2015 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) was two weeks ago. I've been busy with life and also catching up on race reports from before MCM. With this post, I'm officially caught up.

40th Marine Corps Marathon finisher's medal and commemorative chip/coin

I registered for this year's MCM, the 40th, through a deferral of my registration from last year. I was busy chasing new marathon states last fall, and it turned out that I scheduled double marathon weekends both the weekend before and the weekend after the 2014 MCM. I decided I would go "easy" on myself and defer my marathon entry to this year.

I've been involved with the MCM on various levels from the time I started running. In 2004, when I was training for my first marathon, I came out to Mall as a spectator cheering on the runners; that year it was hot, and I felt bad for anyone running in that heat. In 2005 I was overseas running the Dublin Marathon the same weekend as MCM, but I cheered on several of my training partners from afar. Then in 2006 I ran the Marine Corps Marathon myself. It was my 4th marathon, and a great experience, even though I ran it with plantar fasciitis (the first time I had PF). This year was only my second time running MCM, but in the years between my first and second I often came out to spectate or I ran the 10K. It's evident that I have a history with this race, my local marathon.

Poor quality pic of me running the 2006 MCM

And, so, for this year's race report... The weekend festivities began for me on Friday, when I took a long lunch from work to attend the expo. My intent was to pick up Scot's and my packets, browse the Brooks merchandise, perhaps buy a jacket, and get the heck out. I didn't have time to look for and meet up with friends or to walk up and down the aisles of vendor booths. Packet pick-up was fairly fast, but the Brooks area was another story. It was incredibly crowded and the line to make my purchase was more than an hour long. I had parked my car and set the meter for 2 hours, just two blocks away from the convention center. I barely made it back to my car before the time expired. Mission was accomplished, and I had no plans to visit the over-crowded expo again on Saturday.

Instead, on Saturday morning I met up with members of my Facebook Group "MCM & 10K Club" for a shakeout run. Richard, a group member and admin set this up for us and we had a nice showing of runners. Richard had special hats embroidered for those of us who volunteered to help pace the group and custom printed wristbands for all of us. It was a beautiful morning for a run. We did a loop around the National Mall that was about 2.5 miles.

My Facebook group's shakeout run crew
Thanks for the hat and wristband, Richard!

I took it easy the rest of the day on Saturday while Scot worked. Then we were up early on Sunday to drive to my office in Crystal City, where we parked and caught the race shuttle to the start area by the Pentagon. Security was a nightmare, and we waited for over an hour in a mass of people that would only very occasional advance one or two feet forward. Usually MCM security is much quicker to get through. This year the problem was that they implemented metal detectors, which they were attempting to funnel each person through. But we didn't know that initially. We stood waiting for the crowd to move as we saw the marathon start time come and go. We watched the paratroopers and the flyover while waiting to be let into the runners village. We didn't need to check a bag, but we did need a port-o-potty stop before the start, and then we still had to walk a ways to the start. After the port-o-potty we found Megan and Pam and got a quick pre-race. photo. We all started the marathon about 40 minutes after gun time.


Ridiculous back-up just to get into the runner's village 
I'm trying to stay dry while Scot and I pose for a selfie with Megan and Pam 
Still walking to the start; see the arch up ahead? All of us were more than 30 minutes late starting!

There was a little rainy drizzle while we were waiting for security, and it continued and got a little stronger during the first few miles of the race. My socks were wet before we even started. But at least we were moving. I did my run-walk intervals, but added in extra walking on the mostly-uphill first portion of the race in Arlington. Then I did extra running and skipped my walk breaks on the few downhill parts. I ran a little bit of the course with Pam, passing her and being passed by her. I found Scot on the Key Bridge, but we didn't stick together.



Georgetown was musical in more ways than one

After a while the rain stopped, and either my socks dried or I just no longer noticed that they were wet. I took in the sights and sounds of this race. There were many friends running, and I saw quite a few of them on the out & back miles on Rock Creek Parkway. I did my run-walk, but didn't stick to it religiously. I walked more than I should have, but I made sure to run all the downhills.


Nice to see Sarah and Jody on the out & back
This guy (yes, guy) had to be the most colorful spectator and I saw him in multiple spots on the course

Mile 12 brought us the Blue Mile, sponsored by Wear Blue: Run to Remember. The course was lined with photographs of fallen service members. They were of all ages and backgrounds. This mile provided a time of reflection. This part of the course fell on Hains Point, which is three miles with few spectators, except for the Blue Mile. When I ran the marathon in 2006, the Blue Mile didn't exist, and Hains point was in the later miles of the course before heading across the 14th Street Bridge. I much prefer Hains Point to come sooner in the course, and it was a perfect location for the Blue Mile. At the end of the mile there was a corridor of Wear Blue people holding flags and cheering for every marathoner who came through. They were very upbeat and encouraging.

