Category Archives: At the MCM

MCM 2021: Trifecta Review

It was exactly this time (0920) last Sunday that cramped, seized up calves forced me to call time on the Virtual MCM 50K, so this is a good time to take a look back at what was, and what might have been…

Virtual MCM 10K, Oct.24: It was cloudy, but the full moon was out that morning.

To be honest, this run was over before I knew it. Knowing it would be just six miles, I opened the throttle and pushed it from the get-go. I ran the Superwillow 6 course; started from the entrance at Abberly Crest Apartments at Abberly Crest Lane. Ran north up Willows Road through the intersection at Willows and Great Mills Road up through Shangri-La Road, then turned around and ran Willows south all the way to the intersection at Willow at MD-5.

When I got to the intersection, I kind of forgot to go out about 20 yards, so could be sure I got the exact measurements for the 10K, or 6.22 miles. Never mind, I just turned back up Willows all the way back to where I started, going full speed to the end.

I checked the Strava app on my phone: 10.01K and 6.22 miles on the dot.

Virtual Marine Corps Marathon (26.2M), October 31: After spending three hours in the car on Saturday afternoon, one would think I would be tired enough to get a good nights sleep. I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. (2100 hours) for a 3:30 a.m. (0300) reveille.

At 0245, I woke up. Now the course that I was running, the Indian Head Rail Trail in Indian head, MD has a posted policy that no one is to be on the trail until dawn. I toured the area the day before and I found the area to be kind of sketchy. So, at 0250, I moved reveille to 0500.

I did get up at 0500, ate my breakfast of muesli (Greek yogurt/honey/granola/dried berries) and Sparkling Ice + caffeine, got dressed. Stretched out for about 40 minutes. Set up my FlipBelt and my knapsack, which would hand crossed by my shoulders. I left the Red Roof Inn about 0615 and headed for the park, which was a five minute walk from the IHRT, and the actual parking spot for it.

I stepped off for the MCM at 0640. It was still dark, but the trailhead area was well lit, between the church parking lot and a sheet lamp or two. I got an extra ninety minutes of sleep, but I got a later start than I should have. Also, it was a little more overcast that last Sunday, so not much of a full moon.

My strategy was to push for a 12;30 pace for as mic as possible, then Marine Corps shuffle and PowerWalk to the end, if I had to. IHRT is 13 miles, end to end. Going out to the Charles County end is a gradual five mile climb to the 13 mile point. I made the turnaround, then ran a few more yards “just to make sure” of that tenth of a mile.

The second half of the run was the real grind. Going back to the eight mile point (Mile 18) was where I shifted into shuffle mode. Believe it or not, I got enough “second winds” where I could do more shuffling than power walking. I missed the six mile marker going back; that was significant because four of the remaining six miles going back would be uphill. When I saw the five mile marker, I knew everything was going to be alright.

“Do you have another fifteen minutes?” Made it to the four mile marker.

“Do you have one more hour in you?”

Apparently, I did.

The end of the virtual Marine Corps Marathon was a blur. 26.87 on the Strava. Cooldown walk back to the car. Drive back to get the obligatory selfie to post online. Back to the hotel for my post race epsom salt bath.

I did see a man on the course wearing an MCMmock turtleneck, asking me if I was running that day; I told him I was running the virtual MCM this morning. I was him again on the way back and he told me “You’re doing fine, keep it up!”

The KT bands on my thighs and Copper Fit knee braces were a boon. I wish I added KT tape to my calves.

The Dream:

“0300 on November 10th, 2021. The Marine Corps Birthday, but also the very last day I can run and submit a time for the Virtual MCM 50K.

“I text my supervisions at work that I’m taking a day of leave today. Not sure if i want to explain right why right now. I am up, I eat my breakfast. I add slice of English muffin covered with peanut butter to my muesli entree.

“Forty-five minutes to stretch. KT tape on my thighs and calves. elastic knee braces. Brooks running tights, bought just over five years ago. The infamous ‘People’s Mock’ from 2017. My plain white tech shirt, which was my ‘honor shirt’ for the Trifecta.

