Marine Corps Marathon – 2019 Version

Meditations in Motion

For the second year in a row, I traveled to Washington, D.C. on the last weekend in October to run the Marine Corps Marathon.

This year was different from last because this year I ran the race with my hubby Bill, my friend Nancy (it was her 99th marathon), and another friend Dennis. Dennis had run the Marine Corps Marathon 30 times before but not since 2007. He wanted to attempt to run it one last time at age 78.

Bill and I went to the expo at National Harbor, picked up our bibs and shirts, and hightailed it out of the very crowded event as quickly as possible.

I really like the race shirt this year. It is a black quarter-zip with the phrase “Courage is Endurance for One Moment More” emblazoned on the back.

We went back to our hotel room to relax, then met our friends, along with Nancy’s daughter and two grandsons for dinner, where we dutifully carbo-loaded with pasta or pizza, then went to bed early.

Meditations in MotionRace day dawned gray and rainy, but we were prepared. We brought hats, throw-away shirts, and rain ponchos, which we donned before setting out for our 1-mile walk to the race start before sunrise.

Some of the pre-race festivities, such as the parachutes and fly-overs, were canceled due to the weather, but the national anthem was sung, the wheelchair racers were off, and finally, the gun sounded for the marathoners to begin.

I pitched my throw-away shirt before the start of the race but was going to try to stay as dry as possible and run with my poncho. I quickly decided I would rather be wet than run in the poncho and ditched the poncho too.

Because we were concerned about Dennis being able to meet the cutoff times, we had meticulously planned our race. We knew the pace we needed to maintain in order to avoid being swept from the race.

Meditations in MotionIn the Marine Corps Marathon, there are three checkpoints – at miles 17, 20, and 22. In order to beat the gauntlet at mile 17, you must maintain approximately a 15 minutes per mile pace.

The first few miles were good. We ran-walked and maintained an acceptible pace. Then we turned into Rock Creek Park. The rain, which had been light up until then, became much heavier and Dennis’ knees started acting up. He began to have trouble sustaining the necessary speed.

Nancy, Bill and I took turns alternately running beside Dennis, talking to him to keep his spirits up and encourage him, and running ahead, clearing a path for him and giving him a “rabbit” to chase.

I should mention that I was smiling and laughing for most of the race. We were moving at a very comfortable pace. There were plenty of people to talk to, both my companions and other racers.

There was a woman wearing a bridal veil running with a man ahead of us. I got excited, thinking maybe they were going to get married at the finish line. I hoped we could see a wedding after the race, so I caught up to her and asked.

As it turned out, they were being married in six days, not the day of the race, but we had a nice little chat. I wished them good luck and told them that my hubby and I had just celebrated 41. The groom replied “41 what? Not 41 years!” “Yes,” I said. “No way! You’re not old enough.” He is going to make a great husband!

Bill muttered something about not letting his wife sign him up for races, which I ignored, and we were on our way.

Meditations in MotionBefore we knew it, we were at the Blue Mile. At this point, all the normal runner chatter stops as we pass between posters of young servicemen and women killed in action.

When we ran through the posters, another runner asked me to take a photo of her with “her” poster. Tears streamed down my face as I took a picture of the woman beside the poster of her lost loved one.

After the posters, families of these brave soldiers and sailors wave flags and cheer on the runners with an incredible amount of enthusiasm. It is absolutely the most touching moment of any race I have ever run.

This year, just as we entered the Blue Mile the skies opened and a deluge ensued. I am not exaggerating when I say it was like running under a showerhead. It was raining for most of the morning; at mile 12, it began to pour. We were completely soaked, splashing through puddles with rain dripping off the brim of our hats.

Unfortunately, we realized that we were falling further and further behind the time needed to pass the first gauntlet. We had talked about this possibility before the race. Dennis told us that if it happened, he wanted the rest of us to finish.

With heavy hearts and much regret, Nancy, Bill and I picked up the pace in order to pass the mile 17 checkpoint in the required time.

We ran together for the rest of the race at a very easy pace. I felt great until the final mile when I began to get very tired and sore, but, hey, it’s the final mile of a marathon. You’re supposed to be tired, right?

We finished in just under six hours, collected our medals and gingerly trudged the mile back to our hotel.

Dennis did not make the mile 17 checkpoint by the required time, so he was picked up by a bus and was transported back to the race start. He met us at the hotel soon afterward, disappointed, but not dejected.

Once again, the Marine Corps Marathon did not disappoint. The organization, course, amenities, and enthusiasm of the Marines who volunteer is excellent. I broke my own rule of never doing the same marathon twice to run this race again this year.

