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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marine Corp Marathon Trip Report

" There will be days when I' don't know if I can run a marathon, there will be a life time knowing that I have."- unknown

I traveled with Team CMT teammate Cheryl Monnat to Washington D.C. the last weekend of October. Cheryl was running in the Marine Corp 10K and I was running the marathon.

I don't like big events and have avoided big races like Al's run here in Milwaukee.  But the event was predicted to draw 30,000 runners and 100,000 spectators. I couldn't resist the chance to raise awareness on such a big stage.  MCM has a reputation of being a well organized and fun race and they didn't disappoint. It is a relatively flat course that goes around the Capitol and the monuments. Crowd support was unbelievable. The water and food stops were well stocked and well organized. This race is also extremely popular. It filled in just 23 hours, so I was thankful to be there.

We arrived on Friday morning and went straight to the expo. Pick-up was smooth and easy,  a taste of how the whole event would be run.  The 10K course would start at the mall and run the last 6 miles of the marathon. The marathon started at the Pentagon and finished at the Iwo Jima Memorial.

The evening before the race we got to have dinner with Ruth and Richard Cook. It was great to meet this special couple and we felt like we were long time friends.   We had dinner at a sports bar where the University of West Virginia was playing. Every time they scored all the fans would sing the John Denver song, "Take me home country roads".  Every time I hear that song I am going to think of Ruth and Richard.

I had a great night sleep ( 6 hours) thanks to prescription sleeping pills.  I have only slept one other time before a half or full marathon.  I don't think a sleepless night before a marathon is uncommon, but think about running 26 miles on little or no sleep.  I had also been fighting a number of injuries int the weeks leading up to the race. I woke feeling great and after breakfast announced myself ready to go.

The morning was cold at 34F. The cold made my feed and hands were numb for the first 5 miles.  The race started with an osprey helicopter flyover, a prayer and words of encouragement from Drew Carey. Carey has become a long distance runner and ran MCM as his first. He fired the starting gun and we were off.  It took me nine minutes to get to the starting line.  When we crossed the Potomac to go into D.C. I could see the runners stretched out for miles.

I had decided to just have fun with this run since I already had the time I needed to qualify for Boston. I took a small disposable camera with me to take pictures along the route. I have to say this was the most fun I have ever had running a marathon. It was great to have pictures from along the course.

The crowd support was incredible. Marines manned all the water stops and in many spots cheered us on along the course. At the Lincoln memorial we ran through a tunnel of people, the road so narrow from the crowds, there was room across the course for only a couple of runners.  People were cheering "Go Team CMT".  I tear up just remembering it. 

I did get a little tired at mile 23 and walked for a mile, but felt good and finished in 4:57 ahead of lots of racers.  I got my finisher medal and met Cheryl. Luggage pick up was easy since you were assigned a numbered UPS truck and there was a slot in each truck corresponding to your race number. So typical of the outstanding logistics of the entire event.

The 10 K had a rough start. The bridge over the Potomac was icy and at least one runner fell.  Cheryl had a nice run. She finished in a little over 57 minutes just one week after a half marathon and about a month after her finish at Lakefront marathon.

The best part of the whole day was getting that finisher medal. A marine places the medal on the neck of each finisher. A great finish to a great day. If you want to run a well run big time race, think about Marine Corp. It will be an experience I will carry with me for a lifetime.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Running, triathlons, impaired athlete, paratriathlon, USAT, running and CMT

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