Marine Corps Marathon With the Runner’s World Challenge

 

Epic.

Today was epic.

The MCM Marathon was the most emotional and toughest race mentally I’ve ever run.

As I sit here writing this right now I am overwhelmed with the entirety of the whole experience.

So let’s do a little marathon race recap, shall we?

I got my last email from my training plan last night. It read a little something like this.

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It was a little bittersweet. I was excited and proud that I had made it through the training, yet sad that it was over. I was also nervous about the race and how things would actually go.

 

I had my race outfit all laid out the night before. (That’s what you’re supposed to do according the RW Gear Guy. He he.)

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The normal attire:

My favorite Mizuno Maverick shorts, a new long sleeve Mizuno Breath Thermal Crew shirt, Handful bra, Pro Compression socks, Halo visor and hairband and  Wave Elixir 8 shoes.

I decided last minute to go with a long sleeve shirt (with thumb holes because that’s the only way to go). I’ve never raced in a long sleeve shirt before, but was thankful more than once on the course that I did. Although I do have a pretty nice neck chafe going on at the moment that feels fabulous.

 

The Runner’s World crew met in the lobby at 5 am. We had a pretty dark walk to the starting festival area.

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I think the walk was supposed to be about 20 minutes, but one of the security checkpoints was closed or something so they rerouted us all the way around The Pentagon. It ended up taking us about an hour and twenty minutes. Thank goodness there was a group of us together because if I was by myself I would have been in tears before the race even started. On the plus side, we did see all five sides of The Pentagon.

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I hadn’t had coffee or food yet, so the walk seemed particularly long.

We finally made it to the Runner’s World Challenge tent.

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Thank goodness for my walking partners Jen and Mark.

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They had a really great set up with bagels, bananas, water, Gatorade and coffee.

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Obviously I went for the coffee first thing and pounded two cups pretty quickly.

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They went well with my little breakfast I had packed along.

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No grain plantain cupcake, coconut oil, chia seeds and a banana. I put it together a little something like this.

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I only had one person ask what I was eating. Ha ha.

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The lovely Laura. I made her try some of course. I’m not sure she was impressed.

Our special challenge tent had heaters, our own bag check and private port-a-potties. VIP all the way. Best pre race set-up ever.

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I met Prianka and had to take another picture with Jeff because, well, you just can’t ever have enough. Ha.

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The man Bart Yasso showed up and was quickly interviewed of course since he’s pretty much THE racing man.

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I made sure I had enough gels for the race before heading out.

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I made my way over to the start line with these cool dudes (Jeff, Mark and Robert).

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The start line was a little surreal.

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They had some amazing starting ceremonies including a canon shot and parachutes with huge American flags.

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It was at that point that it hit me. I was in Washington DC running a marathon. Who the heck would have thought that about 5 months ago. So crazy.

I was just trying to take everything in.

We lined up together around the 3:25 finish time group. I was surprised with a race that size how not crowded it seemed at the starting line.

I took a quick shot of some good looking shoes.

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and of my very stylish throw away gear that I ditched at the start.

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Promptly at 7:55 am we were off.

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I tagged along with the boys for just a bit before they all left me in the dust.

Soon after I ran into the cute, cute Abby.

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She had been sick with the flu all week, but still decided to run. She’s darn fast, but was taking it easy today so we seemed to run together pretty well.

Since I had to go to the bathroom about 20 minutes before the start, but didn’t want to miss anything I decided I had to make a pit stop pretty quickly around mile 2 at one of the first port-a-potties I found.

Not the best way to start out a race, but when you gotta go you gotta go. And, the port-a-potties close to the start line are super clean and have no line.

Since things were a little off at the start I actually didn’t look at my GPS at all. I didn’t really want to focus too much on the time since I didn’t quite know how I was going to feel.

The crowds were amazing. And it was so awesome to see all the amputees out on the course. There was a lot of runners on the course yelling “move to the left” to get out of the way for the bicyclists. Oh man, you had to cheer to every single one that passed you.

I finally looked at my GPS around mile 6, but didn’t do the math as to what pace I was at. I just wasn’t ready to put the pressure on myself. Eventually I caught up with Abby again around mile 7 or so. We ran together and chatted for awhile. Really, it’s so nice running with someone else.

