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:
- Stay in Lexington Park for the weekend
- 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.
- 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.”