Untold Stories from the Marine Corps Marathon

Hopefully you’re not sick of me talking about the Marine Corps Marathon, yet. Today I’ve got a collection of little details from the race that you would typically share with your running buddy during a long run. They’re the kind of details you forget about until you’re an hour into a run and your mind wanders. But for whatever reason, I remembered a bunch of them this time. In fact, I remembered enough to split them into two parts. Here’s part 1!

Stand up or sit down?

I observed something that I found pretty funny while in line at the VIP porta potties. They had separate lines for women and men. The women’s restrooms were your standard 3 stall restrooms with 3 toilets. But for the men, they had one restroom that was urinals only, while the others were stall-type restrooms. So as the men each got to the front of the line, a Brooks employee would ask them “Stand up or sit down?”

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

How funny would it be to be the one having to ask everyone that all morning!?

MCM Groundpounders

As I was running up the hill to the Key Bridge between miles 4 and 5, I met one of the MCM “Groundpounders.” It turned out to be Al Richmond, as he was wearing bib 38 and I looked him up. As of last year, Richmond was one of four men who have completed all 38 previous Marine Corps Marathons, which began in 1976. The group became a group of four in 2004. I recently read that only two were able to finish this year’s race, so the group is now down to two. The other Groundpounder* to finish this year was Will Brown. They are all amazing, and all are in the MCM Hall of Fame.

From left: Mel Williams, Al Richmond, Will Brown, and Matt Jaffe [source]

In April 1990, Richmond was shot three times by a mugger, an incident he refers to as “lead poisoning.” Six months later, he completed the marathon in 4:40. This year he finished in 5:43. We spoke briefly on the race course, high fived, and then parted ways as we crossed the Key Bridge. I had heard of the elite group about a month before the race, and I was hoping I might see them along the course. It was really neat and such an honor to actually get to meet him!

*‘Groundpounder’ is a slang term used for a Marine infantryman. MCM gave the group the nickname in 2006.

Things happen during races that never happened in training

Between miles 5 and 6, I became aware that the seam on the toe of my right sock was rubbing my pinkie toe. It was mildly painful, but not awful. I knew this was a bad sign, as I had a very long way yet to go. But I also made the decision right there that I was not going to do anything about it. I was just going to keep running and deal with the pain, because I did not want to stop. At this point, I was still hoping that I might be able to run every step of the marathon from start to finish.

My toe continued to rub, and sometimes I was keenly aware of it. Other times it got pushed to the back of my mind and I didn’t notice it much. Once I got past mile 20 it had become much more painful and I was really feeling it. And then at mile 24 I felt it burst, which gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. By the time I got to the finish a new blister had formed on top of the raw skin. Once I met back up with my dad and Barry, I told them “something terrible has happened to my right pinkie toe.”

2014 Marine Corps Marathon

“Ow, my toes!”

Luckily, my imagination was picturing it much worse than it ended up being. My pinkie toe was one giant blister for a few days, but it has healed up now.

Isn’t it crazy how things happen during a race that never happened during training!?

Happy Birthday to me!

No, it wasn’t my birthday the day of the race. My birthday is in July. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it, but my dad’s birthday gift to me this year was my entry into the Marine Corps Marathon.

2014 Marine Corps 17.75K

He gave that to me as an early birthday gift after I ran the 17.75K to get guaranteed entry.

Do you remember little details from a race?
Have you ever had someone give you a race entry as a gift?

20 Comments

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  1. That’s cool that you saw one of the groundpounders! Those guys are inspirational!!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Ultimate Direction Handy 20 ReviewMy Profile

    1. It was so cool! Who would have thought I would manage to find one of four men in a sea of 30,000.

  2. I ran by a guy dressed in a full Elvis get up at the St. Louis RnR half. I totally though I’d remember that to tell my family later, but forgot until like a week later! I even said hi to “Elvis” and told him he was looking good. Funny how we forget these things!
    Alison recently posted…Stitch Fix #4 – Need your help again!My Profile

    1. Isn’t it funny how in the moment you’re like “oh, I need to remember that for later” and then you do remember, but it might be a week later instead of right after the race!?