By mile 11, despite all the amazing views, crowds and military personnel, we were both hurting pretty bad. I couldn’t feel my toes and my legs were supper tight. Her quads were on fire. Not the ideal situation only 11 miles in. Luckily we kept talking and just taking everything in so it made it a little easier to bare.

We passed the 13 mile mark around 1:40ish. Right around a 3:20 pace.

From there we just kind of pushed through for a bit. We started talking less and less. I really wasn’t the most fun person to run with as I started hurting a bit more. Abby- so sorry I was such a bore.

 

There were so many times along the course I wished I had taken a picture. There was one stretch at Haines Point where there were American flags every few feet and pictures of KIA soldiers. Oh man…….. talk about emotional.

And there were a lot of “Wear Blue” runners who are part of a charity called Wear Blue: Run to Remember. Such an amazing community and cause. More information is on the website here.

I finally got my camera out when we passed the capital. I think that was around mile 17 or so.

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I’m kind of kicking myself as I should have taken pictures the whole time to really capture the emotions, history and all around epicness of the race. I guess I’m just not that cool though.

As the race went on, I realized I hadn’t fueled for awhile. Not a good idea. I took a GU at mile 5 which is earlier than I usually do, but then didn’t take anything again until about mile 16 when I had a Vega gel.

Abby and I stayed together until around mile 23. We were struggling together and slowing down a bit.

From mile 23 on I was by myself. I had some serious mental games going on in my head. I knew I would make it to the finish, but my body just wanted to really slow down. It took a lot to just keep going mentally and physically.

 

Things I thought to myself:

I was all the way on the other side of the country having the experience of a lifetime, I could run these last few miles.

I know at the end of the day, my boys and family don’t care what time I get, but I want to try to make them proud.

No matter what happens, at the end of the day, I was going to be back home hugging my boys.

And, as Jen told all of us challengers the day before, it was our victory lap. I could go all out on my victory lap, or I could back off.

Well, I did the best my legs and body would do. Seriously I could not feel my toes from mile 12 on, so it was a little worrisome.

It was tough since I really wanted to enjoy every step of it and take in the surroundings. Towards the end though, despite the amazing crowds and support, I just wasn’t feeling it.

But then, I saw that 26 mile marker and I was there.

The little hill at the end up to the finish line was it. Before I knew it I was done with the Marine Corps Marathon.

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You know what is so amazing? Well, first of all obviously all the military support

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and that we got our medals from the military.

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But, one thing I really can’t get over is that all of these military personnel were thanking us for running at the end.

Right? Thanking US. That just seems so crazy to me as we should be thanking THEM each and every day for serving our country and I should have been thanking THEM every chance I had out on the course today.

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After I recovered a bit I finally took a look at my GPS.

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Not sure what was going on there with the whole 27 miles thing.

Unofficial results.

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The marathon was epic in so many ways. I won’t get all sappy, since I feel like I’ve done a little too much of that lately, but I ran on emotion (Just as the wise David Willey suggested) today. That’s for sure.

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I had a tough time after the finish. My legs and especially my toes weren’t doing too well and I just felt like I needed food and water as soon as possible.

I made my way to the Runner’s World Challenge post race reception.

I was so happy to see Budd Coates greet us at the door of Top of the Town.

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I was actually just really happy I made it there in one piece.

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I met Liz and Marty in the elevator. Liz got a PR today and Marty completed his very first marathon.

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I guess all the places with good views of the city were already reserved or something and we got stuck with this venue.

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Ha ha. Kidding.

Seriously, it was breath taking.

 

Bag pick up was a breeze.

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The fabulous Jane does such a great job with all the food and organizing and everything. She knows how to put on a post race party, that’s for sure.

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My buddy Robert was having a not so great day (so he says), but he still was kicking back at the party for awhile before I even got there.

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Oh, and this is Janet. She is amazing. She’s a Ironman and well, just pretty darn awesome.

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I was pretty quick to grab a Jamba Juice.

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Cheers.

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Then I got my free massage.

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Yep, friends, FREE MASSAGE.

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They hooked us up.

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It came in really handy too since my darn calf started cramping up like no other. Aren’t those fun?

Then I went in for the other goodies. Check out the spread they had for us.

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I had to try both the AllWhites Egg Whites dishes.

