Thankful Thursday – The Marine Corps. Marathon Edition
While the rest of the B.R.A. flew up North on Thursday or Friday, I went up on Saturday morning. I flew into Baltimore, then immediately drove down to D.C. to meet up with the group. They were just finishing lunch (after hitting the expo). However, Fist Deep (who was there as a supporter also) decided to stick around and join me as I ate. O.K., maybe it was an excuse for her to have another beer. Who knows?
After lunch, we went to the expo to say Hi to the ladies at Womens Running Magazine, D and BR. Both seemed relaxed and ready – well, as relaxed as possible. After a quick spin around the expo, we hit the road to Baltimore. The vast majority of the peeps were staying in the Baltimore area.
An early dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant followed. No shenanigans went on, as I think the race was creeping into everyones’ mind. After dinner, we drove back to the respective sleeping places and bedded down early for the next day.
Sunday started at around 3:00 am or so for most, as they went through race preparations. Once everyone assembled, we caravanned down to DC, arriving at the Shuttle buses around 5:45 am. A quick trip to the Pentagon parking lot, and then the wait began. Start time was 8:00 am. Most of the time was spent trying to stay warm (it was around 48 degrees with a 9 mph wind – tough on us Floridians). I saw several huddles, and even a couple of sandwiches (Caribbean Steve surrounded by a group of women, and Coach T in a similar but separate situation). Apart from the runners, there were 4 supporters out there – Fist Deep, HT (local DC runner and friend of Coach T and Coach V), Maryland V, and myself. We all had various plans on supporting the runners.
Time finally came for the runners to head over to the start. Hugs and good wishes abounded. Then, the 4 supporters walked from the parking lot over a bridge to the Lincoln Memorial (mile 10). I have to say it was a beautiful walk. The sun was coming up, the fall colors were out, and there were several excellent views of the various historical memorials. I have never been to D.C. before. If you can go – GO!
We had time before our runners would arrive at Mile 10, so we checked out the Lincoln Memorial (including some warm bathrooms), and settled down to wait. The wheelchairs were first, and as they were going by, we moved closer to mile 10.25 so we could have a good view of the course. The volunteer plan were for myself to pace several BRA members, HT was going to pace Strawberry E from Mile 11 to the end, Maryland V was pacing Coach V from 20 to the end, and Fist Deep was the official cowbell ringer /sign holder.
First up was Quick T, who had planned to try to crack the top 3 women. When she came by, she was 12th woman overall, and appeared to be struggling. Next up was Coach T, running solidly in the 3:10 pace group pack. After a bit, Caribbean Steve came up. I was planning on pacing him as far as I could (he had a possible BQ going). So, I took off with him. Right after I left, Strawberry E, Speedy Jess, and Seth the Brother came by. Strawberry E was going for a BQ, and Speedy Jess and HT were along to help. Unbeknownst to us, Speedy Jess ran into a stopped wheelchair at mile 5 and fell. She picked herself up and continued to run, with a couple of bruises and a nasty head bump.
I ended up pacing Caribbean Steve for about 13 miles. Unfortunately, it was not his day, and the BQ and PR plans fell thorough. But, he never quit. At mile 23, he turned me loose, so I could go pace others.
Next up was Strawberry E and HT. They were 2 minutes ahead of BQ schedule. I ran with them for a bit, while HT made a quick (beer) stop. Once he got back, I let them go and waited for the next runner. Speedy Jess went by, and I missed her (she dropped off their pace about 17). Next up was H. She was trying for a BQ, and was on pace for most of the race. But, by the time she got to me, she had hit Mr. Wall, and was struggling. So I jumped in and helped her along as best I could. For the next 2 miles, it was just trying to get her as close the finish line as possible. She seemed to be o.k. so once we got to mile 25, I turned her loose and went back. Next up was Becs and Jesus John. They were probably separated by 2 minutes, so I ran with them each for a half mile, just to give them a friendly face.
Last up (for me) was P-Funk. I was around the mile 25 sign waiting when I saw her coming. She was struggling, no doubt. So, I decided I was taking her to the finish. We stepped off, and ran as best as possible toward the end. It’s mostly downhill to mile 26, then uphill to the end. I felt sorry for all the runners, even though I understand the symbolism of the uphill to the Iwo Jima Memorial. Anyway, P-Funk never quit and gave it her all as she went up the hill. I dropped off so I would not cross the line. I then ended up taking the not-so-long way around to get to the groups meeting place (Thanks to a friendly marine for a favor).
After a great while, all the runners assembled at the meeting point. While the weather was beautiful, it was a very tough course, and most people ended up short of their time goals. But, I am happy to report that Thanks to HT and Speedy Jess, Strawberry E qualified for Boston with 2 minutes to spare. Congratulations!!
After we were all assembled, we got on shuttles back to the cars, then back to our respective lodging. At our place, pizza and beer (soda for me) were the order of the evening. Then, it was lights out as one tired group of athletes headed for bed.
There a dozens more stories from this group, which would take a week of blogs to tell. But I do want to say this – I am proud of EACH and EVERY ONE of the B.R.A. who ran this race. I never saw quit or surrender in anyone, regardless of how bad they were hurting. It’s one of the best (in my opinion, THE BEST) running groups out there.
Special Thanks to Maryland V for putting the majority of us up in her house, and to all the people who were watching and cheering on-line. The runners definitely appreciated the support.