Category Archives: At the MCM

45th Marine Corps Marathon, Patuxent River MD

//oh, snap…my password still works? Time to get my blog on…

So today, six days past the original date, I ran the 45th Marine Corps Marathon, virtually here in the Patuxent River area of St. Mary’s County, MD.

The Course:

  1. Start/finish line was the entrance to Abberly Crest Apartments. 2.
  2. Started to run north up Willows Road to Great Mills Road to Gate 2 of NAS Patuxent River. 3.
  3. At the gate, took a left up Three Notch Road/MD-235 to Chancellor’s Run Road.
  4. Left onto Chancellor’s Run all the way downhill to Great Mills Road/MD-5.
  5. Took a right and an uphill MD-5 to the parking lot connecting Little Flower School and Holy Face Church.
  6. Ran around the parking lot and back down MD-5, then turned left and back up Great Mills to Chancellor’s Run, running up and down that back to Three Notch Road.
  7. Three Notch Road to Gate 2, to Great Mills, then south down Willow Road, past Abberly Crest.
  8. The above was the opening 18 miles.
  9. Willow Road all the way to MD-5 north, taking a left and following MD-5/Point Lookout Road all the way to Berne Way, the last turnaround point.
  10. At Berne Way, turned right around on Point Lookout Rd/MD-5 all the way back to Willow Road south.
  11. One last uphill on Willow Road, all the way back to Abberly Crest.
  12. 26.22 on the dot.

MCM Day abort:

0330-0400: Reveille/breakfast/get dressed

0345: Realize that I forgot to charge my cell phone from the night before. Not a good thing, since my MapMyRun app is on my phone.

0400-0445: STRETCH

0445-0455: Pack my FlipBelt with spare bottle of water, mixed with pickle juice and Mix Water energy additive.

0450: Step out into the pouring rain. Dammit, rain for the second straight year.

0500: Step off

0505-ish: Realize that I don’t have my neck gaiter. In this world of COVID-19. you can’t enter a public facility of any kind without a make or face covering. Since I had three gas stations along my route with very public toilets, this was kind of a big deal. Looking back, however, I wasn’t willing to put up with the rain, so I trudged back to the apartment to get the neck gaiter.

Back in the apartment, warm and dry, I realized that I dropped my driver’s license and my ATM card outside, whilst putting my cellphone way for the run. Back outside in the rain to recover my cards.

The rain started pouring much harder; I had not seriously done any running in the rain this year, so I decided to hold off until noon, when the weather was supposedly better.

Honestly? Out of laziness and stupidity, and allowing for the loophole that I had until November 10 to run the MCM and submit my score, I put off the run until Saturday.

“Game called due to rain.” Good Lord.

T plus 6

Two changes to last week’s pre-run routine:

  1. Substituted on of my tubs of Chobani yogurt (black cherry flavor) for a toasted English muffin with peanut butter. Maybe a little too filling, because I had something of a bubble gut the first four miles.
  2. Stretched for only thirty minutes instead of forty-five.

At 0509 EST, I stepped off. There was the blue full moon out in the pre-dawn darkness, but it was a fairly cloudy night. It was there, but kind of…not there.

I had cut down on my pre-race day water consumption, but man…was my bladder active. I had to stop at the Wawa’s gas station about a half-mile from Chancellor’s Run. I was going to stop at the Sheetz gas station at the Great Mills/MD-5 intersection, until I saw about seven police cars and the parking lot taped off.

The stretch of Chancellor’s Run/Great Mills/Little Face took a lot more out of me than I anticipated. I started getting my annual Revolt of the Thighs during the up and down return leg up Chancellor’s Run. At Mile 16 on Valley Road, I had to power walk while I took my second GU energy pod of 2020, and a four ounce chug from my water bottle.

I don’t think the pickle juice helped that much.

From Valley Road back to Abberly Crest, I power walked until I could find enough of a second wind to do a Marine Corps shuffle. That’s when you chop or shorten your stride when you run; Marines running in formation would do that (on command) when the platoon leader wanted to slow the platoon down.

Green Meadow Lane, the back entrance to Abberly Crest, was where I started a lot of my runs. I was like “Okay, this is the same run I’ve done so many times. Just go out to Berne Way, and then back here and I’m done.”

Uphill to Raineri Run, then Willow Road downhill to MD-5 South. MD-5 uphill then it flattens out, with some inclines and declines to Berne Way.

When I finished my climb/power walk up MD-5, I took one last water/GU break at mile 20, on Manor Way. The run down/up Point Lookout Road/MD-5 felt like running in a tunnel (where’s the turnaround point?), but I was able to run to Berne Way and turn around.

At Manor Way on the final return leg, I snapped my last traditional selfie (taken at 8/16/24 mi. points) and got one last second wind. My hamstrings made some noise, but I was still able to shuffle uphill on Willows Road, past the Bay Montessori School, one more uphill and downhill towards, Green Meadow Lane.

At Green Meadow Lane, I ran through the “arch” formed by the street sign and the STOP sign, then one last uphill past the three fireplugs and toward the Abberly Crest sign.

I pulled my smartphone out of my FlipBely, and pulled up MapMyRun.

PAUSED, then FINISHed the run.

26.22 miles in 6:19:24. Virtual Marine Corps Marathon for 2020: DONE.

Semper Fi Challenge (Historic Half and MCM in the same year): DONE.

