Well now-it has been well over a month since I last attempted a blog post. Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded with ideas that it is easier to do nothing until something stirring happens. I have plenty of races to blog about, but for sake of time, I will condense those at a later date (and eventually get back to living in the present while reflecting on the past).
Today is Halloween by the date on our Gregorian calendar. I won’t get off on a tangent about the history of the “holiday” as much as I’d like too. I will just say that people sometimes major in the minors about the “to celebrate or not” as it implies to the “pagan” background More importantly, I returned home today from a four day trip to Washington, DC. Annie the orphan pup was glad to be home from the sitter & appropriately did her “Franken Annie” impersonation in her sleep.
Why was I in DC? Glad you asked. Last late winter/early Spring (I can’t remember exactly when, I’ve slept since then), I entered the lottery to run the Marine Corps Marathon & actually got in. My fall marathon was planned. After the horrible experience I had at Grandma’s Marathon in June, I almost regretted having to train for another one occurring just four short months later. Since this was a bucket list marathon, I trudged away with hot, humid, summer runs.
This is not a race recap. You can find plenty of those on other sights. After all, this was the 41st running of MCM. I am not a race director, nor do I aspire to be. MCM was my tenth marathon-not really that many by hardcore marathoner standards. What I do know is this-everyone has an opinion, and everyone is different in their likes/dislikes of particular races from course layout to crowd support, to aid stations, to…you name it. To run out of water at a race is unacceptable (which they did not, but I have been to others that did). I personally think that chocolate milk should be a standard offering post race at EVERY race, but that’s just me. Not being a race director does not numb me to the fact that all races entail a great deal of planning/preparation, especially one of that magnitude.
Some of the complaints I heard online and at the Hotel I was staying at afterwards were as follows: Too hot (as if the weather can be controlled), too many out & backs, too many times around the Pentagon parking lot, course was a bit longer than 26.2, not enough showcasing of DC, expo too far away, no finisher blankets, blah, blah, blah. One person even said that she was going to write to the General. Good luck with that.
My point is this: Is your glass half empty or half full, whether in a marathon or any other aspect of life? Here is the mission statement from marinemarathon.com
“The mission of the Marine Corps Marathon is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the US Marine Corps.”
It goes on to tell how the Marines are actively involved in the planning & execution of this and other MCM events. Marines organizing every jot & tittle of a public running event. No prize money for the winner. It is “The Peoples’ Marathon.”
The Bleacher Report said this:
“One of the nation’s largest & most popular marathons…provides an opportunity for members of the Marine Corps to come together and celebrate a special day for the armed forces.”
Did you catch that? “To celebrate a special day for the armed forces.” This was the 41st year. There was at least one older gentleman who had run all 41. A lot of our armed service personnel who are either active duty or retired, run it every year. Many others run it every year. So to be fair, I have no other years to compare it to since this was the first time that I have been privileged to run it. For the complainers in the hotel, it was their first time as well.
My perspective: This was my 2nd trip to DC. The last time I was there was 2009, and things have changed somewhat. I have lots of photos from previous trip of all of the monuments and other touristy stuff, so I didn’t repeat a lot of those photos. The featured image says it all. I will always visit Arlington National Cemetery. So I will start there.
At the start of the race, the headstones are visible to the left. “Thank you fallen service members.” If it weren’t for those somber graves, there would be no freedom to run marathons. Since it was Halloween weekend, many runners wore various costumes. One runner wore a Yeti costume with full head gear the whole time. That had to be miserably hot. Moreover, there were the photos/names of the fallen, the fighting, and the wounded pinned to many shirts. There was a firefighter who ran the entire race in full gear in honor of an armed service person. Many active duty ran in full uniform with packs on their backs. Many carried American flags. “Thank you active duty.” Many wounded veterans ran whether with prosthetic leg or via wheelchair. “Thank you wounded warrior.”
Then came the “blue mile.” From mile 10 to 11, photos of the fallen with family members standing by some, others holding the American flag. Besides the foot falls, there was silence, then faint sobbing. It was hard to breathe right and run that mile. Once again, “Thank you fallen warriors & bless the families that you left behind.”
Starting at the expo to the finish line, there were Marines helping, serving. No greater honor than to have one of them put the medal around my neck. Those who have sacrificed so much to be there for me, a small town Missouri runner. Those in the grave, who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I might be free. What do I have to complain about this race?
The miles really just flew by. Legs were a little weary by mile 22, but Marines were there to encourage. It was a very special day. My time? Meh, it wasn’t about the time. I will always cherish this medal above all others for what it symbolizes. I will always salute the flag of the United States of America whose colors never run, birthed with the blood spilled by many. I will always thank God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son for this great country and for the men & women who serve it’s armed forces.
Thank you United States Marine Corps for a job well done. My cup runneth over. #missionaccomplished
In Your Honor
Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold your dreams, your lives.
On foreign soil, you found yourself planted,
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.
Without your sacrifice their cause would be lost,
But you carried onward, no matter the cost.
Many horrors you have endured and seen.
Many faces have haunted your dreams.
You cheered as your enemies littered the ground.
You cried as your brothers fell all around.
When it was over, you all came back home.
Some were left with memories to face all alone.
Some found themselves in the company of friends,
As their crosses cast shadows across the land.
Those who survived were forever scarred emotionally, physically,
Those who did not, now sleep eternally
‘Neath the ground they had given their lives
To keep free.
With hand upon my heart, I feel the pride & respect;
My reverence is revealed in the tears
That now stream down my upturned face,
As our flag waves above you in her glory & grace.
Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave.
Pain & death was the price that you ultimately paid.
Every day, I give my utmost admiration
To those who have fought
To defend our nation.
Is your cup half empty or half full?
Until next time,