Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Marine Corps Marathon

This was an epic experience.  There were the Marines, Washington, D.C., monuments, the Potomac, Virginia, runners, flyovers, the Pentagon, perfect weather, the Dixie Liquor store, Georgetown, Hains Point, the Mall, Lucy, pep bands, the Bridge, Iwo Jima, shouts of encouragement from friends all over the world, and my great friend Adam Tinkoff!  This was not just a run or a race, it truly was a memorable moment that I won’t forget and I was blessed to share it with Adam.

While this was his first marathon, it was my sixth marathon.  Nonetheless, I had been undertrained and was concerned prior to the race start that I may be in for a tough, physical event.  In addition, I had never run with someone else for this distance nor had I ever run a 30 second run / walk cycle for such a long run.  Yet, everything worked out perfectly.  It was awesome to help Adam in his first, but at the same time, he really helped me.

After waiting forever to go to the bathroom, we strolled over to the starting area probably 15 minutes after the race started.  We were amongst the very last runners to start the race.  Adam and I took pictures.  The crowd was laughing and yelling at us to start.  We finally crossed the start line with a police escort right behind us, bringing up the rear of the MCM and bringing up our rears!

No sooner had we started when Adam’s Gym Boss beeped to signal us to walk.  The 30 second interval was very short and hard to get used to at first.  By mid-race, I was easily comfortable with the 30/30 and welcomed the familiar beep as if it were a Pavlovian association.  Believe me, the frequent walks did wonders for this race.

As we ran through Rosslyn, we caught up to and passed the rescue buses for fatigued runners.  These were the buses that we had to beat by the time we got to Mile 20.

We saw many runners in Halloween costumes.  There were the Ghillie camou runners.  I brushed by one and said “Sorry, I didn’t see you.”  He replied, “That’s OK, just don’t piss on me!”  We saw Elvis (of course), two gasmask runners, tutu skirt runners, and other goofy outfits.

We also saw and admired the many men and women running or marching in full gear while carrying the American flag, USMC flag, or other service colors.  Combined with the backdrop of Washington, D.C. and the monuments, this race was a stirring tribute to the many patriots who have or are serving our country.  Adam and I both thanked as many of these heroes as we could.  We were both overwhelmed by their sacrifices.

As we dipped down the hill of the Spout Run Parkway, we saw the Potomac shimmering in the sunlight and the Cathedral of Georgetown University looming up on the hill across the river.  We were taking in the sights as best possible.  This whole course was a brilliant tour of DC.  We could not be more excited.

After we crossed Key Bridge, we both noticed the Dixie Liquor store and made sure we snapped a photo on our way back.  This area was rowdy with the crowd, a fife & drum corps, and a pep band.

The way north along the Potomac was serene with Teddy Roosevelt Island on our left and minimal crowds.  Upon reaching the turnaround, we climbed up a hill and came to the reservoir and the incredible views of DC below.

As we ran through Georgetown, we were amazed at the crowds and we both commented on the familiar sights from our trips past.  It was so cool to think that on previous trips to DC we had frequented all these places and yet now we were running a marathon along the same pathway.  If only we had known back then.  It just goes to show you that you never know what will come and that the sense of place and time can be so cool to compare as we “run” through life.

Near the Kennedy Center, we spotted what has to be the best candidate we have witnessed so far for the role of “Lucy”, our admiring and excitable fan on “Shock of the News”.  This girl had the smile, face, hair (purple wig), and the boobs (yes I said boobs) that she flaunted to us as we ran by.  I quickly reminded Adam that it was a walk break!  Lucy laughed and we had a renewed sense of energy!

The route south would then take us all the way down to Hains Point, the halfway mark of the race.  We had a hard time believing it was 13.1 miles since the run so far was easy.  We made an iPadio report and I checked messages on my phone.  I couldn’t believe all the well wishes from folks all over the world!  The Twitter, Facebook, email, text, and phone messages were so encouraging.  I can’t tell you how happy it made us to feel so much support from our friends.

Last year, Hains Point was a difficult area for me.  I was pretty tired and a little overheated then.  This year, it was so enjoyable with a nice breeze and a perfect temperature.  The sights were amazing with the Potomac, the marina, the admiralty houses, and the monuments coming into view.

