Running

Marine Corps Marathon 2012 – Recap

I have got to write this entry down before I forget.  I am finding the older I get that even a few days makes a HUGE difference in remembering the fine details.  Sometimes, I wonder why I blog?  What am I looking to accomplish and then I realize that it is a way for me to look back on what I have done.  I also have found that some of my friends find my ramblings somewhat useful to relate to in their personal experiences.  Finally, maybe one day my niece will read this blog and ask “Aunt Becky, will you run my first marathon with me”???? (stop laughing Holly).

I am going to do my best to recap the 37th Marine Corps Marathon weekend here.  What we did leading up to it…how the actual race went…and my personal experiences in general, hopefully without being too boring.

Thursday/Friday/Saturday…..

We flew out of Memphis late Thursday night after working all day.  Got to D.C. around 10pm (Reagan) and then took the Metro to our hotel.  I booked the hotel at the Hampton Inn in Chinatown.  Did this through the online booking agent recommended by MCM.  Great location and approximately .80 miles or so from the Metro station and about 1 mile from the Washington Monument and all the sights near there.  The hotel was around $200/night in a city where $400/night can be normal.  I liked the perks of having breakfast included and also having a fridge in the room.  Found a great market across the street that sold natural foods and things like coconut water AND wine/beer.  We stopped there at least 3 times while we were in town to get things to eat/drink.

Thursday night was a pretty late night once we got into the room.  Friday morning we got up pretty early and went to the Whitehouse and then the Marathon Expo.

Several months back, I contacted Rep Cohen’s office to arrange the White House tour (you must get on the list and be approved prior to showing up).  We were in the 9am tour group.  It is a self guided tour (no cameras or bags allowed) but I did bring my wallet and my cell phone.  Highly recommend doing this if you ever get the chance.  You get to the gates where the park rangers are working, they check your ID and make sure you are on the list.  You then go through security where the secret service checks your name again vs. the list and a secret service dog sniffs you to make sure everything is okay and then you are off on your tour completely on your own pace.  Here is a pic outside the White House once we finished the tour (took know more than 30 min as the top two floors are closed to the public so you really only go through 6 rooms or so on the first floor).

After the White House, we stopped by the hotel briefly and got my paperwork for the marathon and headed to the expo.  It was at the D.C. Armory.  Took the metro there and spent about an hour getting my bib and then going into the armory to get my shirt etc.  This was my first expo where I actually was able to buy a commerative Brooks jacket and a pint glass 🙂  Here’s my cheesy pic with the sign…it appears I am way shorter than the average marathoner when you look at the stencil.  My thoughts on the expo…it was extremely well run, really easy to navigate.

Marines were working the entire expo and very helpful and professional.  The hardest part was dealing with the congestion of all the people (typical of an expo) and the checkout line for the Brooks booth where everyone was getting marathon clothing.  Overall, it was a great experience.

After this, we took the metro back to Chinatown and went to grab lunch at Legal Seafoods.  I had no clue there was one in D.C.  I had half a dozen blue point oysters and a crab cake along with a pint of Harpoon IPA.  It was delightful and the service was impeccable. (note the service level as that was a constant in D.C.)  Adam and I decided after lunch to go to the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian Museum).  This was pretty amazing and had several floors of obviously portraits.  My favorite floor was the top floor which was more contemporary/modern art and incorporated some other mediums like sculpture.  Something that really impressed me about most of the museums in D.C. is they are FREE.  Such a great resource.  The pic below is one of the pieces of art on the third floor…it was huge and this picture does not do it justice.

Friday night, we had reservations at a top rated Indian restaurant in D.C. called Rasika.  I don’t even know where to begin to describe this experience.  From the minute we walked into the door, I knew it was going to be great.  Beyond the white table cloths and impeccable service, the restaurant was very intimate and tastefully decorated…the type of restaurant that creates little nooks of privacy where you feel like no one can hear your conversation.

We started with a cheaper but excellent bottle of pinot noir (around the $45 range) and an appetizer that was highly recommeded on any web postings of Rasika.  The flash fried spinach.

Adam had an entree of swordfish and lamb..it was actually full size entrees that the waiter agreed to give him partial portions of each since he wanted to try both (didn’t even hesitate to offer this option to us).  I decided since I had at least 36 hours before the marathon that I would go with one of the top 2 spicy dishes in the restaurant.  The Chicken Green Masala (with mint and coriander).  This dish was spicy.  Kind of reminded me of doing the habitat for humanity effort recently and volunteering to get on the roof…getting up on the roof thinking whoah…this is kind of scary but not wanting to give in.  One bite of this dish…my mouth was feeling the fire.  It was so wonderful.

We finished up the meal with two desserts 🙂 the apple beignets and the chocolate simosas.  I am ranking the simosas as one of the most delightful deserts I have ever eaten. I would definitely give Rasika 5 stars and would bet I would be a regular there if I lived nearby.

Saturday

We decided to run from the hotel to the Washington Monument….and this was what happened when I got there…..

After I finished jumping around…we ran from the monument down to the WWII memorial.  This was just an awe inspiring experience.  While we were there…we witnessed a non profit group who had actually flown 30+ WWII veterans out for the weekend.  I would be lying if I said I could write how it made me feel to witness this.  Many of these veterans were in wheelchairs.  I got a quick picture of one of the gentleman even though I probably shouldn’t have been taking pictures but I felt this was something I needed to share.If this does not make you realize how great it is to live in the U.S.A…I am not sure what else can?  I had to hold back my tears.  I was also blessed to meet a retired military dog…Sargent Rambo.

