Thursday, April 02, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon

This story is ten years old.
Even though this blog is only nine years old, I've told this oral history story so often that I was sure I must have blogged it at some point along the way, but a search proved my mistake.

The scene; a fifty-nine year old man sitting at his computer in the spring of 2005, contemplating asking his adult daughter to run a race with him.  Not just any race, but the Marine Corps Marathon.  It might be reasonable for you to wonder why that race in particular.  My daughter is and was at that time a Marine Corps Veteran of the first Gulf War.  I was a Navy veteran, having served as a hospital corpsman with the Marines during the Vietnam conflict in 1965. I thought running the MCM could be a thread tying our common military history together.

At this point you might assume that we were both runners of a sort.  You'd be mistaken.  Well, partially mistaken.  Having quit smoking tobacco on August 26th, 1996, I had increased my aerobic activities to the point progressing from walking a mile or so daily to running, at a slow pace to be sure, up to five miles.  I know, I know, five miles is a far cry from twenty-six point two miles, but, hey, let's not quibble over details. It's early spring, probably March, and the race was in October.  How hard can it be to get in adequate shape in seven months?  My daughter, at that ime, was totally averse to running. Not physical fitness, just RUNNING.

E-mail to daughter: Do you know when the Marine Corps Marathon is this year?
Return e-mail: I'll check and get back to you.
Later, "it's going to be held on the 30th of Oct. this year.  This is a special year for the MCM because it's the 30th anniversary of the MCM, so they're increasing the enrollment to 30,000 runners.  Why do you ask?                  

Me: "want to run it with me?"
She: "dad, I think you've been taking too much of your own anesthesia drugs."
Me: " oh, right, now I remember; the Navy does while the Marines watch."
She: "OK,OK, I'LL DO IT."

Later she calls her mother and says, " how can I get out of this."

Eventually she talked her husband into being her surrogate.  And so we, Josh and I, ran and finished the 30th MCM just 5 weeks after my 60th birthday.  There are many side stories about training, ice water baths, ileo-tibial band syndrome, and meeting Jeff Galloway, the author of the book I used to train, and was instrumental in my success.

The race was grueling, taking me 5 hrs. 55 min. to finish.  Josh was an hour faster.  I said then, I'd never run another marathon.  Since then I've run many half marathons in Ottawa, Canada, Buffalo, NY, and Sackett's Harbor, NY..

In time, my daughter, a physical fitness advocate, caught the running bug, and in recent years we've run together (together meaning we enter the same race) in Buffalo and  Sackett's Harbor.  She always finishes way ahead of me.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend 2014.  We have just finished running the half in the 18.12 Challenge and half marathon at Sackett's Harbor.  My daughter says, "dad, this year they're running the fortieth MCM, wanna run it with me?"
Me: "sure."

Thus the training begins.  Because of the popularity of the MCM, dubbed the "people's marathon," they select the 30,00 runners by lottery rather than the first-come-first-serve method used for the 30th ten years ago. We found out on March 25th that we both had made the cut and we are in the race.  At least this time I know what to expect.

Besides our training to run the marathon in Washington D.C. on 25 October, 2015, we'll be running a 1/2 marathon in Buffalo, NY on Memorial Day weekend.  The weekend before Labor Day, in August, we'll run 18.12 miles in Sackett's Harbor.  Then on October 25th, 2015, just 5 weeks after my 70th birthday I'll run the 40th MCM WIth my daughter.

Semper Fi - ooh-rah-


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