The Blue Mile

After Hains Point we headed to the Mall, and re-traced much of the path from Saturday's shakeout run. The Mall always has lots of spectators, and provides great sights to see with all the monuments and museums. The sun came out and it got a little hot during this portion. I wanted to walk more, but I was acutely aware of my need to "beat the bridge", meaning that runners who did not make it to the start of the 14th Street Bridge at Mile 20 by 1:15 PM would be swept from the course. I was a little worried about the bridge because of starting the race so late, but I was perfectly safe and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Mile 20. By then my feet were killing me and I mostly walked the bridge and its ramps, only running on a couple short downhill portions. After exiting the bridge near the Pentagon, I finally allowed myself a much-needed port-o-potty break. I had been worried about stopping and reducing my time to beat the bridge.


Selfie with the Jefferson Memorial 
With fellow Double Agent Faith

In Crystal City there was another out & back section where I saw several more friends. Some of them were runners, but some of them were spectators, including Jennifer from Delaware (whom I met at last year's Grandma's Marathon) and Shirlington Running Club's Eileen. It was great to be cheered on by name.


With Sanjay and Gary in Crystal City 
Kathleen was volunteering at the mile 24 aid station

At the north end of Crystal City the crowd had really thinned out. I noticed that we were running through what was left of a Dunkin Donuts station. There were no donuts left for the slower folks. I was in so much pain in the last few miles. I didn't really care about my pace. I had beat the bridge and I knew I would finish the race. I met up with Marathon Maniac Leah and we talked and walked most of the last two miles together. As we hit Mile 26 I turned to run up the hill. "Run" may be an overstatement, as it felt more like a slow-motion shuffle, but I gave it what I had. When Leah and I had finished, we saw that Scot was there on the other side of the finish line.

At the finish with Leah and Scot
Finish photo with Scot and Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo

After getting our medals, Leah and I went with Scot to the Marine Corps War Memorial (commonly known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) to get some finish photos. And then Leah and I proceeded through the rest of the finish chute while Scot went back to see how many runners were still out on the course. Unfortunately for us slower finishers, there was nothing left of the post-race food for runners, nor were there any recovery jackets. We only got a bottle of water. Outside the finish chute Leah ran into a friend of hers. He had just finished his first marathon; unfortunately, we soon found out that his sister had not made the cut-off at the bridge.

I said goodbye to Leah and tried to find some food and a place to sit and wait for Scot. I was pretty sure the beer would be gone, judging from past years. And this was confirmed when I saw the Michelob Ultra tent being deflated. There were a few sponsors who still had some food. I did get watermelon and Turkey Hill gelato. It was better than nothing. By this time, the otherwise beautiful day had turned windy and chilly. I really wished I had one of those recovery jackets, or even just a mylar blanket. I had nothing warm to put on because I chose not to check a bag. I was cold and uncomfortable while waiting for Scot.

Eventually, Scot found me and said there were no more finishers. I gave him the gelato I'd grabbed for him and we walked up the hill to the shuttle bus. On the way, we were given the plastic chips or "coins" that some people had received at the expo. That couldn't feed us or keep us warm, but it was a nice bonus. When the shuttle dropped us off in Crystal City, we headed straight to Chipotle. We were hungry, and a burrito to go would be just the thing once we made the short drive home.

Comments

  1. I was looking for you the whole race. Glad you finished, and sad that you missed the food at the end. While the boxed food didn't fill my tummy, even a little bit.. It did take the edge off.

    I ran with Wendy Mitchell, and dos great till the bridge .. And fell apart there. Slowest ever... But I also had fun in the last 5 miles, like I have not before.

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    1. It's always a great race no matter what. Sorry I missed you.

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  2. I didn't see the colorful guy! Dang!!!

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    1. I first saw him before the start and assumed it was a person running in costume. Then I saw him on the course and had to stop for a pic. The outfit was just too magical!

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  3. I've been saving this to read for when I could actually take time to read ALL the words (my life is a lot of 'skimming' these days). Great report and I LOVE the shakedown run meetup!!! I am in training to 'beat the bridge 2016' and will be there either via lottery or (hopefully they do it again) the combo MCM/A1A package.

    Bummer on the lack of goodies at the end: my life's story so I'm used to it, but YAY for beating the bridge esp after the late start. I wonder, did they adjust that time (1:15) at all based on the delay?

    Congrats again!

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    Replies
    1. It will be great to see you for MCM 2016. There are ALWAYS people who want to transfer their bib legally during the transfer window in the summer, so you shouldn't worry about getting in. They may have left the bridge open a few extra minutes, but not for very long. I'm sure their permits with both DC and Virginia had a pretty firm time limit.

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