Race Name: Marine Corps Marathon
Race Location: Washington, D.C.
Race Date: October 30, 2011 @ 8:00 a.m.
Finish Time: 5:39:59
Finish Place (Age Division & Overall): 1475/1755 & 17767/20895
Let’s begin at the beginning. Last year my Mom, Dad, sister and I all had the crazy idea that we would run a full marathon together. Going through race magazines, guide books and websites we all finally agreed that the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. would be the race we would run! The course looked great and from everything we read this was a great marathon for “First Timers”. We had also read that with 30,000 runner spaces to fill this marathon usually sold out in record time. So, in early January we all sat at our computers watching the countdown clock tick down on their website for race registration to open. As soon as registration opened, we all furiously typed away ensuring that we got in! In 2011 this race sold out in record time, filling 30,000 spaces in under 22 hours!!!! WOW!
Over the next 10 months we embarked on our training programs! Sometime in late summer my sister was in a car accident and the doctor put physical restrictions on her for weeks. Without being able to run, she decided to deffer her entry to the 2012 marathon, leaving Mom, Dad and I running in 2011! Our training was going great! I had a problem with my shoes about a month out from the race, but having broken in two pairs of shoes I made the switch immediately and my feet felt great again!
On Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. I left Lansing, MI making the 10 hour drive to Washington, D.C.. Getting into Alexandria, VA at 3:30 a.m. I slept for a few hours before waking up to pick up Mom and Dad who were flying into DWI Airport! After picking Mom & Dad up, we were off to the Health and Wellness Expo to pick up our race packets and visit all the vendors.
Going on Friday was a great decision! There were hardly any lines, and it took us all of 3 minutes to get through security into the Expo! (Mom & Dad went back to the Expo on Saturday and waited 45 minutes just to get through security!) We picked up our shirts and then went to the Brook’s store where we all spent a pretty penny on “Marine Corps Marathon” apparel! After finishing at the expo, we went to dinner at the food court in Union Square and then we were off to the “First Timers Pep Rally”. The pep rally was limited to registered first timers and really was nothing like we thought it was going to be. We thought it would be full of helpful tips and information, and it was more of a “pump you up” type event than an informational type event.
On Saturday we all took the day easy! Saturday evening we all made our own special “pre-race” dinner at my sister’s house, making sure that each one of us runners had what we needed/wanted to eat to be ready for the next day! Knowing that we all had to be up at 3:45 a.m. the following day, everyone pretty much hit the hay early on Saturday!
RACE DAY!!!!!!!!!! At 3:45 a.m. all of our alarms went off and here it was! The day we’ve all been training for! RACE DAY! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself! I went through my normal morning routine, got ready, we all packed up and off we went driving into downtown D.C.. Arriving at Mom & Dad’s hotel, we parked the cars, walked over to Union Square, and hopped on the METRO to head out to the Pentagon! Arriving at the Pentagon, it was approximately a 1 mile walk from the METRO stop to runner’s village where the start line was, along with bag drop and port-a-potty’s!
We first all dropped our bags off at the UPS trucks then headed in search of a bathroom! OH, I forgot to note that at this point in the morning, it was 32 degrees out (with the 15-20 MPH winds factored in it felt like 27 degress!)!!! IT WAS COLD! After hitting the restrooms we had about 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start and we took off to find our pace teams!
The race began at 8:00 on the dot! The runner’s corrals were so packed I could not even get close to my actual pace team! Knowing that we would eventually thin out, I did not freak and mentally just told myself you can do this! Having a Garmin with me to ensure I was running the proper pace helped settle me down. It took me 21:05 to officially cross the starting line!
Normally, the first few miles are rough until I get into my grove; however, this race I felt great from step one! My breathing was even, I kept an eye on my pace and just locked myself into gear. During the first mile we ran past the U.S. Pentagon and by Arlington National Cemetery. At Mile 4 we were crossing the Key Bridge over the Potomac River and headed into Georgetown!
