to run and not wait, but it seems like the expo and pre and post race fun of larger races might be worth considering sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I expect nothing else from a military race. I’m glad to hear that it lived up, and even exceeded your expectations.
    Thanks for the update. I was biting my nails trying to figure out if you would complete the race in time. Well done! Now go rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats. I’m glad that you were able to finish the race.

    You give me hope that maybe one day I could do one. NYC is my first choice. But your race report makes this one tempting but NYC is closer.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the race shirt!! I know so many people who recommend this race – I think the blue mile would have given me chills! unfortunately I’m too far away to do MCM and there are a few other marathons on my list in the US that I’d like to do first. But this one is creeping up on my list!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie, you amaze me. I loved reading about this marathon. I have a brother-in-law and a cousin who are retired Marines. My husband is retired Air Force, and reading about how the men and women encouraged you runners really moved me. And that blue mile? I think I would have been crying too.

    And my son read over my shoulder. He got a kick out of your “gatorade” comment.

    I loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your very kind comment Jeanne. The marathon was just such a touching, inspiring experience. I loved every minute of it!

      Glad I could provide a little smile for your son, too! πŸ™‚

      Like

  11. Great to read your report! It sounds like a wonderful time. I might lose more water in tears than sweat along the blue mile. I’m not a big fan of large races but every time I see and hear about them I get excited and want to do one of them. I don’t do well in big cities though. Scranton and Harrisburg are about as big as I’ll ever get I guess.
    I hope that you are recovering well and enjoying the success.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have been waiting to hear how your race went…and congrats on a job well done!! This race has been on my bucket list f.o.r.e.v.e.r. and I”m hoping 2019 is the year it finally happens for me. My hubby is retired military (Air Force and Guard), so I have huge respect for anything military-related. That Blue Mile ((sigh)), I will be a blubbering idiot running through all that heroism and memorials, but I’m looking forward to it. Congrats again πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve seen such amazing race reports about this race that I really need to consider doing it (before it’s too late!). I’m glad you were able to enjoy the experience. I hope that you can give your hip some recovery time now!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations! Everyone seems to love MCM, and while I don’t know if I want to do another marathon any time soon, this one would be on my list! I’m glad your hip didn’t give you too much trouble. I have to admit that cocktail looks pretty tasty – you earned it!

    I’ve never seen a shirt like that either…I kind of like it too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would definitely recommend running MCM. It was a very special marathon. The shirt kind of grew on me. I didn’t like it at first, but now I have learned to like it. Best margarita ever!!!

      Like

  15. That MCM race shirt is certainly…interesting, lol.

    MCM is a race that I’m considering doing one year. I just feel like it would be such an inspiring race to be a part of. Congratulations on another marathon finish!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WOW! I’m so HAPPY for you! I know this was one you really wanted to do! And I LOVE that race shirt! Very fun…love something different! I ran in races….but not since I was in my 40s which is a long time ago! lol I’ve walked in a few since then but don’t run any more. LOVE going to races though! Well done you!!! Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I was very apprehensive going into the race, but I am so glad I did it. I was a little unsure about the shirt at first, but now I really like it. Very colorful!

      Like

  17. You’ll definitely stand out in that shirt.
    I’m the same as you re: chains while traveling but I broke that when on a road trip last summer — they had Perkins! Haven’t seen those since college

    Liked by 1 person

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