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This was plate number one. A second plate followed that looking very similar.

Oh I almost forgot, this is Tyler. He rocked a 3:20 PR marathon today.

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I hung out for a bit with everyone.

Chatting about the race. It’s so great to just see everyone when they finish a race. It’s such a huge accomplishment. IT doesn’t matter how fast or slow, everyone in that room was a marathoner. So darn awesome.

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I made myself keep suffering through the view for just a little while. Ha.

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And Jen. I can’t say enough great things about her. She is the glue behind the challenge. Seriously, she is every challengers personal coach and mentor. I love her.

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I thought I was special since we’ve had so much communication through email and she’s always so quick responding to my bazillion questions and has given me the best advice, but I realized that that is just how she is. She takes care of EVERYONE! Look at her in action congratulating everyone.

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She is one heck of an inspiration.

I ran into Susie again too at the party. She survived the marathon with a hurt knee and all.

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After taking in a couple more minutes and just relishing in the sights

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(oh and trying on my cool jacket they gave us at the finish),

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I had to head out to clean up and catch my flight.

I was sad to leave the party early. Not very good planning on my part.

 

On the walk back to the hotel, it was right about here that I was glad Andrew and the boys weren’t there. They are not fans of crowds and there were people everywhere.

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I skipped the beer tent

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and noticed I had gotten a text from Dad right about then. Cool, I bet he was wondering how I did and everything.

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Not quite.

Oh Dad. Love you. Not even a “hope the race went well” or anything. Funny guy. I had to laugh.

No complaints though, he’s always stuck with airport pick up duty.

Cool jacket huh? They were giving these out instead of the throw away blanket type things.

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So, with that, well, I’m going to let things sink in for a couple days. Relax, rest, recover, pinch myself to make sure I really did indeed get to have this amazing experience and that it wasn’t just a dream.

 

I can’t thank Runner’s World, the Runner’s World Challenge and Mizuno enough for sponsoring this trip and this race. I am eternally grateful.

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And…

I had to skip out before Bart made it to the party, but I’m already trying to figure out the next race I want him and the challenge to coach me for.

That’s the thing about races, as much as you hurt and you’re a bit roughed up at the finish, you can’t help but set your sights on what you want your next race to be.

You know, in my dream world I’d be running the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend and the Big Sur International Marathon with the Runner’s World Challenge.

Yep, I’m a Runner’s World Challenger for life now. Once you’re in, you just don’t want to leave.

I’m already doing Boston in 2014, and since I didn’t get to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge last year, I’m going to try my hardest to make it happen in 2014.

We shall see. Miracles can happen, yes?

And to my favorite coach, Bart Yasso, thanks for everything. Can’t wait to see where we get to go next.

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He he.

 

Have a good one!

See you soon!

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend!

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tess says:

    Simply Awe Inspiring!!!!!!!

  2. 2
    Laura says:

    Looks like you had an amazing time. I will definitely do the RW challenge again, but sign up early enough to get to do the whole VIP at a race thing. It seems perfect! After the RW world weekend, I have been looking for races to sign up for, because running is just the best. Hope you made it home safely and are enjoying time with your boys!!

  3. 3
    Laura says:

    *oops…i mean after the RW festival weekend! Too early….not enough coffee….lol.

  4. 4

    Looks like a great race! I am already looking at races for next year and this one def just shot to the top of my list :)

  5. 5
    Erica says:

    What an experience!! Congrats! You ROCK!

  6. 6
    Kathy says:

    What a nice and heartfelt recap.

    This post just shows why you are part of the RW group, the Mizuno life, the PC WORLD, every body just loves you and your kind heart. You know what’s going on, keeping it real and sincere. THanks for taking us (readers) along for the ride.

  7. 7

    What an amazing and sometimes challenging day you had! Congratulations!! xoxo

  8. 8
    Kelli says:

    Congratulations! Great job!

  9. 9
    Haley says:

    Congratulations! What an amazing opportunity. You truly are an inspiration!

  10. 10
    marti says:

    Congratulations!!!! What an accomplishment….take time to take it all in…you did it!!! You amaze me.congrats again! Looks like an awesome experience

  11. 11

    SO AWESOME!!! That makes me ALMOST want to run a full.. ALMOST. :) You looked so darn adorable in your outfit!! Congrats on an awesome race!