Aftermath

One last post-run selfie for the year. Saved my run to MapMyRun to record to the MCM website later on. Way to sore and tired to do a post-run cool down walk, so I walked back home.

Epsom salt bath. One last step on the scales: 222 lbs. Warmdown dress of long-sleeve tee, running tights, and compression socks.

Posted the run time and my MapMyRun app screen to the MCM website. Decorated my Finisher’s Certificate.

Done. All done.

Lessons Learned:

About a month after finishing the Historic Half (also virtual), I had back to back fails on running 10, then 13 miles on the course at NAS Patuxent River. Overtraining, maybe? This year was the first time I had started my training in February.

I had cataracts surgery on each eye, three weeks apart. The day after the post=op consult on each eye (about eight days), I should have been back on the road. I had some complications with my left eye, which were remedied with switching my eyedrops prescription. Still took WAAAY too much time off (about three weeks).

After failing to graduate P90X Lean, I never picked it back up. I should have, because even with running in the morning and P90X after work, I was still reaping the benefits. I was running an average of 11:15~11:30 right after the Half; I never saw above 12~12:30 after I restarted in late August.

I scrapped the keto diet and got addicted to Doordash.

All that being said, UCAN hydrate was a revelation. After adding a packet to a 16-0z. bottle of water and chugging it before the run, I can go at least 16 miles before I have to run. That’s a good then when you’re running a long training run or a virtual half-or-full marathon sans benefit of water or fuel stations.

Either I need a new cell phone or some quality time with MapMyRun’s customer service. I didn’t hear my split times in the last three weeks of running…to include today.

High marks also for the Chafe Paint anti-chaffing cream made by Kanberra. No chaffing over 26 miles, and no sore spots in the nether regions.

Final thoughts:

Ah, the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

No water stations or food/fuel stations.

No cheering crowds.

No howitzer to start the race. No running under a red and gold finish arch to end it.

Just me, God, Patuxent River, and my smartphone with my MapMyRun app.

Then again, there was that first marathoner, though.

Remember Phillipedes!

One last entry tomorrow, with a Song of the Day…I swear!!!

MCM 2019: Five

It was the Monday afternoon after the Marine Corps Marathon, twenty-five hours after I crossed the MCM finish line for the fifth time.

I rented my hotel room in Rosslyn for one more day. The weak, lame-ass excuse was to attempt to save my rain-drenched smartphone by covering it in a bowl of rice for twenty-four hours.

It was just before 3:00 p.m., and I was doing my laundry from the weekend. I decided to head down to Compass Coffee in downtown Rosslyn for a cappuccino and some sort of pastry while waiting for my load to dry.

On the way down to Compass, I saw some of the signage from the MCM still out on the streets. Ninety percent of the festive decorations from the MCM had been taken down but the signs giving directions to the various Marathon events (most of them connected to the Finisher’s Festival) were still there.

I had not really taken a moment to reflect on the MCM, or the running season in general, so I ambled down the street where the Finisher’s Festival was held. I made my way towards the Iwo Jima Memorial, where they were still taking down the last of the MCM signage and other materials. I traced my way back to the finishing chute and that last upward slope towards the end.

Five times I climbed that last hill.

Five times up that last straightaway towards the finishing arches.

Five times RUNNING WITH PURPOSE, FINISHING WITH PRIDE (hey, it’s only an ad slogan until you’ve actually RAN the damn thing, then you know it’s a way of life)

Five times MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

As much as those last ten miles sucked this year, could I really have just said, “no,” and quit? Could I have really lived with myself?

Bad enough I was forced to take a year off and not even run; could I have really started an MCM and NOT finished?

No.

I finished the Marine Corps Marathon five times.

I have five MCM medals, hanging around the shirts that I wore when I crossed the line, bibs still pinned to them. Each medal a story that ended with me crossing the finish line.

I won those five medals because I raced myself…and I beat ME.

Song of the Day: Meg Myers, “Numb:” I discovered this song while waiting for my cappuccino and chocolate biscotti at Compass Coffee; the baristas were nice enough to tell me the name of the song and the performer. It took em a couple of days after i got home to remember the song, and a little while longer to  find out who sung it.

From Meg: ” [“Numb”]….

is about how I was feeling when my (former) record company was looking for something out of me that just didn’t feel right for many reasons. I was frustrated and it came through in this song.

“Desire:”   “Sometimes it takes two days or two weeks to come up with a chorus, but “Desire” was done in a day. There was something really special about it. I had been listening to Nine Inch Nails a lot, and I really wanted to make something with that vibe. I don’t know if that comes through. We started writing that and it just had that sexual vibe to, and it actually wasn’t about anybody. Andy was really feeling that Nine Inch Nailsinspiration too. We were on the same page with that, which was awesome.”

And, yes that’s her in the video; it was three years between albums.

Lifestyle postscript: Looks like I’ll be scrounging for an Atari Flashback 9; the Flashback X is smaller but has no SD card slot.

Tomorrow: Song of the Day: Greatest Hits!

MCM 2019: Death March in the DC Triangle

Got up at 0500. Breakfast of English muffin and a banana with peanut butter. No yogurt (just thinking of this almost twelve hours later).

