Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 28
Marathon #14
State #7
Arlington, VA (Washington DC)
Weather - Overcast, slight breeze

We had registered for the Marine Corps Marathon on March 7, opening day. We were some of the "lucky" ones that got in before registration closed THE SAME DAY, in something ridiculous like 3 hours. And this is a race that has 23,000+ runners!

Saturday (Expo)

I got up at 4:35 in the morning to take a shower and eat a quick breakfast before heading to the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave at just after 7. L had to work the night before so we took separate cars. Stopped at the light heading to the parking lot, and she was right behind me. Talk about perfect timing!

Security was a breeze and we got to the gate in plenty of time. The only excitement before leaving Denver was a guy freaking out and asking to be let off the plane. AFTER the cabin doors were closed. He claimed he didn't want to get stuck on the east coast. FYI, Frontier does NOT do any sort of security check if someone gets off the plane. Anyway, I was happy the outbound flight was on Frontier, and I was more than willing to pay the $6 for tv for the 3ish hour long DIRECT flight into DCA.

I watched crime shows for three hours, randomly checking the weather channel in between to see how bad it was going to be. According to the radar, it looked like we were going to be gone for a bulk of it. Sweet!

Arrived on time, then we made a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts. Pumpkin spice lattes and red velvet munchkins were a must! We followed the signs to get on the metro. Thankfully, there was someone there to help us understand the ticket purchasing. $3.05 each would get us to the expo at the DC Armory. It didn't take long, and thanks to the billions of other runners, we did not get lost. While we were in line at the tent to get our bibs, Ruth managed to end up right behind us. Hilarious. The expo was tiny and cramped and a giant cluster of people.

Me, Bart Yasso, Ruth
We stopped by the Runner's World booth and Bart assured us that the chance of rain had been lowered. He was pretty certain we would have good racing conditions. I believe you, Bart!!

My friend Rose lives in Maryland and was graciously picking us up at the expo and letting us stay at her house. Her and her husband were planning on spectating and were also going to drive us to the race in the morning. Most awesome friends ever!

Rose picked us up and we spent the remainder of the afternoon sitting around and talking. I had a few beers and her husband made us a delicious dinner of lamb, chicken and beef, with tons of veggies. He is the best cook!

L was the first to head to bed, around 8:00. She had been up all night and was exhausted. Ruth was staying at a hotel near the cemetery and another friend was going to drop her off on his way home. I headed to bed around 9:30.

Sunday, Race Day

Woke up to THIS email:

EXCELLENT. Notice it was sent at 10:00 the night before??? I immediately text Ruth to let her know, she is on our same return flight. I get ready as fast as I can and head down to use the computer to see what we can do to rebook. Apparently, they were not doing anything over the phone, or online. All we could do was wait.

Breakfast was a half bagel with cheese, BACON, an egg, and cantaloupe. Have I mentioned that our hosts were the BEST?? We had plans to be out the door by 6, allowing 2 hours to get to the start. The weather looked perfect. Overcast and no rain and not much wind. 30 minutes after we left, we were trying to turn into the lot at Crystal City. After sitting at the light for 20 minutes, the lot was full, and we had to find somewhere else to park. We parked in the Radisson's lot across the street and hoped we would not get a ticket/towed.

The line for the shuttle to the start was FREAKING INSANE.

It took us almost a half hour to get through. The shuttle ride only took about 10 minutes, and we arrive at the "start" area just as the gun was going off. Of course we still had to use the bathroom and do our pre-race pictures:

I had opted to skip my fuel belt this time, using my Flip Belt again. It worked awesome, like always (in other words, ignore the slight bulge under my shirt, I haven't gained THAT much weight). By the time we lined up, we were at the VERY back. While standing in line, I noticed a man with a Kauai Marathon backpack and I commented that it looked big and nice and that we should have gotten one of THOSE for our travel bags. Turns out L recognized the man, we had met him and his wife when we ran the Kauai race in 2010... Small world. I say, "Chuck! Is that you??" He says, "Colorado girls!!" I guess we are memorable too!