  12. 12

    Awesome recap – congrats on a fabulous run and wonderful experience…My father would totally have texted me the same thing – although since he was a runner and 3-time NYC marathoner, he may have asked how my run went first. Maybe. Otherwise with him it is all about the flight times, departures, arrivals etc. lol

  13. 13
    Macy says:

    Do you think that these races/long runs are getting hard for you because you barely eat any simple carbs these days? I think 99% of runners would not be able to sustain your volume of training with squash and plantains being the only carbs they eat.

    • 13.1
      STUFT Mama says:

      Macy- funny that you say that because the amount of carbs I eat these days far outweighs what I used to eat when I ate brad all the time. I don’t show everything on the blog, but my carb choices are just different. The running is hard because I’m still coming back from a pretty severe injury in which doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to long distance run again. I know it’s harder for me now, but I’m not going to stop. :)

      • Penny says:

        Yes, you can eat tons of carbohydrates from veggies, but if they’re in vegetable form, they are going to be mostly made up of insoluble (ie undigestible) fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate, but insoluble fiber wont be absorbed in your digestive tract and will thus not be available for energy use. You don’t need to eat bread, but other simple carbs like rice, pasta, quick oats, even white potatoes, have starches that can be quickly converted to energy for your running fuel. Vegetables and fruit are great, but the fiber in them will slow down digestion, be barely available for energy use, and… lets be honest, are going to require more trips to the bathroom than simple carbs!

  14. 14
    Clare says:

    You are AMAZING. Seriously. Congrats!

    Clare

  15. 15
    Kim says:

    Great job!! Loved your recap and all the pictures.
    I’m not sure that I could ever handle the emotions from running a military race like that – hard to run and cry!!

  16. 16
    Laura says:

    Wow, sounds like you had a great race and great day overall. Congrats!! And thanks for the detailed recap, I love reading these.

  17. 17
    Abby C. says:

    This was such a tough race (mentally) for me too! It was so hard to get past the huge wave of runners. I felt like I was trying to make up time the whole race. Definitely wasn’t prepared for that crazy elevation for the first 3 miles either!

  18. 18
    Robyn says:

    Wow!!! What an amazing marathon experience!! The runners works plan looks great ( I’m new to your blog – so this is the first time I’ve seen that- fab!) but …heaters, loos on fans- all fab!! A great time!!
    Well done!
    Ps- love how you were presented with your medals by the ladies and men in the Forces.

  19. 19
    Nicole says:

    So awesome!! Great going – and way to pep-talk yourself through those last few miles!! Enjoy recovery at home with your family! :)

  20. 20

    WOW – just wow. Your boys will one day read these recaps and no doubt be incredibly proud of you. You’re awesome!

  21. 21

    Wow! You’re weekend sounds amazing! Following all your events on Instagram and Twitter over the weekend have made me add 2 things to my “must do at least once in my life” list- 1) Marine Corp Marathon and 2) A Runner’s World Challenge event. Seriously, I was loving every moment for you! Congrats on a great race, and and I know you feel really blessed to be back after your injury. So happy for you!

  22. 22

    You are amazing! I can’t imagine walking an hour and then running a full marathon. Actually I can’t imagine ever running a full marathon. What an amazing experience!

  23. 23

    WAHOO to you! So glad you did it, made it, and had a great time….Sending you a big HIGH-FIVE from Texas!

  24. 24
    Michelle Kim says:

    Awesome recap!! That’s so great that you got to experience all the wonders of this race, as well as get hooked up with the RW peeps :)

  25. 25

    Great Race and great Recap!!!! This race is for sure on my bucket list. And I’m with you on the Military thanking all you guys. I would be saying the EXACT same thing you were. MY word. I will have to check out this Runners World Challenge thing.

  26. 26
    Natalie says:

    Congrats and I loved reading your recap. It was an amazing race. The Marines really know how to put on a race.

  27. 27
    Joy says:

    Congratulations on such a great race! I loved your recap and hearing all the emotions that went into your run. As someone who suffers from a lot of injuries, I know how special it is to finally accomplish a running goal after not being able to run for some time.

