When we were in Chicago, the day after the marathon, MJ and I got to chatting with a few other runners about past races they’d done and how they compared.
“Well,” one guy started, “I did the Marine Corps Marathon last year and Chicago’s spectators were way better. In DC all you get are bitchy Washingtonians sipping their lattes and cheering you on. It’s so annoying.”
“Really?” I responded. “Because we’re actually from DC* and did Marine Corps last year, too. And I have to tell you – Chicago’s spectators may have been more organized, but the signs in DC were far more creative. I loved the spectators at Marine Corps.”
It kind of took the wind out of his sails, which was part of the point. But the other, FAR more important part was that Marine Corps spectators are phenomenal. And this year – yesterday – they were even better.
I had a smile on my face nearly the entire time, thanks in part to signs like “You run better than Metro!” and, at Hains Point, “No sweat! It’s just the tip!” and also thanks to the Cheer Squad, consisting of Mama, Daddy (thank you both for coming down!), BNF, Vandy, and Nicstress.
BNF even managed to snap this photo as I ran by around mile 17.
See that smile? I was having an amazing time. And I was feeling far better than I ever thought possible after running 17 miles.
That, plus seeing the Cheer Squad again at mile 20ish (sorry I missed your high five, Nicstress!), was enough to keep me motivated over the bridge, through Crystal City, and up to mile 25.
There I saw a sign that said “Accio finish line!” (a Harry Potter reference that thrilled me) and was able to push it just a little harder to meet BNF at 25.5. He finished the race with me, even doing the Iwo Jima hill again (even though he’d already done it once earlier in the 10K), pushing me the entire way.
And I’m so glad he did because now I have a brand new, shiny PR of 4:29:09! I took 5 minutes off my Chicago time, proving that temperature can make far more of a difference than elevation.
I might be shuffling today, and my knees are absolutely not happy with me, but it is so very worth it.
Everything about the race was amazing – especially the spectators. Truly, Chicago has nothing on you.
In three more weeks we’ll see how Philly stacks up. Two down, one to go!
*It’s a whole other debate about when you can actually say that you’re from DC. But for the purposes of this conversation, I felt it appropriate.