Marine Corps Marathon - Race Report
So this weekend was awesome. A few ups and downs but altogether awesome.
My mom and I left on Friday for DC and got to the hotel kind of tired and planned things out for the next day. We were already having fun on the flight. I was excited and cracking jokes left and right. The best part of the flight, after we landed the little kid on the plane says really loud as everything is quiet: “Yay! We didn’t die!”. I laughed so hard.
On Saturday morning we headed to the nearest metro station to get our farecards. It was a mass of confused people. Thankfully I’m a master of public transportation so I figured it out quickly and helped a few others as well. The metro in DC? AWESOME. So clean and I LOVED the air conditioned trains. I’m always hot so it was really wonderful not to be boiling in my own skin. After we got our cards we headed to the Armory for packet pick-up. I figured it would take a while because it was Saturday and it would likely be pretty busy with all the runners and their supporters. NOPE. Packet pick-up was a breeze. It literally took all of 4 seconds to grab my packet and head into the Expo. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a packet pick-up that went that smoothly.
Then we headed into the Armory for the Expo. I had to pick-up gels and wanted to check and see if I could find some shoes and maybe some other stuff. Grabbed my souvenir shirt (love it - I’m wearing it right now, it’s so badass) and then headed to the Brooks area to check out the shoes. The guy who helped me out was a-freaking-mazing. Knew what he was talking about and listened to me when I told him about what I wanted. And then I walked away with a pair of Pure Flows. FINALLY a neutral shoe. I hadn’t looked underneath my shoes in a while and when he turned them over and saw the wear-pattern he went into his little spiel right away. I was pretty shocked at how obvious the pattern was. Almost like it got worse lately. I hope these shoes work out! The line-up to purchase was insane but went super quickly, I then picked up some gels for race day and we headed back to the metro.
My mom and I then headed for the Zoo. HOLY WOW. Free entrance - we bought the map because we wanted to support the zoo - and what a gorgeous freaking zoo it was. Clean, beautiful and big enclosures for the animals, just absolutely amazing. We had a lot of fun there and I definitely spent way too much time on my feet, but that’s okay.
The zoo was preparing for an event that evening where they set up booths for trick-or-treaters. The decorations and attention to detail were spectacular! I was pretty jealous I wouldn’t be participating haha
It must have been close to Halloween because I got scared shitless at the zoo. We went to the invertebrates exhibit. Because I really wanted to see the octopus or squid or whatever it was.
But obviously I forgot that invertebrates also mean INSECTS. And then I saw a big sign that said ants and then ahead COCKROACHES. OMG. And I immediately froze in place and told my mom it was time to leave. We exited into this lovely garden area, really beautiful with flowers and then I screamed because I realized it was a butterfly garden and that the butterflies were flying loose like wild beasts! HOLY CRAP. Of course my mom started to laugh at me. And then once I calmed down I actually held a butterfly on my finger. It was neat. Later at the Smithsonian they had a similar exhibit but you had to buy tickets and I immediately refused because the butterflies were MEGA sized. Say whatever you want but butterflies are pretty moths and if you’ve ever seen a big ass butterfly it’s really damn scary. I saw one through the glass and honestly it could eat my face off.
We also went to the “Bird House” which was full of cool and exotic birds - Yay birds! I love them. We had a unanimous favorite the Pygmy Falcon:
We saw lots of animals, lions, elephants, otters. Flamingos!
The emu that really was trying to eat my face:
We had a lot of fun
This sign made me laugh
I bought myself a zoo mug - I decided I’m going to collect mugs now as travel souvenirs. After we visited the ginormous zoo we headed back to the metro to visit some of the Smithsonian. We went to the Natural History and American History museums. Those pictures are all on my phone, I won’t bother posting them. That was super fun but we didn’t have a lot of time. It was fun just to walk on the Mall. They were already preparing for the 10km the next day which started there.
We headed back to the hotel and had dinner there and went to bed pretty early.
Up at 5:30am I had coffee and breakfast, got dressed and we headed to the metro to get to the start village.
I was tired and yawning non-stop.
SO MANY PEOPLE at the start. Seriously. I tried so hard to get photos to show how big it was but I couldn’t. It’s not easy doing that when you’re short like me. It was incredible. I’ve done two marathons in Ottawa, the same event and it’s not that big. My first marathon in Bar Harbor was very small as well and then the two ultras I did were even smaller. So this was really really different for me. So much energy and so much fun. You couldn’t even see the start. I didn’t bother trying to squeeze far so I put myself somewhere between some corral. I didn’t care. I was still positive at this point that I would not be able to finish and that at some point I’d have to stop because of breathing issues or because I was lacking fitness. My mom was not far and kept smiling and giving me the thumbs up, it made me feel less nervous.
