by Jason Snyder
For the first time since 2019 the Marine Corp Marathon was back in person in DC. I ran the 2019 edition of the MCM which was defined by the inch and a half of rain that fell that day. The race was postponed in 2021 & 2021 because of Covid, so there was great anticipation and excitement to toe the line again. This time around I signed up for the Semper Fidelis Challenge which is a combination of participating in the Devil Dog Double in May and MCM in October.
I started training for the MCM in July with guidance and a plan from running coach Mat Nark of Nark Running Strategies. With a running plan that was specifically developed for me, I attacked my training with confidence and precision. The plan strategically built up my mileage and endurance with a combination of easy, recovery, and specific workout runs. The constant feedback and challenging workouts allowed me achieve milestones while increasing my confidence going into the race.
Running the MCM is an event unlike other marathons. There’s a real sense of patriotism as you run through some of the most recognizable sites in the world supported by the Marines throughout. You start out running through the street of Rosslyn and attack the hilliest park of the course early. As I attacked this portion of the race I focused on balancing my effort with my pace. I’ve learned from previous MCM’s that you need to pace this part of the race correctly or it come back to get you. As I moved into Georgetown and the Rock Creek Parkway portion of the race I found my pacing and was able to settle in. Coming back by the Lincoln Memorial I had to remind myself to hold back and don’t get carried away with all the race crowds in this area. Special mention here to mile 12, the Wear Blue Mile. This mile is lined with American flags, and photos and signs of loved ones who lost their lives for our country. As you reach the turn at Hains Point I passed the half way point about 30 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be. Feeling good as I moved passed the Washington Monument and headed to the National Mall area. Kicked up my pace a bit here as I approached Capitol Hill, which looking back was probably not the best decision as I never felt the same afterwards. As I left the National Mall I knew I had to deal with one of the toughest sections of the course. A long stretch of bridge with no spectators for miles 20-22 as you head into Crystal City. My pace started to drop, through this section, but kept trying to find things to accomplish each mile. Leaving Crystal City I knew I had 3 miles to go and was trying to keep my mind in the game as my body continued to breakdown. If running 26.2 miles wasn’t enough, in true Marine Corp spirit the last .2 is uphill (which feels like a mountain at this point of the race). As you finish the race you are greeted by Marines and for me it’s my opportunity to take as many Marines as I can for their service.
Back in 2019 I ran MCM in 3:44:42, on this day my training and the stars aligned as I ran a course and marathon PR of 3:31:20 (a 4:30 improvement over my previous PR).
The Marine Corp Marathon is known as “the People’s Marathon” and it’s truly an event that has patriotism and America tied to it throughout. I would highly recommend the experience for anyone who is looking for a well-organized event and a chance to #Run with the Marines.