Virginia – Marine Corps Marathon
My 50 marathons in 50 States quest for 2012 ended with my running of the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. The Marine Corps Marathon begins and ends in Virginia and runs through Washington, DC and its various landmarks and memorials. In your quest for 50 Marathons in 50 States, this marathon can be counted towards the State of Virginia. If you know anything about me, you know that Washington, DC is one of favorite places to visit besides Walt Disney World, Disneyland and a US National Park so this marathon was one of my “must do’s/bucket list” marathons.
We stayed at the Doubletree hotel in Crystal City and packet pick up was a short Metro ride away at the DC Armory. Luckily we had been there before for the Rock-n-Rock 1/2 Marathon in March, however, us being us – didn’t realize this until we came up from the underground.
The race expo was very good, but since this was my 14th event for 2012, my budget was limited to only the purchase of a Marine Corps Marathon jacket. So…. I made it out of the expo with the jacket, winter head wrap, a magnet and a visor. Hey, I refrained myself and did not buy any Running Skirts or Sweaty Bands and only spent $140!!
The race start began at the Pentagon which was a short 10-minute walk from our hotel. We had rearranged our travel plans, due to Hurricane Sandy, and checked out of the hotel a day early on our way to the start. We soon joined the herd of runners moving through Pentagon security to select our corral based on our anticipated finish time. At the Marine Corps Marathon it’s up to you to determine where you should line up. My running friends and I choose a 5pm finish corral. Our race plan was to run 2 minutes with 30 second walk. I had just come off a torn TFL injury and had fallen off a horse a week ago, so I wasn’t exactly in the best shape!
The Sunday prior to the marathon my daughter and I took our weekly horseback riding lesson in preparation for a Field Trial Event. She has been taking lessons for 2 years. I’ve been taking them for about 6 weeks. Needless to say, I spent her entire lesson assuring her that falling off a horse was a rite of passage and that sooner or later you WILL fall from the horse. My words rang true 45 minutes into my lesson when all of a sudden I was looking at the horse from a vantage point I didn’t quite recognize and landed on my left butt cheek! Yup, just what I needed 1 week prior to a marathon race and 3 months after my torn TFL injury. Quick – ice, Arnica, and heat – STAT!
I awoke the next morning unable to move or get out of bed. BAD. Very, very bad! What to do? What to do? Luckily, I received this in my inbox:
That gave me the strength to get out of bed!
The Marine Corps Marathon is sometimes referred to as “the people’s marathon.” This marathon is also a favorite of “newbies” and first time marathoners. If you like running with 35,000 of your closest running friends, then this marathon is for you! Honestly though, for a first time marathon, heck for anyone who is not an elite, I think they would enjoy this marathon. No matter how fast or slow you run, you will have company on your run. If you are like me, a runner/walker you will not be alone! If you are speedy then again – you will not be alone – or so I’m told.
The course was lined with Marines cheering us on! What an inspiration! Every time we past a mile marker a Marine with a bullhorn called out our time. Water stops were manned by the Marines with both water and Gatorade and they all were encouraging us. How humbling.
The food provided consisted of orange wedges, Clif Shots, candy, Sport Beans and Dunkin Donuts. We ran through Roslyn into Georgetown and then past the Kennedy Center, Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, Dr. Martin Luther King, WWI, WWII memorials. We also ran past the Washington monument and Smithsonian Museums on our way up to the US Capital building. FAB-U-LOUS!
Then we rounded the turn on our way back to Crystal City and over the 14th Street Bridge to “Beat the Bridge” at Mile 20. This bridge seemed to go on forever, but the company was good so we carried forward. We then ran through Crystal City. Here the crowd support was awesome with lots of good music and cheering spectators.
For the final 2 miles we had one quick jaunt around the Pentagon and then onward along Arlington National Cemetery (majestic and sobering), then up the hill (which is steep, but short) and through the finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial.
What a humbling experience to have the Marines cheering us on to the finish line and congratulating us. I turned to them and said, “No, THANK YOU! I just ran 26.2 miles, but you defend our country every day!” Through the chutes we walked to receive our medals with a quick salute and hugs all around and then on to the Iwo Jima memorial for our race finish photo.
The Marines took good care of us providing us with a “FitFul Post Race Recovery Meal” box. These packs had hummus and crackers, pretzels, Dole fruit bowl, dark chocolate and a bagel. Actually quite good! Bananas, water and Gatorade were also handed out.
We all received a recovery jacket – complete with a zippered front and hood – love it!!!! This came in handy as we waited our turn for the shuttle buses. The finish festival also had free massages and a beer area. Since we needed to outrun Hurricane Sandy to get home we skipped the festivities and made our way to the shuttles.
Ah, the shuttles. The Marines quickly got the lines for the Metro and shuttles under control. The lines were long, but moved along at a post recovery marathon pace – SLOW. The shuttles were nice coach buses and took us on a scenic drive back to Crystal City. Unfortunately, the Crystal City shuttle provided one stop and we still needed to walk an additional mile and a half back to the hotel. There was bitching and whining and that’s all we need to say about that.
All in all – I would HIGHLY recommend the Marine Corps Marathon to anyone – elite, novice and anyone in between. You will be supported by the best of the best and have the most amazing sightseeing tour of Washington, DC!