RR: Marine Corps Marathon

The first race report I can remember was for the Marine Corps Marathon and I knew even before I was done reading it – I have to do this race! My instincts were right!

I signed up for MCM the day registration opened. I didn’t even bother to see if anyone would do it with me. Most of my runner friends have made it clear they have no desire to do a full marathon and I wasn’t going to let being alone stop me. Halloween is my favorite holiday, I love dressing up, and I figured if I couldn’t go out I’d at least run in costume. A few months later my friend, and Pikermi Pro, Tiffany mentioned she wanted to come with me and do the 10k. Sweet!

I was congested, achy, and with a sore throat starting Wednesday of race week. My coworkers were telling me to go home but I kept saying I wasnt sick in an effort to convince myself I wasn’t. I even told a friend “I’m not sick – I just can’t stand too long without wanting to pass out.” Yeah, I really thought that made sense at the time. By Saturday I was feeling better…but whether I really did or just conviced myself I did was questionable.

Tiff and I made great time driving up to DC and even got checked into the hotel early Saturday afternoon. While on the Metro, I was happy thinking I’d be in time for the 3pm Loopster (the Runner’s World Comunity) meeting. The Metro got more and more crowded as we approached the convention center. I knew the Fear/Sanity rallies were going on, but I originally thought the city was big enough for two major events and we’d be far from that action. WRONG. Always nice having a stranger’s butt in your face while in a moving vehicle. Esp if the person attached to the butt is carrying a sign that says “This is a sign.” Obviously she was on Team Sanity.

Coming into the convention center I scanned the area for the Loopster meet up information booth. I’m not the most observant person in the world, but I saw nothing. It was only 2 so I figured we’d be out of the Expo in time to look again. The Expo was crowded yet organized. I have to say I’m disappointed with the shirt. It’s a thick cotton mock turtleneck. This girl doesn’t do mock turtlenecks. I wont even be sleeping in that puppy.

The shirt wasn’t a big deal because I planned to buy one of those nice Brooks MCM jackets only to find out they sold out earlier in the morning except for one XS. I tried it on and cursed my ***** for preventing my purchase. The jacket barely zipped over the girls and they were not happy about the restriction. Tiffany later said that she saw a lot of those jackets worn by people running the 10k. Grrrrrr.

Since I had budgeted the jacket money anyway, I got a hat, a shirt, a headband, and a pair of shorts…all for less than I would have spend on the jacket. Too bad it took a lot more time. It was 4:30 before we thought about exiting the Expo. Opps.

At that point Tiff and I met up with her brother-in-law’s roommate who was down from Boston to run the race. None of us had eaten lunch yet (yes, very bad idea) so obviously that was the next mission. We headed to an Italian spot in Chinatown (makes sense, right) right around the same time the rally people decided it was dinner time too. The 10 min wait, which was thought was too good to be true but figured small 3 some vs large party advantage, turned to 40…and when we were finally let in to the restaurant, it was some German cafeteria sytle made to order pasta place. We waited in another line that didn’t move for 20 min before giving up to try another restaurant. Even Ruby Tuesdays  had a 2 hour wait. OMG. At this point all I had ate that day was a bagel. Tiffany and I started eating everything in our Expo bags trying to get calories. I knew going back towards the hotel would be no good. We were staying in Crystal City, with the rest of the marathon…so we hopped the overly crowded Metro to Dupont Cirle.  By the time we ate dinner, it was almost 8pm. Crap. I knew I didnt eat enough calories for even a Pikermi but eating more that late would only make me sluggish. This was going to be an interesting race.

Wake up was at 5am. Race morning routine included applying more self tanner, put on my dress, and the Tiff did my hair. This was my first race ever in costume and I was so excited to run a freakin marathon as Snooki. After a quick pic Tiff and I said out good-byes at the Metro, since the 10k started at the same time as the marathon but in a totally different part of DC.

