Washington D.C. / Marine Corps Marathon Trip

It's been while since I have visited Washington D.C. Since then, we had September 11 terrorist attack back in 2001, sniper attack in 2002 and so on. I was wondering how much changes have been made. This is going to be my first full marathon.

Japanese /  English

2003/10/24 Going to Washington D.C.

Going to airport

I woke up at 4:59am, somehow I could wake up just a minutes before the alarm goes off. I gave myself snooze for about extra 10 minutes, then I got out of my bed. I ate my breakfast as usual (meaning that I had a cup of orange juice, two pieces of Poptarts and a banana), and pack my personal stuffs into back packs. The weather in DC is a bit cooler than in Wichita. Since we had very warm days past one week in here, I bet the climate there may make me feel a bit cold, that's for sure.

I left my apartment at 6:10am, and arrived at airport at 6:35am. These days, going to the airport does not take long. I checked-in my baggage and went through the security check. By 7:00am, I was at the gate 5. On the way I was coming to the airport, I saw a big "X" in white at runway 19R, so I guess they must have closed it for some reason. In fact, I have not seen any aircraft landing in that runway from the window while I was waiting for the flight. I got a newspaper from the apartment so I did not have to buy one this time. (That's something nice about living on campus residence with Readership Program, which we get Wichita Eagle for free everyday except on Saturday.) The boarding started on time.

Embraer ERJ-145

They used to have Fokker 100 for ICT - STL flights, but it has cruising speed of 500mph and the ERJ-145 cruises at 515mph, so the trip to St. Louis is a bit shorter this time. It tookoff from the runway 19L. The flight was okay. I forgot to use restroom before departing so I had to use tiny lavatory on the plane. Since I was sitting at very front, I could see what other people doing in the plane on the way back to my seat. We arrived at St. Louis at 8:50am, but had to wait until 9:00am to get to the gate since the arrival was too early and they did not have vacant gate for us...

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

St Louis airport is not like Wichita, it is a lot bigger and more peoples around. I see many people playing with Blackberries so I guess it is totally different environment there. They also have many choice of meal too. I had a quick lunch at 9:30am because I thought it was too early so I had a Cinnabon. (Later found out it was a BIG MISTAKE!)

Going to Washington D.C.

The airplane to Ronald Ragan Washington National Airport was an MD-80, so called Super80. I don't know how many people can sit, but I always like to sit in very front since row in the back will have wings obstructing the view from the windows.

The problem was announced just five minutes before the boarding starts (the boarding time was at 10:15am). They informed us that the first office is sick and cannot fly. So, we had to wait for the backup to arrive. By the time we are good to go, the clock was already pointing at 10:50am, so we are late for10 minutes. The another thing I did not like is that even after departure, the runway was not available until 11:15am, so we stayed at taxiway for another 20 minutes. It was nice to watch F-15s flying but I wanted to get to the D.C. quick. I wish they could provide lunch or something if we are waiting that long!!!

Tired of waiting, even the ground crews take nap...

Appalachian Mountain area

There is a funny rule about all flights go to Washington D.C. That is, nobody is allowed to stand up from seat 30 minutes before arriving the D.C. The captain of the plane gave us 20 minutes warning ahead and everybody was awfully quiet for the last 30 minutes. The airport is located right by Potomac river, and the plane approached from northwest but landed on south so it was so weird to see a big airliner makes left 180 degrees turn above the water right before the touchdown. After arriving to the airport. I wanted to eat but I also needed to pick up my baggage so I decided to skip it. (Later I also find out this was another BIG MISTAKE!)  At least the plane arrived 5 minutes ahead so I am amazed.

DC-80 arrived at DCA

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

I could see the D.C. from this airport.

Capital Hill looking from the airport

Washington Monument

From To Flight Departure Arrival Aircraft
Wichita St. Louis AA5652 7:45amCDT 9:10amCDT EMB-145
St. Louis Reagan International AA2950 10:42amCDT 1:44pmEDT DC-80 (S80)

Going to pick up my race packet, arriving to the hotel

Getting into a taxi for the first time in the U.S. I asked the driver to let me get the race packet at the race HQ, but what happened was the guy was not trained that certain area area I asked to go. He drove like one of those NY drivers you see on TV joking about. I had to make him wait at the race HQ, which was Hyatt Regency Hotel in Crystal City. I picked up my packet, then activate my computer chip, got a free shirt. It took me 20 minutes to go around to take care of those stuffs not because there were so many people, but there were so many stores wanting to sell me stuffs!

