Chicago Marathon – CHECK!
New York Maraton – CHECK!
and the latest marathon to add to my resume -> Marine Corps. Marathon – CHECK! CHECK!
Bright and early Sunday morning I headed into Washington DC to run my third marathon.
I had heard amazing things about MCM and I was excited to run a popular course so close to where my parents live. They were so great about traveling to support me in Chicago & NYC it was nice to run a race close to home!
I was also excited when I found out that my running buddy, Lauren would be running the race too! Training with her for each and every long run for the past few months has been amazing. I don’t think I could have done it without her!
Lauren and I met up at the start line to begin the race together. I think we were both excited to start the race with a buddy that we didn’t spend any time stressing out about the 26.2 miles ahead. It was a great way to being a race!
The opening ceremonies included people jumping out of a plane and flying to the ground with American flags..
as well as plans flying over the start line.
I got a little bit of butterflies in my tummy when I saw the starting line with the blow up tunnel. I feel like its a pretty iconic symbol for the start and finish of MCM
Before we knew it, the time had come to line up for the start of the race. I was surprised by how relaxed everything was. There was no one checking you into the corrals, you could pretty much hop in wherever you wanted to. Everyone was very laid back, friendly and ready to run.
And within minutes – we were off!
It was fun to see all the red, white & blue and American flags all throughout the course.
It was even more fun to see my family along the way.
The superfans were out in full effect!
What I can tell you about the course is that it was pretty challenging. The first 8 miles were very hilly and the last 6.2 were no joke either.
We literally went over the river and through the woods.
I also was entertained by the mass amount of marines in uniform throughout the course. They were at every mile marker shouting out the time and encouraging words, at every water/food station and supporting the ruiners every step of the way along the course.
There were 30,000 participants in the race this year and pretty much the entire 26.2 miles it was crowded.
The first 8 miles of the course took us from Rosslyn through parts of Clarendon across the bridge to Georgetown out on Canal Road and then back towards Georgetown into DC.
I really enjoyed running around the monuments in the area.
This part of the race was packed with spectators who had great energy and funny signs.
Another cool thing during the race was how the runners interacted with the wheelchair/hand cycle participants. Those competing in wheelchairs/hand cycles starting 15 minutes before the runners and like the runners, they faced the hills as well. Some wheelchair/hand cycle participants had trouble getting up the hills and I saw on multiple occasions runners help pushing those on wheels UP the hills, which I just thought was crazy amazing.
Also, anytime a cycler was mixed in the runners all the runners would yell up the course to make a hole down the middle, or the side for the cycle. Everyone was helping everyone out, there was no pressure to get to the finish line before the person next to you, it was like everyone was joined together for the same cause – to enjoy the 26.2 miles and finish with a smile! I love that about this race.
Lauren and I stayed together until about mile 18. I didn’t want to commit to any certain distance together because you never know how you or your running buddy will feel on race day and you never want to be the person to hold another runner back. We started out super strong together and pushed each other up the hills.
We ran the first 18 miles together faster than I had run then before so we were set up to finish strong.
Right around this time I started to experience pain in my groin and both my knees. I knew I had to slow it down for a bit and didn’t want to hold Lauren back so we split up after running more than half the marathon together.
Running along the National Mall was a struggle for me but the great crowds kept me going. A reader even gave me a shout out as she was running the race with her dad so that totally gave me the pick up that I needed! Thanks Lisa – (I believe that was your name! Sorry if I wrong, I had marathon brain!)
Slowly but surely I made my way through the MCM Gauntlet (miles 17-20) and entered the Beat the Bridge section of the race.
My family saw me right before mile 20 and I managed a slight smile.
Miles 20-22 were along the George Mason Memorial Bridge and I am convinced they were a little sliced of hell.
Here there was little to no crowd support, a slight inclination and pretty much everyone on the course seemed to be hitting “The Wall.”
This was a rough patch of the race for me as I was in a lot of pain but I tried to keep myself ‘above the line’ with positive thoughts and after what seemed like forever, the bridge came to an end, after another slight incline (thanks MCM), and I found myself in Crystal City.
The last 4 miles were rough on my mentally and physically. I struggled to do some marathon math in my brain and learned that while I had set myself up for a potential PR up until mile 18, the bridge had killed any possibility of that happening now. My new goal was to beat my first marathon time from Chicago and I was cool with that.
Did I mention that there were Dunkin Donut munchkins being handed out at mile 24? I had 2 chocolate ones and they were AH mazing!
Before I knew it I passed by mile marker 25 and knew that the finish line was within reach, even though it still felt so far away at that point. I met another reader (Hi Meredith, from Conshohocken!) along the course who helped push me the last half mile, while also warning me of the steep incline up to the finish line.
At this point my family saw me, but I didn’t see them among the crowds. I was focusing on crossing the finish line, but I am excited they got some good pictures of me in the final few steps of the marathon.
Go ME Go!
Check out these crowds at the finish!
The finishers were greeted by MORE MARINES!
It was freezing after I stopped running so the mylar blanket was a welcomed treat!
I also enjoyed the personalized snack boxes.
But what I loved the most from the finish line is the incredible medal! It’s pretty awesome and the globe in the middle spins.
I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to my husband, parents, mother&sister-in-law that came out to support me! These Superfans trekked through the mud…for an average of 15 miles (right Mrs. B?) and we got to see each other 6 times throughout the race. It was great to see their smiling faces during those tough miles!
All in all it was a pretty good race. I powered through some pain, on a challenging course and had blast checking that 3rd marathon off my list. I didn’t set a new PR but I beat my time from my first marathon in Chicago by a little bit and that is just fine with me. 4:35:38 is a pretty respectable marathon time if you ask me – I was happy to finish with a smile on my face, and only a little hobble in my step!
I can’t wait to add this bad boy to my collection, it might be my new favorite medal!