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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#102- The Marine Corps Marathon!

Well, just when I thought I was not going to make it to the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) this year, I was able to secure a last minute flight to Washington, D.C. (thanks to Rob) and I was off to run the 40th running of the MCM! This would also be my 5th running, which would qualify me for the MCM Runner's Club and I will never have to enter the lottery again!  

Once I got the flight booked, I contacted my good friend (and fellow Maniac) Chris Carnahan that I was coming. He and I have run 3 of the 5 MCM's together. He didn't run last year so I was happy that he had decided to do it again this year too.

I flew in to Washington, D.C. Thursday night (a day earlier that I usually do). I was so glad I did. I was able to wake up Friday morning and run 2 miles to the convention center where the expo was being held.

Heading into the Expo

There was a short security line where Marines were checking bags and wanding people down. Safety is their #1 priority at big events like this.
Waiting for security.

I am going in!

Once I got through security, I was able to pick up my bib and race packet with little to no waiting. This was a big change from past years when the expo was held at the Armory. The convention center had a lot more space.

The expo is pretty great too. I got lots of free stuff that I will never use, but there was free ice cream and free ice cream is AWESOME!

There were pictures of 40 years of the MCM!

#25182 reporting for duty!

It's time to rock the mock! The MCM tradition is to give runners a mock turtleneck shirt. The past 3 years the shirts have been made of a more technical fabric, which are awesome for running in Utah in the winter!

The MCM course map. Are we being punked? Am I going to want a cigarette after running? Ha Ha?

It is always great to see Miles...

...and Molley at the Expo!

I remember this band from last year! You cant help but want to dance when you hear them. They are so much fun!

Every year the MCM gives each runner a patch. I really like this one and can't wait to put it on my kilt!

 After the expo I went back to Chris's house and took a long nap. Man, taking a long nap on a week day felt naughty, but soooooo good! When Chris #1 got home from work, Chris and his boyfriend Chris #2, took me to a wonderful dinner at a great place called Cusbah for some amazing South Asian food.

Chris #1 (on the right) and I have been friends since we were 17 years old! I love coming to visit him every year! His boyfriend Chris is awesome too! He introduced me to "Scream Queens"!

The next day, I didn't do much. Just hung out at the house watching TV with Chris #2. I didn't want to walk around too much as my foot was still hurting from Victoria and I while I could run, I didn't want to do more walking and running than I had too the day before the race.

Later Saturday afternoon, I met up with my Maniac pals Georges and Johnathan for dinner. We headed down to Dupont Circle and found this amazing little Italian bistro called La Tomate, where we dipped olive bread in olive oil and ate some really great Caprese salad and pasta. After dinner we went across the street to Starbucks for some coffee and a chi tea for me!

Georges and Jonathan are two of the most fun people to hang out with. Love them!

After dinner, I went back to Chris's house and got ready for race day. The weather forecast called for rain early and I wanted to make sure I had everything ready. Then I went to bed.

Flat Angie is ready! I didn't sew this year's patch on yet, but I just wanted to see what it looked like!

The one thing I have learned about doing the MCM is that you MUST get there early. 30,000 people plus all the spectators have to take a long walk from the train, then go through security. This takes a long time (MCM officials request allowing 2 hours), so Chris and I made sure that we were out of the house by 5:00am. I scheduled the Maniac photo for 7:30am, as close to the 7:55am start time as possible, while still giving people enough time to get to their corrals. 

The trains start running at 5:00am on race morning. Chris and I made sure we were on the first train!

With the waiting and train changes we made it to the security line by 6:00am. There was already a big crowd, but we made it through, hit the bathroom (where I lost Chris) and was sitting under a warm tent taking a nap by 6:45am. 

At 7:20am, I made my way to the photo location. This year they had the hill fenced off, but it was still a good meeting place and we just found a better hill on the other side and was able to get a good photo.

It started to rain right after the photo and as much as I prepared, I went off and left my rain poncho on the bed. Luckily, I had my hat and the temperature was not too cold. 
Maniacs at the Start! There were a lot more that did not make it through security in time. Bummer!

We took the photo at 7:30am sharp and I ran to check my bag and get to my corral. I was going to try and run a sub 4:00, so I lined up in the 3:55 corral as the opening ceremonies started.

Skydivers jumping out of planes with "Old Glory"! 

Me at the start ready to run!

And they're off!

Georges and I waiting to go!

We are getting closer!

The race started at 7:55am and it took about 8 minutes for us to reach the start from the 3:55 corral. The start is always crowded, so I expect to go slower for the first mile, but I just can't understand why MCM does not have a better way to corral runners. It is truly maddening to line up in the 3:55 pace corral and dodge walkers and runner doing 12 minute miles for 5-6 miles! Are they lining up with the elites? I hit the first 5K in 30:01. much slower than the 8:53 pace I should have been running and I was stuck! 

There were lots of  different bands! This was a bagpipe band!

A Marine Corps Band!

