Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

On October 30th, I completed the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.  My 10th marathon! Because why stop at 9? 😉 Marine Corps Marathon is one of my FAVORITE races.  You cannot beat the level of patriotism and support at this race.  I went into this race with a goal of finishing, no time goal.  I signed up for the race spontaneously, after I received an email from the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) stating that RRCA certified coaches can sign up for $40. I couldn’t even spell “no” to that offer! So I signed up with about 2 months to train, about half the time needed to properly train. But my base mileage had been pretty consistent for a while.

On race morning, I drove to D.C. (about a 30 minute drive) and parked at the Crystal City parking garage (for free!) at around 5 a.m.  Yes, it is an early start but I will always tell a fellow runner to get to the start area early to avoid long port-a-potty and security lines.  The last thing you want is to be rushing around panicking before you run a marathon. So I got through all the lines early and gave myself plenty of time to line up properly at the starting line. A lot of people do not realize that the start area is a good walk away from the actual start line. Maybe about a half a mile away? The race starts at 8 a.m. but I left the start area around 7:10 so I can see the fly over, which is just prior to the start.  I was able to catch some of the fly over on video.  So cool to watch it again even after the race!

And here is my happy face after that fly over!  Mission focused!

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Yes I am wearing a crappy old hoodie so I can stay warm haha. Another tip for Marine Corps Marathon, wear a hat or sunglasses!  The course does not have a lot of shade so the sun will definitely be in your eyes at several points on the course.

When 8 a.m. came, we were off!  Miles 1 through 3 are incredibly congested and it will be hard to run your planned pace.  Be flexible and do not panic.  You can definitely make up the time later in the race. Mile 4 is when you can really start hitting your pace even though the course is packed. Miles 1 through 4 are through Rosslyn and heading into Georgetown. Both neighborhoods are filled with spectators and you will definitely see some crazy costumes and funny signs!  My favorite signs were “This is a sign (but what does it mean?!)” and “Pain is temporary. The Internet is forever.”

Miles 5 through 9 are smooth sailing. All the spectators are still lining the streets and the energy is high. At mile 10 though, you are entering Hains Point. I have to be honest guys, it gets lonely here until about mile 13.  There are not a lot of spectators and the scenery leaves something to be desired. One special aspect of Hains Point is the blue mile.  This year it was between miles 10.5 and 11.5. Every few feet there was a sign with the picture of a marine who was killed in action.  It is a VERY emotional part of the course and allows you to silently thank those who have served our country.

Don’t worry though, miles 13 through 18 are back to the cheering crowds and help you get your mind back in the race.  But at mile 18, you will start your journey to “the bridge”. Yes, everyone just calls it “the bridge”. It’s just a long, boring bridge until mile 20.  At mile 18 someone was giving out watermelon Jolly Ranchers. I grabbed one and prayed that I’d make it over that bridge! My pace started to drop a bit here, but I expected that due to my tight training schedule. I made it to mile 20, which at that point you run around the Pentagon parking lot and into Crystal City. There is a TON of spectators lined up with food for the runners.  I have seen animal crackers, oranges, soda, donuts, Swedish Fish.  You name it and it’s probably there. I have to admit, Crystal City is always rough for me.  I hit the wall and as much as I want to get into the spirit, I am focused on just putting one foot in front of the other.

You leave Crystal City at about mile 24 and it’s gut check time! Again, it’s pretty lonely until about mile 25.5. At this point in the race, I have not stopped to walk.  For me, if I can run an entire marathon and stay mentally strong, I consider that a good day. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 12 minutes.  My slowest marathon time yet. But you know what?  I am not any less proud of the effort I put forward that day.

If you are looking for a well supported race course, with a ton of camaraderie and patriotism, this marathon is it. I recommend this race to everyone as a must do! I am so thankful to all our men and women who serve our country. A country where I am free to run and achieve my goals!

Oorah!