Marathon Man

On occasion, when speaking to potential candidates, I have described a political campaign as a marathon.  Like I would know.  So this morning I fulfilled a lifetime goal by running in the 31st annual Marine Corps Marathon.
My run was pedestrian at best.  After running the opening 13 miles in a brisk two hours, I was hammered by cramps on the Haines Point backstretch and struggled to complete the course in a shade over 4 hours and 40 minutes.  So I didn’t win anything.  But the medal at the finish line says “Finisher” and I’ll hang it in my basement with pride.
What I’ll remember most about the Marathon is the striking pageantry.  If you don’t think our Nation’s Capitol is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, then you need to run this race.  And if you don’t get chills when you hear the National Anthem and then see 30,000 runners move forward under the shadow of the Iwo Jima Memorial, then you never will.
It’s the quirky things you remember…
“Who let the Dogs Out?” booming from the speakers as we run through Rosslyn.  Saloonkeepers handing out free beers as we navigate M Street through the heart of Georgetown.  The Capitol standing harsh in the morning sunlight as we hit the halfway point and then turn back for home.  Thousands of runners with “In Memory of ….” on the back of their singlets.  
Coming home, it’s over the 14th Street Bridge, past the stone facade of the Pentagon where some idiot planted a 747 a few years ago.  Yeah, it’s still standing.  After a brief jaunt through Crystal City, it’s a last lap up Route One and back to the Memorial.  My favorite memory was a half-mile from the finish line.  On a bandstand, a group of long-haired muses was banging out the power chords that backlit my collegiate career:
“I’m a Cowboy … on a steel horse I riiiiiide ….I’m wanted (wanted!) … Dead or Alive.”
I couldn’t think of a better anthem as we staggered past the cheering crowds and climbed the hill to finish line.
Finishing is sublime.  Then you have the banal task of finding your warm-up clothes and tracking down your wife and kids.  And then I was with thousands of “Finishers” are taking the Orange Line back home.  Oo-rah!


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