The only phrase that came to mind Sunday afternoon when I crossed the Marine Corps Marathon finish line: a cathartic “Holy Shit!”

Up until a few years ago, running a marathon was something I never imagined I’d do. In fact, I distinctly remember saying “I’d never train for a marathon!!” after my first half in 2012. I started to warm up to the concept the next year after stumbling on the MCM as runners ran along National Mall. The passion! The excitement! Being a part of the crowd and cheering on strangers was a pure delight.

In 2014 I entered the lottery but didn’t get a bid, and then this past March I opened my inbox to an email confirming my entry for 2015! Since then, I analyzed the race course, read just about every Runner’s World article that came up on my newsfeed and planned and tackled a training plan week-by-week. 

Then this weekend was Marathon Weekend! Nance and Len were able to travel down to hang!

And unlike when they visited DC in April and watched the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, they were able to catch me at multiple stops along the course!


First in Georgetown with Claire:

Then over the bridge at mile 9 (still with Claire):


And a few other times around mile 15, 17, 19 and 25, when I was most definitely in the “get this done as soon as possible” mode. Amazing friends Lesley, Kelsey and Keely also provided greatly appreciated shoutouts of encouragement throughout the course!! (We regrouped and refueled after at the Cheesecake Factory!)

My final time: 4:25:05!! The first goal was to finish. Then I was hoping to stay under or around 4 1/2 hours, aka the Oprah Marathon! Overall my pace average was 10:07/mile, which is a bit over a minute more than my half marathon race pace. One of my biggest concerns was timing food and water breaks along the way, but luckily everything worked out well. Since I didn’t carry along my own hydration, I stopped at every water and Gatorade stop, and broke into my Fig Newtons and Larabar around mile 8.5 and 12, respectively. Mile 24 Dunkin’ Donuts were always on my radar (got a pumpkin munchkin!).

For the exception of the last mile and a half (considerable discomfort), I genuinely enjoyed the race!! Despite being a “solo” sport, there was so much teamwork, camaraderie and encouragement from fellow runners (roughly 30,000!) along the way. The “Blue Mile” commemorating fallen soldiers was especially powerful. And in my opinion, some of the best parts of a course are when they make a loop and you can cheer on fellow runners in front of and behind you.

Overall, running and training for the Marine Corps Marathon was a great experience. I’d even do it again!

– EmPan

One thought on “Finisher!

  1. Pingback: Cheers to Three Years! | EmPan Blogs

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