Georgetown was one of the best places on the course to run! The college kids were all out cheering the spectators in Georgetown were THE BEST spectators throughout the whole course! Although I did not have any, some of the Fraternity’s had “Beer Stops” setup in Georgetown for runners! At Mile 5.5 I finally caught up to my pace team! Miles 6 and 7 went great and right after Mile 7 we hit a massive hill, which we had to walk! After that Miles 8-10 went nice and smooth!
Around Mile 12 I really had to use the potty; however, every port-a-potty we came to had such a HUGE line that I did not want to stop! So, I just kept on running. Miles 12-15 we ran down along the outside of the East Potomac Park Golf Course; then came Mile 16 which was along the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
At 16.5 miles I hit a huge mental wall! I just really didn’t want to run any longer! Twice I stopped running, walked two steps then told myself I am not allowed to quit… I must keep going and I must stick with my pace group! By mile 17, I had my grove back and everything felt good once again!
Between miles 17 and 18 we ran past the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, and at 18.5 miles we round Union Square and were headed straight towards our nation’s Capitol Building. All I can say is what a sight and what a feeling! It was beautiful on the crisp-cool morning running towards that amazing building!
We finished rounding Union Square and started to head toward mile 19, where we ran past the Smithsonian Institute, the Air and Space Museum, the Holocaust Museum, the Department of Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and headed towards mile 20 where you had to “Beat the Bridge”!
At mile 20 you ran onto the highway (US 395) and had to cross the George Mason Memorial Bridge, again crossing over the Potomac River. In order to finish the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon, you must “Beat The Bridge” averaging a 14:00 pace, or you would be picked up by the “Stragglers Bus”.
Once hitting the bridge, you began to see runners who’s bodies were literally “falling apart”. I couldn’t believe how many runners were stopped, laying down, hurt, stretching, picture taking, etc. on the bridge. Knowing that I “Beat the Bridge” (with time to spare) and I was going to be a MARATHON RUNNER hit me as I finished crossing the bridge and came down the exit ramp, hitting mile 21!
At Mile 21 there were a set of port-a-potty’s off to the side with no line! Finally, I thought! I beat the bridge and there was no line! I took a slight jog off the course and stopped to use the bathroom! (Thank you for the helpful “Poppie Pack” tip I received because it REALLY came in handy right about then, as the port-a-potty was all out of toilet paper!)
About 21.5 miles in all hell broke loose! I was mainly worried about my calves cramping, as I had been having major calf cramps during my long training runs; however, so far my legs had been feeling great! At 21.5 miles I begun to have a major pain in my left foot to the point where I could not step on it! At this point, I could careless if I had to crawl to the finish I was going to finish this marathon!!! I kept up my pace as best I could.
By mile 23 my foot had essentially “numbed” up and I could pick up my pace quit a bit! At mile 24 we ran past the Pentagon Memorial and I knew I was almost home! Mile 25 was back down the same rounds we took to get to the start line and at mile 26 I again felt great and on top of the world! As you rounded mile 26 and headed off to tackle the last .2 of a mile, you had to head straight up a massive hill heading off the highway straight for the Iwo Jima Memorial! I almost walked up the last hill, but “NO” I mentally told myself… “Finish Strong”… so I ran it!
Coming up the hill about the round the last corner I couldn’t believe it… I WAS GOING TO DO THIS!
I gave Scott two-thumbs up, and took off for my “sprint” to the finish! At this point my sprint was a just barely an increase in speed from my race pace, but a sprint none the less!!! Crossing the finish line, I waved and smile at the official camera men!
Running down the finishers shoot, I first received a space blanket from a US Marine, then waited in line to receive my finishers medal! The finishers medal’s were placed on your neck by a US Marine with a hand shake and a massive congratulations!
Then I walked over to the memorial and had my finishers photo taken! With 30,000 runners you would think the lines would take forever; however, they moved so quick and efficiently!
I then walked through the food line, grabbing a water, banana and a bagel… and then headed off to the bag pick and the family link up area!
This was an amazing race!
(Finished States: Indiana, Michigan, Washington D.C.)