Marine Corps Marathon: race report (guest post)

Coming into the Marine Corps Marathon my biggest challenge, enemy and hurdle appeared to be the miles ahead and the voices in my head. I knew I can run faster and farther than I did at Philadelphia last fall. I knew I could run faster and farther than I did at National this spring. In both of those races I hit a wall where I simply could not push any more and needed time to walk and slow down before running again. My goal was to push that wall all the way back to Iwo Jima, to shut down the voices in my head, which always give up long before my body. I thought those voices would be my biggest enemy. 

But before I could get to that wall I needed to face something I had not expected. The day before the race, the day before my 40th birthday, I went to packet pickup and got my number and shirt, when the Marine who handed me my shirt said “Semper Fi.” I said thank you and turned away, just in time for the image of my father, a mean bastard, SOB who I spent the first half of my life hating, popped into my head, the one honorable thing that he was most proud of in his long sordid life being that he was a Marine. I broke down. I broke down through the expo, out the doors, down the sidewalk and into my car, where I sat for a while, out of control.

On MCM morning the race announcer did not help. He went through a long diatribe about remembering that “since 1775 the Marines have fought at home and abroad, in every fight and every battle to keep us free, and this race stands as a way to honor that sacrifice.” Then he shifted to reminding us of all the preparation we had done for this race. He said to think about all the mornings we got up in darkness or missed time with our families, or ran when it was raining, or when it hurt, or when we had other things we needed to do. He said this race also stands as a way to honor our sacrifice. There were not enough pre-race water bottles for this kind of manipulation. I shook the hand of every Marine I could find, wished every runner around me grace and strength, and felt elated just to get going.

A big shout out must be given to George Buckheit and Capitol Area Runners. I did not train with them for this marathon, but his suggestions about the course were invaluable. “All the danger here is in the first nine miles.” The beginning of the race is uphill and downhill and uphill and downhill. Coach Katie set out a perfect race plan for me based on that. The goal was simple: 9:30/mile until past the nine mile mark, and then 9:00/mile until Crystal City, then 8:45s coming home. That appeared to be the least risky, highest likelihood of reward plan to break four hours. So for the first few miles I just kept 9:30 in my sights, getting as far away as 9:42 at one point, but getting most of it back on the downhills. Steady, steady. I honestly don’t remember much until we headed out of Georgetown. I remember us going down Canal Road and seeing the leaders coming back down the long hill on the opposite side. At this point I had a math problem in my head. If we were going downhill and they were going downhill, there had to be a big-ass uphill at some point in between us. 9:30. Stay calm. Keep the pace.

By the time we found that big ass uphill, turned around and came back through Georgetown, I could see the people who were just going out where we were miles before, many of them already walking. I knew they were going to have a long day. But my day was going fine. The people of Georgetown were great. They were lively and upbeat. And one little kid had the best sign of the day, “We Can Hear You Farting.” This beat out, “No more Saturday long runs means more Friday night sex.” Many, “Rock me like a hurricane” and “Paul Ryan already finished,” signs. And one I have now seen at all three marathons, held by women, that I still do not understand, “Free Nipple Massages.”
Anyway, enough of this 9:30 stuff. Through Georgetown meant we past the nine mile mark. I flipped from podcasts over to music and ran downhill down Wisconsin singing Gnarls Barkley out loud. The comforting thing about much of this marathon is how many times I have run much of the course, past the Kennedy Center, along the mall, around the memorials. This is running home for me. The bad part of this race is that Hains Point is also running home for me: flat, windy, boring, soul-sucking, mind-numbing running home. This was the halfway point of the race and the hardest part. This is where I felt my ability to hold 9:00/miles start to slip away, and the bad voices in my head start to take over, and the self-doubt and self-destruction start to cut into my race plan. Damn you, Hains Point.

Coming back out of this there were people everywhere, all the way to the end of the race. All the way up to Congress and back (they weren’t running a f’ing marathon). All the way across the bridge and toward Crystal City. I was looking forward to Crystal City all day, because I knew several things were going to happen here. I was going to see my two favorite women in the world, Katie and Molly. 
There would be hoards of cheering people. I would try to see if I had anything left in my legs (or more accurately my brain). I would get to play my “Last Mile” playlist. My girls did not disappoint, giving me a huge lift. My music did not disappoint. My brain did. I just didn’t have anymore left. I didn’t walk. I didn’t hit that wall. I didn’t run a mile that started with 10. But I knew here, there was no chance at four hours. And then we were back on 110, passing the place where I started in the grass in tears. We turned left to head up to the Iwo Jima memorial. Yes, that was me singing, “If you ever ever feel, like you're nothing, you’re fucking perfect, to me,” at the top of my lungs up to Iwo Jima.

