My First Marathon

Part 1

By Melissa Peek Burton

I survived. It was great but it was TOUGH!

I already knew from the course map and elevation chart, miles 1-3 and 6-8 were pretty much constant inclines, so I was determined to pace myself and keep my pace slow.  I did just that.  I worked hard to keep a consistent easy pace and felt good.  I took pictures along the way.  I couldn’t resist! 

Just past the start line was the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard (are all on facebook), how could I resist taking a picture.  I mean, Marines in Dress Blues on horses.  What a sight!

Within mile one, we were in a downtown area with high rise apartment buildings.  One apartment had their entire windows covered with a HUGE sign that said, “BEAT THE BRIDGE!”  I looked up because I heard people yelling.  They were all on the balcony cheering.  It was pretty cool.

“Miles” the Marine Corps Marathon Mascot was at Mile 1.  I thought about getting a picture, but settled for a high five instead.  I was getting hot, so I stripped my “throwaway” sweatshirt, and dumped it on a street corner. 

At one point, I fell in with the Clif 5:30 pace group and was happy to see they were doing intervals, too.  But I quickly fell back because their pace was just too ambitious for the hills this early in the race. 

I survived the first hill and about half way through mile 3, I got a glimpse of Georgetown.  Beautiful!  I had to take a picture.  Then I looked ahead and saw an incline at mile 4 that wasn’t reflected on the elevation map.  WTH?!!?! 

About this time I “met” another runner who was as attached to her phone as I was to mine.  It turns out she was updating Twitter and was being followed by the Washington Post for the race.  Too cool.  About the same time I met two larger men and they were talking about the food on the course.  One of them said he had a friend bringing fried chicken to him at mile 10.  I wanted to stay with him, but we separated pretty quickly.

Melissa Peak Burton as she readies to start.

As we crossed Key Bridge into Georgetown, we saw the mass of SPEEDY runners coming down the hill from Mile 8.  They were elbow to elbow and FLYING.  Some runners near me started saying how they can’t be having any fun because none of them are smiling and they all look so serious.  We’re all laughing and joking and having a great time.  My philosophy is that running races is like a mullet:  all business in the front, all party in the rear.  My fashionably late compatriots all seemed to fulfill that philosophy.  We were having fun.

About this same time, I met a runner named Robbie from Houston.  From this point on, we were pretty much together.  We might separate for a short while, but we’d somehow find each other again.  She was funny and easy to pick out.  She wore a pink stocking cap most of the race.  Robbie became an important part of my finish in the race, but that will come later.

I just have to take a little detour when thinking about this portion of the race.  All I kept thinking is how disgusting runners are.  As soon as we hit a park type area, men were peeling off constantly and running to the bushes.  Some weren’t even taking the time to find cover.  ACK!  Not exactly what I want to see!  As we progressed further and ended up in a rural area along the river outside of Georgetown, women started peeling off and doing the same thing.  Some took care and didn’t expose themselves, but others… well, DOUBLE ACK!!!  I was especially disturbed by the “minimalist runners” that didn’t carry anything (water, SPI belt, nothing) and didn’t have anything to even wipe their hands on afterwards.  UGH! ……………but I digress.

More tomorrow! Stay tuned.


5 comments on “My First Marathon

  1. Congratulations Melissa!

    I love hearing about your Marine Corps Marathon adventure- looking forward to part two. I am aspiring to run a half-marathon before the end of the year. A marathon seems more daunting than I dare dream of just now, but the Marine Corps Marathon is the one I always wanted to hear about. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi ! Excellent story so far. I ran the USMC Marathon in 1991, while I was stationed at Quantico. I did not train for it at all. Nope. Not even a day. I should post my story, huh? Talk about PAIN, that even the Corps couldn’t dish out. Wow. Ow.

    Anyhow, if I friend you on Facebook, can I see the pictures you mention? I promise, I really was a WM – and I’m not a creepy FB friend.

    Renee Weimer
    Cpl USMC
    88 – 92

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