I finally arrived in Washington Suites at Alexandria. It was $21.50 for the ride (they do not have meter system but uniformed price for certain region), but since I made him wait at the race HQ, he asked for $30 so I paid $30. The hotel was so cool! It was very huge, has kitchen, fridge, 2 TVs and microwave and so on. I bet I am going to enjoy the stay!

Washington Suites at Alexandria


Living room (The TV has an internet browser function and PS equipped, but comes with a price to use it)

Kitchen. Cups, cookware, toaster, microwave, coffee maker, and most importantly, a fire extinguisher...

Going to the race HQ

I wanted to go back to the Hyatt Hotel for the marathon expo so I asked the hotel people to give me the ride to the nearest Metro station. They had four vans available to the Metro station. They could also take me to shopping mall, or grocery store named Giant. I have met a couple who were going to the expo in the van so I joined. We all had trouble getting the pass to the Metro since I forgot how to do that, and I could not figure out quick. We got to the platform around 4:00pm, after a little struggles. I was surprised to see the train station is on the ground. Since last time I used it in the D.C. area, it was underground.

Metro Approaching at Van Dorn Street

We are going to get off at Crystal City. On the way to the destination I became dizzy since I have not eaten anything but a snack at St. Louis airport, and subway got me motion sickness too. (I always use subway system back home but it's been a long time...) We went to Crystal City station and walked a bit to get to the race HQ. I bought double layered socks since I don't want to get blisters in my feet (They worked pretty good) I also got many free stuffs including a water bottle of Tylenol and some Band-Aids. I got out from the expo around 5:00pm. On the way I was going back to the Metro station, I stopped at Chili's near Hilton Hotel. I had 12oz steak. Then I walked back to the Crystal City station. I felt tired but not dizzy anymore.

Metro Station underground

I had to call the guy in the hotel from the Metro station to get me the ride back. I realized this place is like my city in Japan. People use public transportation system such as Metrorail, to commute, they also use the Metrobus system to your home, or if you live in a certain apartment complex, they provide the ride. This kind of things I don't see in Wichita. I wanted to go to shopping before going back to the hotel, so the driver dropped me off at the Giant. I bought orange juice, Gatorade, bananas and water. I got another ride. I was back in the hotel around 7:00pm. I watched TV, called home, took shower, went to bed at 10:00pm

2003/10/25 D.C. sightseeing (but intended to see the course)

Heading to the D.C. Downtown area

The purpose of sight seeing in the D.C. area is because I need to checking the route for the marathon, or maybe not. I just wanted to have fun. Man, I have not been to Washington D.C. for a long time!

I wake up at 6:00am. I have AAA tour book with me so I decided to check what's good in the D.C. Since next day is the race day, I did not want to walk a lot. So I decided to spend sometime in the Mall area until early afternoon, have my lunch there since hotel food is kinda expensive.

I have my breakfast at 7:30am, when they opened the cafe. They had complimentary breakfast so it is free. They had breads, bagels, fruits and yogurts. The good thing about eating breakfast at hotel is that I can eat as much as I can, and also I can drink fresh milk, and juices such as orange, apple and grape. It is hard to buy them all even though I have a kitchen in my room.

At 8:30am, I left hotel to the D.C. The shuttle service at the hotel is between 7:30am-10:30pm. The guy who diving the van did not came early so I had to wait a bit, but I eventually got to the Metro station.

9:30am arriving to Smithsonian Station

Using the blue line, I have arrived at a station named Smithsonian. The exit was right by the Department of Agriculture building. After getting out, I started walking to west to see the Washington Monument first. The D.C. look a lot different form Wichita, since it is more populated, and have more serious businesses going on.

View on the street

Another view on the street

Steam, not toxic gas... (I hope)

When I came here last time, the Washington Monument was under the preservation processes so the monument was covered up. This time, I could see the whole thing, but I there is a big fence at its bottom. I guess the U.S. government decided to build a wall all around it so no suicide bomber can destroy the monument.

Completely surrounded by wall... Looks ugly.

10:00am the White House

The surrounding of the White House has changed a lot too, All car going in the street in front of the house must stop at gate, protected by the concrete barricade. Then the car must go through bomb sniffing dog, then the steel gate. (see the picture below)

Security Check at E .Street in front of the White House

The White House. I prefer not having a guy like W here.

The building right next to the White House

Red Cross?

10:30am Lincoln Memorial

On the way I was walking toward the Lincoln Memorial, I was stopped and told not to take pictures of a certain building. I get to see the Police officers having some guys' pictures and names from middle east on the file. I guess it was for the security reason, but those cops need to be alert and at least hide the file from my sights...