The start was chaotic. They were already cleaning up all the throw-aways and honestly, we were at the very back of the pack. It took a LONG time to get to the actual front - I'd guess 10-15 minutes from when we got there.

Not a picture of the lady in front of me, trying to get a picture of the flag
I had to walk within the first half mile. Stupid calves were so tight, I was limp-running. I could tell this was going to be a LONG day. I bet I had to stop 5 times in the first two miles to stretch them out. Every single step hurt and I felt tired from the very beginning.

I'm going to keep the race recap itself brief since it never got any better. Every single step of this entire race was miserable. I didn't enjoy myself at ALL. I would have quit at the 11 or 16 miles if I could have accessed my stuff. Seriously.


The course was really pretty.

Dr. J used a jump rope the ENTIRE RACE. I think I may have actually beat him.


Rose and Toly were at mile 11 handing out beers. I told them I wanted to quit and instead of letting me stop, they gave me a can of beer. We talked for a minute and then I walked and drank for a minute. Sad I had to keep going.

This is the most depressing section of the course. Along the sides are photos of those KIA
Washington Monument
Jefferson Memorial

At some point I know we ran past the Holocaust museum, down some city streets that had some pretty cool shopping. Wish I knew the city a bit better!

We FINALLY caught up to Dave at mile 20 - while we were on the bridge. He took some pictures, but I haven't seen them yet. I'm sure they are awesome.

Between Mile 23-24
I'll add here that Dunkin' Donuts had an aid station on the course. It was easily the hilight of the race for me. Even though we were practically dead last on the course, there was still tons of stuff. We each had three donut holes. I had 2 cake and one pumpkin, L had 2 red velvet and one pumpkin. It gave me a teeny tiny boost to keep going.

Around mile 24(?) we came back up on the Pentagon. At this point, spectators (family and friends) began joining people on the course. Yes. For the last few miles. This was only minorly annoying in most cases. Although. One woman seriously was running with a kid and one of those 6 foot long umbrellas. ON THE COURSE. L made a comment about how rude that was with all the people on the course. Long story short, I almost grabbed the umbrella and beat her. For the next half mile, they screamed at us - "those people are walking, do you think THEY deserve to be on the course" and "you can tell a bitch by the color of her stripes." All in the presence of this 9 year old kid. WHAT GREAT PARENTING.

Anyway, if you don't have a freaking bib on, you do NOT belong on the course, I don't give a crap what stupid reason you want to justify it with.

Ironically, Rose joined us at mile 26 and ran next to us (lol, I know, I know) - but pretty much just walked up the big hill at the end. I barely hobbled through the finish line, and she met us on the other side.

Finishers with one of the super cute marines
Iwo Jima

Needless to say, this was a very painful and disappointing run. Anyway.

Thoughts on the Race:
  • We were for REAL the back of the pack. With our super slow pace and LATE start, we were in the back. They NEVER ran out of gatorade or water at ANY aid station.
  • The course has EXCELLENT spectator support.
  • Very, VERY pretty on the course. You get to see pretty much of all DC and with the leaves changing, it was super nice.
  • The weather was FANTASTIC. Never once got rained on, not ONE drop. The breeze was nice because it eliminated the humidity.
  • Super cool medal - the center SPINS!!
  • Expo - meh. Super crowded and stuffy and not that many vendors.
  • Unimpressed with the race shirt. Cotton mock turtleneck. I will never wear it again.
  • Overall - a great race. Do it if you can.
We head over to where the shuttles are supposed to pick us up, with a brief stop to visit with friends in the Beer Garden. The line for the shuttle is even LONGER than it was before the race. It took close to 45 minutes to get on the bus, and then because of road closures we had to go all the way around the city to get to the parking area. Luckily, the car was still there and there was no ticket. Woo hoo! The airport was VERY close, just a couple of minutes away.

