Monthly Archives: November 2010

Running 26.2 Miles For Those Who Can’t

As a marathoner, there are a few “must-run” races we all want to finish and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) is one of them. Not only is MCM the 4th largest marathon in the U.S., but it is held at our Nation’s Capital.  I signed up for MCM as a charity runner for Alzheimer’s and spent months training, raising money ($1525) and convincing my friends that as soon as the race was over, I’d be  fun again. Here’s a little bit about my experience at MCM and why I recommend every marathoner try it!

I took the Mega Bus from NYC to DC the day before the race. It just so happens that the day I arrived in DC, was also the Rally to Restore Sanity, which appeared to be causing more chaos than sanity. Regardless, the first step for a successful marathon weekend is attending the Expo, so I found my way to the Convention Center and was instantly taken in by the race experience energy.

The Expo was filled with thousands of people just like me who traveled from all over the world to conquer 26.2 miles. I picked up my race packet from a friendly Marine, visited a few vendor booths and then walked over to the Carbo Dining In Dinner. The dinner was a wonderful experience filled with military entertainment, guest speakers and even a drill sergeant.

The following morning on  October 31, 2010, I lined up on route 110 in Arlington with 30,000 other runners and off we went.

The first eight miles were slightly up hill, but views of the Potomac River, coupled with the thousands of fans cheering us on, made them fly by. At mile ten we came to the Lincoln Memorial and then pushed on to the Jefferson Memorial.

At the Jefferson Memorial we continued following the Potomac River and then came back up to the Jefferson Memorial along the Washington Channel. At mile 15, we took in amazing views of the Washington Monument, circled back around the Lincoln Memorial and then ran up Constitution Avenue past the White House at mile 17.

Miles 18,19 and 20 were filled with thousands of cheering fans, Marines handing out donuts and a few painful strides. After mile 20, we crossed the Rochambeau Memorial Bridge for the final stretch of the race. The last 6.2 miles brought us past the Pentagon, through crowds of supporters and even past a group of people handing out beer. The final 1/2 mile was past the Arlington Cemetery and then we crossed the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial. Yes….it was an emotional finish.

Running the Marine Corps Marathon was an amazing experience for me. Not only is it “The People’s Marathon,” but I had the chance to run for something bigger than myself, The Alzheimer’s Association. Running for those who can’t pushed me through each mile, up each hill and past the finish line. I started training for MCM in memory of my Grandma Gabriel, but as the months went on I came across so many other people who have/had a loved one with Alzheimer’s and I ended up running for even more.

Also, not only was I running for Alzheimer’s, but I got to run for all of the brave men and women who fight for this country everyday. When things got tough, I remembered how lucky I am that I live in the United States of America and am free to run this race.  The experience was definitely unforgettable and I will hang my medal with pride.

A special thanks to the Marines who really made this marathon a success. There is a difference between a volunteer and a volunteer who cares….and these Marines cared. They handed out water with enthusiasm, cheered into megaphones and offered high-fives to anyone who needed one. Oorah!

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Marine Corps Marathon Motivation in Unexpected Places

It turns out that not getting selected to run in the 2010 NYC Marathon (NYCM), and missing registration for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), were two of the best things that could happen to me as a runner. Earlier this year my Grandma Gabriel passed away from Alzheimer’s and I promised my Grandpa I’d do a charity race for her. At the time I figured I’d do a local Alzheimer’s walk in her memory, but when I learned that I could get into MCM if I ran for the Alzheimer’s Association, I knew there was a reason I missed registration in the first place. It took me less than five minutes to decide I’d dedicate five months of marathon training, a 26.2 mile race and $1525 in raised money to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Training for MCM definitely had obstacles. Between distance runs in a city filled with millions of people, crazy cab drivers and limited space, coupled with late nights at work, failed attempts of running before work and temperatures in a new city that my body hadn’t quite adjusted to, there were definitely days I had to remind myself why I was doing this. However even through the obstacles, I always seemed to find motivation in unexpected places, such as these training runs:

The Brooklyn Half Marathon – The course required us to run two loops of Prospect Park before cutting down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. While pushing myself to finish the first loop, I got lapped by the lead runners. In a situation that could have been discouraging, I felt re-motivated and an urge to push myself harder. Being passed by such amazing runners made me want to work harder.

The NYRR 18-Mile Tune Up – As I approached the starting line, the furthest distance I had ran in the last few months was 14 miles. Needless to say, my mystery miles, the last four, hurt! In the three hours and 25 minutes it took me to painfully cross the finish line, I had a lot of time to think. But instead of getting discouraged because my knee hurt, or thinking negative thoughts about being behind in training, I was surprisingly re-motivated. I was running for those who couldn’t, this wasn’t about me, it was about them and I just needed to keep going.

The Newark 5K – When I got a call from my mom that she wanted to run a 5k, I was beyond ecstatic. She was a walker, not a runner, and this was a huge step for her. She started training and only a few months later we were running the Newark 5K together. Every step we took I was so proud of her and I know she was proud of herself. It was extremely motivating to see how running had changed not only my life, but hers.

While all of these races definitely re-motivated me to keep training, the most impactful encouragement came from those who donated and supported me as a charity runner for Alzheimer’s. In 2008 and 2009, my mom and I had raised close to $10,000 for the 60-Mile Three Day Breast Cancer Walk, so I wasn’t a stranger to collecting donations. However, this year I was in a new state, raising money for a new charity and had no idea what to expect. I learned quickly that people will always amaze you, especially when you aren’t expecting it.

Between family, friends, co-workers and even people on Twitter who I have never met, I raised $1525 for the Alzheimer’s Association. I only directly asked family and a few close friends for donations, and used Twitter and Facebook to share my link with others who might want to donate. The support I received was amazing and so inspirational. Not only did the support and donations I received from so many wonderful people keep me motivated through long runs, painful miles and moments of weakness, but I was able to run for many other people who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. At MCM, I dedicated each mile to one of the amazing people below and in some cases to one of their loved ones.

Thank you so much to the following people:

Anne Swaykay (Honor of Ed Miller), Bill Bade, Caitlin Nees (Memory of Grandpa Nees), Charlie Miller, Dan Gabriel, Diane Fleming, Eileen Moore (Memory of Karen Moore, Honor of Marie McKay), James Parker, Jenni and Greg Page, Jess Greco, Kamari Guthrie (Memory of Leanord Guthrie), Keith Weinzierl, Kim Hagen, Kristine and Don Thompson, Laney Cohen (Memory of Great Grandma Rose), Mike Miller, Mike Striker (Honor of Grandma Meema), Nick Cross (Memory of Grandpa McIntyre), Pat Miller, Penny and Velcro, Piper, Teresa Cantwell (Honor of Grandma K), Tim and Hayden Garmon, Sam Gabriel and Steven Grafnitz.

Also, a special thanks to The Sports Mole, Jon Stillwell who not only supported me, but traveled to different races, took pictures and always asked, “did you win?”

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