Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon- Another PR is Always a Good Thing

The trip to D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon was a success. Ginger, YD, and I rolled out of Boone Friday night and made our way up to PA to hang out with my parents for the night. It was great to see them, and YD was psyched to see his grandparents. Saturday morning Mom, YD, and I took a little walk to go find a little coffee to fuel the drive down to D.C. for packet pickup. Glad we got lots of coffee because packet pick up was a Zoo! The lines were insane! I was prepared for a cluster, but I have to say it exceeded anything I could have imagined! It literally took hours to work our way through the lines. I guess I should have known. I've never run a huge race like this. I typically only enter ultras, and you'll never find 30,000 people looking to toe the line at a 50 or 100 miler. There just aren't that many people in the world who are deranged enough for that, I guess. But, we took it all in stride and had a good time with it. That's really all you can do, and this weekend wasn't about just running a race. It was about honoring our fallen brothers and sisters. One of the Always Brothers MCM runners, John Straseskie, is a perfect example of our mission. John was running to honor his brother Kirk, who died trying to save the life of four of his brothers. Check out this inspiring story about Kirk here. I have to say that Kirk's story has influenced me like no other. He truly was a hero. I plan to dedicate the rest of my training this year and my run at the Rocky Raccoon 100 to Kirk. My efforts are only a drop in the ocean of honor that Kirk deserves.

My roommate from the 8th & I and Camp David days, Jeremy Kelly, met us at packet pickup and then we linked up with a bunch of the other runners at the hotel. It was great to see Geoff and Carla and meet some new Always Brothers family members at the hotel. It was great meeting Ken Hickman, JP, Gene and Mary Bryant, Kathryne, and John. They are some amazing folks. Everyone turned in early to get ready for the 5:30 am trip to the start line. On our way, we encountered another maze of lines, but it was lots of fun. We laughed and made jokes about classic Marine Corps hurry up and wait operations.

The start line was like nothing I've ever experienced or imagined. 30,000 people all lined up and ready to put themselves to the test. JK and I made our way to the 3:45 starting corral. We should have gone up to 3:15. I spent the first half of the race weaving my way through the mass of humanity that was making its way through the streets of northern VA and Georgetown. It was impossible to be anything but happy though. I was surrounded by people honoring their loved ones and my brothers. With marching bands, hilarious signs, and hordes of people cheering us on, it was truly an awe-inspiring scene.

I was treating this as just another training run. I was hoping for a marathon PR because that's just how I operate. I'm always pushing myself to get stronger. But, I wasn't really that focused on time. Two weeks ago I ran the New River 50K and PRed that course, so I wasn't sure how my body would react to another serious effort. The main goal (training wise) is to get ready for Rocky, so I didn't want to injure myself. The real goal for the day was to just have fun, honor my brothers, and encourage people whenever I could. It turned out to be a great day because I was able to accomplish all of these goals. Once I reached that halfway point, the crowed thinned out and I started getting after some serious negative splits. Check them out:

My favorite part of the course was a section on Haynes point that had the road lined with pictures of fallen heroes. It was inspiring, and it really put any perceived suffering into perspective. No matter how rough I might feel, it is nothing compared to what these men and women and their families have sacrificed. It as beautiful seeing so many people being honored.

As I rolled into the last 5 miles, I really pushed myself. I wanted to see how hard I could go as I finished up the race. It was so cool to see the Marines and spectators lining the course. My second favorite part of the course was the finish. It was all Marine. At mile 26, the course takes a sharp left turn straight up a hill to the Iwo Jima memorial. It was classic. Oh, you ran 26 miles? You're tired? Suck it up and climb this hill. Awesome!!

The finish of the race was fun. I felt great, and I was happy to beat my marathon PR by almost 10 minutes. The best part though? Seeing my Ginger and my friends at the finish. I was so proud of them. Carla, Geoff, JK, Kathryne, and Ken finished their first marathons in style. JP and Gene set new PR's. Ginger achieved a new marathon PR on a course that was not an easy one.

It was great to see everyone happy and feeling proud at the finish line. Check out Ginger and me celebrating some awesome hardware. She looks like she's at the start not the finish-bad ass!

JK finished in full-on beast mode and looked no worse for the wear.

All in all, it was a great event. We raised lots of money for Always Brothers and, most importantly, we honored some heroes. I'm glad we have some new members of the Always Brothers family. I'm looking forward to our next event in Ohio this Memorial Day. Hit me up if you are interested in joining this great cause. We will have relay teams for the 100 mile run in Ohio. Each team will honor a hero. We will also have some folks who will attempt the full 100. It won't be a race, though. It's about staying together and honoring those who make it possible for us to live the good life.

This week, I've been getting lots of work done at the office and keeping the training rolling. Rocky Raccoon, I'm coming for you!

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