Saturday, November 10, 2012

2012 Marine Corps Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's report from The Marine Corps Marathon:

I have been looking forward to this marathon for a long time. I had heard nothing but good things about it. It's always a popular race that sells out quickly so I registered right when the time came and lucky for me I did. The race sold out in under 3 hours!

Race weekend was quickly approaching, but unfortunately, so was Hurricane Sandy. We kept looking at the forecast and it seemed like it was going to hold off until Monday night or Tuesday (Sunday was race day). Dave and I were scheduled to fly in Friday night and out Monday at 6:10am. We thought we would be fine except for the fact that it did look like the marathon was going to be wet and windy.

We arrived Friday night and had a quick taxi ride to our hotel in Rosslyn, The Holiday Inn at Key Bridge. This was right by the finish line/after-party and I would recommend this hotel to anyone doing the race. We were right across the Key Bridge from Georgetown. We ended up taking a taxi over to Georgetown because we didn’t know how far (or safe) everything was. Everything was actually really close (and safe) and we ended up walking the rest of the times. Dave picked a place called Mr. Smiths for dinner. The food was nothing special. The main attraction seemed to be the piano bar in the front of the building. Luckily, the night was saved by finding a great beer bar in the basement of a Paradiso Pizza. The pizza looked amazing and I wish we would have eaten there for dinner. I was planning on eating here after the marathon. Before we called it a night we hit the Continental Pool Lounge. This was a fun 50's retro-inspired bar in Rosslyn.

The next day we got up and the weather forecast looked much worse. We started worrying about getting out Monday morning. We decided to try and change our flight out to Sunday evening. No luck, everything was booked. We went with Plan B and reserved two rental cars, one leaving Sunday afternoon if they started canceling flights, and one Monday morning in case they canceled the flight that day.

With some kind of plan we decide to head to the expo. The expo was at The Armory and easily reached by taking the Metro. It was a very nice sized expo but so crowded. Packet Pick up was quick and very easy. The official merchandise area had a long line so Dave jumped in line while I shopped. We have this down! I picked up a couple of things and did a quick run around the expo. I ended up buying some of those Tyvek throwaway rain pants for the predicted start-time rain.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the DC. Our tour started in The Mall. I wanted to see the WWII Memorial, which was very moving. We went to lunch at Capitol City Brewing and had some good food and drinks. Finished up the afternoon at Georgetown Cupcake - which we mentioned in an earlier post. We then went back to the room and rested up before heading back to Georgetown for dinner at Il Canale. It was good and Dave had a delicious pizza.  Georgetown is a great place to shop, eat, and bar hop but it is really busy all times of the day. 

We got up early for the race and the first thing I did was look out the window to see if it was raining. So far so good! We hadn't decided on whether to walk to the start or take the Metro. Everyone said take the Metro but we had a friend who told us he walks from that hotel every year. We chickened out and followed the crowd to the Metro. The train was crowded and there was a very long walk to the start area once you got off the Metro but I still think we made the right choice. We met up with our Team AllEars friends, Brad, Dan and Christine and chatted in the Runners Village before the race. Pretty soon we made our way to the corrals. The race had an awesome flyover by two Ospreys. Very cool! Pretty soon the Howitzer was fired and the corrals started moving. 

I was lucky to be by a set of Port o Potties with no line during the slow walk to the start. Unheard of! I quickly jumped out of the group and back in with little time lost. SCORE!!

The start was downhill and I saw Dave on the left hand side. The course was much hillier than I expected it to be. The hills were off-and-on for the first eight or nine miles. The course was beautiful, especially once we got into Georgetown. The crowd support was awesome.

The whole time I was waiting for the rain. I would say to myself, ok we are at 10 miles so at least if it starts raining now it will only be for 16 miles. I kept doing that until I was done and it never rained. A miracle!!

I saw Dave again right around the Lincoln Memorial. He actually made me turn around and run back so he could get a better picture. I can’t believe I did it. It was probably because I was feeling great. This is the first race in a long time where I felt good the whole time. I finally figured out the shoe issue that has been plaguing me all summer.

We then went into the Hains Point area of the course. People had said this was a tough area. I was having some mental trouble here, but came across the Wear Blue to Remember group. They had many, many pictures of young men and women killed in action. So very sad and moving.After the pictures they had women lining the course with American flags. Again, I was very moved and was choking back the tears and saying thank you. Really puts any marathon pain in perspective and I pushed on.

Soon we were back on The Mall and it was great to run by the Washington Monument and Capitol. I missed Dave at the Washington Monument but saw him once more at the other side of The Mall. We then headed across the longest bridge ever! This was really draining and by the time I got to Crystal City I was starting to slow.Then my magic elixir appeared. I saw a lady holding a Bud Light sign. She also had little Dixie cups. I said, “Wait, are you handing out beer?” She said, “Yes. “ I said, “Thank the maker!!!” There is something about that cold carby goodness that I love in the late stages of the marathon. I felt instantly better and pushed on.

Whenever I got tired there was inspiration around. I saw many Marines running in full Kevlar gear. One was at the side of the road adjusting his prosthetic leg. It was obviously irritating his leg. It made my pain seem so insignificant. The finish was up a huge hill. A great finish lined with Marines. You get your medal from a Marine and they salute you. I honestly don’t really remember what I did. I think I may have saluted him back. I hope I didn’t but hope he understands if I did. I know I said Thank you to every Marine I saw.

Here's our video from the race:

Now for the long, and I mean long, walk out of the finish area. At this time I found out our flight was cancelled and we would have to rush to get out of D.C. and hit the road to try to beat the storm. I finally hooked up with Dave who was mad that he couldn’t get to the finish. We quickly got back to the hotel, showered, and packed. I didn’t sit down. We miraculously found a cab and shared it with a father and son who were Marines and just did their race together. We got them to their hotel and got us to the airport for the rental car.

We got in the car and drove as far as Hagerstown where I had to get something to eat. A quick stop at a Wendy’s and we were back on the road finally having to stop overnight in lovely Streetsboro, OH. We hit some rain and then had a bit of rain the next morning but were thankful to make it home Monday afternoon safely. It was quite the adventure. I would love to do the MCM again someday. It is definitely on the top of my list for the course, organization, and support. I would highly recommend it.

Dave's comments

I will say it was nice to be able to walk from the start to the Lincoln Memorial (about a mile), and then proceed to the Capitol side of The Mall. As for snacks: I had brought a bagel from the hotel with me and ate that by the Lincoln Memorial. The next opportunity to get anything (which I didn't) was a little cafe outside the Lincoln Memorial (more of a snack bar). On The Mall I got a Diet Coke from an ice cream/hot dog truck. Interesting enough the truck operator said sales were slow on the marathon day. This surprised me given how many people were lining the course in this area.

For the spectator this race can be a logistical nightmare. A lot of the race is not located near the Metro. So each Metro stop on the course ends up being crowded. At one point I was stuck in a station for twenty minutes. The Rosslyn stop dumps you into the post-race party, making it an upstream battle to get near the finish. Somehow I got directed by volunteers to the nearest place to see your runner after the finish, as opposed to the finish line itself. Defeated, I went back to the party, sat at my runner reunion sign, and ate half a roll of Sweettarts. If Holly does this race again, I think I'd just go to Georgetown, enjoy the neighborhood experience, then go stuff my face somewhere until she was near the finish.

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