Out the door at 0600. Wait, do we have to take the Metro down there??? Actually, I walked down to the check-in site as usual. I did get close to where the Metro dropped off runners, when I dropped of my bag at UPS. I put my Marine Corps olive drab sweats and a pair of compression socks for my post race cool down. Not sure if I want to do the UPS thing again, though; that was a lot of pre-race and post-race hiking for my cool-down gear.

The rain was there almost all morning. I was soaked by the time I finished the Blue Mile (Mile 12), and that impacted my Kodak mini-camera and my smartphone. My phone is taken apart (battery removed and cover off) in hopes that drying will solve its problems.

Because of the staggered start this year (by expected finish times), the starting howitzer was fired at 0755, but I didn’t get started until 0815~0820. MapMyRun actually worked for a little while. However, I grabbed my phone at Mile 16 and pressed the home button…and got nothing. I assumed that between MMR and my weak battery, the smartphone had been quickly bled dry. Sadly that was just one of the problems I had sixteen miles into today’s 44th Marine Corps Marathon.

I did follow my strategy of not going out overly hard the first eight miles, and gradually pushing the pace over the final two-thirds of the race. After Mile 8 I checked my pace: 11:57, not bad!

Unfortunately, Mile 16 was where it all fell apart. I got my Mile 16 picture, but when I went to do a pace check, my smartphone was dead (or so I thought). My 20-oz. bottle of water, with Tailwind and pickle juice, apparently sprung a leak somewhere after Mile 12 because it was empty. Also, the rain had stopped and the sun came on strong. I had my cotton base layer on over my compression shirt, so it was getting pretty warm. At Mile 17, I took of my base layer and put my bib on the compression shirt, hoping that the new Chafe Defender roll-on would protect my nipples over the last nine or so miles.

I don’t know what it is about the Gauntlet (Miles 16-19, in and around the National Mall in DC), but every year I end up struggling here. By Mile 17, I was implementing Plan B: marching for a quarter-mile or so and pick up enough to at least try running again. I did make the Fourteenth Street Bridge, but it was more of a relief that a feeling of accomplishment from years’ past.

Mile 22: Rosslyn. Let the party begin, right? I doubt this had anything to do with what happened, but…I grabbed a shot of beer and a fireball shot. Normally I stay away from the hard stuff while running, but I figured my Personal Record day was already shot to pieces, and I would be lucky to finish in under seven hours. At Mile 23, my calves seized up. I couldn’t even Marine Corps Shuffle  (slightly faster than a jog) let alone run. I was forced to march until Mile 25.

I had decided at Mile 17, after a few minutes of soul=searching about 2019 (training and life in general) that I was not going to do anything less than FINISH…no excuses or bullshit. I ground out the Gauntlet, the Bridge, and Crystal City, so I decided that i would march until the last half mile…where I passed the same starting corrals that I had passed only six hours earlier. From there, just run as hard as I could until the end.

6 hours, 7 minutes, 52 seconds. Twenty minutes worse than last year, and an hour better than my Sore Knee Shuffle of 2016.

Post-mortem/observations:

  1. I’m too fat right now. Next year I plan to be under 205 when I come to Arlington.
  2. Too many DNFs and missed runs, none of them due to injury. Bulshit. If I’m going to run the MCM (or any marathon) I need to take this seriously.
  3. #2 above includes a better diet. Running and biking can’t burn off every calorie.
  4. Famous Dave’s BBQ: RIB SHACKS DON’T PLAY JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE ON THE FRIGGIN’ RADIO.
  5. Loved the St; Louis ribs and fries, tho’.
  6. As the rain poured down and I saw the Marine lieutenants lining the MCM course in the rain: “Hey, Brooks Running: People will pay a good chunk of their disposable income for a Gore-Tex running tech shirt. Especially if they’re in fluorescent (night/low-light visible) colors. Y’all need to get on that.”
  7. Back of the pack (anticipated 6 hours or so finishing corral): Business in the front, party in the back…what party? If everybody was anywhere near as sore as I was, didn’t see a lot of Toby Keith-type action.

 

Song of the Day: 44th Marine Corps Marathon Special Guest: TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS!!!

Running Down a Dream: Otherwise known as my first fifteen miles. Genius ain’t shit, and don’t even ask me about the video.

Refugee: When I discovered Tom and Co. on The Video Music Channel/Night Flight/or the other pre-MTV stuff in the late seventies, early eighties.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance: I ALWAYS hear this song near the end, to in the beginning when I have to go park the car. The video is to creepy, so…lyrics. Also, not necessarily a song about drugs (oh, hey…thanks, Genius!).

Won’t Back Down: This song wasn’t necessarily in my head after Mile 17, but I wouldn’t have banished such a thought from my head.

 

 

 

MCM 2019/T-Minus 1: Road

I made the hour and a half trip back to Lexington Park because I wanted to try on my suit for the Marine Corps Ball next week. It fit just fine, so I took it in to get cleaned and pressed. I also picked up some last minute stuff: a change of running shorts (to better carry my phone), some peanut butter, a coupe bottles of water, and some other stuff.

After the run to the cleaners and a quick stop for donuts and coffee, I made the two-hour drive to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The highlights of the trip: buying a Marine Corps tech shirt that may be light gray enough to be seen in the dark, and attempting to bet a shot of me in front of an AV-8B fighter-bomber hanging from the ceiling. The idea was better than the execution.

