Seeing my family on the course.
Without a doubt, this was by far the best part of this marathon. My brother and his wife live just outside of DC, and hosted my mom and I all weekend. They also handled 99% of the logistics for race day for me, including getting me to the race early with zero issues, and plotting out ways to get to various points along the course with hilarious signs to cheer me on throughout the day! No one was quite sure how accessible the course would actually be for spectators, but as it turns out, they were able to walk right up to the road for full visibility - and for SWEATY HUGS! They caught me at several points, including from a bridge above runners at mile 7ish and right in the middle of the National Mall. Not only did I get a kick out of their awesome race signs, but they were also a hit with many of the spectators (a surprisingly large amount of GO TRIBE to be heard on race day)! Getting to share the experience with them put the biggest smile on my face all day, and I can't thank all of them enough for everything they did all weekend!
Really, though, it wasn't just my amazing family - the crowd support throughout almost the entire race was unbelievable. Hundreds of signs, dozens of crazy costumes, live entertainment almost every mile, Crystal City becoming the snack food capital of the world... Plus, Marines at every turn. Aid stations, water stops, you name it, they were there. There's a reason runners love the MCM, and the people are that reason.
Running with my cousin and later with my (newish) friend.
I started the race with my cousin Brooke, with whom I have run other races in the past. She's a far better runner than I, at least when it comes to distance, and has marathon experience in the past. I wasn't sure I could keep up with her, but her plan sounded close enough to mine that I decided to try. We had a blast for the first few miles, but it was around mile 10 that an unexpected injury started to take me out of the running (so to speak), and finally at the halfway point, it was time for us to separate. She finished strong about 45 minutes before I finally made it in! Between 13 and 15 I mostly ran alone, until I asked someone to take a photo of me with the Washington Memorial behind me and a voice from behind me said "Wait, aren't you Amanda?!" A local running blogger buddy who I actually hadn't ever met in person before just happened to be right there with me! Rachel's energy and enthusiasm carried me the next four miles into the middle of the Bridge, when again that injury finally demanded that I slow down and send another friend on to victory. Though I'm so very happy that both of them finished the race in good time and had a blast, it got a little lonely later! But I'd much rather connect when we can, and see my friends and family succeed, so CONGRATS!
I also got to see a running buddy I made waaaaay back in April at the Towpath Half - Kim actually spotted me in the sea of runners waiting for the start, of all things! Against some crazy odds, we ended up right next to each other donating our throwaways while we waited for the Howitzer blast. I later found out Kim and I finished just minutes apart, but weren't lucky enough to run into each other at the end for a final hug! CONGRATS to Kim too!
I finished a MARATHON!
Okay so the whole point of this race was to run a marathon, and though I walked more than I had intended to, I really did RUN most of it, AND that doesn't even matter because I FINISHED and that's what counts! And believe it or not, as I'm writing this just a few days after the race, I honestly feel like I could do it again this coming weekend. My body suffered an injury or two during the race that will take a little longer to fully heal, but mechanically and mentally I don't feel like I've burnt out at all. I covered the full distance (and then some, but we'll talk about that tomorrow), every photo taken of me all along the course has a big ol' smile, I earned my bling and my bragging rights, and did it all through my own power. Not to mention all the training I actually stuck with leading up to the race, which might be a bigger accomplishment for me than dragging my butt over that finish line... I am now officially a marathoner, and nothing will ever take that away from me!
There were a lot of little goods too, but most of the little ones roll into either great support, running buddies, or I just ran a marathon, so my three big categories above are probably sufficient coverage of the Greater Good of the Marine Corps Marathon. Many things came together on race day, including surprisingly beautiful weather (another one we'll talk about tomorrow), but the biggest things that stick out to me are the friends and family - and the MEDAL, of course!
There's still more to come with my Marine Corps Marathon experience, and the aftermath of my first marathon! Plus, I have dozens of pictures that need to go SOME where, so keep an eye on my Instagram channel for anything I might pop up there, and check out Facebook where I've created an album for many of them as well.
Read about the rest of my MCM experience! Expo - Part 2 - Aftermath
What makes a race great for you? How much does course support affect your runs?