The Lincoln Memorial is located at western edge of the Mall by Potomac River. The building has the name of the each state (luckily Kansas had it on the front) and the year established in Roman numeral. For me it looks like Todai-Ji in Nara, Japan. This place also was fenced so car cannot get in.

The outside view

The statue of former president Abraham Lincoln

View from the Lincoln Memorial. Where is the water filled reflecting pool which I saw in the movie, Forest Gump?

looking over the bridge

10:50am Vietnam War Memorial

The memorial was built to honor those servicemen who were killed during the Vietnam conflict. The stone wall has names and it is quite large number.

Overview of the memorial

This place is funny because the stone engraved the names of fallen soldiers in Vietnam can mirror the image. People visiting here looking for the names, and sometimes they get a carbon copy of it. Sometimes people need to ask for a ladder since the height of the wall varies from 0ft to, maybe 10ft?

See the reflection

Federal Reserve (the back street of this building cannot access with cars)

11:00am Heading to Smithsonian Institute

Since the reflection pool was drained, I had to find other location to get the cool looking picture of the monument. Here we go.

using the reflection on the lake

As I got warning on the news, I have seen pile of people at south of ellipse. Police officers were all over the place. It was funny to hear people calling President Bush "Bu-- Sh--"


I kept walking toward the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. On the way I saw several other building as a part of Smithsonian Institute.

Famous "the Castle"

Some kind of art museum, I think.

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

The Air and Space museum is opening another location at Dulles airport in December 2003, so this is the last time I see them in this museum at the Mall. The main change from the last visit is the security check. Just like other government building, I have to get my backpack scanned, and I have to go through a metal detector.

There are number of different sections in this building. Click here to see some pictures in the Museum

At 11:50am I ate lunch in the cafeteria in the  museum. Their food court has Boston Market, Donato's Pizzeria and McDonald's together. I did not like to eat McDonald's so I had chicken from Boston Market. It was more than $10.00 so it was very expensive.

12:40pm Heading to the U.S. Capital

the U.S. Capital

The Capital has changed a lot too. First we cannot climb up to the entrance anymore because it is fenced and guarded by police officers. I think they still do the tour, but that's the only case you can see the inside.

Cops, fence, freedom?

1:00pm, walking back to Smithsonian Metro Station

After visiting the Capital, I thought it is good time to go back to the hotel. So I started to walk back. It was a quite walk though.

View from the Capital. An airliner is about hit the Washington Monument???

At northwest corner of the capita, looking to west

There is an entrance to the Metro near the castle, I was able to locate one. I came back Van Dorn Street 2:00pm, and got on the shuttle quite fast. I come back to the hotel around 2:30pm. Rested a bit.

I had dinner at 5:30pm at the restaurant in the hotel. They had $10.00 deal on spaghetti buffet. They did not have spaghetti, but they had other kind of pastas. I can do nothing to prepare for tomorrow so I just watched TV, relaxing... I went to bed around 9:30pm. However, I actually set the clocks right before I go bed since it was the day when the daylight saving time changes.

2003/10/26 The Marine Marathon

The day of the marathon! I wake up at 6:00am, a bit before the alarm goes off. Since the daylight saving time ended over the night. I had extra one hour sleep. I stretched my body really good, took shower, and wore my race day clothing. Since the hotel does not have breakfast until 7:30am, I had my own. The hotel was providing free shuttle bus to the parking lot by the Pentagon. I got on the shuttle bus at 6:40am, it took while to get there since Alexandria is a bit away from the race site. The bus arrived at Pentagon parking lot at 7:00am, transferring to the buses provided by the marines to the starting point. The drivers and other staffs were all wearing uniforms. I would hate hearing "GET OFF MY BUS, NOW!" at the drop off site.

You use buses to get to the start line from the parking lot by near the Pentagon.

On the way to the destination, the bus was going by the Arlington Cemetery. Hundreds of thousands of white grave stones beautifully organized was one way impressing but in the other way, it was very sad to know that many people have died in military actions as of today. 

I arrived at Iwo Jima Monument at 7:20am. The race starts from 8:30am so I have a little more than one hour. It's still cloudy and not that cold.

Iwo Jima Monument

The Finish line. Will I make it?

Okay, okay... This will never happen.

There was the Sergeant guy at the site. He was interviewed by the CNN a few weeks ago about his boot camp style weight reduction program. I heard he never be a drill instructor, and he was not in the Marines neither. He and some of his partners provided runners some stretching tips and I have gone though one of the program. I hope my legs won't get cramped up.