The drive back to the hotel took and extra fifteen minutes because traffic was jammed up on the I-95 going east. I figured it was the pre-game tailgating traffic for the World Series Game 4 between the host Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

In about 12 more hours, I will be on the starting line at the 44th Marine Corps Marathon, at the 5 hours 30 minutes corral, looking for the 12:30 pace guy (or at least I will ask him/her what mile pace he’s/she’s running). In about 24 hours ( just before sundown) the beard I have been sporting since march will be gone.

Not as reflective this year as I was last year. Mostly because I have tow logistical matters on my mind: trying to find a date for the Ball next week, and filling out my FFA license to pick up a .22 pistol I won at a raffle. Oh, and there’s also one last carbo-loading supper and hydrating before tomorrow.

Wake-up is at 0500, which means I get to sleep in tomorrow. Heading down to Runner’s Village just after 0600, and I plan to be on the starting corral around 0700. Start stretching about 0715~0720 until the National Anthem. Set up MapMyRun (yes, I plan on burning my smartphone just for the MCM), chug down the Nuun water just after the starting cannon (yes, the MCM begins with a cannon firing), and off I go.

Song of the Day: After almost four hours on the road today, I picked up two real good pre-run tunes. Oh, by the way: modern country music SUCKS.

Survivor/”Eye of the Tiger:” Written by guitarist/producer Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik, who tells how Survivor contributed to the Rocky III soundtrack:

“I got home one day, and there’s my big old answering machine. I hit ‘Play’ and I hear, ‘Hey yo, Jim, that’s a nice answering machine you got there. Give me a call. It’s Sylvester Stallone.’ I go, ‘Yeah, right.’ I play it back again … ‘Karen, does this sound like Stallone, or is that just Sal, my roadie?’ ‘No, that’s him.’ So I call him up … He says, ‘I’ve got this new movie called Rocky III, and I don’t want to use that “Gonna Fly Now” song. It’s a good song, but I want something for the kids. Something with a pulse. Can you help me out?’ I go, ‘Uh, is the Pope Catholic?’

Led Zeppelin/”Kashmir:” This song was written by Robert Plant, inspired by a road trip through Morrocco:

“The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it.”

Even if you’ve never seen Rocky III, you listen to the singer, the driving rhythms, and you just get all pulped up. “Kashmir” is this ongoing slow build-up with Jimmy Page’s guitar and John Bonham working with John Paul Jones on a sledgehammer rhythm that just keeps pushing to this climax that you never reach…and almost don’t want to.

 

MCM 2019/T-Minus 2: Expo

This year’s haul from the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon Runner’s Expo:

From the Brooks Running Area:

One pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19, size 12.5 D width. Thicker, more cushioned soles than my current Brooks Ravennas. They fit nice and feel nice, and I have a little more room for my big toes. Sadly, they will be in storage until next summer, after my current pair reaches “the end of the line.”

To commemorate this year being my fifth Marine Corps Marathon, I purchased one long-sleeve and one short sleeve tech shirt. The long sleeve has the Iwo Jima Memorial silhouetted against a sphere with descending shades of gray. The short sleeve has the Marine Corps Emblem (Eagle, Globe and Anchor) in white on a gray field, with “Marine Corps Marathon” on top and “Always Earned, Never Given” in a U underneath the emblem.

This year’s mock turtleneck for MCM entrants/participants is a black  number with subdued grey stripes running diagonal, and a light grey stripe across the center. The National Ensign (United States Flag) is over the left breast and the MCM logo is over the right. Zippered collar. Nice design, but nothing may ever top last year’s design for the mock, which was a shot of a crowd of runners over a light gray field. The reactions went from “WTF” to “WHOAAA!!!” You either loved it or you hated it. I have seen quite a few people wearing that particular mock through the year (eventually even I put it on), including more than a few people this year.

On the main floor:

I spent most of the expo looking for a pair of running shorts, similar to the tights that I purchased from Brooks last year. No such luck. The shorts they had were all lightweight material, and I wanted a set of shorts that were more ‘form fitting” and less likely to ride up my crotch. The lululemon stand had some, but…nah.

I bought three packs of Tailwind and one box of Ucan hydrate, looking for something to replace my Mio water, so I can have potassium/salt/whatever in my thighs and calves so I don’t tighten up near the middle stages (Miles 16~18) of the marathon. I’ve used Tailwind before, so I will go with a half pack of Tailwind and mix it with some dill pickle juice.

Yeah, yeah…”ewww, gross.”

Lastly, I bought two different anti-chaffing products as an alternate to the Body Glide that I bought with me. A friend of mine told me about this aerosol spray, but that particular  vendor wasn’t there this year. I will go with the Chafe Defender over the Stop Chaffing product, since Defender was a roll-on that felt real smooth when I tried it today. I’m doing this because lately I have felt some burn after my longer runs this year (after, not during).

I had lunch at the Public House in National Harbor, just across from the Gaylord Hotel, where the Expo was being held. Very nice club sandwich with side salad, and the local Public House Lager went down smooth.

Tomorrow will be a long day. Driving back home to get my suit tailored for next week’s Marine Corps Ball, then from there the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Hope I can find something on the radio than the BS that passes for country music these days.

The weather is nice out right now, but the forecast calls for rain on Sunday. I have a long sleeve base layer with me to wear over my tech shirt, but I will just go with shorts instead of grabbing my tights tomorrow. The tights are only going to get wet and slow me down.

