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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#116- The 2016 Marine Corps Marathon!

Last year I finally made it in to the Marine Corps Marathon Runner's Club. This is a club for those that have run the MCM five times. This is a great club to be in if you love the MCM. See, the MCM is such a hot ticket, registration went to a lottery two years ago after a few years of overloaded servers trying to process the thousands of people trying to register the second online registration opened. As a member of the Runner's Club, you no longer have to go through the lottery and have automatic entry if you want it.

The MCM Runner's Club is not far off the SNL 5 Timer's Club! Ha Ha!

After all that work to get into the Runner's Club, this year I decided to sit this one out, until I found out I got a bib for NYC and my boyfriend Bart would be running both the MCM and the New York City Marathon. This would be the perfect opportunity to not only run MCM again, but spend a much needed week with Bart. So I got a bib and was now back for my 6th time!

I flew into Washington, DC Friday night and grabbed a cab to the AC Hotel at National Harbor, where Bart was waiting for me. The hotel was just around the corner from the expo, which was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, but 12 miles from the race start.

This was a new venue this year and when they made the announcement last year that the expo would move so far away from the Metro and Start/Finish area, people were gearing up for a disaster. I don't know what other people's experience was but I found National Harbor to be lovely.

Saturday morning, Bart had some Runner's World duties to attend to so while he was gone I jumped out of bed and walked around the corner to the expo to be there in time for the 8:15AM opening.When I got there there were people there, but I didn't wait in line for anything! I am so used to standing in line forever, but this year was a treat! 

Heading into the expo greeted by Marines!

Fining my number to pick up my bib.

These nice young Marines having fun at the packet pick up.

Getting this year's patch for my kilt! 

Got my bib!

Time to rock the mock!

What else would I be thinking at MCM?

After I picked up my race packet I met Bart at the Runner's bRUNch where he was the guest speaker. The Runner's bRUNch started with a 5K run followed by a breakfast of bagels, muffins, fresh friut, bacon, both hot and clod cereal and yogurt.

Bart giving his talk.

After the Runner's bRUNch, Bart had to take his shift at the Runner's World booth at the expo, so I met up with my friends Georges, Jonathan and their nephew Jozef (who is 16 years old and running his 2nd marathon) and we walked around the expo taking pics, seeing other friends and photo bombing other peoples photos (sorry folks, but yes WE are the strangers in your pictures) Hee Hee!

At this point the expo was a mad house. If you plan on running this race in the future, going to the expo when the doors open will give you the best experience and if you want the best official MCM gear from the Brooks store, you will find a better selection and you won't have to wait in the insanely long line. Check out what I am talking about in this Facebook live video.

Geroges, Johnathan, Jozef and I with Miles the MCM Bulldog!

Miles and I (with attempted photobomb by Jonathan). 

It is always so great to see Jim and Brian!

I met Floyd on the course of my very 1st MCM and we are still friends today!

Molly and I!

Fun at the Runner's World booth!

We had too much coffee! Ha Ha!

After the expo, Bart and I got a bite to eat and before he had to go back to the expo for a few more hours for more meetings and talks and I took a much needed nap.

Bart taking a break to have lunch together.

When Bart finished with all his duties, he and I went to to grab dinner at a nice Italian place (less than a 1/4 mile from the hotel) called Fiorella Pizzeria. They had the best thin crust pizza I have had in a long time. Super thin and crispy and even though we ate the whole pizza, we didn't feel overstuffed or heavy after eating it. The perfect pre-race dinner.

This place has great thin crust pizza!

This is a great place to watch football!

After dinner we went back to the hotel and got ready for race day. We laid out our "Flat Angie and Bart" and got to bed early. 

Flat Angie and Bart

We got up at 3:45AM to be out the door by 4:30AM. Bart had a parking pass near the finish line so we drove down and parked the car near the finish and walked the 30 minutes to the Runner's World VIP tent where we had a little breakfast of bagels and coffee and relaxed before heading to the start. We had no issues at all with security this year. I think people took getting there early seriously as the VIP tent was 3/4 full when we got there at 5:45AM.

I was sitting relaxing when Bart called me outside of the VIP tent. He knew I would want my picture taken with Phil. He was right!

The race started at 7:55AM, so I set up the Maniac photo at 7:30AM sharp and then headed to the start.  

Maniacs in the Athlete's Village.

Georges, Jonathan, Bart, Jozef and I at the start.

Bart Jennifer, Brian, me and Jim who was running his 1st marathon!

Melanie, Bart and I!

Forest Gump juggler.

Ospreys flying over at the start.

I always like to be in the starting corral in time to watch the skydivers jump out of the planes with the big American flags and all the flyovers, but this year we didn't see any of that. The only thing we saw at the start was a couple of Ospreys fly over. That was cool, but the opening ceremonies were a little lacking from year's past.