Sunday - Monday (Getting out of DC)

Ruth had been in line for over 30 minutes and had barely moved. NOTHING was happening. After an hour, we had moved maybe 20 feet. I ran over to the Delta counter and the best they could offer was $2400 for us to leave out of Virginia (on Monday). Yeah. Do I look like I have that kind of money? Meanwhile, EVERY OTHER AIRLINE still has planes leaving, except stupid United.

We are pretty sure we are not going to be able to get re-booked on anything that day, so we start planning our alternate way back. We book a one-way car rental (at $200) to Akron/Canton (OH), where it looks like there is a Southwest flight. We try calling to see if there are any flights ANYWHERE out of Dulles to get out, and we can't get through. By the time we get to the counter there is NOTHING they can do. They can't even guarantee we will get a refund since we have non-refundable tickets. SCREW YOU, UNITED. You shouldn't have cancelled our flight, every other airline still flying and the weather was still FINE at 5:00.

I get my "Ma'am, you need to stop talking now" from the United agent. But seriously, WTF. FOUR people working? TOTALLY unacceptable.

We then head over to the A terminal to buy our tickets on Southwest. There is no one in line at Frontier so I ask what THEY have. Turns out their flight at 6 am out of Akron is $25 cheaper than Southwest's, so we book the last few tickets they have (a "steal" at $254). Then we head to the shuttle to the rental car garage. The "basement" where you book IS PACKED. Everyone else clearly had the same plan. The line only had about 30 people in front of us. We waited even LONGER than we did for the flights. Only THREE people working the Budget line. By the time we had our reservation and were in the car, it was 9:10 pm.

Did you know the drive to Akron is over 6 hours long?? It was pouring rain by now and luckily Ruth offered to drive. I am a scaredy cat in the rain and I do NOT have the greatest night vision. Not to mention I was freaking exhausted. L passed out in the back and Ruth and I chatted. We still had not eaten anything since breakfast (WTF) and there was pretty much no where to stop (since it was so late). Ended up having to eat at McDonalds, but in my condition it tasted freaking delicious.

Stopped twice to get gas (and did you know Starbucks was open at one of the places at 1:00 am??) and arrive at the Akron airport just before 3:30 am. The entire drive was rainy and windy, and we were DONE. We lounged by the Frontier desk until they opened around 4 to get our boarding passes. I was FIRST in line for security when it opened about 4:15. We got quick breakfast at Cinnabon (delicious) and then sat around until we boarded around 5:45.

We had seats together in the last row of the plane. Took off on time around 6:10. BOUNCIEST AND SCARIEST FLIGHT EVER. I was pretty convinced we were going to die. Thankfully, we did not, and landed in Denver just after 7:00 am. Drove home, during rush hour, took a shower and CRASHED.




  1. That course looks rad. I'm totally doing this one in 2015. For the 40th anniversary.

  2. This sounds like the craziest return trip ever. The course looks great and this is on the bucket list.

  3. I'm sorry this race was so tough!! I did MCM in 2010 as my first marathon and I was not able to handle the crowds very well. It took us forever to get there, the race itself was very crowded and didn't ease up until mile 20 or so and then getting out of DC was a nightmare, even though I live in VA. I'm so glad you made it out of DC before they completely shut down!

  4. So glad you guys managed to run MCM. Sandy isn't doing anyone any favours at the moment.

  5. This race is on my bucket list. And that bling - woohoo!

  6. That medal is even better than the one we got in 2010. I agree those mock turtlenecks are TRAGIC! And yet that is what they give out every year :(

    Wish you had been able to enjoy it a little more but congrats on pushing through and finishing.

  7. i can't imagine running a marathon with tight calves! I vowed never to fly united again after my last delay with them--- not sure what it is, but they just can't get their shit together. At least you made it out of there.

  8. holy crap. i can't get over the flight home issues. i'm sorry it wasn't a great race for you-but it sounds awesome otherwise and definitely want to try and do it next year. and seriously, cotton mockturtle neck shirt? who would EVER wear that?


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