Song of the Day: Shallow Gravy/”Jacket:” Just came out of nowhere, folks. This is the extended version from the Venture Bros. TV show, and here’s the full Ladle to the Grave version.

Why thank you, YouTube. The mini-episode “Ladle to the Grave” is now behind a paywall (meaning you have to pay to see it!). Here’s the original cut from the episode “Homeschool Prom.”, as well as the original video.

MCM 2019/T-Minus 4:Logistics, T-Minus 3: Ceremonial

T-Minus 3: Ceremonial

Working backwards from right now, 5:01 p.m. EST

Just got done with a very late lunch from District taco, a short walk outside my hotel in Arlington, VA. Three delicious spicy shrimp tacos and a small bag of chips with guacamole. All for sixteen bucks.

After what I spent on the hotel and rental car-and oh, by the way, your debit card is on-hold until you check out Monday morning-I’m on cash for Marine Corps Marathon weekend. Which means cooking up a great big Dutch oven full of my classic Chili Cubano. I call it that because the meats resemble those found in a traditional pressed Cuban sandwich: pulled pork, ham, and in variant, spicy pork chorizo sausage. I’m using Johnsonville chorizo; it’s pretty good, but it’s not a traditional Mexican brand chorizo.

But I’m eating it and you’re not. Hahaha!

Anyway, I’m planning on fixing my dinner-cum-carbo loading for the weekend about 7:00, an hour before the last Major League Soccer conference semifinals.

Today, about 2:45 p.m. EST:

I was somewhere on I-395 south, heading into the Arlington/Rosslyn area, when I saw the standards for the runner’s corrals. There are where the runners will be grouped by their expected finishing time.

I saw the standards, and then it hit me: I am driving down the road where the 44th Marine Corps Marathon will be starting. This is it. This is why I spent so much money yesterday. This is the payoff for all the midwinter conditioning…answering the 4;30 a.m alarms (and sometimes earlier)…the early mornings at the Apex Clubhouse gym…and all the running of damn near every hill that the State of maryland could offer, from the Capital Crescent to the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath.

This is why I’m here…to finish. For the FIFTH time.

I saw a Facebook post by a guy who had a picture of all the MCM patches from forty-one consecutive runs. May I live that long.

Wal-Mart Parking Lot, 1:15 p.m.

…aaand I’m on the road to Arlington, VA, leaving Wal-Mart only fifteen minutes later than I planned, but I’ll just get to the hotel just in time for 3:00 check-in.

I had to hit Wal-Mart for a bottle of Fairlife chocolate milk. It cost me about $3 at Wal-Mart and would cost me a lot more in VA. I also bought some cheap throw-away sweats for Sunday. I am expecting it to be cold and rainy, so bought a zippered hoodie and a pair of sweat bottoms with side pockets, both in large. Mediums would have been tight, but maybe I would have been warmer. I expect to be drenched in sweat and much warmer when I finish the Marathon on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of sweats, I plan on breaking an old habit and actually using the clear plastic security bag that is packed with my runner’s bib, this year’s mock hoodie and accompanying patch, and other swag from the packet pick up. I plan on better recovering from the run this year, so I will pack my old olive bra green Marine sweats and a pair of compression socks. As soon as I finish, I plan on donning those sweats and socks. Maybe I can find a vendor selling chocolate milk to go with the post-race bananas handed out by Marines.

So what did I forget to pack this year? Just my epsom salt and dishwashing liquid for the post race cool-down bath. The Target had both; didn’t mind the expense, but I wish there was a smaller size bag or carton available for the epsom salt. I also forgot my rechargeable batteries; I had to borrow the set I was saving for my small camera that I use to take my in-race selfies (race start, Mile 8, Mile 16, just before 14th St. Bridge, Mile 24, finish). One more trip to Target.

Marine Aviation Detachment headquarters, 8:35 a.m.

The Ceremonial, the very last run of the training cycle. Arrived at the MAD at 0750. Five minute warning at 0755. Morning colors sounded at 0800. I took off my ball cap, put it over my heart, and faced in the direction of the flag to render honors. Made a few other drivers stop and pause…LIKE THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO WHEN COLORS SOUNDS on a military installation.

At the very last second, I decided to ditch MapMyRun and just go and run. Today was not about pace or negative splits; it was about taking the first step in regaining that Marine Corps connection. I remember the morning that I decided to run my semi-annual Physical Fitness Test on the same day I was due for pistol qualification. My arms weren’t that sore from the pull-ups, but I didn’t feel them until I had to fire those last five rounds on the twenty-five yard line slow fire.

Yes…that kind of Marine Corps connection.

I remember the last half-mile, going back to MAD HQ; I realized that this was the last of all the training I was doing for this year’s MCM. All the early mornings (and late afternoons), all the humidity and cold, and every hill that I climbed this year…it was almost over.

That last half mile, and then the final turn for home, I just took off. Ran fast enough to reach the official sign outside of MAD HQ…and then I got in the car and took off.

I was so focused on getting home to go pee that I completely forgot to get a selfie next to the MAD HQ sign. Instead of taking a few moments to be…y’know…in the moment, I skipped out to go take a potty break. Yipes.

