Saturday, November 17, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon and Hurricane Sandy what a 2 for 1 deal…


Way back many many months ago when we signed up for the MCM quickly the second that registration opened we never thought that it would come at a time of Hurricane Sandy.  As the days approached we ran around wrapping things up at work and around the house for our 4 day extended weekend we didn’t pay a ton of attention to the weather.  Our discussions were really more around what we would be doing in DC, who we would meet up with, and our marathon plan.  We were just generally excited to have a mini vacation time to ourselves and looking forward to relaxing running and seeing the sights. 

Our flight out went as planned and we even had an entire row to ourselves of seating, which is always a wonderful thing on a cross country flight!  We arrived on Friday evening to a beautiful sunset clear skies and took the Metro out to our hotel in the heart of DC.  There were no issues getting to our hotel and we quickly checked in and headed out on the streets to walk around, stretch our legs, and find something to eat for dinner.  We walked around noticing how much construction was going on all over the place.  We found a nice Thai food place close to our hotel and had a light but delish dinner there and continued to walk around a bit after dinner just to explore and then headed back to our hotel for a restful night of sleep- the beds at this place were extremely comfortable and so we slept in Saturday morning enjoying our vacation!  Saturday it was back onto the Metro and to the expo to pick up our bibs and race shirts.  Overnight the clouds had rolled in, but it was still warm and not raining- I didn’t even bring a jacket with me.  The expo was crowded and the only time we have ever had to go through a security check to get into the packet pick up, but overall it was same old same old in terms of vendors and set up.  So we were in and out pretty quick just picking up what we needed and opting not to by any of the extra junk they are always trying to sell you.  We met up with Jasha’s cousin Tegan at the expo and took the metro back to the mall where we walked the entire thing and took in all the sites in one go. 

By the time we had finished taking it all in it was already time for dinner as we were going to meet up with fellow marathon maniac Margaret Barrett, the person who also reminded me the day registration was open for this race and get us to sign up.  We had a delish dinner of pizza and pasta and caught up on life.  The three of us had a lot of fun, but did not stay out too late as we all were tired from running around all day and knew we had an early morning wake up for the race start the next day.  We were back to our hotel and in bed by 9:30pm for a 4:45am wake up. 

Race morning we were worried about rain, but it was pretty dry out and still pretty warm.  So Jash and I dressed in shorts and t-shirts and I added arm warmers while Jash opted for his light wind breaker rain jacket just in case.  We also were bundled up in some “throw away” clothes that we ended up keeping and checking in so we could dress in warm stuff after the race in case it did get rainy and cold.  The set up before the race was good with plenty of bathrooms and covered areas and things to do.  As we made our way over to the starting corrals though it was clear that this was going to be a mess.  We joined around the 4 hour group, but it was so packed and you could tell from the runners around us that we were not starting with the 4 hour people.  We did not want to fight our way farther forward though as it was packed and not very organized in terms of areas for people to enter and travel and there were little to no distinctions on what was what time.  So we just headed out with everyone in the mass start.  This I thought was insane.  The corrals were a mess and they did not wave start us so this created back up all over the course the entire day.  It is really the main and only problem I had with the race, well than and ending it at the top of a freeway overpass with a huge hill in front of the finish line.  Well that and the course being a 26.5+ mile course- which everyone consistently registered on their watches.  Not that it mattered to me as I was not going for time, but for those that were and were just on the edge of the BQ that is not fair to them! 

So away we went at the start.  It was very slow going even after we had crossed the starting line.  There were walkers all over- which I HATE in races like this- they have plenty of time to be out on the course with a generous time limit and do not need to start at the front and make all of us back up and trip going around them.  It is not safe and just plain rude of those walkers to do this.  I get very livid when people in marathon maniac apparel do this as they are giving our club a bad name and they just know better.  The crowed really did not let up this entire race.  It was crowded to the point that it was uncomfortable I believe due to the fact that people did not actually start according to pace, but just really based on whatever time they showed up at the line and the earlier you were the closer you got.   Jash and I were plugging along staying positive but at mile 6 with some jerk came up behind Jash and I am physically grabbed us and pushed his way between us to try to get past I had enough.  This tool received a nice hard shove from me as well as an “asshole” loud enough that everyone else could see who I was calling out.  He continued to do this and received similar sentiments from the rest of the group.  This is the first time that something like this has happened in a big race and I have raced some of the biggest so I feel like it is another testament to the needed for RD’s to fix the start and spread people out a bit more on the course. 

The rest of the race went on without any other incident.  We took in the beautiful fall colors and all of the sites.  We enjoyed the crowd support and the ample aid ensuring we were drinking and keeping on top of nutrition.  We also enjoyed the weather very dry with a great overcast.  There were signs telling us to outrun Hurricane Sandy, and whatnot, but really that was all that we thought about it.  During the time of the race it was not something that we were worried about hearing that it was going to make landfall sometime after we left and we figured we would be long gone by the time it got there.   We finished up the race together hand in hand running the entire event together which is really the best way to spend time together have fun and keep each other going.  After we received our medals I realized that I had completely tied my shoes too tight and my feet were paying the price you would think after 88 of these that I would at least have that part down.  I loosened those up before we continued on to get food and drink.  The finisher’s tunnel they take you out of was so long that we took time to sit down and eat a little before we were able to get out.  By this time it had started to rain just a little bit, so we hurried to find our gear and put back on our warm clothes as we still had to walk to a metro site and find food before making it back to our hotel.  We never were able to find the beer garden and collet our free beers.  We made it back to our side of town and found a local pizza place where we took a few slices and some salad to go and made our way back home to shower and put our feet up.