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The walk from the Pentagon to the Runner’s Village seemed to take forever. I wasn’t seeing many costumed runners and I quietly cursed them for being boring. It’s freakin Halloween! Porta Potty lines didn’t look too bad…but it was the slowest moving line in America!
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Luckily it was easy and quick to check my bag and I quickly made my way to the start in time to hear the cannon go off. WOW there was a lot of people. I tried to find the right corral but Marines were yelling at runners to get on the other side of the dividers. I ended up in one of the last corrals next to a group of guys who looked and smelled like they just left the Jack Daniels distillery. Of course, the costume attracted attention and one started telling me he was Italian. Darnit! I dont really love guidos you weirdo. I pushed my way up through the crowd to get away from them.
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It took 25 min to reach the start but I finally made it! The first 3 miles were a lot hillier than I anticipated but I stayed on pace. Unfortunately staying on pace meant weaving. A lot of weaving. Way more weaving than a smart person would do. By mile 6 I was getting fatigued but the crowds and excitement pushed me through. Georgetown was amazing! The “GO SNOOKI” screams and fist pumps really pumped me up. As we pulled out of Georgetown, I was tired – way more tired than I would be at that point of a Pikermi. I started getting upset. I dont really remember much of the course from mile 10 to the half way point. I was having a pity party in my head and thinking about quitting. Really? Another bad marathon? I’m sticking to Pikermis. I hate marathons.
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Even with the crowds, I was in a crummy mood
Around the half way point a man came next to me and said, “I cant wait to tell my daughter I ran with Snooki.” We chatted for a half mile before he took off…it was only then I saw his shirt was covered with pink ribbons and “In memory of my wife, Aimee.” The emotion that swept over me thinking about that nice man and his daughter snapped me out of my funk. I dont know his name, but I owe the rest of the race to him. I started having fun!
The rest of the race was a blur of smiles and fist pumps. I dont know how I possibly had a pity party earlier. Once I looked around, there were people running with prosthetic limbs, groups with 80+ lbs ruck sacks, people running with thepic of their child/spouse/friend and KIA date on their shirts, and huge American flags. Not to mention all the  monuments. Everywhere you looked there was motivation and inspiration.
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Ray had been carrying the flag, and this couple stopped to share his burden
I took tons of pics and I’m super happy I ran with my camera. Running by the monuments was awesome! The costume also helped too. Tiff and I managed to see each other around mile 18…and that excitement carried me 2 miles to the bridge. I’ve never had someone cheer for me mid race, and I always though people were lying when they said it gave them a boost that lasted miles. You guys aren’t lying!
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All smiles by the Washington Monument
The bridge was lonely and windy. I walked almost all of it. For the first time ever I wasn’t upset about walking during a race. Most people seemed to be walking this stretch and it was over in no time. You heard the screams coming from Crystal City before you were off the Bridge. It was like the course came alive again and I resumed running. It hurt a lot at this point but I decided to fake it. I ran like it didnt hurt and forced myself into good form. People seemed to notice screaming “Looking strong Snooki!” The wind in this stretch seemed worse than the bridge and was knocking down some of the large flags that lined the course, which was super congested. I was forced to weave around people (and a few falling flags). It hurt too much to alter my stride so I wasted energy moving around them.
It was lonely leaving Crystal City and heading back towards the Pentagon. There were very little crowds and the course widened a lot. With 2 miles left I knew I had it. I moved myself a long my thanking every Marine I saw, something I tried to do for most of the race. The 26 mile marker seemed surreal and the hill behind it looked like a monster. I questioned my ability to run up it but, again, this race is full of inspiration. At the bottom of the hill on the inside corner of the turn was a man with no legs, screaming his heart out, demanding that we finish strong and get our butts up that hill. I had no choice but to charge up it to the finish. The emotion was intense and I choked back tears during the final stretch. I’ve never cried during or after a race before.
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Crying and smiling up the hill
My time was 5:19:30, which was way over what I predicted based on my training. I’m still very proud of this race. The pictures on Marathon Foto show me smiling and happy. How many people can say they ran the last half of a marathon with a smile on their face? More importantly, how many people can say the did a marathon in a dress and their poof lasted 26.2 miles?
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