Adam and I then ran over to the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the MLK memorial and the Jefferson Memorial (unsure I have the names officially captured there) but I will sum it up with saying we had a great few hours trotting around and really getting the chance to take things in.  After this, we grabbed a coffee and headed back to the hotel to change.

For the afternoon, we went to the Smithsonian museums of Natural History and American History.  We had lunch at the Museum of American History…really nice cafe with sandwiches etc.  I really need some more time to go back to both of these museums.  The Natural History museum had a collection/exposition on evolution (including the famous Lucy) that was just too much to take in a few hours.  Here is a picture of the room where they deal with the  fossils.

I was pretty exhausted by about 6pm this day (and yep, it was the day before the race and I was on my feet all day…YIKES).

For giggles…I have to share what I would look like as an early human (this is from the app at the Natural History museum)…how fun is this?

Sunday – MCM race day

I never got to chatting about the weather yet on this entry but of course leading up to the marathon…everyone was all in a frazzle about Hurricane Sandy.  Rain predictions went from 40-90% and winds went from 18-30mph depending on what you were reading.

The metro opened at 5am on race day and we took the train to the Pentagon…was really easy and even though crowded, coming from Chinatown was not bad at all.  Made it to the race start area and I have never seen so many porta potties in my life…seriously….100’s of them… talk about getting excited.  We checked my bag (no rain yet) but I did get a large trash bag from the hotel that I wore throughout the morning just in case.

Getting ready for the race was super easy…just the usual..use the restroom a few times, put body glide on…and get yourself mentally prepared.  This is the biggest race I have ever been a part of…so a bit nervous along with not knowing what the weather would hold for us.

To get started…here is a preview of what the course looks like:

Miles 1-3

The beginning of the race was honestly a bit of a blur.  I know I made a mistake by not going out with the 4:15 pace group.  We started off at a bit of a downhill and then a steady climb around mile 2.  I was passing people as I was steaming up that first hill.  It as actually feeling relatively easy and I was kind of shocked how quickly things were going.

Miles 4-13.1

You experience most of the hilly parts of the marathon in the first 7 miles and I can’t say I remember much about this section also.  I do remember maintaining a pace close to 9:00 or 8:55/mile and I was thinking to myself that was probably not a good idea.  The nice part about this beginning 1/4 is that there were lots of trees so you were somewhat braced from the wind.

Miles 13.2-16

It seems ironic that at this point, after I probably went out too fast…that I really felt the wind.  This was right as we came up along Potomac Park.  I will in no way blame the weather for my performance but I could feel the bill of my hat pushing up vertical on my head at some points.  I felt my mind enter that ‘dark place’…dark place = why the hell would I ever want to run a marathon.  I teetered in/out of this dark place for the rest of the course.

Adam saw me around mile 16 and this is the picture he captured….I remember him waving at me…and I remember clearly saying…I am tired…this was MILE 16!

Miles 17-26.2

I am disappointed to say I can’t recollect much detail from the last 10 miles of the race.  I felt myself starting to shut down.  I felt like I wanted to vomit a few times (had to keep swallowing my stomach back down if that makes sense).  I was trying so hard to read the signs on the side of the road to cheer me up…NOT PG…but my faves during the race:

“No more Sunday long runs = Friday night sex again…Hooray”!!!

“Free nipple massage at the finish”

“I’ve got binders…binders full of marathoners”.

Trust me, when you get to this point…ALL of the above are hilarious…..I don’t care who you are 🙂

Mile 20 is where the famous ‘beat the bridge’ saying comes into play as you wind back from D.C. into Virginia.  I was struggling for sure at this point.  I remember running along one portion of this stretch (mile 20/21) thinking that the interstate would never end.

The last couple of miles for me were pure grit this time.  I knew that if I decided to stop and walk any I would lose any hope of a PR let alone the fact I had already lost my original goal of really crushing my PR.  The best part is at the end of the race when you are given your medal by a marine and he or she salutes you.  Absolutely the BEST part!

Here are my results…  I actually PR’d my half marathon yesterday by just and came just under two hours!  As a point of reference, that has not happened in two years.  I have consistently fought the half marathon monkey on my back.  I can’t believe it.  I also PR’d my marathon at 4:18:03 (from 4:23:59). Not hitting my goal…but it was pretty cool to set two PRs.  Learned my lesson….don’t go out to run a marathon like you are running a half marathon.  I should have gone out much slower and strived to hit closer to my 4:10 goal.

I want to share a few more things in general that I really loved about this race:

  • Excellent crowd/spectator support.   Many folks out there just handing out candy, fruit, water, cheering you on on their own accord.
  • The Marines…enough said.
  • Witnessing other runners that run in honor/memory of our war heroes.
  • Witnessing the wounded either running themselves or being pushed in a wheelchair by their peer.
  • The organization of the marathon was top notch from start to finish (leading up to the marathon and after).
  • The city (D.C.) is an excellent place to visit and has many amenities from food, museums, entertainment to keep you or your family happy.
  • The course is amazing.  I laugh since I can’t remember a lot of the run but I know I saw quite a bit of the course the day prior…and if I was in my right mind, would have enjoyed it again running the marathon through it.

Add MCM to your bucket list.  I think this might be a marathon I will try to do again.

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