When we got home Jash retrieved his phone and while I showered he learned from a friend that the flight we were both supposed to be on Monday night was canceled due to the storm coming in.  By the time we got on the phone with them to find out what was going on we could not re book a flight for Tuesday and ended up on a Wed. evening flight back to Portland. So it looked like we would be spending Halloween in DC.  We next had to work on booking another hotel for the next 2 additional nights as our hotel was booked.  We found one in Crystal City just outside of DC close to the airport that we snatched up before they could get sold out and then had to figure out how to get there the next day as we were learning they were shutting down all public transportation.  We called local cab companies and found that they would be running the next day.  After watching the weather channel we realized that it was supposed to hit us at about 1pm the next day so we started planning for an early check in at our other hotel so we did not have to be traveling during the storm.  We also ran to the Safeway that was walking distance from our hotel- by this time it had started to rain pretty hard so we were huddled under the umbrella supplied by the hotel.  The store was something I had never seen before- all of the produce was gone.  Water was completely gone and most shelves were almost gone.  I was very worried at this point so we bought some flavored water- the only thing that was left on the shelves.  We also found a candle- as we didn’t have a flashlight with us and they had none it was the next best thing in case we lost all power.  We also bought some cans of soup, crackers, cheese, and wine and beer- figured we would be sitting around hold up in a hotel for some time.  With all of our loot we made it back to the hotel ate dinner and packed up everything that we needed for the next day planning an 8am departure over to our next hotel so we could be out of the storm. 

By morning it was pouring and the wind had started to pick up and it was FREEZING!  It was amazing how quickly the temperatures had dropped.  We landed a cab and headed over to our new hotel and marveled at how empty the streets were, except for the accidents that is.  The rain it seemed caused many accidents as people were trying to get places at the last minute.  We were able to check in early at our new hotel and headed down stairs for a warm breakfast- since they ate least had it there and we didn’t know what was going to happen in the coming days.  After a delish breakfast we did a quick run next door to rent a couple of red box movies… what else is there to do when stuck in a hotel room for 2 days straight?  Don’t answer that. 

We checked in with your other friends that were there, Ken and Lisa with their 3 year old Katie and Margaret B, they were all doing the same thing that we were doing in terms of just holding up in their hotels and hoping for the best.   Watching movies was fun, but after a while I got a little stir crazy and tried to go work out in the hotel gym- which had been inundated with children.  So I did a few weights, but none of the machines were open or available so I went up and down the stair well climbing the 10 floors as well as lunges up and down the hall of our floor.   When I got back to the room around 4pm all sweaty we watched as the power suddenly went out in the apartment building across the street from us.  So I quickly jumped in the shower while we had power.  Then I of course filled the bath tub with clean good water- just in case and we settled in for the worst of the storm to hit.  That night we ate soup and cheese and crackers in our hotel room and watched a few more movies.  At some points during the storm our windows were shaking and sounding like they were about to smash in.  We also kept flipping back to news stations when we had power to get updates on what was happening locally as well as the rest of the east coast that was getting hit by the storm.  We sent out a few times onto a parking garage that was next to our second floor room to get an idea of how strong the winds where whipping and how cold it was getting.  I was quickly ready to go back inside our room after a few min of this.  Also we had to keep towels down as the windows to our hotel were leaking like crazy.  

 We went to sleep that night with the winds strong hoping for the best, and worried now even more for the flooding conditions that NY and NJ were getting.  When we woke up the next morning we did have power and the wind and died down and it was just rainy.  Jash was up for another movie, but I was ready to get outside so I met up with Margaret and we walked around and checked out the down poles, power outages, and downed trees as well as marveled at how cold it had gotten.  We ended up walking for over 2 hours and I wished I had remember my gloves!  My hands were frozen, but we made it back to Margaret’s hotel and I ordered a warm coffee and headed back to my hotel to meet up with Jash. 

That night we met up with Ken, Lisa, and Margaret and went out to dinner and just enjoyed hanging out on our mini forced extended vacation.  Jash and I were lucky enough to be heading home the next day on Halloween, but the rest of our group was there till the day after not being able to get a flight out until Thursday evening.  So we went out on Wednesday the next day and checked out some of the sites as the metro was finally open.  We checked out the space museum which was a particular treat for Jash!

 Then we also checked out the gardens, a treat for me!

Then it was back to the airport for an uneventful flight home!  We were very happy to be back home in OR and although we missed our Halloween, we survived our hurricane adventure and had a fun run and spent some great quality time together.    Overall we deemed it a success even though it was not quite according to the plan that we expected!




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