During the final mile of the race, when I was struggling, I told my hubby “This is my last marathon. No more!” But now, I’m not sure. I have learned to never say never.

I am joining Coach Debbie Runsย  for the Coaches’ Corner and Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics.












  1. Laurie – It sounds like a success and too bad Dennis could not get to finish the race but I like that his attitude was “disappointed, but not dejected” – that was a good mindset. I am sure it was moving with the woman with the poster of her lost loved one. You have many months before you decide if it is indeed your last marathon – I think you have to book months before for this race don’t you? We had the same ugly rain and occasional deluges of rain Saturday into Sunday, but I was inside the house – you were running in it. Congratulations on finishing and getting your medal too!

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    • To get into the Marine Corps Marathon, you have to enter a lottery unless you have run the race at least 5 times before. Dennis and Nancy had run the race many times, but Bill and I had not. If you want to bypass the lottery and get guaranteed entry, you can run another Marine Corps race in the spring. If you complete that race, you have guaranteed entry. That is what Bill and I did. I think I may suggest a different marathon to Dennis. One that is more walker-friendly. Thank you, Linda!

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      • That is rigorous indeed Laurie, almost like the Boston Marathon. My dentist did his first Boston Marathon in 2018 and said all the regular Marathon runners said no one will forget it as it was freezing rain a good portion of the marathon. He did finish but when I asked Dr. Kelley if he ran this years Boston Marathon, he said “once and done for me.” ๐Ÿ™‚ He has two friends and between the three of them they run the same amount of miles as the current year and have been doing that for years. I hope you can find a marathon for Dennis to participate in too.

        I have to share this with you – I mentioned the fellow blogger who loves spiders. He posted this spider photo and narrative today … he had been “warning” me for a while he had some really great spider photos to share during Halloween week. But it was not just the spider that shocked me … he relayed the fact he had a heart attack last weekend. Tom is just a few years older than us, retired and in good shape … not only that, he is a vegetarian and we often chat about how he is into organic food and takes very good care of himself. This is certainly a wake-up call for me as heart disease runs in my family. My maternal grandmother and her 8 siblings all died of heart disease; my mom had an irregular heartbeat. I gave up red meat three or four years ago – I think I’m going to make a point of going on my exercise bike more this Winter when I can’t walk – I usually say that but don’t always follow through. Less sitting as I mentioned yesterday. Yikes!

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      • I did Boston once. I share your dentist’s attitude – “once and done” for me too.

        Yes, less sitting is a great idea! My heart goes out to Tom. Diet is just one factor in heart disease. Unfortunately heredity is something we can’t control!

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      • I have to eliminate some sitting – I am standing at my other computer which I use primarily for pictures and that is good, but it is the majority of the day and I often just stay here after work, which is not good. I have to try harder and will do so, especially after reading Tom’s post. Heredity worries me so I must incorporate more exercise into my day as we get to the bad weather.

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      • I’ve read that too Laurie and that’s why I’m concerned and need to change my ways. Right now I’ve been here since 11:00 a.m. with just a half-hour break away. I stand up and walk around through the day though, but that’s not enough. I have to start using my exercise bike again. I wish I had room to bring it upstairs. I will miss the walking – that’s why I walk at the nearby park, no paths, just on the grass, but the grounds are quite uneven which is not so good either as you don’t see holes. Easy to twist an ankle that way.

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    • Thank you! It is so well organized. I would not expect anything less from the Marines! I may suggest giving a different marathon a try to Dennis. There are races with longer time limits.

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  2. So sad for your friend. Will he try again. In better weather?

    I have run several halfs in that weather not fun.

    Glad you finished and only struggled the last mile.

    I plan on only one

    Weโ€™ll see how it goes. I know I have to run slow if I want to finish strong.

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  3. Hi Laurie – This post *almost* made me want to run a road marathon. Your description of having people all around is enticing. In my longer trail races, I usually run the last miles all alone.

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    • It was fun interacting with all the other runners. Usually I am focused during a race. This race, I just had fun. My next race is a trail race – a 10K – that I am really looking forward to. I’m ready to get back to the trails. Less stress and fewer logistics.

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  4. I would have loved to see someone running in a bridal veil! I’ll have to tell my 16 year old runner that story!

    And you’re right, friend. You never say never and you keep on inspiring us all …


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  5. Congratulations on another marathon finish! Those weather conditions were rough – you should be so proud!

    I’m so sad for you friend Dennis ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m sure that the weather made things harder too. I hope that he will try to run another marathon.

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    • Thank you. The weather was just crazy, but the race was really fun! I am going to suggest another more walker-friendly marathon to Dennis in a few weeks. Maybe a spring race.