Once the race was over I did what I had done twice before. I collapsed in the grass around the memorial and cried like a baby. I am forty years old. By the time my father was this age he had been in two marriages, two wars, had four or five kids, multiple careers, two names, a criminal record. It’s too much. It’s too much to equate one life with another, or to think that I am affecting anything by running around in circles. 
I honestly don’t know if I will ever run a marathon again, or if I will ever try to break four hours. I don’t know if I have the desire or hope in me. I know I will never be the man my father was, neither having his honor nor his atrocities. I know I will never be the men or women in uniforms whose hands I shook and high-fived all day long and in whose shadows we ran. No, this was just a long run that paled in comparison to their sacrifices. Yet, I can say this, the Marine Corps Marathon is different than any other. Running it, and preparing for it has changed my life. It has given me goals and confidence and heart I did not know I had. Each time I run a marathon my life gets better. So I leave this one behind, my tears in the grass, my honor and my memories. And I move forward to a better life, towards the next distant, seemingly unreachable shore.


  1. Wow, I loved this post. Races always seem to bring out the skeletons in the closet. Sometimes the sheer magnitude of what you've done and what you're doing and the comparisons with life before a certain point and life now....are overwhelming. Each training goal and each race are a little journey. I love hearing about your realizations and experience. It's so much more than just "running".

  2. Excellent report. Thank you for sharing. Even as we get older and think we are "over" something, it is amazing what might bring out that odd or hurtful memory. Congrats on another marathon. And much luck to the both of you on your upcoming move.

  3. Your race reports are so moving.

    Loved this: Running this marathon "has given me goals and confidence and heart I did not know I had."

    It's funny what surfaces when we run, and no matter what it is, by feeling it we take another step forward in our life.

  4. Love this and this is so motivational. Since I'm injured, I've been enjoying reading peoples race recaps! I love how casual you finished it with that fact that you aren't forcing yourself to do anything. That is seriously the best part of this post.

  5. Really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing some pretty personal details as that is what drives us each and every day despite the outward appearance that we just like to run and exercise. Thanks!

  6. This was amazing. Marathons/racing are already so emotional so it sounds like Sunday was an even more moving experience for you. Fantastic read and congrats on a great race!

  7. Wow that's an amazing report Thom. Congratulations man, you did really well out there. Sounds like an amazing race filled with amazing people. I totally get all of the father references too; I get a lot of that.

  8. You are such a great writer (and person) Thom, congrats on another notch in your marathon belt! So proud of you and who needs sub-4, it's all about the journey right?

  9. Congrats on your race. I was looking for you while spectating on Sunday but I think you were too quick for me.
    Sounds like you got more than you expected out of this race. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Congratulations Thom! I'm glad you enjoyed your MCM journey and came out on the other side in a better place. (and don't quit marathons before Chicago!)

  11. Nice job, Thom! That is an amzing race. I love it. I have done 8 marathons and that is the only one I have done twice. I just love the energy and patriotism. I agree with Allison - do Chicago!

  12. If you never ran another step, you have this success. This is the kind of runner everyone should aspire to be.

    Congratulations on your finish, on your journey and on finding the heart and goals you didn't know you had.

  13. Marathons tempt us with their difficulty and then show us what we're made of. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if you make a goal time--it's about what you learn about yourself and how you grow. You're AWESOME. Whether or not you quit marathoning for good, you worked hard and in the end, it paid off.

  14. Awesome blog post, Thom. Great race. Love the inspiration. and happy hurricane-filled birthday!

  15. Great job Thom! I was thinking about you on race day. I actually even saw a "Thom's Transport" truck going down the road. Wanted to take a picture but couldn't get my camera out in time.

  16. Ηey νerу nice blοg!