Post script: Just Crack an Egg is a very quick (total 2 minutes prep/1 minute cook time) and very good source of pre-run protein. No water of any kind because I didn’t want to take a No. 2 this morning. Had to take a No. 1 though.

T- Minus 4: Logistics

Just after midnight, Apex Clubhouse

Just got done watching Seattle beat Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinal. Good game by Seattle, and going to their third conference final in four years. Sad way to go for RSL goalkeeper Nick Raimundo, who won the penalty-shootout for RSL just ten short years ago.

Toronto knocked off NYCFC, converting a last minute penalty kick after drawing the most obvious foul ever in the NY penalty area. Single-game elimination, that’s how it goes, y’all.

I will let the official MLS website break down the matches right here, but for the record, Seattle and Toronto are advancing to the Conference Finals with the same head coaches and core players that got both teams to the MLC Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017.

3:40 p.m. yesterday

Getting ready for the bus so I can pick up the rental car and so some quick shopping. I got a hotel room (at the last minute, NOT recommended) so I have transportation and a hotel room within VERY comfortable walking distance…just a block from the MCM Finisher’s festival, although there is a couple of flights of steps/stairs to navigate.

In reality, I was prepared to do without the hotel room, if there were none available. Plan B would have been:

  1. Stay in Lexington Park for the weekend
  2. Uber to The MCM Runner’s Expo and back. Packet pick-up, shopping at the Expo, lunch in downtown National Harbor, then Uber back home.
  3. Sunday morning: Uber to the MCM Parking Lot (or closest point thereabouts), arriving no later than 6:30 a.m. Check in, run the MCM, chill out at the Finisher’s Festival, then either attempt to get a hotel room or Uber back home.

Plan B would have been much MUCH cheaper (how much? I’m pleading the Fifth).

But it would not have been the same experience.

Song of the Day: Robert Plant/”Big Log”

This is how I feel, near the end of a journey I started way back in February~March. Not exactly from Robert Plant, but from a Genius contributor:

“Truckers in the US comply with driving legislation by filling a log book recording miles and hours drove,
“A Big Log is slang for a long journey, hence lots of time and miles recorded.
“To me, as an ex-trucker, this song is about the call of the road, the next city and the next stop.
“It’s the thoughts that go on in the background of your mind as you punch out the miles on automatic.”

 

MCM 2018: Afterburnout

Revile went at just before the 0500 alarm. After a leisurely breakfast of two English muffins with peanut butter and a tub of Chobani Black Cherry Greek yogurt (Lordy what a mouthful), I headed out the door at just after 0600. The trek from my hotel to the actual Marine Corps Marathon took about a half hour. Walked from the hotel to and through the security gates, then a visit to the portapotties, and finally what seemed to be a 1~2 mile trek to the starting corrals.

During the walk, I realized one thin: I really missed Dave, Greg, and Steve not being here this year. I’ve run races alone before, but not having the guys here hurt a bit.

My sore right thigh muscle was still an issue, so I put some Real Time cream and gave it a few minutes with the Roller last night. This morning I stretched for about 45 minutes before the opening cannon (yes, the MCM starts with a cannon being fired). I was so into stretching that I forgot to stand for the National Anthem.

I spent a lot of MCM Day reflecting on a lot of stuff (most of which I won’t go into here for personal reasons). Just before I started stretching, it finally hit me about what and why I was here, that all that running and everything connected to it was all about this day. I even welled up a little bit as the cannon went off promptly at 0755.

First eight miles: I started off behind the 5 hours 30 minutes pace group. I wanted to keep an even, steady pace because of my right thigh. However, as I progressed through the opening hills and valleys in the opening third of the course, I defaulted to my hill strategy: work the hills heads up/eyes up, and stride the downhills.

Blue mile and beyond (Miles 12 thru 19): I left it all on the road in the opening third, and boy, did I pay for it here. After I got through the Blue Mile, I got to the 14 mile marker and promptly hit the wall. The miles up to the Fourteenth Street Bridge, in my humble opt ion, are the “grinder miles,” where you finally realize that you’re running a marathon and you do the work to get to the finish. Unfortunately I never found that extra gear.

Around mile 17 I had to walk,my thighs were making noise, my hamstrings were feeling the strain, and I just couldn’t get that second wind. I was never so glad to see the Bridge; I saw the clock before the bridge and it read 12:18 p.m. and change. Hot damn, I’m gonna make it.

On the Bridge, I had to part walk, part Marine Corps shuffle it. More reflections…on my brother and sister, on absent friends, on my training this year…on everything. So much to do and so much to make right in the next few months.

I was prepared for the Maze of the Minotaur, a.k.a. the road around the Pentagon after mile 21 before entering into downtown Crystal City. Fortunately, we turned right into Crystal City and saving the run around the Pentagon for Mile 24. I always see the Mile 22-23 run into downtown as the celebration of the run; you’ve beaten the bridge, a lot of people are here to cheer you on and even offer you beer and liquor, and you get the sense that you can do this. For some weird reason, Crystal City was a lot quieter this year. Not as big of a crowd, although the offers of alcohol were there (beer, wine, jello shots and fireball shots).

The final two miles and change I found enough pride and a bit of a second wind to finish running. This was no epic day by any means, but it was a nice jolt to hear the announcer call my name in the final stretch to the finish line.

The People’s Marathon: it’s the little things, y’all.

