On Monday, I mentioned to Diesel that I wished I could run the Marine Corps Marathon with her. This was her first marathon and I wanted to do it with her as a participant, not as a cheerleader. Since the registration closed months ago, I was simply expressing a sentiment and didn’t expect anything to come of it.
On Tuesday, one of my wife’s coworkers asked if she knew anyone who wanted to run the marathon; he had a bib and was dropping out. So just like that, I would be running the Marine Corps Marathon.
- On five days’ notice.
- With a bad calf.
- Having never run more than 12 miles this summer.
- With a hurricane coming.
Other than that, it was pretty straightforward.
First off, I needed a strategy. You’d be surprised at what the google search, “How to run a marathon without training” turns up. Some of the ideas weren’t half bad and they seemed to square with what I’ve learned from longer cycling rides – don’t go out too quick, hydrate, eat, and take breaks. I decided to treat the run like a bike ride in which I was suddenly deprived of my bike. For the most part, this worked.
We fretted for days about the approach of Hurricane Sandy. As it turned out, not a drop of rain fell on us, although the wind was steadily increasing throughout the day. Over 40,000 people registered and the crowd at the start felt like a huge throng. I crossed the Start Line 20 minutes after the starting gun sounded. Hopefully that gives you a sense of how big the group was.
As I went about my business, I reflected on all the bike rides I had been on using these same roads. As I passed through Georgetown (Mile 8) I came upon the Swedish Embassy, start of the Vasaloppet ride. I then made my way down to Haines Point (Mile 12) where I usually park for my downtown rides with the family. Just a short hop skip and a jump of five miles and I was at the Capitol, start of the Bike DC ride. After lumbering over the 14th Street Bridge I found myself in Crystal City, home of the USAF Crystal Ride. It was neat to see these “cycling venues” overrun with runners. Definitely a different feel.
I could bore you with the details of my suffering but I won’t. Suffice it to say I suffered. Here are some of the more interesting things I saw:
- Crowds and crowds of people, all wishing me good will and cheering me on.
- Lots of funny signs like, “Worst Parade Ever,” and “Your Feet Are Hurting Because You’re Kicking So Much Ass,” and “Chuck Norris Never Ran A Marathon.”
- A running Viking.
- Santa Claus (running in red shorts and a white singlet).
- A man running in a football uniform (for our foreign readers, that would be the heavily padded American version, not the skimpy shorts/shirt found on footballers elsewhere).
- Several Marines/Soldiers dressed in full combat gear with backpack, running a marathon.
- Several wounded warriors, one of whom beat me to the finish with one leg.
- Several ladies (and men) running in tutus.
- A man running barefoot.
- A couple running in orange jumpsuits. The man’s said, “Tell The Warden We’ll Be Right Back.” The lady’s said, “Worst Escape Plan Ever.”
There were plenty more, but that should give you a flavor of the event. It definitely helps keep things interesting!
In the end, I limped across at 5:46:46 – hardly stellar but I finished. A Marine Lieutenant presented me with my finisher’s medal and gave me a salute. I straightened up as best I could and returned it. Then I found Diesel who informed me that she knocked it out in 4:54:03. Simply awesome. Back at the car we conducted a ceremony where she affixed a 26.2 magnet to the back of her car. I bought the magnet for her last Christmas and she refused to use it until she earned it. She has earned it and then some.
So, that’s the story of how I ran a marathon on five days’ notice, with a bad calf, while waiting for a hurricane. If anyone tells you that a lot of training is necessary, point them to this website (I would like the extra traffic). Now, if you want to do well, then that’s an entirely different matter.
I’d go for a pedal today but there seems to be a hurricane outside my window.