Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon: The Race I Didn't Run

I've written many race weekend recaps, but this one's a bit different. I didn't run in this race, I volunteered for it!

When my stress fracture sidelined me from training, I deferred my registration in the Marine Corps Marathon until 2012 and signed up to volunteer at the expo the day before. So, on the morning of Saturday, October 29th, I packed my car for the weekend and drove down to DC! This was the day of a freak East Coast snowstorm. I drove ahead of the snow and through intense rain the entire way down the I-95 corridor from NJ to DC. Thanks to the high-speed flow of traffic and very alert driving (due to a pumpkin spice latte), I arrived at the DC Armory for the Expo in a not-too-shabby four hours.

I signed in at the check-in tent, got my t-shirt, and was asked if I'm comfortable with computers and could find numbers in a database. Yes, yes I can. The sweet morning-shift lady trained me and left. All the runners were super friendly and nervously excited. I loved checking IDs and discovering from whence they came. We spoke often of the frigid, soggy weather and hoped that the forecast was right: that Sunday would be sunnier and warmer. Someone asked where I found a Starbucks; she was quite disappointed to learn it was in Delaware.

In a mid-afternoon lull, another volunteer suggested I go inside the Armory to the main part of the Expo to look around. As race expos go, it was a good one! Definitely on par with the Philly Rock'n'Roll Half and the Seattle Marathon Expos, much better than the NYC Half Expo, and not nearly as fun as the Disneyworld Marathon Expo. I took info for the Athens Marathon (a bucket list item of mine: they run it from Marathon to Athens, like the original), ate some samples of protein bars, and avoided looking at shoes (because I have no extra money for the pretty shoes).

I offered my services at the t-shirt pickup area, and was put to work handing out bags for use with the baggage drop-off services in the morning.

So many Brooks bags

My two co-volunteers were silly and fun:

My trusty co-volunteers

Most of the runners I met at this stage were awesome, too. There were many frustrated with the layout of the expo, though--we all agreed that separating bib pickup and t-shirt pickup into separate buildings was a terrible idea, especially as the bib tent was freezing. Also, three hours before the end of the Expo, we ran out of race maps, programs, and spectator info brochures. People were understandably upset. Most of them realized that it was not the volunteers' fault and we commiserated with them. We kept smiling at the runners:
MCM 2011 Volunteer!

And at the Marines handing out shirts:
DC Armory

When the Expo ended, I drove to Amanda's house in Springfield, VA. Along with her boyfriend, Bob, we headed immediately to a Halloween party. We were appropriately attired. Bob was Dexter (of the TV show), Amanda was Daenerys (from Game of Thrones), and I revamped my Dalek costume.

Dalek and Daenerys

Dexter and Daenerys

Have you ever arrived at a party and been the only one in costume? Yeeeeah, now we have. We were the only adults (out of about 30) in costume. Very cute six-year-olds were. It was awkward. But their friends were fantastic, so then it wasn't awkward! We had a great time. :)

After a lovely night's sleep, I said goodbye and drove twenty minutes to Arlington, where I met Justin and Charissa for brunch! We had fabulous conversation and delicious egg, gruyere, and squash paninis.

After saying goodbye to THEM, I set about trying to get through DC to Maryland. Parts of the freeway were blocked for the race, which certainly slowed traffic, but allowed me to see some of it! I literally saw the tail end, with the last brave runners and walkers pushing through their final miles, followed by the official aid vehicles. Yaaay, Marathoners!!!

Once past our nation's beautiful capital (I saw the Capitol building, Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument from the road!), the traffic didn't really let up. I started going stir crazy. It took eight minutes to drive a mile on a 75-mph speed limit road. That's running pace right there.

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway sure is gorgeous in the fall, though:
Drivin' up 95!

I finally made it to Jessup, MD, where I had coffee with James and met his three nephews, sister, brother-in-law, dachshund, German shepherd, bunny, fish, and sixth-grader friend there to do her science fair project on electromagnets with Uncle Jimmy. It was wonderful and chaotic and fabulous.

Back on the road:

Continuing my leap-frog up I-95 from friend to friend, I paused in Media, PA, to see Erica, Dan, and Cadillac the Cat. Erica gave me delicious Minestrone soup and these for my birthday (which was later that week):

Washcloths from Erica

How cute is that?!

I left Media, drove through Philly, and realized that my gas light had been on quite a while. Naturally, from then on, there were NO GAS STATIONS. FOR MILES. Finally, praise the Lord, I found one. Whew.

I got safely home to Faraday around 9pm. At 9am the next morning, I'd have to be on campus for Dissertation Boot Camp...but that's a story for another day.

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