I was done. Collected my nice bright red medal that opened up to reveal a gold piece (Transformers: The Movie:”Now…light our darkest hour!“), got the healthy snack basket, Gatorade and two bananas, collected my complimentary finisher’s beer…and staggered back to the hotel.

Postscript on the hotel: I never found roommates for this weekend, but Residence Inn did have a smaller room available that was about $700 less. In theory, I should have found another, cheaper hotel, especially since I am a Hilton Honors member. That being said, in  my condition I was grateful to only climb a flight of stairs and walk about a half block to the hotel. Stagger to the shuttles for a half-hour ride on the DC MetroRail? Yeah…no.

Medical notes: Note to self: clip your toenails before long runs.

That KT Tape was a good idea: maybe I should apply it to my calves and thighs before 20-miles or longer?

Add pickle juice to your Mio water, so you have some salt to help prevent The Revolt of the Thighs.

BTW: Take a look at the course layout (to include inclines/declines) to better map out your running strategy.

Final time: 5:45.53, 13:12 pace. How I got that time after the day I had…never mind, I’ll take it.

Song of the Day: I have a feeling “Happy”/Pharrell Williams is a duplicate pick, but I heard this song as I was heading on the out-path from Crystal City. I sat through ONE hour of his “24 Hours of Happy.” Assuming Pharrell assembled some real talented dancers, I’m not sure I’d binge watch this for any extended length of time.

“Hurts So Good”/John Cougar Mellencamp: So early MTV 80s but so appropriate for a day like today. Especially when you’re collecting your medal and the post-race goodies/swag afterwards. Yes, I know it’s basically BDSM (google it, don’t ask me).

“Alive”/Pearl Jam. Never mind the subject matter of this classic song, that’s how I felt after finishing the MCM.

“Wish You Were Here”/Pink Floyd. Not the happiest Pink Floyd song ever (much like the album), but like I said: this morning was when it hit me how much I missed being with the guys.

Postscript: With the exception of the St. Mary’s City Turkey Trot the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I am done running for 2018. I am taking the week off before doing some half-assed training for the Turkey Trot.

As for this here blog? Tomorrow will be my last official entry for 2018, and then it goes dark until next spring. I may stop in to bitch about things of a sports or political nature, but life really is calling me right now.

MCM 2018/T-Minus 1: Reflect

Thirty years ago, I graduated Marine Corps Recruit Training at MCRD San Diego on 16 September, 1988. I served just over 22 years and was deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 16 August 1990 thru March 20, 1991; I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to March 2006. From those two deployments, here is my one “war story:”

Al Jubayl, Saudi Arabi, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-14 (Forward). Third night of the war. Sometime after 0100, the first of four SCUD missile alarm went off. As the alarm sounded and everyone was scrambling to get their Nuclear/Biological/Chemical protective gear and about 70 ponds of other Marine war gear (to include our M-16A2 rifles and ammunition), I remember grabbing every piece of gear that I had, getting dressed even faster than I was taught in boot camp, and getting my sacred ass into the bunker. I was the first one in the bunker by a country mile.

I was in the bunker for about thirty seconds before I wondered “Hey wait a minute, where the hell is everybody else?” fearing I had left them behind, I went back to the tent that was our living/sleeping quarters to check on everyone else. Eventually people started emerging and headed for the bunker.

Sergeant Maxey was actually impressed that I had my head and ass wired right to get my stuff and head for the bunker ahead of everybody else, and tok time to check on the rest of us. I was not the brightest Lance Corporal ever, and he was a hard man to please. So, aside from us surviving the night, that was a good thing.

//war story over

I just got done cooking my chorizo and black bean chili. I am going to let it sit for a few hours, then cook up some rice and cover it with with my chili, and that will be my carbo-loading for tomorrow. Oh, and a tub of Chobani Greek yogurt for dessert/protein loading. Tomorrow will be two English muffins with peanut butter,another tub of yogurt, and one cup of coffee. I am currently hydrating for tomorrow by drinking one twenty ounce bottle of water per hour (24 bottles in 24 hours; yup, that’s me).

Tonight, it will be a session with the Roller and some Real Time analgesic cream for my sore calf, and tomorrow some KT tape for the run. If my pain is minimal tomorrow, I could press for that 11:25 pace and maybe a PR; if not, it will be another run for survival.

I do miss having my Yuma Marine teammates here this year. I’m not going to die of loneliness, and I could be going out and about doing something (even if the weather isn’t the best ever), but man it does make a difference not having anyone here.

I keep touching my beard. It hasn’t grown out as well as the one I had three years ago, so it will be a relief to cut it after I finish tomorrow. After almost $65 worth of hair products, it was Club Pinaud Beard Oil and Ultra Sheen all along. Speaking of hair, I will attempt to get a haircut this afternoon before dinner. Maybe a little aerodynamics, or maybe I’m just tired of dealing with an afro that won’t quite grow.

Two o’clock. Less than twenty-four hours and I’ll be all done. My but time does fly.

Ran into a gentleman who is running his 31st MCM. I should be that fortunate.

I have never taken the chance to post a blog after finishing my previous three MCMs, so here is a quick recap:

2014: I was doing fine and even hanging with Dave and Greg for about the first 13 miles, then I had what I call The Revolt of the Thighs. I had kind of burned them out, so I told the guys to go on ahead without me. I met up with them just after the bridge right before hitting Rosslyn. Dave told me later that they were able to pick me out because of my fluorescent yellow tech shirt. That and the gut I was sporting that year made me so obvious.

