Marathons: Paul #27, Leah #17, State #12 : Marine Corps Marathon 2013
27th October 2013, Arlington, Virginia, USA
Finish Time = 3:57:48
This was a very patriotic marathon organised by the US Marines and involving many people who have lost loved ones in the military. This is a hugely popular marathon in the US, it sells out within minutes of opening every year and we were lucky to get places. I had literally sat at the computer waiting for the exact time the entries opened, at which point the website promptly crashed. I spent the next hour refreshing the page, getting part way through the application before it would crash again, starting again. Eventually I managed to get myself registered but it took a further hour of constant refreshing to get Leah in. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get her application submitted before it filled.
When we arrived on the day to pick up our packets it was insane. There were hundreds of people in confusing queues that were so long no-one could even see where the back of the queue was. I can’t remember how long it took us now but I think we were queuing for around 2 hours just to pick up our assigned numbers. We hadn’t anticipated this so were dehydrated and hungry from standing outside for so long.
We spent the rest of the day doing some sightseeing in Washington DC. We just happened to be there on the one weekend in the year where they do a garden tour of the White House, which meant we were able to go into the grounds and walk right up to the entrance. We also got to see the West Wing (from the outside) where the President gives a lot of speeches. There were of course Secret Service everywhere which also added to the fun.
After the White House we walked through the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and onto to the iconic Lincoln Memorial, which of course I instantly recognised from Planet of the Apes.
On marathon day we headed over to the start of the course which was a bit of a free-for-all. There were starting areas based on finish time but it was just down to people to line up wherever they wanted and eventually it became so crowded you couldn’t even see where these pens were. We tried to push up towards more of the middle but were just crushed with people. I started having flashbacks to the Singapore marathon, except it wasn’t as hot, or humid, and there were less Singaporeans around.
We ended up starting much further back than we would have wanted to which meant fighting through a lot of people running slower than we wanted to run.
The course had some steep hills, including the last 0.2 miles which is a sharp climb to the finish, and with the field of 30,000 runners made it very cramped in places, forcing us to walk several times. It was impossible to run at a natural pace and we completed the first half in 2:02. We realized we and had to push out a negative-split in order to finish in under 4 hours. It made it much tougher having to dodge in and out of people, speed up, slow down, etc and it was very painful by the end. Still, being high-fived and cheered on by Marines was a very humbling experience. We managed to run the second half in 1:55 and snatched the sub 4.
The Marines were on the course throughout, with a lot of them at the finish. We saluted them as we crossed the line and almost felt guilty accepting praise from them for completing a marathon when you know they go through experiences far more painful, scary and dangerous on a sometimes daily basis.
Making Me Look Bad, Man
One of Leah’s favourite pictures of me from the race was taken on the steep hill you have to climb up to get to the finish line for the last 0.2 miles. Let me show you what I’m talking about:
Look at the climb from 26 to 26.2. Don’t get me wrong, an 80 foot climb is not exactly the worst hill ever but it is a steep incline and placing it at 26 miles can definitely lead to a face of grimace as you try to power up it to the finish line. Which is what happened with me. Now I’m all for pictures that show the obvious struggle on the face of the runner, weary from battle and fighting through the last few minutes of 4 hours of effort. And that would have been great, had it not been for the gentleman behind me, who definitely has a few more years on me, with his knee brace on, laughing and smiling like it’s no big thing.
And now you want to see the picture don’t you… do you know how much each one of these costs?!
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