On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MCM review

Marine Corps Marathon. Or, as I like to call it, the People's (Republic of) Marathon.

Point in case. Marine Corps:

People's Republic of China:

Maybe the Marine Corps Marathon is called the People's Marathon because it doesn't offer prize money to elites. Or maybe it's a subtle comparison with China, huh? All I know is that when I pulled out the t-shirt, my friend's husband immediately drew the comparison and started laughing.

If our new communist race directors keep the price as low as it is (registration is less than $100), I'm good with it. I'm not really good with the cotton mock turtleneck, but with my registration savings I bought myself a swank t-shirt of my own choosing.

But don't worry about a risk of any actual communists. This guy at the start line was on the case:

"Only the tea party can save us now."
The short story: I finished the race in 5:28. I was hoping for something much closer to 5 hours, but it didn't happen. I never crashed, I was just slow throughout the whole race.

The long story: I went out too fast, the first third was hillier than I expected, the spectators were fewer and the course was more desolate than I expected, the cold was more miserable than I expected, but overall it was okay.

The good: 

  • I had a spectator! At mile 23! A friend from grad school made a sign and brought me nuun! It was awesome!
  • The course is shaped like a penis! You see it, too, right?

  • Marines are awesome. I did not mind having uniformed Marines hand me water, or donuts, or a lunch box at the end of the race.  

Do know, though, that the marines do everything at this race, including yelling out the time (in lieu of a clock) at the mile markers. Trying to figure out what "One hundred and thirty two minutes and forty-seven seconds!" meant pace-wise bought me an extra few minutes of distraction.

The bad:

  • I was lonely. I'd planned to meet up with some of Carla's running group at the start, and I did meet up with Ilana - but then I lost her at a porta-potty at the start (although she was faster than me, anyway!). I can run by myself. But I was expecting either crowd support or company and I had neither.
  • I was cold. On paper, the weather was perfect. 35 at the start heading up to a high in the mid-40s. Thing is, I haven't run in anything that cold since last winter. I freaked out and bought a long-sleeved shirt during the snowstorm on Saturday, and I planned to wear it along with a skirt. I ditched my throwaway clothes at the start, and my legs were cold for the first 8 miles. And then, they turned immediately from frozen to jello.
  • I didn't expect the hills. My own stupidity for not researching the course map. I kept to my 5 hour pace through about mile 10 or 11, when I saw the pace group pace me. I tried to keep up, but I couldn't.
  • The bathroom situation was bleak. (This didn't affect me, fortunately.) Lines for porta-potties were long. Around mile 7, the porta-potties were inexplicably placed essentially on the course (they were on the edge, but the lines extended into and completely blocked the entire course for 50 feet, forcing runners to hop a curb and run through a yard). Lines never got shorter, and during the more accessible parts of the course, lines were 20 deep with spectators waiting.
  • People are annoying. You probably suspected I was kind of irritated with my fellow runners/spectators from yesterday's post. The spectators were mostly amazing, as always, except I think the cold made them more subdued (compared to my expectations, that is). And the other runners? UGH. I know I was toward the back-of-the-pack, but please. I might be running a 5.5 hour race, but I'm running. Please: don't block the course.
All in all, I would give the race itself an enthusiastic thumbs up. My race, I still need to think about that for a while. On one hand, it's the fastest marathon I've run since my blood clot a few years ago. On the other hand, I felt like I was capable of a 5 hour marathon and I was confident I would be sub-5:15. I need to give some thought to figuring out what happened and why I didn't get there.

And don't bother telling me I was close. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Still, it's a cool medal. The middle part (with the globe) spins around.

Hopefully I'll think about this quickly and come to some resolution, since my next marathon is in - gulp - five days?


  1. My bad if I forgot to warn you that the first 8 miles are hilly. Like crazy hilly. Last year I only didn't walk up those hills because Jane was keeping me company and I really didn't want to lose the company. Sorry you ended up having no one to run with :( I tried! (And another friend finished at 5:28, you guys could have kept each other company too!)

    On the bright side, your medal is SO MUCH NICER than the one I got last year. I have medal envy. Badly.

    MCM 2013? Let's do it! I need to have *some* sort of goal...

  2. I see a penis & a turd ... just sayin'


  3. That medal is bad ass. I see balls in the course. loiz. Okay, so maybe I DO know what I'm dong next year....

  4. I'm sorry I was not here to be more enthusiastic for you - when I ran it, crowds were fantastic. It was also a bit warmer.

    I think it's interesting you saw the course as hilly...I must just be used to it, because that's what all of my runs are like around here. I think the hill running has really been good for me...I don't realize it until I run flat courses.

  5. You make me laugh. The money they would save instead of that god awful embroidery would've easily covered the cost of a tech tee. And did you see the 10K? It was like a sorority shirt gone horribly wrong.

    The hills were a little insane, esp for the end of the race (seeing as that's all I ran :-) and the ice on the bridge? omg. Not a happy camper.

    But you did it! Congrats! That medal is amazing.

  6. So lousy that I lost you to the worlds worst porta potty ever!!! Okay maybe they all are but ugh such a bummer. So glad I got to meet you and do post MCM party with you!!!!!

  7. A running skirt in 35*F to 40s for several hours?! God bless you. It is no fun when one's legs start feeling like they have turned into blocks of concrete no longer under the jurisdiction of one's body. Ooof. I had one experience like that and now hilariously overcompensate by donning long tights for just about anything below 50*F.

    It's a drag you didn't have the company/crowd support you anticipated. That nuun/sign-bearing friend at mile 23 must have seemed like an angel from heaven!

  8. I LOVE this race. It's my first, best, and only marathon. I might have to make a return. (It was REALLY cold at the start when I ran it too.)

    Congrats on the finish!

  9. Congrats on the marathon! Schweet medal! I would love to do this one sometime. The whole Marines thing sounds really cool. Okay that comment sounds lame, but I am being sincere.

    What is your plan of attack for NYC?

  10. MCM 2013 here I come!

    NYCM plan of attack... basically, do nothing this week. I ran a few easy miles Monday, I'll run maybe 3 tomorrow and maybe, maybe 2 Friday (or I'll rest). I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow morning.

    Honestly? I'm slow. I don't get as sore because of that. Will it impact my race in New York? Possibly. We'll see...

  11. You can SO do sub 5:15 in NY. Cool medal, BTW.

  12. You wrote "I'm slow. I don't get as sore because of that."...I know some 5+ hour marathoners that finish in really bad shape, I wouldn't say its as simple as you run slow and don't get sore.

  13. I know what you're saying, Aron, but I do think it has to do with training, expectations, and experience. I'm fairly well trained right now (strong enough to finish, but not to race), I didn't push myself too hard during the race, and I've run 9 marathons at this point and have a good sense of what makes me how sore. It's not that I'm NOT sore, it's just that I know my body is capable of more because I've tested it before. If I had run a lot faster I would be more sore because I would have been racing. For me, the difference between running and racing makes a huge difference in terms of how sore I am - and I haven't raced a marathon but for once (and barely then).