The Blue Mile around mile 11 we hit the "Blue Mile". This emotional mile is lines with photos of service members lost in action.

Wear Blue to Remember members hold flags at the end of the "Blue Mile"

I had finally made up some time on the course and hit the half in under 2 hours, but after spending 5 minutes in one port-a-potty line and another 5 minutes in another one 2 miles later, I just didn't have the desire or energy to try and make up the time. The 100 miler and a marathon in the past 3 weeks finally took it's toll at mile 16. I was done and decided that I had nothing to prove and decided to just enjoy the rest of the race.

Running in the National Mall is so cool. There were so many spectators which always give us a little boost.

The D.C. War Memorial

Runners approaching the Washington Monument!

The State Capitol

I ran a few miles with Keith from Memphis! Hey Memphis friends, do you know him?

Something you would never see at a race in Utah!

These drummers were cool!

At mile 20 we cross over the 14th Street Bridge and the Potomac River. This is the bridge that you have to beat if you want to finish.

The sign spinner says it all!

I found a Marine at mile 20!

Once over the bridge, We made our way to Crystal City where we had this long out and back and finally started to make our way back towards the Pentagon and the finish.

Just before making the turn to the finish, we pass Arlington National Cemetery.

By mile 26, I was so ready to be done! My Garmin beeps at every mile and for the last 6 miles it was beeping and I would run another .5 miles before seeing the mile markers so it was exhausting me mentally and physically. I know my Garmin will always be off a little but late in the race, I just didn't want to see 26 miles on my Garmin and really have to run close to another mile!  I knew the last .2 miles were tough. 

When I made the turn for the hill towards the finish and the Iwo Jima Memorial, I saw the Marines lining the hill and wanted to give it my all, but my legs were spent. I had to walk about 10 steps so I wouldn't fall over!

The last .2 miles goes up hill and the Marines are there to make sure you complete your mission! 

The screen shot of  the video of me crossing the finish! Official time: 4:14:49

I love getting my medal from a man in uniform! 

Such a cool medal!

I found a few Maniacs at the Finish.

Finish Selfie!

Mission Complete!

Happy to see Andrew at the finish!

Yeah, life is hard!

After I finished I got my food and MCM finish jacket to keep warm while I waited for Chris to finish. A few minutes after I sat down, I got a text from Georges asking me where I was. Turns out I was sitting literally 10 feet from him! We hung out until Johnathan finished and they had to get back and head to the airport.

Georges, Johnathan and I at the Finish!

Chris finished and we made our way down to pick up our gear bags. On the way down, ladies were giving out fresh cut watermelon. It was like manna from heaven! So good! 

Watermelon was so good!

This year's finisher jacket was red and warm! Much better than a heat sheet.

Chris and I with Miles!

After the race, Chris and I headed back to the house where I took a hot shower. Chris had to work and run a few errands so I stuck closer to the house and met Sabrina, Andrew and a few others for drinks at their rental house just down the road.

The next morning, I got up packed my stuff and headed to the airport for the long trip home.

I still think MCM is a must do race, but there are 2 things they could implement to make the experience even better for runners.

  1. No more self corralling! Other big races do it, Come on MCM! Let's get a more structured and controlled corral system to avoid some of the bottle-necking; and
  2. No more spectators at the start! Security was a nightmare for a lot of folks this year and trying to get 30,000 people through security is enough without adding thousand of spectators to the mix!
MCM weekend was a blast, but it would not have been possible without the best friends a girl could have! THANK YOU Galen and David for taking care of my Zoe. THANK YOU Chris #1 and Chris #2 for opening up your home to me every year and introducing me to Scream Queens. THANK YOU Georges and Jonathan for taking me to dinner. AND THANK YOU to Rob. I would not have been able to go at all without you! I love you all!

The MCM Medal!


runningcrazy29 said...

Great post! I've never run the MCM, but I have several friends who have and several that just ran it this past weekend. I was apprehensive about running it because I heard there lots of hills, and where I live we have NO hills except the bridges!! However, your blog makes it seem so cool and a really great experience (all 26.2 miles aside, those suck, lol). My brother-in-law joined the Corps this year and I think that would be something really neat to run, especially if he could be one of the marines at the finish line! Thanks for sharing, I think I'll sign up for next years race!!

Angie Whitworth Pace said...

@runningcrazy29- I won't lie. This course is not flat! I live in Utah and am pretty good on hills, but I never run as fast as I want to at MCM and that's OK.

This race is about more than just a time. It's about honoring and supporting those like your brother-in-law that put their life on the line so we can live in a country where women can run marathons side by side with our male friends or family without persecution.

Where we honor and support those that have lost loved ones serving and those that came home mentally and/or physically changed. My father, brother and nephew all served too. I also run to show them how grateful I am.


Georges Gonzalez said...

Love the blog and the pictures... I just Love you I told Jonathan if he does not want to trave I will bring you with me to Tokyo and Sidney!

Jessica I said...

You are a freaking warrior! Loved hearing about all the details of the race. I don't know how you do it all.