You guys seem to enjoy my recaps from races I ran long before I started blogging, and I love having one place that I can put all of my pictures and thoughts on those races together, so I’m going to keep sharing these with you. Today I’m recapping the five years that Bill and I ran Marathon In The Parks. It’s no longer being held, but when it was, it was always held on a Sunday in mid-November.
You Signed Me Up For What?
Bill’s very first marathon was Marathon In The Parks. He had started running with me on my longer training runs to keep me company and before he knew it, he was up to 16 miles. One day I read about a new marathon in our area that was designed to handle the overflow of people that couldn’t get into the extremely popular Marine Corps Marathon. I decided to sign up for it and thought Bill might be interested in running it as his first marathon. He was at work when I called to see if he wanted to run it, and when I asked him if he wanted me to sign him up, he said something like, “Sure that sounds good.” When he got home that evening he asked exactly what he’d committed himself to!
Marathon in the Parks Overview
Before I start talking about the individual years that we ran the race, let me give you a little overview and I think you’ll see why we liked it so much. I just wish that I had more pictures to share… I know you’re shocked that I don’t! As its name implies, Marathon in the Parks was run through the park system of Montgomery County, MD. I loved the race course because I was very familiar with about 20 miles of it from when I had coached for the National AIDS Marathon Training Program back in 1998. It was quite hilly at places, but the hilliest parts were run past a lake and through a beautiful park. Later in the race we ran through Rock Creek Park, one of my favorite places to run in the DC area.
Sponsored by the Montgomery County Road Runners Club, it was a relatively small community marathon that really kept the needs of the runner in mind when organizing the race. It was very easy to get to the start, park, and walk over to the Athletes’ Village. There were heated tents located very close to the starting line for runners to wait in until the start of the race. It was a point-to-point race with a quick Metro ride back to our cars after the race was over. There were plenty of port-potties along the course and they had volunteers everywhere!
The water stops were themed with each one trying to outdo the other one. One was Christmas themed and it was located at one of my favorite parts along the course. It wasn’t necessarily my favorite based on the beauty of this part of the course, but favorite because my runners and I ran along that section every singe week for 26 weeks. I just seemed to fit like an old comfortable running shoe and I knew what to expect at every turn. Our favorite water stop though, was Funky Town at 13.1 mile mark, where everyone was dressed in crazy tinsel wigs, psychedelic colored outfits and huge sunglasses. And of course, Funky Town was blasting on a stereo!
2000 Marathon in the Parks
Bill and I had a great first MITP that day and I finished in 3:53:37 (8:55 pace). Bill finished his very first marathon with a time of 3:46:05 and I couldn’t have been more proud of him! We enjoyed the race so much that we decided to make it an annual event.
2001 Marathon in the Parks
In 2001 we returned to run Marathon In The Parks with several runners I had coached that summer and fall. It had rained hard in the days leading up to race day, and little did we know how much water we would be running through during the middle section of the course. It was extremely foggy as we drove over and at the start of the race. We could barely see each other until several miles in and the fog lifted. It was quite cold and the moisture from the fog and the previous day’s rain had frozen along the course in a couple of places. Volunteers were stationed at those places to ask us to slow down and be very careful on those slippery spots.
It remained foggy for the early miles of the race, but eventually burned off to a dreary gray day.
During the middle miles of the course while running on Rock Creek Trail, we ran through ankle deep puddles over and over again. We tried to run around the first one, but got bogged down in mud so badly that we decided it was quicker to run right through the ice cold water. At first it was quite a shock, but we quickly got used to it and it ended up not being too big of a deal.
That particular year the race was run on November 18th, my dad’s birthday. All along the course there were signs wishing someone a happy birthday, but later when I called my dad to tell him all about my race (as I always did), I told him that he’d had a birthday buddy running along the course with me.
I finished the 2001 marathon in 3:49:05 (8:44 pace) with Bill just a few seconds behind me.
In the picture below Bill is happy to have gotten another PR at what had become (and would continue to be) his favorite marathon. He liked the mid-November timing and felt that was the perfect time for him to peak for a race.
The race finished in downtown Bethesda so there was usually a pretty good crowd cheering for the finishers. Even though Miles wasn’t running, he came to cheer us on!
My runners that I had coached that year all had a great day, and the couple on the right had just completed their first marathon! My running buddy Terri is standing next to me. I met her through coaching, and we have run many marathons together since then. Some of the other runners from our group had already left by the time we took this picture.
2002 Marathon in the Parks
2002 was the first of three years that Bill and I ran three marathons in four weeks – Baltimore (3:44:55), then Marine Corps (3:56:39), and then Marathon in the Parks. I finished the 2002 race with a time of 3:59:34 (9:08 pace) and I BQ’d at all three races.
Despite how badly I look in the picture, I had a pretty good race!
I don’t have a finish line picture of Bill, but he finished about two and a half minutes in front of me. Notice my wrapped left calf that I’d strained when dodging a mud puddle during a training run on the C&O Canal.
2003 Marathon in the Parks
In 2003 I ran a 3:57:37 (9:04 pace) and it was the second year I ran three marathons in four weeks and BQ’d at all three races. Notice my high-waisted pants and tucked in shirt, and how it was just a warmer version of the previous year’s stylin’ outfit. 😉
Bill ran a 3:36:47 and set another PR; it really was his race.
2004 Marathon in the Parks
Of course, Bill and I returned in 2004 to run in what was now a must-do race. Little did we know that this would be the last year that Montgomery County Road Runners would be putting on this race. It has since been replaced with a half marathon that’s run along parts of the same course. I happened to run my slowest Marathon in the Parks in 2004. I ran a 4:30:24 (10:19 pace). Bill just happened to run his fastest, and ran his PR race that day. He ran a 3:31:07 and missed qualifying for Boston by eight seconds! His qualifying time was 3:30:00, but at that time Boston gave you those 59 seconds to the next minute, so his qualifying time was really 3:30:59. Around mile 20 his calf started cramping a little so he stopped to stretch for a few minutes and that cost him a BQ.
Because Bill was flying along the course an hour ahead of me that day, he was able to go up to the race announcer before I finished and tell the announcer that it was my birthday. Since it was a relatively small race, the announcer was able to announce many runners by name as they finished. When Bill saw me coming down the final stretch, he pointed me out to the announcer and I was wished a happy birthday as I came running down the chute. It was awesome! 🙂
That year was the last time that we were able to run three marathons in four weeks with one of our favorite marathons biting the dust.
Items of Interest Over the Years
One year there was a pretty significant meteor shower expected super early on race morning. As we drove down the highway on the way to the race, we drove past car after car parked along the side of the road, parked and waiting for a good view.
And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the homemade beef stew that they served at the end of the race. To hear Bill talk, you would think that was the only reason he ran that race! 😉
Bibs, Shirts, and Medals
Race bibs from our five years…
Bill and I loved the race shirts because they were very different, and more of a shell than a shirt. Each year they had the same design and logo, but were in a different color combinations.
Here’s a close up of the logo.
The medal ribbons changed over the years, but the medal design stayed very similar after the second year.
- Did any of my local readers ever run Marathon In The Parks?
- Do you have a favorite race that’s no longer being held?
- Who raced this weekend?