2015: Getting photobombed by a female runner just before mounting the 14th Street Bridge. Meeting General Mumford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the bridge and getting a selfie with him. Improving my time by a half-hour from last year. That was a good day.

2016: The infamous Left Knee Run, and why I started conditioning a month before my training this year.I had been running barely them minutes when the cartilage in my left knee flared up. I was reduced to a Marine Corps Shuffle (more of a dog that a run) for seven hours, but I finished.

So…what will 2018 bring? We’ll see tomorrow…

Song of the Day:”Fire Lake”/Bob Seger. I first heard this song as a kid, as part of a commercial advertising his new album back in the 70’s. I remember the animation of the horses that graced the cover of the album. Fast forward to sometime in the 200s and the dawn of streaming digital music. Remembering the album cover and having long ago figured out who Bob Seger was, and his discography, I finally heard the song end to end when my younger (and more computer savvy) brother burned a mix CD for me for Christmas 2001 (or 2002?). The son is really about making a motorcycle run, but right now the vibe of the song fits my mood about running the MCM tomorrow.

 

 

 

MCM 2018/T-Minus 2:Journey

Marine Corps Health and Fitness Expo 2018: You can’t always get what you want (Day-Glo fluorescent long-sleeve tech shirts for women but not for men? Like men don’t run in pre-dawn/dusk hours?)…

…but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need (my running style analyzed and defined, plus  my new shoes for 2019 taken care of; KT tape and a new analgesic cream for my sore right calf; also: TAILWIND!).

The blog has gotten mundane lately so I thought tonight I wanted to talk about my favorite running courses that I’ve discovered over my four year journey. Actually, I started running in 2014, but I skipped last year, so…four.

3 mile: Marine Aviation Detachment Physical Fitness Test 3-mile run course. The “official” start and finish of my MCM training every year; had to pass on it this year.

4 mile: iStorage 4: South Willows Road to HWY-5, back to up the hill past Abberly Crest, run to the iStorage facility and back to AC.

5: Hilton Ridge: South Willows to HWY-5 to Hilton Ridge Road. Going south on HWY-5 takes you up a big, curved hill.

6: Zion 6: Ran this yesterday morning. Nice and flat from Abberly Crest, north on Willow Road to Shangdi-La, then running towards NAS Pax Rver Gate 2 and taking a right down Three Notch Road, where there’s one quick dip and then it goes level up to Zion United methodist Church.

7.5: St. Mary’s River State Park: The only trail route on this list. Lots of elevation changes and a rough trail with lots of slippery rocks and exposed branches. Want a challenge? Do two laps.

8: Great Mills 8:South Willow Road to HWY-5 South to Sheetz then up Great Mills Rd to Shangri-La, and back home. I love climbing up and down Great Mills Road, and you can’t find a more convenient potty-break than McDonald’s,

9: Capital Crescent: Great course that starts at Washington Harbor in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I usually run this up to the Dalecarlia Tunnel and back. Lots of scenery changes on an uphill climb from the Georgetown end.

10.5: Carl Henn Millennium Trail, Rockville, MD: Running over hill and dale of the perimeter of Rockville, MD. I have done this the last two years as a two-lapper and the challenge is worth every step. Best-marked course.

12: St. Mary’s City 12: When I discovered what a short drive to the annual St. Mary’s City Turkey Trot was, I said to myself “I am so running this for my long-distance run one day.” Nothing like seeing Historic St. Mary’s City just before dawn. Beautiful. Following HWY-5 South to Point Lookout Road into St. Mary’s.

13.1: Riley’s Rumble Half-Marathon: “Heat, hills, and humidity.” Frozen pops at the turnaround point. A damn-near vertical mile 12. You run this race for the love of running.

13.1 Indian Head Rail Trail, Indian Head, MD. One of the Maryland Rail Trails, running from Indian Head to Waldorf. Lots of wetland and forest, with some glimpses of wildlife on the way (deer, heron, etc.). Also good job on the mile markers. Running for full marathon distance? Four of the last six miles are on a steady incline. Also, Indian head is home to two great BBQ joints.

16: Southern Cross 16: When I was staying at a hotel while my air conditioner was being fixed, I plotted this course on MapMyRun. A good tour of Three Notch Road south, onto Point Lookout Road and then HWY-5 south all the way to Great Mills Road. Good hill work on Three Notch and Great Mills Rd.

18: Mt. Vernon Trail: Starting at the Rosslyn tip, just before dawn, then running by the DC monuments by the Potomac just before sunrise. Running by Reagan National Airport. Even though it wasn’t part of the course (take the “alternate route” and run through the Old Town parks), running through Old Town Alexandria at 0600 was real nice. Finishing at George Washington’s historic Mt. Vernon estate.

20: Pax River 20: A combination of many of my routes in the Patuxent River area. Covering the Naval Air Station and adding parts of Three Notch Road, and Great Mills Road.

Song of the Day: “Tell Me Why”/Supermode. An update of the 80s song “Smalltown Boy” by Bronchi Beat. Some remixes of this song incorporate some of the lyrics from the original song as well. I love this song because it’s so danceable. I downloaded four versions of this song on iTunes and put them together back-to-back on a mix CD a few years ago; good way to start a record.