Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This past Sunday was a big day in the Smith family household. Craig ran in his first (and probably not his last) marathon.

The Marine Corps Marathon.

I'd say "oorah" or whatever the jar heads say, but in the Army the saying is "hooah." Not that Craig says hooah, or anything. That's reserved for hard core folks and infantry types. As he puts it, he's a simply a civilian in soldier's clothing. Nevertheless, he donned his Army running shirt and participated in an event he has been painstakingly training for. Lots of planning, lots of miles logged, lots of money spent on shoes and gear, and lots of wear and tear on an already worn and torn body.

In my very limited knowledge of marathon participation, if you're going to pay money to torture yourself run 26.2 miles, THIS is the marathon to sign up for. With over 20,000 runners and 100,000+ spectators, the Marine Corps Marathon puts on quite a show. And, not to mention, with the national monuments in the Federal City as your backdrop, how could you resist?

Well, I'm sure I could think of many reasons to resist, but for those with their eyes fixated on the marathon prize, the Marine Corps Marathon is the place to be.

Just like the Army 10 Miler three weeks ago, Caroline and I stepped into our official cheerleading roles, minus the short skirts and pom poms, and took the metro down to DC. Or is it up? I don't know. Yep, it's up, I think we're south of DC. Oh, who cares....

What did kids do before the Nintendo DS to keep them occupied?

Pretty Day

Our stylish H1N1 infested ride

First stop: Smithsonian Metro Station


I changed my mind mid ride and we got off at the Arlington Cemetery station instead. This eliminated a whole lot of walking. When you have a 7 1/2 year old, there is a whole lot less whining when there is less walking involved. Although, I must say that Caroline was quite the well behaved trooper the whole day.

We walked across the Memorial Bridge and found a huge gathering of spectators behind the Lincoln Memorial. Craig consistently ran with the 3 hour 30 minute pace group, which happens to be a VERY LARGE group, so we weren't sure if we'd be able to spot him in the crowd. He wore a grey shirt and black shorts, hardly easily identifiable clothing in a large group. We did see an older runner wearing neon pink shorts, a man in a cow suit and a man running in a kilt. When Caroline spotted that she yelled, "there's a man in a skirt. There's a man in a skirt!"

Thankfully we arrived in time to see Craig run by the 10 mile marker. We waved furiously, but he didn't see us.

After our first Craig sighting, we crossed the street and sat on a street located on the side of the Lincoln Memorial, to catch him on the 16th mile.

We waited.

And waited some more.

I had the camera ready. And, for the record, it's really hard to have your camera ready when you have no idea when your runner will appear. Thankfully we used the neon shorts guy, cow suit guy and skirt wearing guy as reference points. Still, it's hard to catch them at the right time.

Oh, there he is!
Can you see him? He's in front of the guy in red.

Craig saw us, we saw him, then it was off to the 19 mile marker down by the Smithsonian.

Time to walk.

Caroline pondering the depth of the reflecting pool/duck pond.

Me looking rather windblown with the Lincoln Memorial in the background.

Note to self: Get a hair cut.

Here's Craig around mile 19. Again, my camera wasn't ready. I was too busy yapping with the lady next to me who was cheering on her son.

But still, we saw him, he saw us and I asked him the dumbest question ever, "Are you ok?" Like anyone is "ok" on the 19th mile of a marathon. He said he was fine; he didn't look defeated or rundown or on the brink of death, so I took that as a good sign.

We had originally planned to see him at four different stops, plus the finish line, but time was clearly of the essence and the crowds were not making travel very quick or efficient. Still, Caroline and I booked it to the Metro Station, intending to make it to

Crystal City.

Um, the Metro was PACKED. Like in a "aren't you glad you used Dial?" sort of way. And yes, I was glad that I was smelling like roses (sweet pea and violets in my case), just like our fellow Metro riders. Once I figured it would take us too long to get to Crystal City in time to see Craig at the 22nd or 23rd mile, we quickly changed our plans and decided to get off at the

Rosslyn stop, which is the Metro station nearest the finish line.

And this is where my pictures end.
Why? You might ask.

Not because I lost my camera or not because it ran out of batteries but because Caroline and I had to book it to the finish line. We walked through wet muddy grass, dodged runners who had already completed the race (Craig is fast, but not THAT fast!) and wound up at the finish line. Along with 8 zillion of our closest friends.

We couldn't see a thing.

We waited for a bit, hoping that if I stood on my tippy toes, I'd see the top of Craig's head, but no luck. After a long wait, staring at the backs of the heads of the people in front of me, I began to worry that either Craig sped up and finished earlier than expected OR he was hurt on the side of the road. Not long after, I saw a man dressed as a devil, with his bald head painted red and adorned with two little devil ears. Knowing that I hadn't seen the devil dude before, I figured that Craig had finished already.

So, Caroline and I trudged through the mud again, back to where we started.
And we waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.

We looked for Craig, but there were SO many people there. Unfortunately we hadn't devised a meet up plan, so I was clearly winging it. After a while, I called Craig's phone, which I figured he had with his personal belongings being held by the event staff. I left him a message saying that we were waiting for him in the Family Meet Up Area by the big "S" sign. "S" for Smith, of course.

He didn't respond for a while and I was getting worried. Eventually, Caroline cried out, "mom, your pants are ringing" so I grabbed my phone.

As it so happens, Craig's phone was not with his belongings.

Instead, his phone was here:

In his car.
At the Metro station by our house.

And guess what?
So was Craig!

In his car.
At the Metro station by our house.

That's right. HE LEFT US!

He left us, waiting for him for almost two hours. He "claims" he couldn't find us, was (justifiably) deliriously tired and sore and he left us.


Defeated and ever so slightly annoyed, Caroline and I stopped inside a deli and grabbed a quick sandwich before joining 7 zillion of our closest friends on the Metro to head home.

I'm bummed that I didn't get a picture of Craig post race wearing the really awesome medal they award Marine Corps Marathon finishers. But still, he did really well.
As a first time marathoner, carrying the baggage of two knee surgeries and various other over use injuries, Craig ran the course in 3:35:41.

To top off the great effort, he did what he hoped to do: beat the DC Mayor, Adrian Fenty's time.

In previous races, namely the Army 10 miler, Craig has come close to the mayor's time, but hasn't beaten him. It's a small internal goal, but to find out that hewas faster than the mayor, was just icing on the cake.

I'm really proud of this huge accomplishment. As expected, Craig is a wee bit sore and slow, but he's feeling better every day.

And yes, I've forgiven him for LEAVING US!


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