Thursday, October 9, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon is Coming Up!

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of the favorites among runners, and it's coming up in a few weeks. Here, I'll recap my previous years either running or spectating in this awesome event.

Marine Corps Marathon 2004
I was a newbie runner, having just started training for my first marathon with the National AIDS Marathon Training Program (which no longer exists) in Washington DC. It would be the first of three marathons in which I trained with the group and raised funds for DC's Whitman-Waker Clinic. I was so new that I hadn't even run a 5K race at this point, but I was excited to go out and be a spectator at one of the official AIDS Marathon cheer stations. It was a really hot day. I was sweating as a spectator, so I can only imagine how tough it was for the marathoners, especially the back-of-the-packers who were out there for several hours. I stuck around to watch everyone run or walked by until the sag wagon came through. It was my first spectating experience and I loved it. Pre-smart phone, no photos.

Marine Corps Marathon 2005
I ran the Dublin Marathon in Ireland this year, which was the same weekend as MCM, so yeah, I missed this one.

Marine Corps Marathon 2006
This time I ran the marathon. I trained with AIDS Marathon again, but planned to run Columbus Marathon the week before MCM and skip MCM. That was back when I was still listening to advice that said you should only run one or two marathons a year, several months apart. I trained with the program because I was still not ready to train on my own. My plan was to run Columbus for my father (at first, so that he could see me finish, and then in his honor after I lost him to cancer a few months prior). I had plantar fasciitis, so I was in pain in Columbus. But I was hooked, so I went to the MCM expo to pick up my stuff and decided I would run even though I was in pain. I did fairly well until the final miles in Crystal City when I needed to walk a lot, but I finished. I experienced the thrill of the spectators on course, the Marines volunteering, and the last hill up to the Iwo Jima memorial.

My training group at the Metro before the race; I'm in the back center in the red cap

Poor quality pic because it *may* be a thumbnail from the official photographer, which I did not buy

Marine Corps Marathons 2007-2010
After completing two marathons in two weekends in 2006 (and later finding out that qualified me as a Marathon Maniac), I needed to give my poor plantar fasciitis a rest. But it did not want to go away. Every time I took a running hiatus and then tried to run again, it came back. This was very discouraging, and it stopped me from running for a while. During this time I did run some, but no farther than a 10 miler. I did come out as a spectator for some years of the MCM.

Marine Corps Marathon 2011
I was determined to make a come-back this year, and over the spring and summer I jumped back into distance training. But I was not yet ready for a full marathon (my next marathon wouldn't be until January 2012), so I registered for the MCM 10K. I thought it would be fun to participate in some way. And it was a rewarding experience. I met Marathon Maniacs Elizabeth, Michelle and Mark, and learned that I was qualified to be a Maniac myself. It snowed the night before the marathon, and race morning was cold and frosty. When we 10K runners crossed the 14th Street Bridge, it was covered in black ice, and I had to be careful. I had a great time anyway. After I finished, I stood at the top of the Iwo Jima hill and cheered in the marathoners for several hours. I only left once Elizabeth finished. Of note: Drew Carey ran MCM this year, and I met him at the expo.

With Michelle and Elizabeth after they ran the marathon and I ran the 10K

2011 MCM 10K finisher

Marine Corps Marathon 2012
Scot and I were registered to run the Cape Cod Marathon on the same day as MCM, so I sat this one out. But Superstorm Sandy kept many MCM finishers from leaving Washington DC. Luckily I made the last flight from Boston back into DC. An impromptu Maniac dinner was planned at the Liberty Tavern for all the Marathon Maniacs who were stranded, so I went to that dinner and met several new-to-me Manics, including the prez Steven Yee.

Local DC Maniacs and stranded Maniacs at dinner

First time meeting the Maniac Prez

Marine Corps Marathon 2013
This time I was registered to run the marathon, and had earned a guaranteed entry by running the Marine Corps 17.75K race earlier in the year. Unfortunately, I had another bad case of plantar fasciitis and knew that I needed a break. I asked at the expo about switching to the 10K, but they wouldn't officially change my registration. So, I just showed up at the 10K starting line wearing my marathon bib, and I ran. And no one said anything about it, and my finish time showed up in the 10K results. I had a good race in spite of my foot pain. Then I went home and showered before heading over to Ragtime to celebrate all the Marathon Maniacs who finished, including Scot, and also Julia's 100th marathon. It was a fun party.

Maniacs at the expo; Scot worked in the SnuggBuds booth

2013 MCM 10K finisher
Post-race party for Julia, featuring a bunch o' 10 Star Titanium Maniacs

What's up for MCM 2014? 
I will again run the 10K. I had originally registered for the marathon, but then I scheduled double marathons in new states for the weekend before and the weekend after MCM. I decided to register for the 10K instead, and defer my MCM entry to 2015. So, in essence, it's a sort of a rest week for me. More to come after the race!

Question: Have you run any Marine Corps races? What was your best experience, and why?

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