Marine Corps Marathon – Washington, D.C.

Completed in 3:27:05. Commentary following the pictures.

Friday, October 28, 2:55 pm
I am currently on the train to D.C., less than 48 hours until my Marathon.  And of course, right now I am in Wilmington, Delaware. Just five months ago I attempted to complete the marathon in this city.  I failed. Now is not the time to recount those failures. But I find it so fitting that I must venture through this very city yet again on the road to Washington D.C.

Saturday, October 29, 2:50 pm
I’m currently in a car driving around in the snow. I figure now would be an appropriate time to reflect on the marathon tomorrow.  I am ready for it to be done, am ready to get on with my life.  The race does not worry me. It is going to be a long, cold morning.  I will simply will myself to complete it. No tricks, no games. I will simply run 26.2 miles as fast as I can. That simple.

Sunday, October 30, 4:05 am
It is marathon morning. Four hours from now I will be running in a cold Washington D.C. 26.2 miles – it’s such an arbitrary distance. Nonetheless, it is what we call a marathon. A long run.  It will hurt. So what. About 3 hours 20 minutes later, it will be over. And I will be a runner.

3:07 pm
It is over. Mission complete. 26.2 miles done.  My time sucked, but given he conditions I’ll take it. 10 miles in I was flying, until I felt a sharp pain shoot up from my right knee. It was bad enough for me to stop. I have never felt something like that while running. Oh well.  Then, another mile later, I felt a sharp pain in my left knee.  Mind you, I have another 15 miles to go…almost two hours. And every step was going to be incredibly painful.

I had a decision to make: drop out, or run through it. I came with a mission, and I wasn’t leaving without completing it. Another few miles, my feet began to hurt, badly. My shoe was too tight.  I screwed up tying it at the beginning because by the time the race started, it was so cold I couldn’t feel my feet.

Yet I kept going. Sometimes running, sometimes shuffling. 23 miles. 24 miles. Almost there, but the pain intensified.  25 miles. Then, there it was, 26 miles.  I cried I was so happy. But I still had to get there.

26 miles done. .2 left…almost straight uphill.  Shuffle some more. Can barely stand. The pain is worse now it’s over. My body temperature collapses. Yet, I am done.

Other anecdotes
The Bridge (Miles 20 and 21)
A true gut check. It was unquestionably the toughest part of the marathon. While it was flat, it was completely deserted.  Everyone around you is in pain. Walking, cramping, dropped out.  There was no one there. No marines, no spectators. Just me and my pain. Alone. Step after step. Cold, pain, alone, unforgiving.

After the Finish
The end of the race may have been the worst part of the whole experience.  You cross the finish line, and all the pain you’ve been holding back floods your body.  Your body temperature drops, and your muscles cramp. You shiver, you’re thirsty and hungry, but it is hard to try to eat and drink. People say congratulations, and you thank them to be polite. But you feel empty. You leave a piece of you soul out there, never to return.

I am sitting on the train headed home. What do I know?  First, that was unquestionably the hardest workout I have ever had.  And I can’t wait until I am in good enough shape to do it again.

Second, there is no doubt I’ll complete some ultra-marathons.  The more the merrier.