Saturday, January 4, 2014

#46--Marine Corp Marathon

October 27, 2013
Washington, D.C.

This was a marathon I had looked forward to for a long time.  It has a well earned reputation for being one of the finest mega-urban marathons, due in no small part to the efforts of the marine volunteers.  I was fortunate just to get in, because registration many months before was a fiasco.  Starting next year, organizers are moving to a lottery system, similar to the NYC Marathon.

This was my last marathon for the year, and I took the whole family.  Two adults and 3 small children in a hotel room for 5 days posed its own unique challenges.  Between nap times, resting for the race, and trying to connect with college friends, we didn't get to do as much sight seeing as I would have liked.  The boys loved riding the metro trains, and still talk about it to this day.

Ever since the Boston Marathon bombings, security at large races has really intensified.  This race was no different.  At peak times, it took hours to go through security and pick up the race packet and schwag at the expo.  I had to make two trips to get it all done, one with kids and one without.

Race day came early.  I tried to sneak out of the room without waking everybody up, but I wasn't successful.  I think marathon day was harder on my wife than me.  I took the metro to the pentagon, where the race started.  There, the start was patrolled by marines toting automatic machine guns.  There would be no repeat of Boston here, that was for sure.

The course was very scenic, with quite a few of the early miles through the rolling hills of northern Virginia, in surprisingly rural areas.  Aid stations were well stocked and plentiful.  I struggled almost from the beginning.  This was my 3rd marathon in 15 days, and I was TIRED.  The pain of the marathon faded when I ran through a make-shift memorial where pictures of fallen marines lined the course.  Their sacrifice really puts the marathon in perspective.  Another highlight was seeing my wife and 3 kids, who were somehow able to make it down to the National Mall to cheer me on.

The finish was fantastic, as runners raced up a hill to the Marine Memorial. I posted pictures in a previous post.  After crossing the finish, a marine put the medal my neck and shook my hand.  It felt weird to accept congratulations from men and women who put so much on the line for us.  I took the opportunity to thank each one.

The line to get on the metro stretched for blocks.  I thought I would save some time and hopped a bus that would take me to the next metro stop.  My plan didn't save any time, and I didn't get back to the hotel until almost 3PM, some 9 hours after I left!  My wife was good natured about it all, or just numb, I'm not sure.

We spent the next day doing some last minute sight seeing, taking in the Lincoln Memorial and getting our picture taken in front of the White House.

The Marine Corp Marathon was one of the highlights of what was a very busy 2013.

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