Stopping by the baggage drop off at 8:20am. I had to wait in line for such a long time. I started to worry that if I still have time to use restroom before the race. I saw the Marine One flew over the sky (About four other helicopters were airborne all the time when the marathon was in progress) I pinned small piece of paper to my clear vinyl bag and placed at designated location. The thing I line up for is for the restroom. I heard that it is going to take almost 15 minutes to have everybody started, so I thought I have enough time. By that time, I figured out where I need to go for the start. When some lady started to sing the U.S. Anthem, I wonder what the people in the restrooms supposed to be doing during that time. Oh well.

Race starts at 8:30 with a canon fire, but... Hey, why the line not start moving yet? I was still waiting for my turn to use bathroom... When I got out from the restroom, it was just right timing when the line started to move. On the way to the start line is very easy because it is only going down the hill. Crossing the start line around 8:40am, so let's the race begin!

Lap time for the each mile, and some mind notes. (0:13:39 to cross the start line)

  1. 0:23:18 (9:39) - NE of the Pentagon, I see many people guarding it, even at the roof top. I don't think terrorists want to do a marathon though...
  2. 0:33:02 (9:43) - Going under several bridges, sometimes too dark and I could not see a thing. I saw a guy got caught on a hole and fell... The best thing is not to run on the lines. I see very little holes on at the center of the lanes.
  3. 0:43:16 (10:13) - found out that accumulation of cup of water can be hazardous. You don't want to go really fast at water stations.
  4. 0:53:44 (10:28) - a group of marine band playing the Marine's song. Going up the hill toward the Navy HQ.
  5. 1:03:21 (9:36) - I see people peeing the bush right by the Pentagon. I bet they must felt good about it. Haha!
  6. 1:13:23 (10:02) - Heading to the direction where we started. Picture time!
  7. 1:22:54 (9:30) - I got a slice of orange. Yummy!
  8. 1:32:49 (9:55) - Crossing the river and going to the Georgetown area. Old looking buildings look cool but the road were unevenly paved so I had to be careful. I hate smell breakfast from restaurants... Makes me hungry.
  9. 1:42:14 (9:25) - Running up slight hilly road. It was in forest area so I felt a bit cooler than other places.
  10. 1:51:51 (9:36) - Almost to the turnaround. I am still doing good. Some Irish guys playing songs...
  11. 2:02:37 (10:46) - Keep running but my legs got tired a bit. So I stretched them.
  12. 2:12:11 (9:34)  - Exiting the forest area, start running by Potomac River. I took my first restroom break here since there were nobody in the line.
  13. 2:24:31 (12:19) - Passing the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, also running by the Lincoln Memorial.
  14. 2:35:13 (10:42) - In the Mall. I did not look for the White House since I am getting tired. I got time for the half marathon.
  15. 2:48:16 (12:33) - I had to walk where runners go up slight hill on the 12th street.
  16. 3:01:31 (12:44) - The HILL!!! I walked all the time. Why bother spending extra energy for the hill?
  17. 3:14:00 (12:29) - Going down back from the hill, started to run again. We are at south side of the mall. A bit windy now.
  18. 3:27:20 (13:19) - I grabbed free energy gel thing on the street which was given to every runners.
  19. 3:41:06 (13:46) - Running and Walking. I have 1:30 before I have to cross mile 22... I could see the bridge so it makes me hate it!
  20. 3:54:27 (13:21) - Hitting the wall? Running / Walking, or Walking / Running...
  21. 4:17:22 (22:55) - My legs got tired so I had to lay down and stretch for a while.
  22. 4:28:51 (11:28) - passed the 22mile mark! I am not going to be stopped! Yeah! I saw some people laying on the road, or getting O2 from the medics.
  23. 4:42:31 (13:40) - Getting cookies, waters. That makes me a bit happier.
  24. 4:58:15 (15:43) - Getting dizzy and cannot run anymore. I wish I could but one more mile before the next water station...
  25. 5:14:50 (16:35) - The last mile, I got some more water and I feel a bit better. Started to running when I began to climb the final hill!
  26. 5:28:40 (13:49) - Okay, only 385yards left. I am keep running.
  27. 5:30:45 (02:05) - The finish line! I am glad I am still alive!

After finishing the marathon. (I got the finisher's medal!)

The good(?) thing about being a marathon runner is that you can break the laws! Some people running into bushes and took care of their businesses. Trashing is allowed, running on highway is allowed, ignoring stoplights are also allowed. It's good huh? If you like to try one of those without being arrested, I recommend you to try a marathon!