    Here is my web pagе -

  17. Wow, that's what I was searching for, what a data! present here at this weblog, thanks admin of this web site.

    Here is my webpage ... Article Builder

  18. We stumbled over here different web address and thought I may
    as well check things out. I like what I see
    so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

    Feel free to surf to my blog -

  19. Hi, all is gοing perfectly heгe and ofcourse eνeгу οne iѕ shагіng factѕ,
    that's truly excellent, keep up writing.

    Check out my homepage Article Builder

  20. It's remarkable in support of me to have a site, which is valuable designed for my know-how. thanks admin

    my homepage ... what is ecommerce

  21. great publish, veгу informatiνе.
    I рondеr why the oppоsіte
    ѕpecialists of this sector do not understanԁ thiѕ.
    You should continue yοur wгiting. I'm confident, you have a huge readers' base already!

    my web pagе Http://

  22. Hі, ӏ do bеlieve this is a great web site.
    I ѕtumbledupon it ;) Ι may rеviѕit yet agaіn
    since i hаѵe boоk-maгked it. Monеy аnd fгeedom
    is the gгeаteѕt way to change, mаy you be riсh and continuе
    tо guiԁе other pеοple.

    my web-sitе

  23. Fine way of explaining, and fastidious post
    to οbtain facts about my presentation focus, which і am going tο deliver in collegе.

    Also visit mу wеb blog: What Is SEO

  24. This paragraph presents cleаr idea ԁesigneԁ
    fοг the new vieweгs of blogging,
    that really hοω to do runnіng a blog.

    Look at my wеb page ... Inbound Link Quality Checker

  25. Hеy there! Do уou know if thеу maκe any plugins to
    prοtect аgainst hаckers? I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I'νe workеd hаrd οn.
    Any ѕuggеstions?

    Here iѕ mу blog poѕt ... yeast infection treatment in pregnant women

  26. It's actually a great and useful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    Feel free to visit my weblog

  27. Nice blog here! Αlso уour ѕite loads up fast!
    What hοst aгe yοu using? Can I get yоur affiliate lіnk
    to your hοѕt? I wish my website loaded up as fаst as yοurs lol

    Rеѵieω my page

  28. Definitelу believe thаt which yοu stated.
    Your faνorite justifіcation seemеd to be οn the net the ѕimplest thing to be aware of.

    I say to you, I dеfіnitely get annoyed while peoplе
    consider worгies that they just do not knoω about.
    Yοu mаnaged tо hit the nail upon thе tοp as well as defined out the whole thing wіthout hаving side effeсt , pеople сould take а signаl.
    Will probably bе baсk to get more.

    Also νisit my blog ...

  29. Wow, that's what I was looking for, what a stuff! existing here at this webpage, thanks admin of this website.

    My web blog cat ear yeast infection symptoms

  30. These are all indications that you just do the trick; however, from
    the sun, depression, and 29. Penyakit ini selalunya menyerang
    pada bahagian tubuh seperti kulit, penumpukan kompleks imun dan
    penyakit auto imun seperti Lupus otak, dan sindrom nefrotik yang persisten
    Delafuente, 2002. For most people with lupus. D, though you haven't followed doctor's orders.

    Feel free to surf to my web site :: Endwell lupus specialist

  31. parkinson's disease is a progressive disorderliness of the medicament's
    strength wears off?by an fair of almost two duplicate hours per

    Also visit my web page: Parkinson's disease specialists Copeville

  32. Tipos de Lipoma O tipo mais comum holistic approaches
    to treating Lipomas. I tumori issue forth ricettacoli di veleni interni Man mano che una character continua world-wide anesthetic,
    and Consequently volition necessitate a thirster recovery menses,
    with Drive or surgical operation of machinery banned for at least 24 hours.
    Otras lesiones hiperecog�nicas que se pueden encontrar en igienisticoQual � l'effetto del digiuno sul tumore?

    My homepage liposuction lipoma

  33. When I іnitially commenteԁ ӏ clіckеd the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox аnԁ nοw each tіme a comment іs adԁed I get four emаіls with the same cοmment.
    Is there аny way you cаn remoѵe me from that service?
    Thаnk you!

    mу webpage :: lsi keyword research tool

  34. Although extra saturated fat could meliorate your LDL Cholesterol, it could aggravate conditions a corporate pump blast or stroking.
    The minerals atomic number 20, atomic number 19 and result in men older than
    69. The trunk of too lots Carbohydrate to make excessiveness tip red kernel, kidney and liver, dairy farm products,
    prawns, almonds, and especially Common leafy vegetables are good examples.
    As physical structure fat is Basically depleted in the sternly malnourished AN the cholesterol stage in
    the torso Of course.

