On Oct 25th I completed the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. As it has been about 8 years since my last marathon, I was just looking to have a good time. Washington, DC in October is amazing. We were very fortunate to have a perfectly sunny day in the Capital, 55 degrees, right in the peak of leaf season. Combine that with all of the historic memorials and landmarks and you have an incredible venue for a marathon.
Here is the Marathon course
This marathon is HUGE, drawing nearly 35,000 runners, and likely twice as many spectators. Naturally you would expect lots of waiting lines, etc. Not here — MCM really has this event down to a science, as everything went off very smooth, with hardly any waiting for anything. Packet pick-up at the convention center was a breeze, no waiting. On race day you arrive 2 hours before the race at Crystal City. 1 of probably 25 buses, shuttles runners to the starting line about 3 miles away. Once you are at the start area, there are another 25 or so UPS trucks. You drop your plastic bag with your gear in a designated UPS truck and they make sure it gets to the finish area for you to retrieve afterwards. After the race is over, just keep moving and follow the crowd of runners. You’ll receive a finisher medal and a plastic bag with food/drink. After about 2 blocks you see the signs for the UPS trucks, where you’ll pick up your gear again. There will also be alphabetically designated areas where you can meet folks afterwards.
So there I was at about mile 15-16, feeling what I thought was pretty significant pain in both feet and right hip. Then I come up on 5-6 Marines in wheelchairs that had lost their legs from the knee down. These soldiers looked to be no older than 22 years old. These men were having a great time just laughing and competing. I would hear them shout to each other, left, right, slow down, speed up, hard right, etc to aid in the navigation of their wheel chairs. I would later find out that one of the soldiers was blind and navigating his way through a marathon. Can you imagine enduring what these men have been through? I can’t.
Things that are helpful to remember
– Bring a trash bag or 2, cut holes for arms and head, and wear for the 1st mile until you warm up. No need to throw away a sweatshirt.
– Bring a bottle of Gatorade and cereal to snack on while you wait for the start. It’s going to be a long day so you’ll still need to eat.
– For chaffing, use “Body Glide”. I can’t say enough about this product.
– At the starting line, make sure you are in the correct corral for your estimated time. Your chip doesn’t start until you cross the start line. You’ll want to avoid the middle for the first couple of miles, as this will be the most crowded. I chose the left side, as the first couple of street turns were right hand turns. No need to be at the right side of a right turn when 35,000 of your closest buddies are there too.
– Aid stations will be every couple of miles on the left and right. BE CAREFUL, lots of opportunity to twist an ankle with all of the empty cups on the ground. If you’re not drinking at the aid station, stay in the middle to stay out of the crowd as much as possible. As the race progresses, it seems that you lose your ability to make sharp sudden movements, so just take it easy through these areas.
– If you need encouragement from the crowd, write your name large on your shirt, you’ll be amazed. I would say there were nearly 3 spectators for every runner, so the streets were pretty much lined the entire way with thousands of spectators. There were bands every couple of miles — anything from bagpipes to Rocky theme music.
This race is definitely worth doing!
Oh yeah, and I’m almost back to playin’ weight! I started out at 188 LBS on training week 1.