The weird stuff is that after mile 20, I was totally out of stamina and I could not run. I guess I hit the thing known as "the wall"  My mouth is totally dried and I was thirsty even how much I drink, it seems like my body cannot retain water anymore. My body is out of energy no matter how much I take GU and other energy stuffs. If I tried to run, I feel like I am about to pass out.

The other things I wanted to point out is that DO NOT DRINK the Ultima sports drink. It tastes really bad and I would certainly use it as my excuse why I could not perform well.  I hope they had Gatorade instead! On the course, there were some people offering stuffs such as oranges, chocolates, and some snacks. Do not take snacks and chocolates when you don't carry water. I took one because I was needing some sugar, but after that, I had to walk to the next water stop.

Finish race after 5:17 of struggle. It is almost impossible to express the feeling seeing the goal. I had to climb up the last 0.4 miles of the course, but I did not stop. One of the marines removed my chip from shoe, the other gave me the vinyl thing to keep body warm. Looks like everybody had to go through a point where pictures taken. Picked up my bag, ate some bananas and head back to the shuttle bus. I talked to some people on the bus, and was nice to do that. After arriving to the parking lot by the Pentagon, I had to wait for a while to get the bus which takes me back to the hotel I am staying. I came back to my room at 2:40pm. The first thing I did was not taking shower. I had to lay down a bit because I was so tired. About half hour later, I finally got up and took one. I had to give my email address to friends I met, so I stopped by their room after that. I had a late lunch at 4:00pm from McDonald's, started to rain outside but I did not care. My legs sore so I was walking very funny. I got two hamburgers, and medium fries. I did not want any pops at the time so rather than taking value meals, I just had them instead.

In evening, I was quite relaxing. I wish I could open up some wine to cerebrate my accomplishment, but I don't drink. I had Sandwich from the restaurant around 9:00pm as my dinner. I am pretty sure I will be pain next morning, so I took a Tylenol I got it free at the fair. Went to bed at 10:00pm.


2003/10/27 Going back to Wichita

From To Flight Departure Arrival  
Reagan International St. Louis AA2823 12:59pmET 2:16pmCST MD-80
St Louis Wichita AA5861 3:40pmCST 5:10pmCST EMB-140

I wake up at 6:00am. As I expected, it is so hard to move because my body is so stiff! Outside was still raining. The news says the rain will continue until evening. I had breakfast at 8:00am. I took extra apples so I can eat when I get hungry. Packed up all the stuffs.

10:20am, leaving the hotel, heading to the airport

Leaving hotel at 10:20am.

The Washington Suite. ($451 for three nights. I would love to share two bed rooms next time to save money...)

The driver took me to the Van Dorn Street Metrorail station, and I took blue line to the airport. I wish I could have more time staying here, that what I thought as I watched outside as the train speeding to the destination.

Arriving at the airport at 10:50am. Without any doubt, the security check is much tighter than Wichita or St. Louis. They check my ID and boarding pass at beginning of the line, and at metal detector. I also noticed that they have more places to eat. This Sushi restaurant for example.

Matsutake Sushi?

Had my lunch at 11:50am from ASAP / California Pizza Kitchen.

Going to St. Louis

The aircraft departed from the gate on time at 1:00pm, but wouldn't takeoff until 1:40pm. It was raining pretty bad and incoming traffic had priority. We even made it on the runway once, but had to turn around and come back to the taxiway again to let smaller planes takeoff first. The plane finally tookoff to the north so I get to see the Pentagon from the sky. I never thought it was that big. For the next 30 minutes, the same rule as I flew in, I could not unbuckle my seat belt or stand up. The flight to St. Louis was very shaky and I had hard time working on this webpage on the computer. In about one hour later, the sky got cleared up and I enjoyed the view. The aircraft approached St. Louis airport from SW so I could not see the arch again. We arrived in St. Louis at 2:50pm, which was about 30 minutes late. Some people had to run for their next flights.

Going to Wichita

At 5:00pm, the plane safely arrived in Wichita, which was about 10 minutes earlier than scheduled. The flight attendant was a funny guy, he always made people laugh through out the flight.

ERJ-140 at Wichita Mid-continent Airport

I picked up my baggage, and paid $20 for the parking. It was quite expensive, but cheaper than other airport, or using taxies. On the way back to my apartment, I still see a big "X" on the runway 19R, so I guess they are still working on the runway. In the evening, I had dinner with my friends at Hana Cafe, took Tylenol and went to bed around 10:00pm.

I get a certificate

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