With 10 days to go until the start of the 2014 MCM – I am reminded of the 1st time I tackled this beast. I was 24 in 1979 and ran a 3:36:38 for my 1st Marathon ever with a little more than few months training from coach to starting line. I was reading some tips by Jamie Corey (a RRCA certified couch) to help prepare for the experience and felt the following with a few of my own comments to be the most important:
Take every moment in before, during and after the race– From the moment you get to the starting-line to the moment you leave the finish-line, take in every moment and try not to miss a thing. It is the best way to see DC guaranteed! Not to mention the best venue to re-charge your Patriotism.
Plan accordingly for the 7:55 a.m. (no matter how you get there)- It’s freakin’ cold at the start of the race. Dress warm, toss what you want to along the 1st part of the race and give yourself plenty of time to get there, get set and settle down.
Donate your clothes at the start – This race almost always has a really, really cold start. And there’s a big chunk of time in between checking your bag and actually running. But if you wear some clothes you’re willing to toss at the start line, you don’t have to deal with bag check or freeze your butt off! Can’t part with any of your running clothes? Take a trip to Salvation Army before the race!
Plan on walking a while to the start- No matter how you get there, the race blocks off access to several areas near the course so plan on walking to the runners’ village and through it to get to the starting line.
You’d think they were passing out Hundred dollar bills…The line for the bathrooms at the starting line is long – If you can find the secret bathrooms at the starting line you still need to arrive plenty early and plan for standing in line.
Find a pace group- But stay out of the center of the group. Otherwise, other runners may trip over your feet or push you around just to be close to the pacer. Spread out and stick to the outer edge of the group. The pace groups will be provided for the following finish times: 3:05, 3:15, 3:25, 3:35, 3:45, 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, and 5:30.
Walk or Take public transportation to the start- Metro will open its doors at 5 a.m. on race day so you can get to the starting line with plenty of time. The Pentagon station (blue line) is the closest to the start line (note: Arlington Cemetery won’t open until 8:30 a.m.) take the free pre-race shuttles to Runners Village near the Pentagon.
Don’t let the super awesome start get to your head- If you’re not careful, it’s really easy to let all that energy and excitement at the starting line get in the way of starting out at the right pace. Starting out slower is better. I ran the 1st 11 to 18 like I was a Kenyan and died like a B Movie actor… Hypothermia how do I know thee let me count the ways….
Plan on a gradual uphill the first three miles: Don’t be alarmed if the first few miles seem like a never ending uphill. You’ll be rewarded with a nice downhill after you reach mile three.
There are four food stations- Oranges between miles 5 and 6; Clif Shot Energy Gel near mile 13; Jelly Belly Sport Beans near mile 19; and Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins at mile 24.
Show our Servicemen some Thanks and Appreciation- Whether it’s a nod or a ‘thank you for your service,’ the men and women in uniform will appreciate it.
Play it smart along the Mall– Stay in the box and follow the plan don’t let the energy affect your pace. You still have seven miles to go, stay on pace.
Run Faster Than 14-Minute Miles to Beat the Bridge– Steve told me about this Milestone. The Marine Corps Marathon requires all runners to maintain at least a 14 minute-per-mile pace just before mile 20 along the 14th Street Bridge. The race opens up the bridge to traffic after 1:15 p.m. and boards the “stragglers” to a bus for those who can’t meet the time requirement.
Marine will life your soul in the end- America’s finest fight men and women await you .2 miles away from the finish. take the hill you can rest for the remainder of your life afterwards.