The 30/30 cycle turned out to be a life-saver.  We flew through the first 17 miles or so without any significant effort.  Our bodies and spirits were doing fantastic.  It was incredible how we caught up and passed so many runners.  Mind you, we were not trying for a pace or overall finish time.  We just ran our race.  Now, our run depended on the 30/30 method alright, but the experience was really about enjoying every step.  We yucked it up just like we do on Shock of the News.  We laughed so many times and chatted away about every element we could observe during the race.

Rounding the Tidal Basin of the Jefferson Memorial, we began the trek around the Mall, which gave us our first fatigue test.  We were getting a little tired.  The wind was not so breezy here so we started to heat up just a bit.  By this time, we had caught up to so many runners that we were a little unused to navigating amongst all the people.  Previously, we had more or less owned the course and had plenty of room to do the 30/30s.  At the same time, we enjoyed the runners and the crowds cheering along the Mall.

When we left the Mall and headed down toward the 14th Street Bridge, we knew we had the finish within reach.  We had beaten the Bridge.  No bus would pick us up for a DNF.  Unlike last year, the Bridge was not littered with fatigued bodies.  The weather really helped this year.

However, the Bridge did take its toll on us.  The length and multiple rises of the Bridge portion of the course zapped our strength quite a bit.  We were so excited at Mile 20 (you can hear it in our voices on the iPadio cast) that we were rudely reminded by the Bridge that we still had some serious work left to finish.

We walked through the aid station heading into Crystal City, watching the runners heading north to the finish as we headed south deeper into the city.  The crowds here were great but we were pooped.  We trudged back into the 30/30 routine and gutted it into and out of Crystal City.

As we were leaving the city, we saw the rescue buses heading south into the city with a lone runner right in front of the first bus.  He was an elderly man struggling to take another step.  He was in tremendous pain.  We cheered for him and the whole crowd was clapping in salute of his remarkable effort and accomplishment so far.  Later, we wondered if he had made it to the finish.  I sure hope he did.

As we rounded the western border of the Pentagon, Adam began to feel more pain in his quads.  He had been feeling a growing discomfort since the bridge, but now it was getting worse and was quickly beginning to impede his running.  He was getting brief cramps, so we started to walk.  Despite a few attempts to re-start the 30/30s, it was clear that to safely make the finish, we decided it was smarter for us to walk the last 2.5 miles.

As we passed the starting area, we could begin to hear the crowds of the finish at Iwo Jima Memorial.  The turn into the last stretch was within sight.  Adam was grimacing from each step but we both knew we would make it.

With about 100 yards to go, we trudged up the last hill in a trotting type of gait.  The Marines lining the sides of the course were cheering loudly.  Adam’s legs started to give out just as we reached the top of the hill.  With the finish line now in sight, Adam had to walk to the rail on the side to brace himself.  His legs were really locking up.

We walked to the finish.  The crowd was cheering.  The Marines were cheering.  I was shaking each of their hands and thanked them for their service.  The Jumbotron screen had us well in focus.

We crossed the line at 6:23:45.  Adam crouched down and kissed the finish line!  We had made it!  We hugged and smiled.  We had left no man behind!  We ran this one together.

We were medaled in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial and made our way to a nearby fence to sit down and rest our backs against so as to relax and take it all in.  Steve Runner gave us an uplifting congrats call.  He shared that folks all over were exchanging news of our side-by-side run through DC and yelling their support for us to make it to the finish.  We read the cheers from friends that had been streaming in from all over.  We were so happy and satisfied.

The 35th MCM was in the books.  We admired the medals around our necks.  We felt like kids.

The only problem was how to get up and back to the hotel!  Just like kids, we felt like: “Carry me!”

We straggled to the Metro just as they were closing the entry gates to regulate traffic.  The ride back into DC felt good now that we were sitting down.

After getting cleaned up at the hotel, we wished for a victory beer together, but I had to make my flight home.  Adam drove me to the airport.  We had the best weekend together and a run we shared that was memorable and joyous for each step.

I can’t thank enough all the friends who provided such good cheer to us both.  I can’t thank Adam enough for his friendship.  I know I am blessed and I am deeply grateful!

Next up is our Mojo Loco relay in December.  We promised a MCM victory beer together then.  We also agreed to pick a race in Michigan to share in 2011. 

So, the Shock of the News duo ran the 2010 MCM.  While the race is now in the books, the experience will remain in my heart forever.

Semper Fi!


  1. great job Ed! You and Adam personified Semper Fi... well done!

  2. Sometimes it's a lot more fun to run without a time goal ... so much of the course was a blur to me but you guys truly saw and heard everything. Though I do remember the fife!

    Great job, hope you've both recovered :)