My favourite part of the start was the Blackhawk fly by. Next to the pentagon. So badass. As an American History major who has a soft spot for military history it was just really amazing to be part of the event and get to see historical landmarks and be part of an event put on by a branch of the US military that I’ve written papers about. And as a Canadian it was really neat to see the energy and patriotism at the start. When the anthem started the whole crowd of probably nearly 30,000 people just went silent. It was incredible. Our Army Run in Ottawa is similar but it’s nowhere near that massive an event. Maybe one day!
The howitzer went off and we were off! In 15 minutes that is… haha took me about 15 minutes to cross the start. I didn’t mind. I was having a mini panic attack thinking about what lay ahead. As we started off and crossed the start line the crowds were amazing. So much noise and cheering!
Throughout the race I wanted to get pictures every mile marker. That didn’t happen because my camera died but I did manage to get pictures in front of the capitol. So that made me happy. I saw a lot of things during the race, the first 15 miles or so went by pretty quickly.
I think the toughest part was the bridge. I beat the bridge! YAY! I really didn’t think I would but after getting past that point it was kind of torture, the bridge is freaking LONG. And it was windy and almost everyone was just in a zombie state at this point. But the reward was big in Crystal City. The energy there was WOW. I also got to meet my mom there, she took the metro there to meet me and when I saw her I was so happy. I almost cried. I think seeing her made me feel like I had already finished because this was the point where I started to really slow down and walk. With about 4 or 5 miles left. My feet had been hurting previously but it finally hit me how much they were hurting. Like… really really badly. They hurt the day before at the zoo too so I’m starting to suspect it was the Adrenalines I was wearing all of this year since I had the same issue in May in Ottawa. At Fingerlakes I switched shoes so I didn’t really have the same problem. It was so bad that I felt like I was going to throw up. I stopped to go to the bathroom though - no more toilet paper so I “shook off” as much as I could - gross I know. And then HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Chaffing and pee = BURNING HELL
I almost forgot how bad my feet were hurting.
Thankfully my mom ran/walked with me till the end. Ringing her cowbell. I told her I wanted to break it haha. She was great and I think she was excited to be there too. She was super impressed with the spectators and organization too.
And then as we neared the finish I saw it was uphill. OH BOY. And so I got up that hill and ran to the finish very very happy.
Of course at the finish I got lots of high fives from marines - half the time I was wondering if I was dreaming haha - I got my medal and my recovery jacket. The medal is gorgeous. And I got my recovery nutrition box - so cool!
And then that night I had an adventure back home on 3 buses because our flight was canceled. But despite that, my mom and I had a great time. I’m so happy we got to go together and I’m glad I ended up running and not quitting. I was really close to not even going to the start because I was convinced it would go badly. I didn’t pay attention to anything but enjoying myself. And boy did I ever. It’s really an event to run just to enjoy the sights and enjoy being around other runners. I saw a lot of cool runners doing their thing. Costumes, funny shirts, spectators with funny signs (‘Paul Ryan this Marathon’ was probably my favourite). Amazing aid stations and water stations. The Marines were thanking me! WHAT!? Bands, dancers, music, excitement. It was just truly a once in a lifetime experience and I really really hope that one day I can do it all over again!
This dude was just dancing like crazy. I kind of wanted to stop running and dance my butt off too!
Stormtrooper! So cool
Santa! Literally everyone was saying hello and saying random things to him. Really cool to see.
If I recall correctly this guy was running with his wife. It was cute to see them bickering hehe . I liked his shirt a lot. “I know I’m slow, get over it”.
WHAT!? This was epic to see. Some kind of bomb squad suit being tested I believe? A team from Britain. Really intense to see.
Crazy ladies in Dunkin Donuts costumes
Getting closer to the Mall and thus the Bridge. Except not. We had a long stretch in a park, it was long but beautiful!
Ahh…. right before I fell on my face. Well no, I had fast enough reflexes to put my hands out. I scraped my palms and my knee. My knee was pretty bad, I started to feel it after a few miles. It’s a little bruised now and tender to the touch. Everyone around me asked if I was okay. I was fine, more of an issue of a bruised ego. And some guy literally held out his hand to me and picked me up. It was such a nice thing to do. I thanked him and we both went on running, I wish I had of seen his face or asked his name! Thanks dude! That was really nice! :)
And that’s about it. I won’t go into detail about the trip back, that was crazy but as awful as it seemed at the time, we made light of it and it turned out to be a good story. We made it an adventure. It would have been easy to get really upset and be mad at the situation and each other but we treated it like something to experience. And it certainly was one.
I miss you already DC!
I look forward to going back again someday for a third time!!!