  28. 28
    MILF Runner says:

    Just WOW!!!! Seriously just so amazed by your body’s miraculous healing! Why on earth you wouldn’t just revel and delight in your finish time is so beyond me! I am so curious…did/do you just feel the regular pain of the hard work of running a marathon? Or are your hips particularly feeling things after long runs …especially a marathon at race effort? I have something similar and can hardly walk at this point. It is so heartening to see you’re able to run. I wonder if your legs and feet would have an easier time if you were more solidly fueling before and throughout the race? I hope your recovery is quick and invigorating :)

  29. 29
    Luisa says:

    Congratulations!!! This is so awesome!!, and thank you for responding to my comment last week for the Mizuno Sayonara giveaway. This makes me for sure want to train for my first full marathon. which i have decided I am going to do next year. Training starts in February. I am nervous and excited , but I know I can do it if I train properly. thanks for the kind words. your response made my day as well. :) Best, Luisa

  30. 30

    You know you inspire me in so many ways from running to coping with your injuries to being such a fun mom & more … LIKE writing this long post after all that – how do you do it! ;)

    CONGRATS!

  31. 31

    Friend, you have me smiling from ear to ear. I am so incredibly happy for you! You are amazing! I’m sending huge hugs to you! xoxo

  32. 32

    Amazing time. You did wonderfully and I cannot believe how strong you came back since injury.
    This was by far my favorite race yet – beautiful course and amazing support from all The Marines. Very emotional.
    So sorry I missed meeting up with you especially, because the hotel room lobby picture of you in your jacket makes me wonder if we were at the same place.
    Looks like RW had some amazing stuff going on. So happy they helped you to enjoy your marathon weekend.

  33. 33
    Sondra Jarvis says:

    Congrats on a great race. MCM is one of my favorites and I was there for the third time this year. I take a little more time to see the sights than you do, but I love every minute.

    Just to let you know the section on Haines point and the “Wear Blue” people running are actually part of a charity called Wear Blue: Run to Remember http://www.wearblueruntoremember.org/ and the mission is to build a running community that honors the sacrifice of the American military. I just wanted to make sure you were aware that the photos along that section were of fallen soldiers who were killed in action.

    Glad to see you back and working hard. I hope that you get to do the B2B with Boston in the spring. I know that will be an awesome experience.

  34. 34

    Great job! It was a great day to run that is for sure!

  35. 35

    You are so amazing! Congratulations, Kristin!

  36. 36

    Congratulations Kristin!!! I’m so happy for you that you had this experience and coming back from your injury. MCM is an incredible course (although I remembering cursing that last hill at the end before the finish line). You are amazing!

  37. 37
    Bonnie says:

    Amazing! What an experience, Kristin! And a major congrats post-injury…what an accomplishment either way, but especially after what you were facing before. WAY TO GO! What an incredible time away and neat experience. :)

  38. 38
    Valerie says:

    Man, you are awesome! Great job coming back from an injury. The MCM takes place right near where I live and the weather was great that day! Glad you were able to enjoy it :)

  39. 39

    Congratulations on such a fantastic race!!! Running on emotions is the best way to run.

  40. 40

    This is an excellent recap! And it looks like being part of the group really was fun! Congrats!

  41. 41
    Emily says:

    The spectators at Hains point were NOT DRESSED in blue for boston. didn’t you see the signs every five feet with pictures of KIA soldiers? And the US flags being held every few feet?? It was kind of hard to miss.

    • 41.1
      STUFT Mama says:

      Emily- THANK YOU for clearing that up. Of course I didn’t miss it, but trying to get everything together in words after such an emotional race and flying cross country and not having all my thoughts together, I neglected to get the correct details out there. I fixed it in the post and will be sure to address it again.

  42. 42
    Kristin says:

    Congratulations on an awesome race!!! Way to go!

    I also LOVE how many pictures you post in your blog!! It makes us feel like we are right there with you!!!

  43. 43
    Jennifer mykytiuk says:

    Congrats! So excited that you did it! I even got a little emotional reading your recap! So happy for you!!

  44. 44
    Alyssa K says:

    I ran it too. One of my friends was on the Wear Blue team. I could barely hold it together for that mile, so moving!

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  7. [...] parts of the race was the Wear Blue: Run to Remember. It was very similar to what they did at the MCM Marathon. The street was lined with people holding American flags to honor the service and sacrifice of the [...]

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