WHAT an experience! The Marine Corps Marathons is the most amazing race I’ve ever been a part of.
My brother and my mom arrived in Kansas City on Friday and we headed for the airport to fly to Washington D.C. Our flight was delayed twice but we really weren’t in any hurry so we just chatted catching up on life and talking about all the things we wanted to do in D.C.
We finally arrived to Reagan International and took the Metro to the stop near our hotel. We decided it was just less than an mile and that we could probably walk the the hotel. Bad idea. We each struggled carrying our luggage and reading Google maps on our phone. Finally, Hank led the way and mom and I followed. It was dark. I was frustrated. AND I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to make it.
When we arrived to the hotel, we realized they had a shuttle that picks people up and takes them to the Metro stop. Whoops! Good to know!
On Saturday we traveled over to the Expo. It had a variety of great booths and I got myself I nice Brooks 1/3 zip pullover as a souvenir. We ate at a lovely restaurant that night and watched the Royals win another game of the World Series!
Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I began my pre-race activities. Oatmeal for breakfast, applying lots of Vaseline, and packing my rain gear… and by rain gear, I mean a throw-away poncho. 🙂
We were out of the hotel at 5:20 and on our way to the start line. We took the Metro and followed the giant mass of people walking. I stopped at a porta-potty where I spent over an hour waiting in line. Next, we had to get through security. There were only about 6 metal detectors for 30,000 runners PLUS spectators. It was chaotic and we were crammed in a tight space. The starting ceremony began while I waited in line. We saw the paratroopers with giant American flags. What a sight! The race started and I was still in line.
Some runners simply ran through security, until more guards were stationed in the area. While it’s stressful to not be where you’re supposed to, I refused to let this ruin my experience. Thousands of people were still behind me and my time wasn’t going to start until I crossed that start line. So, I took my time.
I crossed the start line about 15 minutes after the official start. It was amazing to see the Marines lined up. Of course, I took pictures with them!
One of them told me, “YOU’RE a Marine today!” Wow.
The energy was phenomenal. Patriotic. Loud. Positive. Runners carried full-sized American flags. Some ran in their full military gear. Some ran with photos of their fallen comrades on their backs. With every flag that passed, Marines paused, and saluted. I was in awe.
At mile 8 or 9 I decided I couldn’t pass another porta-potty, so I joined about 15 others waiting in line. Around mile 10 I got to see my mom and brother!
Mile 12-13 is the Wear Blue to Remember mile. The first portion was a tribute to fallen Marines. Photos and a little about them were displayed on signs on each side of the path.
The whole route was pretty loud until we hit that mile. At that point, I could only hear the footsteps on the pavement. Chilling.
The second portion featured the families, each holding an American flag and cheering for us. There was no holding back tears and I began to sob. I had to reign it in because it is VERY difficult to run, cry and breathe! I slowed down and took it all in. Truly amazing.
I was surrounded by runners the entire way and dodged slower runners for 26 miles. During other races, it often thins out at some point. I got to see my family two more times around miles 16 and 17. Seeing my mom always helps me to keep going. She’s always so positive, smiling and cheering loudly. LOVE IT.
I wasn’t wearing my watch. I chose not to. Instead, I decided to take it all in and enjoy the race. I knew I was moving slowly but I felt good. My left foot was the only thing giving me problems. Mile 20-21 is the “Beat the Bridge” portion that everyone talks about. It’s a mile long bridge, with no spectators. Again, it grew quiet and more people started walking. After we crossed the bridge spirits were up and I was ready for donuts from Dunkin Donuts at mile 24. The last 1.2 miles felt forever long. Up until this point, I had only walked through the water stops but that last portion I stopped to walk twice before talking myself into finishing it.
In true Marine fashion, the finish line is up a steep incline. I felt it, but I didn’t even care. I was SO excited to almost be done. I pushed through and accepted my medal from a Marine and asked him for a photo.
Walking through the food line after was pure torture. I just wanted to sit down. I saw my mom and started to cry. Every marathon finish- I cry. All I could say was, “I just want to sit down!” My brother took one look at me and pointed to the curb. He suggested I sit. And I did. I just needed a moment.
After a bit I was able to walk towards the Metro station and go back to the hotel. That night we had some awesome pizza for dinner and reflected on the day. My mom said that she didn’t even notice people checking their watches like at other races. Everyone was there to BE in the moment and to enjoy the race.
The next three days my mom, brother, and I spent sight-seeing. We viewed Arlington Cemetery, the monuments, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, Union Station, the White House, a show at the Kennedy Center, the Capitol and more.
It was truly a fabulous trip and I am so happy that my mom and brother, Hank could enjoy it with me. THANK YOU for being the best cheerleaders!
The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa is only another week and a half away!