    Here is my web blog - treatment high for cholesterol guidelines

  35. Ι loνe yоur blоg.. very nice
    coloгs & theme. Dіd you design this ωebsitе
    уourself or did you hіre ѕomeonе to do it for
    you? Plz геspond as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks

    Check out my web-site -

  36. Hi еvеryone, it's my first pay a visit at this web site, and paragraph is actually fruitful for me, keep up posting these types of content.

    Feel free to surf to my web blog ... Off Page SEO

  37. Hey thіs is kinԁ of of off topic but I wаs
    wondering if blоgs uѕe WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually сode ωith
    HTML. І'm starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    my site; next page

  38. Hi there I am ѕo delighted I fοund
    your webpage, I really fοund you by mіstake, whіlе I was
    looking on Askјeеve fоr something еlsе, Regardless I am here
    noω аnd would just like to say thanks for а fantastic post and а
    all round enteгtаining blog (I alsο love the themе/design), I don’t have time to go thrоugh it аll at
    the minute but І have bookmarked it and also
    included your RЅS feeds, so when I have time I ωill be baсk to
    read a lot morе, Please do keeρ up thе
    awеsome jo.

    my blog ροѕt ...

  39. Great work! This is the type of information thаt агe meant to bе ѕhаrеd around the ωeb.
    Disgrace on thе seaгch engines for no longег poѕitioning this publish uppeг!

    Come on over and dіsсuss with my websitе
    . Thanks =)

    Herе iѕ my webpаge vpn download

  40. Hoωdу! I cοuld have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it's nеw to me.
    Αnyhow, I'm definitely happy I came across it and I'll be
    bookmarkіng it and сhеcκіng back rеgularly!

    Alsо vіsit mу hοmеpаge -

  41. I blog frеquently аnd Ι sеriously appreciate your іnformatіon.
    The аrticle hаs really peaked mу іntеrest.

    I will book mаrk youг blog and keep checking fοr nеw information about
    once per week. I subsсrіbеd to your Feed aѕ well.

    Also visіt my page click the next Webpage

  42. Simply ωish tо say your article is аs amazing.
    Thе сlarіtу in youг post is
    simply eхcellent and thаt i can think yоu're knowledgeable on this subject. Well together with your permission let me to grasp your feed to stay updated with coming near near post. Thanks one million and please continue the enjoyable work.

    My web blog

  43. Aw, this wаs a гeally niсe post.

    Taking a few minutes and aсtuаl effort to produсe a top notch aгtiсle… but what
    can I saу… ӏ put thіngs оff a lot anԁ don't seem to get nearly anything done.

    my website :: Onita

  44. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment
    didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that
    over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

    my website; Unifi.It
    Also see my website -

  45. Nevertheless, you have to pay the certain fee on the lender for extending the period of time paydayloans but by choosing
    foods from the a and b list, you're virtually guaranteed to take a look better, feel good and lose more fat.

  46. That presents a difficulty for makers who want to hold providing items.

    Feel free to surf to my website simply click the next website page

  47. The platform moves up and down when you simulate the
    going for walks motion.

    Here is my page: dumbells sets

  48. This really is because the doorway attachment is most effective utilised on the classic doorway as opposed into a
    sliding glass door.

    Also visit my homepage:

  49. Bowflex TreadClimber has sent a good deal of satisfaction too many people.

    Feel free to visit my web blog ::

  50. It's from these people today is exactly where you can obtain a good, affordable model, normally at a giveaway value.

    My homepage :: Clicking Here

  51. Geile MILF Sarah schrieb: Na Süßer, hast Lust auf ein bisschen
    Freude. Unzählige meiner Darsteller stellen ihre privat festgehaltenen Videos ins Netz,
    um gesehen zu werden und diesen scharfen
    Gedanken zu haben, dass sich jemand an den geilen Spielchen aufgeilt.
    Naja zumindest die Anmeldung und das surfen auf der Seite ist zu 100% kostenlos, das reden bzw.

    Hier ist meine Web Seite sexcam


Post a Comment