This post should have been on days ago but here on Long Island we have just been through and are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking of Sandy who knew back in March when I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon (my first marathon) there would be a hurricane named Sandy rushing up the east coast effecting Washington DC on race day weekend?
We left for DC on Friday afternoon. We spent Saturday in DC touring both the White House and the US Capitol building with tickets provided by our local Congressman Peter King.
Both tours were excellent but my family really enjoyed the White House tour as it is much harder to get passes for. We also toured the Library of Congress, and Peterson House ( where Abraham Lincoln died) and visited Ford Theater (where Abraham Lincoln was shot).
We stayed in the Embassy Suites Convention Center in Washington DC. The hotel was excellent. We enjoyed the complimentary breakfasts and Managers Reception hour. It is located right in central DC and is very close to the Metro (train) system.
On Sunday (race day) I took the Metro to the Pentagon and walked to the starting area. Along the way I made a friend named TJ who is a retired DC police officer and currently a firefighter in Montgomery County, MD. He had run the MCM before and walked me to the start.
Following a flyover by Marine Corps Osprey aircraft the howitzer was fired and the race began. I maintained my planned pace of 9:00 – 9:15 min/miles. The race started on time and the beginning was congested nut moved along well. I felt great as the marathon began.
The beat crowds were in Georgetown at the 9 mile mark and I felt great with many “Go NYPD” cheers ringing out from the crowd. The going got tough as Sandy’s outer band winds kicked in at mile 12 throwing up 30+ mph winds for several miles as we rounded the East Potomac Golf Course. Water was splashing over the seal wall of the of the tidal basin.
I carried Gu gel packs (peanut butter) throughout the race. I ate one an hour. I also carried my own 22 ounces of G2 Gatorade which I sipped throughout the race along with the MCM supplied water and Gatorade.
The course then traveled into the National Mall area where I had hoped my family would be waiting for me. I say waiting because originally the weather forecast called for rain during the race so I told them to go straight to the finish line if it was raining.
As I approached Mile 18 and one of the Smithsonian Museums I saw my wife and kids on the side cheering for me. I raced over and high fiv’ed them all as I ran past. Seeing them gave me a rush of energy which was great because my hamstrings were beginning to fatigue at that point. The course took us up to the US Capitol and turned around on the south side of the Mall past more Smithsonian Museums and again a beautiful view of the Washington Memorial before heading out of the city on the infamous 14th Street Bridge where I easily “Beat the Bridge” maintaining my 9:03 min/mile pace. (Runners in the MCM must run at least a 14:00 min/mile by the bridge or they are stopped by race officials).
After crossing the bridge we entered Crystal City where we ran a big loop before passing the Pentagon. At Mile 22 Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins were handed out by Marines. I took one bite from a chocolate one and could not eat them. Too sweet and heavy so I stuck with the Gu.
After passing the Pentagon the race jumps onto Rt 27to Rt 110 where there is a sneaky little overpass at Mile 25 which for some reason challenged me more then the earlier and bigger inclines. After that it was a straightaway to the end. As I passed Mile Marker 26 I saw my wife and three kids on the side of the road cheering me on again. This time seeing them brought tears to my eyes which streamed down my cheeks. A fellow runner saw me wiping my eyes as I passed them and patted me on the back.
Just as my eyes cleared and my hamstrings screamed I saw the dreaded last hill to the finish line. The hill is footpath about 1500″ long which ascends from the road to the Iwo Jima Memorial outside Arlington Nation Cemetery. I gave it all I had and ran up that hill and cruised to the finish line which I crossed in 4:02:18!
I finished 4848 out of 30,000 runners and felt great!