Sunday, July 19, 2020

Marine Corps Marathon Hopeful

I registered for the Marine Corps Marathon. While the naysayers are convinced that this race will ultimately be canceled, I remain optimistic. Here is the race director's stance:

"Many other large events have cancelled but our Marine instinct is to lean in and fight for the possibility of hosting a live marathon in Arlington, VA on October 25, 2020. This means a major overhaul of how the MCM looks and operates so social distancing considerations may be incorporated. In short, our working solution is to break the 45th MCM up into 24 waves that will start over an expanded window of time on event morning. This plan will necessitate a smaller field of in-person participants."

To reduce the field size, they have offered a virtual option, which is particularly attractive to those who would have to travel by air, and they have stated that you have to run a 12 minute mile or faster. They have not provided an update yet on the actual size of the new field, but they said they might have to reduce the time requirement even further if the field remains too large.

It sounds like they are doing everything in their power to take precautions so that the race can be held as planned. After all, they are the marines, and at some point a large race needs to set the precent for how they can be done safely. A vaccine is not a guarantee in 2020, 2021, or even longer. If race directors and government officials can't find a way to resume racing, then many races will go out of business.

Marine Corps Marathon 2006
I'm not a scientist, but we've had many mass outdoor gatherings over the past two months and none of them have been attributed to causing a spike or hotspot. Hotspots arose early in the pandemic from enclosed spaces, like that medical conference in Boston, nursing homes, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Once again, I am not a scientist, but I have done quite a bit of reading on this and I haven't seen any evidence of large outdoor mass gatherings causing a COVID 19 outbreak.

So even though many people think the Marine Corps Marathon will not happen, I choose to be optimistic. I'm also registered for Rehoboth Beach, which is about six weeks later. The race director recently emailed registrants telling us that it was too soon for them to know what would happen. As of now, they are still planning to proceed. I imagine we'll get more information in early fall.

My MCM History
Even though the MCM is my hometown marathon I have only run it once, back in 2006. It was my second marathon ever! I ran 4:24. I had a blast and I loved it so much. I ran the associated 10K in 2007 and 2012. The reason I haven't run the marathon again is because I have wanted to experience other fall races.

Plus, an October marathon requires long runs in August and that's not ideal with my heat sensitivity issues. But now that I have a treadmill, I think I can make it work. Lately I have been doing hybrid treadmill-outdoor runs. I run on the treadmill for 30-50 minutes and then immediately head outdoors for the remainder. Race day weather for MCM is hit-or-miss. It's been crappy the past few years but it had a streak of great weather the years before that. If it turns out to be too warm, I'll simply back off the pace and target Rehoboth Beach for a PR.

I'm also super excited about the charity I am raising money for. My donations website is currently broken, and once they fix it, I will announce what charity it is. It's an organization that I am passionate about supporting.

So, what's the plan?
July is an easy/recovery month and marathon training will officially begin in early August. Now is the perfect time to dial back the mileage and lay off the long workouts so I'm fresh when it's time to start the training cycle.

I have now done quite a few hybrid runs of treadmill/outdoor combo and it really works for me. The hotter it is, the longer I stay on the treadmill. If it's insanely hot then I simply do the whole thing on the treadmill. With the hybrid approach, I stay acclimated and reduce the risk of injury from 100% treadmill running. Having my own treadmill has been such a lifesaver!

If the starting temperature is 72+ combined with a dew point of 68+, then I do a hybrid run.  If the starting temperature is 75+ combined with a dew point of 70+, then I stay indoors for the entire run. I avoid speed work on the treadmill because I think it leads to injury (for me, not necessarily for others), so if it's too warm for speed work, I try to reschedule it for a different day, or ditch it altogether if there are no cooler options in the vicinity. I have to prioritize my health over trying to get all the workouts in.

Also, I should mention that I ended my running streak on Monday. I made it to 181 days. I think six months is a solid achievement and I could tell my body needed some rest days due to how high my heart rate was getting during easy runs. I only logged 31 miles this week, but I feel really good today, so the days off did their job. Now I just need to get through a few more weeks of very slow running in the heat and on the treadmill before I start training for Marine Corps!


  1. If anyone can do a live race right now, it's the Marines! We don't know what October is going to look like, so why not assume the best? If live racing returns I will have Too Many Races in October and I'd be thrilled to have that problem. Congrats on your 6 month run streak. And yes, no one *wants* to run on the treadmill but it is such a nice option to have.

  2. I like the contrasting pictures from the beginning and end of your running streak! It really shows how long 181 days is. Fingers crossed that your marathon will happen!

  3. Congrats on your run streak!!! Hopefully the Marines show racing can be done because nobody else has any courage and yes outdoors hasn't been a problem but everyone running indoors and hanging out at the bars have apparently... I just wish this damn thing was over, not for my sake bc you know my awful situation but so the rest of you who love racing can get back to it and I can watch your splits on my phone and get giddy for your next PR!!

  4. Kudos on 181-day streak...awesome! And very SMART approach to your training runs in summer sizzling heat and humidity. Very wise use of combo outdoor and on TM or all on TM if conditions too extreme. it's similar to what I do these COVID summer days!

    But don't share your optimism any major city can host a marathon this fall. Insane in the sense many regions are resurging upward in new cases and positivity rate. And I wouldn't even hold hope you will see major city marathons next spring, including Boston, if a vaccine isn't available prior. How could you hold a race like Boston that would have runners from all over the world when Pandemic increasing again in many regions and getting closer to going into fall season where influenza usually begins? No one knows or what to expect what happens if or when one contracts both viruses?

    No way to bring large field of individuals traveling from other nations, or even from all across N-America when at this time the damn virus is resurging. All you going to see is running your race "virtual" on the same day and that nowhere anything like doing the real race on the actual course. Maybe MCM could go on if they restricted their race to on US residents and invoked some restrictions on those who coming from hot-spots...even if they can accomplish widely spaced waves that maintain SD. Washington D.C. would be insane to allow any race where people come from long distances. Chicago canceled as I anticipated. I suspect Indianapolis will have to eventually...and any others in fall...unless they small-scale and essentially only local/regional runners involved.

    We don't go back to normal run/race life and routines until a vaccine is out and available widespread use. I love your optimism though!

  5. Ah, just saw that this race was postponed. I'm sorry! I am really thinking we won't be racing in 2020 between ever-changing levels of lock down, virus surges, and liability and risk. I've been itching to race, too, though! I do think the vaccine will change public outlook and allow races to resume, so perhaps winter 21/22 if we are lucky - maybe sooner if enough vaccines make it to market and have high enough output. My biggest fear is the anti-vax crowd refusing the vaccine. The nature of the virus makes me think we'll need 70% vaccination rates to approach herd immunity, and if we don't get there, the vaccine is useless.