“0500 and I’m off. Half moon is out and I’m feeling good. Still feeling shaky from Sunday but I don’t care…I’m doing this run today, dammit!

“About 0615 and I’m at the SAIC Building…just over five miles in. The workday traffic is just building up. I don’t care who sees me at this hour. I’m just running.

“Ten mile mark, and I’m shuffling. I don’t care about speed, I don’t care about a Personal Record. Shuffle/shuffle/shuffle…Marine Corps shuffle.

“Faith Baptist Church and the turnaround point. Still feeling the after-effects from Sunday. The morning rush towards Naval Air Station Pax River continues. The KT tape and the knee braces are physically holding me together. May need to look for a bright star in the east, because this is a miracle.

“The shuffle continues. Damn, I didn’t realize so many inclines on the run back.Going on sheer willpower at this point. Then suddenly, I see the 20 mile point. Two thirds of the way done.

“Still shuffling…holy cow, suddenly I’m back in Hollywood, MD just outside the Outback restaurant. Okay, let’s see if we can make it back to the Wawa gas station at the intersection. Another incline and then a decline…not too steep but damn it’s long. Look across the street…it’s Wawa and a pee break.

“Still shuffling into California, MD…the strip malls, the Chick-Fil-A. The McDonalds and the Popeye’s Chicken (which is the worse of the two in town). Just keep shuffling and looking for the landmarks…almost home.

“Before I know it, I’m down one more long incline and up another one. Oh, look, the Chesapeake Professional Building where I work. Does anyone see me? Does anyone recognize me? Do I care at this point? I look again, and I’m across the street from NAS Pax River. One more incline…

“Enterprise Rent-a-Car. H&R Block. Oh, look, it’s Gate Two and the turn off Three Notch Road. Turn onto Willow Road one last time…I pass John Hancock Park…Mile Thirty. One last jog down Willow Road.

“One last second wind…one last selfie…up the hill to the entrance, then down the hill to the back entrance…one last shuffle past the three fireplugs, then the top of the hill.

“Pull out the smartphone, pull up the Strava…50.15 km.

“Thank you God…I’m done.”

“It’s 12:30 p.m. on November 10th, 2021…the 246th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. But there will be no potlucks, or birthday cake, or reading of General LeJuene’s Birthday Message. Today, there is only…the Trifecta.

“Epsom salt bath for half an hour. Pull on my olive drab USMC sweat bottoms and another clean mock turtleneck. Compression socks, black, with USMC in red lettering and trim. I check into Strava on my computer, enter my time on the MCM website.

“Two p.m. I email a copy of my 50K certificate to my supervisors and my coworkers.

“1415 hours…2:15 p.m. on the 246th Marine Corps Birthday. I could die happy…but I just go to sleep instead.

Postscript: 7:30 p.m. 11-10-21:

A bite of dark chocolate, a long pull of the cigar, and a sip of bourbon. I’m at the VFW in California, MD for the Marine Corps League’s birthday celebration.

Sitting next to a good friend who has just won a barbecue smoker. Feeling good for the first time all week. Happy Birthday, Marines! Happy Birthday to me.

Bite. Pull of the cigar. Sip.

“Dammit, I should have put some KT tape on my calves.”

Bite. Pull. Sip.

Turn the page.

MCM 2021: Random Observations

“you don’t say…”

Mileage tracked on MapMyRun, February through July 2021: 188 miles.

Mileage tracked on Strava, August 29 through November 7, 2021: 244 miles.

My training was wildly inconsistent this year. Too cold/snowy to run in February, so I didn’t run regularly (sic) until March. Too many missed days, a couple of DNFs. 30+ days gap between May and June, then a couple of weeks in July. July 23 was my last recorded run on MMR.

First week in August, I got a newer/bigger/better smartphone. I had no way to port over the MMR app or it’s information, so I uploaded Strava instead. Strava looks nicer and filled the need. Unfortunately, like MapMyRun, I can’t figure out how to CONSISTENTLY get the voiceovers for my mile splits.