  3. I would totally be the person asking “stand or sit” it would be hilarious lol. The groundpounders are totally badass, all that needs to be said about that.

    When you are runs and just have your thoughts to keep you busy, you always have little events that catch your eyes. Happens to me all the time.
    running schlub recently posted…Mrs. Schlub PR & Trail Race Scouting RecapMy Profile

    1. It’s crazy all the little things we notice and all the random thoughts that float through your head during a run.

  4. My mind always wanders during any long event. I have tackled many problems while alone on a trail. If only I could remember all of the solutions!

    Stand or sit? Fair question. If you walked behind the porta johns there may not have been a back on the standing only one. Just a tree. It’s a guy thing.

    LUD.

    1. I have amazing thoughts during long runs, but just like dreams I can’t ever remember them afterward. I should carry a notepad or something… it would probably be funny to share all of the random things that go through my head.

      Yea! Maybe the “stand” porta potties actually just had trees in them 🙂

  5. Very cool to meet one of those men! How inspirational! And weird about your blister, especially since it happened so early. I’m glad you were able to finish and it wasn’t as bad as you thought.
    jan recently posted…Rest Days after Racing?My Profile

    1. It was really cool! Crazy to find one of four men amongst 30,000 runners. No idea what was up with the blister – just a fluke that happened to hit on race day.

  6. Oh man, I could barely read after that first story. HOW INCREDIBLY AWKWARD! Right? That is the funniest thing I have ever read. And the pinkie toe. Ouch! I was reading Kate @ SoCalRunnerGal’s recap of NYCM this weekend and she finished with bloody feet. Apparently all of her marathons end with bloody feet. It makes me grateful for my tough-skinned gross feet.
    Amy recently posted…Organizing a Half Marathon in Your TownMy Profile

    1. Seriously! The front of the lines were next to each other and I tried not to even look their direction.

      If all of my marathons ended in bloody feet, I would not be running marathons. I just couldn’t handle tearing my feet up like that at every race. The blister was a total fluke – *knock on wood* I typically never have any issues with blisters.

  7. Soo cool you met Al! That his too funny about the “sit down” or “standup”…. I bet when they signed up to volunteer… they would have never expected that assignment.
    Jennifer recently posted…New York City Marathon Race Recap Part 2My Profile

    1. I would have loved to see the volunteers’ faces when they were having their assignment explained to them! 🙂

  8. I think that would be really awkward to tell that guy at the bathrooms what you need to do. And to be the guy standing there, not too far from the smells of it all…ugh.
    Brooke @ wreckingroutine recently posted…Three Move Butt Buster WorkoutMy Profile

    1. Thank goodness as girls we always sit down (or hover, in the case of a porta john) so no need to question us! 🙂

  9. Makes me glad I’m female! I don’t want anybody asking me that!! How embarrassing 🙂 Sorry about your toe. That sounds painful.
    So cool about the Groundpounders, and extra cool that you got to meet one!
    Nobody has ever bought me a race entry, but I wish they would! What a perfect gift.
    JoAnne recently posted…Seen on the run (November 9, 2014)My Profile

    1. Seriously! Thank goodness sitting or standing isn’t an option for us, although there have been times when I have wished I could just use a tree without risking indecent exposure.

      Hmm sounds like you need to start dropping some hints about getting a race entry as a gift. 🙂

  10. How cool that you ran alongside one of the Groundpounders!

    I’ve never received a race entry as a birthday gift, but I think I remember you giving Barry the Hokie Half entry last year for his birthday! Am I correct?

    We girls may not need to be asked, “Stand up or sit down,” but we do hover a lot – especially in porta potties. Eeewww!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…A Veteran’s Day SaluteMy Profile

    1. I know! What are the odds, right!?

      Yes, I did give Barry an entry to last year’s Hokie Half as a birthday gift, since the race was in mid-September. He was thrilled (that’s half sarcastic, half true).

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