They don’t call this the people’s marathon for no reason!!!
Held in the Nation’s Capital, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one spectacular race. So many emotions running through and seeing our nation’s landmarks.
The MCM is a mostly a lottery based race, meaning you have to enter a lottery and hope that you get selected. There are other ways to get in if you are not one of the lucky ones ie: charity. Lottery opens up early March and results will be known by late March. If you are one of the lucky ones to be chosen, then begin your planning for the race!! BTW, 2015 will be the 40th anniversary!!
Depending on where you are flying in from, my recommendation would be to fly into Reagan National Airport instead of Dulles. Even though there are more flights going into Dulles, Reagan is closer to the city and will be a shorter cab ride. No need to rent a car since you can get anywhere in the city via the metro. If you plan to visit the nearby areas (Georgetown) then you may need a rental car. This year they were offering a commemorative metro (reusable) card that cost $10 ($2 fee + $8 pre-loaded value). Be sure to order the card in advance so that it is mailed to you in time for your trip.
Thursday was mostly a travel day and after arriving Thursday night, there was time to just grab a bite to eat and get some rest and watch some Football!! One thing I had a hard time with was, being from the West Coast, football was on so late!! And coupled with the Giants being in the World Series, it made for some very late nights.
Friday morning started with a tour of the White House. On my last visit to DC, I did not get the opportunity to do the tour so I made sure I had this one lined up. A tour of the White House requires a request being sent to your local Representative. You will need to do this well in advance. I believe I made the request at least 5 months in advance. The tour is definitely one thing to see but once you’ve done it, I don’t ever see the need to go back. Lots of pictures but most of the rooms were sectioned off so all you can do is just “peak” in. As I was walking through one of the rooms (red room) I found the wallpaper really intriguing and wanted to “feel” the texture. Word of caution – Don’t touch the wallpaper!! Unless you want the guards to scold you! LOL!! (Of course I touched it!!)
After the White House tour, it was off to the Expo. Word of caution – get to the expo early. The lines getting into the expo was long (but not as long as NYCM) since everyone had to go through security. The expo was held at the DC Armory which was just a short metro ride from the White House. Once you get through security, the line inside to get your bib was non-existent. I was able to walk right up to the cute young Marine to get my bib. 😀 It was pretty much your typical expo. Brooks was the official sponsor of the MCM apparel. There was plenty of gear and I did end up purchasing a jacket. The lines may appear long but there were well over 30 cashiers and things were moving along fairly quickly. After a quick visit with our buddy Toby from marathonfoto, it was time to split.
A quick bite to eat and then it was time for the Night Trolley Monument Tour (yes purchase tickets in advance). A few of the INKnBURN ambassadors suggested that we meet up and do this tour. It was really cool to see the monuments at night plus you get to ride a trolley to them. I know, I’m a runner blah blah blah, but let me tell ya, if I don’t “have” to run, then I’m not running! LOL!!
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Night trolley tour
Saturday morning consisted of a shake out run, bRUNch. This is a non-timed 5k held on the day prior to the marathon that you can register for. There is a bib that you pick up at the expo but this 5k is not timed. With your registration, you receive a book about the history of the MCM, a commemorative chip and a bountiful breakfast. Sean Astin was the guest host along with Bart Yasso. The 5k route started at the Iwo Jima Memorial site and followed alongside Arlington Cemetery. We crossed the bridge over to the Lincoln Memorial and wrapped around it heading back. They one key thing about this 5k is that on your way back, you get to run that “hill” that everyone refers to at the end of the marathon. It is a short steep hill and can get you, especially after running 26 miles, but as long as you have hill runs within your training, you will do just fine. After the bountiful brunch, we decided to visit Arlington Cemetery since we were already in the area. This, by far, is my most favorite place to visit of all the places in DC. I can sit there for hours watching them do the changing of the guards. These guys guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at all hours even in inclement weather. The changing takes place at the top of the hour every hour (half hour during the summer). If you happen to get there, it is worth it to wait, and witness this ceremony. Along with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, our 35th President John F. Kennedy jr. is buried there along with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Next to them is the Eternal Flame. These are just some of the memorials to see at Arlington but if you do have some time, walk the grounds of this sacred place and you can appreciate all who have given their lives for our Freedom. After the visit to Arlington, it was time for some rest and relaxation. We wanted to stay off our feet for the rest of the day so we headed back home, cooked up a pasta dinner, prep for race day and it was off to bed.
Book that was given at the bRUNch
Race day – You know how every race tells you to give yourself plenty of time to get to the race on race morning, well, they are not joking about this one. And if you guys know me, I’m one of those runners that usually get there with plenty of time. I thought giving myself 2 hours was plenty of time but in reality it was just about right. I would recommend at least 3 hours. We took the metro to the race and once we exited at the Pentagon metro station, it was just packed full of runners getting through the turnstiles. Once we made our way through the station, we headed to the start area. It was a good walk but the most surreal thing was seeing all the military presence with their big ass guns!!! And then you realize, oh yeah, we are at the Pentagon!!! Getting to the start was also a cluster. We had to go through security and that took awhile. We made it through with the just the right amount of time. Straight to the porta-potty, dropped off our gear check bags and off to the corrals. Word of caution – MCM is a self seeded corral assignment. If you are planning on running with the pacer, make sure you know the pace per mile so you can find them in the correct corral. The start of the race consisted of parachute jumpers carrying the American Flag. Such a great site to see. They was also a flyover by 2 Ospreys!!!!
We got so lucky with the weather. It was actually, in all considerations, warm for a marathon. I wore my usual race shorts along with my INKnBURN Patriot Tank. I had planned on wearing my arm sleeves but at the last minute decided to drop them off in my gear check bag. Thank goodness I did because it was hot!! I did have a garbage bag on but stripped that off within the first few miles. One thing that I did notice, more so at this race than at any other I’ve seen, were bath robes!!!! What a great idea!! I’m definitely using that one at my next “cold” race!!
The first few miles was a gradual climb. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’ve worked in some hill training, you should be ok. There is also “beat the bridge” which is at mile 20. You must maintain 14 min per mile in order to reach the 14th street bridge. Overall the course was awesome!! There were a few miles (10-13) that the crowds were fairly thin, but overall the crowd support was amazing. I would highly recommend this race to anyone. It is one that you must add to your to-do list!!! And what better year to do it than in 2015, the 40th Anniversary of The Marine Corps Marathon!!!!