  6. LOL, I am not at all surprised to hear you’re thinking about another. I’m sorry that Dennis couldn’t do it, but what a valiant effort! He should be very proud (as should you, for helping him try to reach his goal).

    Of course you are tired & sore the last mile! Seriously, when I trained for 18, I would start feeling sore by like mile 12, which really surprised me — and I most definitely was not pushing the pace.

    Sorry about the weather. That always sucks. Good job staying the course! How are Bill’s feet?

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    • I think I might ask Dennis if he would like to try a more walker-friendly marathon next spring. there are some with no time limits on gravel/dirt paths. I would be happy to give it another try.

      I have more DOMS than I was expecting. I think it’s from all the walking we did. Late in the race, it actually felt better to run than to walk.

      Bill’s feet are fine. The blister wasn’t a problem. He is going to lose a toenail, though! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Wow, Laurie, that was a memorable run, for sure! I know going by those posters would have choked me up, too. Sorry Dennis couldn’t finish the race, but his attitude is admirable, as is yours, slogging all those miles in the rain. You are the model of perseverance, my friend.

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    • Thank you, Martha. It definitely was a memorable run. I think you may appreciate this: I spent a lot of time during the race trying to remember the exact wording to this verse from Romans: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. Congrats! I’m glad that the limited training due to traveling didn’t hinder your ability to enjoy yourself and finish and that Bill was able to overcome his blister to run! Sorry to hear about Dennis, but it sounds like he went into it with reasonable expectations so that likely helped. I still have yet to desire running a marathon but that one sounds super inspirational!

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    • Thank you, Tracy. We really all did have a great time (except for me that last mile)! I am in the process of trying to talk Dennis into a more walker-friendly marathon. We’ll see how that goes. If you only do one marathon, this is one that I would consider. It’s big and I don’t usually like big races (logistics), but this one is worth it.

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  9. Well done, Laurie! I would love to have a T-shirt with the motto โ€œCourage is Endurance for One Moment Moreโ€. And I would have cried as well if took a photo like you did at the poster section. What a memorable marathon!

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  10. I had several friends running this race and I’m astounded by all of you that finished! especially in the weather you had! I saw pictures of people treading water in ankle deep puddles…not sure I could have done that. I’ve always said I wanted to run a rainy race lol but not in a torrential downpour. Heck my most recent half marathon got cancelled because of flooding on the course! Congrats! I definitely want to do MCM one day.

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    • Yes, there were ankle-deep puddles we splashed through. It was actually kind of fun. And think about the stories we have to tell! ๐Ÿ™‚

      DO IT!!! It is the only marathon I have ever done more than once. It’s special.


  11. Congrats to you, Bill, and your friend! I’m sorry that Dennis wasn’t able to make the cutoff in time.

    Running a marathon is a lot like having a baby. During labor (or the race) you say you’re never going to have another baby (or run a marathon), but once they put that bundle in your arms (or medal around your neck), you think, perhaps I should do this again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  12. Congrats on finishing you’re marathon Laurie ๐Ÿ˜€ sorry to hear the weather was bad and sorry to hear Dennis didn’t make it but at least he was in go spirates about it.


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  13. That rain was a special kind of evil at MCM. Gosh, that is the hardest downpour I’ve ever experienced…and for a solid 10 miles LOL Still a fabulous event…just a bummer I had so many weather-related distractions and don’t believe I really got the “full effect” of everything.

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    • That is the hardest downpour I’ve ever experienced too! I didn’t have any time goals, I knew it would be a slow race for me because of trying to get Dennis across the finish line. You need to do MCM again and hope for better weather!


  14. What a day! I’m sorry Dennis didn’t make the cut in those tough conditions. This brings back memories of the Tokyo Marathon for me, except it was 40 degrees. Good for you for going with the flow (literally) and making the best of a tough race. Congrats!

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    • Thank you, Marcia. Tokyo must have been brutal! I am not in the process of trying to talk Dennis into trying a different, more walker-friendly marathon. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thank you! After spending some time thinking about it, I think I may be done with marathons for a while at least. I just don’t want to devote the time to training. We have so many trips planned and I don’t want to worry about long runs while traveling. I think I will concentrate on recovering some speed and focus on half marathons and shorter races.


  15. love your recap Laurie! I’m very moved by the recaps I’ve read, especially about the blue mile. I’m not super patriotic but I sure do appreciate and respect those who have given their lives for their country. congratulations on your finish – I know you were a bit apprehensive but I knew you would manage it anyway!

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    • Thank you, Renee. I’m not typically super patriotic either, but when you see all the young men and women out there helping out with the race, cheering on the runners, and think of the sacrifices they have made, it’s very moving.


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