Running was much more consistent in the August thru November period; not surprising, since I suddenly remembered I was running for the Trifecta (10K plus first ever 50K/31.1 mi. run in addition to the Marine Corps Marathon).

No cross training this year. Excuses?

“I didn’t know the gym in my apartment complex opened up back in the spring.

“I couldn’t find the perfect set of adjustable weight dumbbells for my P90X workouts.

“I found Crossfit too late (September-ish) to really get into it.

“I thought i would just relax and not worry about doing Yoga X and Stretch X in the days before the 50K.”

Yeah, okay…have fun packing up the 50K swag box and sending it back to the MCM Organization.

Still waiting for my MCM swag box, tho’…

No more briefs on long-a$$ runs. The cuffs bit into my nether regions and I got al hell of a burn/rash. And no vaseline in the house either.

I weighed 239 before my first run in September. I weighed 227 after my aborted 50K. I would have maybe lost a few more pounds had I not attempted to “fill the gas tank” for the Trifecta.

My seven year-old Kodak Pixpro FZ243 mini-camera’s screen burned out, sometime between MCM and 50K. I think I got MCM pix, but I’m not sure. Had to use my smartphone for the first time taking pics for the 50K. Because of security, I had to stop and input the code before I could pull up the camera app.

Took 23 minutes for my Uber “medieval” this morning. Thirty-something dollar ride home.

Post run comfort “brunch:” McRib combo from McDonald’s.

Little victories, y’all.

Song of the Day: “Du Hast”/Rammstein. Just because.

Virtual MCM 50K: The Journey Denied

  1. Excuses:

Maybe that two month vacation from running wasn’t such a good idea.

Maybe I should have pressed on with P90X without waiting for dumbbells.

Maybe I should have at least gone to the gym and done my old, tried-and-true circuit routines.

Maybe Crossfit, or some kind of cross-training.

Maybe I started out too fast this morning.

Maybe I should have done Yoga X and Stretch X, like I had planned.

Maybe I should not have waited until just before Labor Day Weekend to start losing weight for running.

Maybe I should have taken leave on November 10 (Marine Corps Birthday, but also a workday) to run the 50K

2. The Run

I did get the extra hour of sleep from moving the clock back for the end of Daylight Savings Time, but my night’s sleep was a restless one.

My pre-run prep was okay, and I did shift the priority to being ready to run instead of “out the door at 0455 and step off at 0500,” like I’ve been doing for years. However, I spent about 15 minutes going back and forth, going back and getting this and that.

I started the run off as planned: hold nothing back the first half, then shuffle/power-walk the second half. I was mostly running MD-234/Three Notch Road, up to North Seagraves Road/Faith Baptist Church and back. The hills were more inclines, but they were about a quarter to a half mile long in some stretches. Maybe one or two kind of steep hills, but nothing major.

The run up to Faith Baptist Church did’t feel that bad. After passing North Seagraves and crossing MD-234 for the run home, I took a quick pee break under a grove of trees (being careful to watch for any law enforcement vehicles coming or going) then started down the road back.

The need to shift from full run to shuffle mode was evident, so I did so. I planned to do the trip by breaking up the run into blocks of four miles at 15 minutes a mile (“CAN YOU GIVE ME ONE MORE HOUR???) and breaking the run into little segments (okay, shuffle ’tile get to that sign, and then we’ll power-walk for a bit).

Not no, but hell no, my calves screamed…maybe I should have KT-taped them as well as my thighs? I didn’t pull them or strain them, but they seized up something fierce. They weren’t bad enough to need a trip to the emergency room, but no way was I going to He-Man the last half of the run on them. Walking? Not an option. No second wind was coming this week.

Just short of 30K, I sat down on a brick stairway next to a mailbox, and summoned an Uber. Surprisingly, there was a lone driver on this cold Sunday morning, but it would be a 20-plus minute wait. Hoping that the homeowner would not come out and find me lowering on his/her property, I leaned back on the bricks and waited for the “medieval” home.

