I crashed the Marine Corps Marathon this morning.
Okay, I’ll admit … that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Or perhaps a huge exaggeration.
The Marine Corps Marathon ran through D.C. and Northern Virginia today. I was well aware of the event, but I was surprised to learn – a little later than I would have liked to – that the Marathon route had changed this year. Apparently miles 22 and 23 run right past my apartment building.
I’m not quite sure why, but Northern Virginia has a thing for these little side streets that run parallel to the main road. They’re all over the place. One of them (unfortunately, a one way) runs right in front of my building. The only time I’ve ever seen it closed off was for the Air Force Cycling Classic, which takes place over the summer, and has at least as long as I’ve lived in the area. Apparently, they decided to change the route for the Marine Corps Marathon this year … and my apartment failed to inform us that the street would be closed.
This is when the problem came in – I was in the car, headed out to teach my two Sunday morning classes, when I saw the flashing lights and uniforms in front of the building. Lucky for me, it was only about 8:45 a.m., so clearly, nobody had made it 22 miles into the race yet. I was able to work my magic, and charm the Marine and police officer into letting me out of the parking lot. When was the road to open again, I asked on my way out? Not until at least 4. Ugh. Great. I’d be home from class around noon. But at least the area has a lot of parking, so if I had to walk a couple blocks back home, it really isn’t that big of a deal.
On my way home, I actually got pretty lucky, scoring a parking spot only about a block and a half away from my apartment. As I started walking around the corner is when it got kind of interesting … the Marathon had arrived in Arlington, no question about that. The street that had been empty, with the exception of the flashing lights and officers, was now PACKED with weary-looking runners.
So, I stood and watched for a couple minutes (mostly because I was trying to figure out how I was to make my way across the sea of runners to the entrance of my building without going another block or two out of my way). I felt a little inconvenienced by the situation, but I was also kind of inspired. Hearing the cheers, seeing the runners pushing themselves through the last few miles … I made me really recognize that the human body is an amazing thing. Even more so, age is not a factor – there were runners young and old, some looking like they could keep going for weeks, and some looking like they will be going home to sleep for a month – but they were all after the same accomplishment. They were strong. They were determined. They were going to make it.
But back to how I crashed the Marine Corps Marathon … eventually I found enough of a break in the flow (we’re talking 15 seconds) that I could run across the street without getting in the way of the runners. So across the street I bolted. Can I count this as my first marathon experience?