Before we knew it the Howitzer cannon was shot and we were off!

Marines holding flags from many different nations.

This in one of the most humbling sights you will see at the start of a marathon. Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of many of our Nation's fallen. 

It's not the MCM without a selfie with a Marine!

It's Bart!

More Marines!

The Potomac River.

We were very lucky to have such nice weather, but it was pretty humid and the day was getting warmer. Bart and I were going easy to try and work on a negative split.

Running over the Key Bridge.

All branches of the military participate in the MCM!

Great to see JC on the course!

Is that Michael Jackson or Steven Yee?

These guys were awesome running with full packs and carrying Old Glory!

The Kennedy Center

The Marine Corps Band!

This is what MCM is all about!

At around mile 9.5 we run through The Blue Mile. This is dedicated to the fallen men and women who made the greatest sacrifice. I only filmed one side of the Blue Mile, but there were photos on both sides.

At around mile 10, Bart's leg started giving him some real trouble, so we slowed down. By the time we reached the half, Bart thought he may have to drop, but luckily he didn't have any cash on him to get a cab or train back to the finish. So I told him I would stay with him and we could run, walk or both to get him to the finish.

The MCM is the best tour of Washington, DC you can get!

The Jefferson Memorial

Bart and I in front of The Washington Monument

There were lots of flags at the MCM!

Gabby and I in front of the Washington Monument

The African American History Museum was beautiful!

Bart and I in front of the Capitol!

The US Capitol

The Smithsonian

Runner's had to make it to the Gauntlet at mile 15.5 by 12:38PM. If you made it through the Gauntlet, you had until 1:15PM to beat the 14th Street bridge at mile 18. In the past the bridge was at mile 20, but with the starting line staying open for a full hour to allow people ample time to get through security (which was a big problem last year), they added 2 miles in Crystal City and moved the bridge up to mile 18. We had 2 hours to spare, so once we hit we hit the bridge we walked more than we ran so Bart's leg did not get worse. 

Jim kicking butt on his first marathon. Brian was cool to run with him as he is super fast!

Abbi, our Maniac friend from Kentucky, joined us for a while and we had fun chatting with other runners. When we got to the mile 22 aid station where we the Marines were giving out animal crackers., Bart was able to do some run/walk intervals. The cookies were delicious, except when we got to the next aid station with dry animal cracker mouths and the aid station had run out of cups! The Marines were pouring water into people's mouths and hands! Aid station fail, but we made the best of it.  

I want to be in this drum group! They always look like they are having a blast!

In the last mile, we past this man, who was in his final mile of the 10K. Again, THIS is what the MCM is all about! (Photo credit: Teresa Murad)

By mile 25 Bart was in a lot of pain, so we just walked to mile 26. At mile 26, you reach the hill that leads up to the Marine Corps War Memorial and the finish line. In year's past, the Marines would line that hill and yell at you to complete your mission. The hill is hard at mile 26, but when Marines are yelling at you, if you are physically able to run, you run up that hill. 

At this time most people around us were walking, so I told Bart that I was going to take that hill and I encouraged other runners to join me! When I turned the corner, I tore up that hill passing everyone on it! One of the Marines started yelling "Yes Mam! Yes Ma! THAT's how you do it!" I crossed the finish line and waited for Bart. 

So we both ran close to our slowest marathons ever, but we got to spend every step together. That was really nice. I also got the chance to notice things I had not noticed in the past. 

The MCM has the highest percentage of 1st time marathoners of any marathon in the country, so I LOVED seeing all the people out supporting their friends and family members. That exact moment that the spectator sees their runner on the course was AMAZING! Such excitement for the spectator and happiness for the runner was always so cool to see. I made me well up at times.

We also got the chance to meet my new buddies Glenn Geelhoed and Cowan Moore. I thought I was cool with my 6th MCM finish, but Glenn finished his 40th MCM! There was only one guy in the 20,000 people that ran 41 times. Incredible.

Glenn Geelhoed and Cowan Moore and I at the finish!

NOTHING beats getting your medal from a cute officer!

Bart getting his medal from a cute officer too!

This is a great place to finish a race!

Bart and I in front of the Marine War Memorial at the finish. So proud of Bart for sticking it out with how bad he was hurting. WAY TO GO BABY!

After the race Bart and I headed to the Runner's World VIP after party at the Hyatt where we were able to get some food, take a shower, and get on the road to Bethlehem.

Bart at the Runner's World VIP after party.

Once again the MCM comes through as one of my very favorite marathons. HUGE thanks to Bart for making this happen for me! It always delivers and I can't wait to come back for #7. If you want a great race, cool and historic scenery, men and women in uniform and a challenging course with lost of spectators and a really cool medal, The Marine Corps Marathon gets an OORAH from me and I think you would love it too!

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