3. Life Lessons Learned

So I did complete the 10K two weeks ago, and the virtual 26.2 marathon at Indian head Rail Trail last week. I will keep the 10K and the 26.2 medals and swag (if the MCM package ever gets here!). The 50K swag box, with medal, and any Trifecta items (if they ever come) will be put into a box and sent back the Marine Corps Marathon Organization.

Failing to complete the Trifecta sucks. Next year, the Marine Corps Marathon Weekend should go live again, eliminating the need for any more virtual events. Maybe one year, I will forgo the MCM in favor of the 50K; if a virtual option is offered next year, I will attempt the Trifecta once more (and actually train for it!!!).

Given the circumstances, and my eight excuses, I am disappointed with myself, but I’m not going to go into depression or stage an active shooter event over not completing the Trifecta. I will simply acknowledge what I have not done, be grateful for what I have done…

…and turn the page.

I am going to go see my endocrinologist next week; if she has good news for me, I may be inspired to keep running over the winter.

The St. Mary’s Thanksgiving 5K/Prediction 5K/Fun Run-Walk is going virtual again this year. Thinking of a moonlit, pre-dawn sunrise run. I do this every year to signal the end of my running season, been doing this since 2013…the year before my first MCM.

Songs of the Day (WARNING: Possible Repeats inbound)

“Paint it, Black”/Rolling Stones: Last song playing on YouTube before I stepped out for the run. Rest in peace, Charlie…give our best wishes to Brian.

“Turn the Page”/Bob Seger: Okay, the subject matter is away different, but I am going to turn the page on my failed Trifecta attempt. Part of the reason I kept this blog: some days I get Did Not Finish on my runs, and not all the ones I finish are happy events either.

MCM Trifecta 2021/50K @ T-minus 3

Two months and a blown iMac hard drive later…

It is Thursday night, November 4, 2021. Sunday morning, I run the virtual Marine Corps Marathon 50K…the final leg in the 2021 Trifecta.

Thursday/Friday/Saturday, the plan is to

  1. Fuel and hydrate: Eat kind of hearty at meals and drink until my urine is clear and white. I want enough fuel and water to carry me thirty-one miles.
  2. Go into Sunday morning fully recovered from Sunday’s marathon. That means Yoga X on Friday and Stretch X (both classes from P90X) on Saturday. Maybe one last epsom salt bath between now and Saturday night.
  3. Minimal biking and no running. Couldn’t imagine running or riding the bike to work after running the MCM 26.2 on Sunday. Three hours in the car Saturday, two hours in the car on Sunday, after the run, and another three hours in the car on Monday. Not a real help for the day before or the day after the run.

The course is simple, out-and-back. Starting at the entrance to Abberly Crest, up north Willows Road to Great Mills Road, Great Mills out to NAS Patuxent River Gate 2, then turn left and follow Three Notch Road/Highway 234 about 15 miles to North Seagraves Road, then turn around and run/shuffle/powerwalk the 15 miles back down Three Notch/MD-234 to Great Mills, then left onto Willows Road and back home. I was hoping to rent a car and do a route tour, but no cars available on Friday or Saturday.

Strategy? Go all-out, pushing for a twelve minute to 12:30 pace for as long as I can. Running on three days of meals and hydrating; I will get one tall can of Sparkling Ice with Caffeine, with a packet of Ucan Hydrate mixed into the drink. Only carrying a coupe of Gu energy packets and a single bottle of water mixed with Ucan and pickle juice.

Yes I will put KT tape on my thighs and wear CopperFit knee braces. I am expecting it to be cold, so I will probably wear running tights and long sleeves. One way or another, I will be wearing my white “trifecta” tech shirt over whatever I decide to wear.

Sorry, no song of the day because 1) it’s late and 2) nothing really inspiring on YouTube right now.

Talk to you tomorrow.

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.”