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Marine Corps Marathon 2010…a spectator’s perspective

I must confess that never before had I been a spectator of any marathon, but I imagine that this particular one would be difficult to top…The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, on Halloween day.  Even though I enjoy writing, and sometimes feel that I do an okay job expressing my thoughts and feelings, some things are just better told through images.  So this post will consist mostly of just that.  And I dare you not to experience goosebumps, smiles, and maybe even a lump in your throat while viewing…

The night before, Betsy pinned Nate’s bib number on the front of his shirt…..and a photo of my brother Jack on the back…

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Betsy and Toryn created a sign to hold for Nathan.  The morning of the race arrived early and chilly.

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After riding shuttles to the Pentagon parking lot, everyone made their way over to the runner corrals and the starting line.  As the start time drew near, this man right next to us reenlisted in the Marine Corps before running the marathon.  Awesome.

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One last hug from Betsy before joining the other runners waiting to start.

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Did I mention it was Halloween?

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Even without a costume, this guy stood out to me in a sea of runners heading toward the start line…

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The course of the marathon was amazing…It began at Arlington and ended at the Iwo Jima Memorial, after winding through the heart of DC.  Betsy and I had decided to make our way first to the 10 mile mark, behind the Lincoln Memorial, to try to see Nathan there.  On our walk there, I took a few photos that captured the beauty of the race day and scenery.  After seeing the runners, I was caught up in the excitement of the race, and I didn’t take any more “scenery” images.  But these will give you an idea of the setting.

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I would like to direct your attention to the 2 runners right behind this car.  Just over 50 minutes into the race, they had already passed the 10 mile mark.  Did you hear me??  They had run 10 miles in about 50 minutes!!!  I was astounded!

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I was in awe of some of the runners, like this lady on the right below.  And okay, I was in awe of all the runners!

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This guy’s awesome hair was real…

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This guy’s was not.  But he was running in a kilt!

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“To infinity…And beyond!”

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Oh, hello, Marine Corps One.

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Lady Gaga and The Mario Brothers were there.

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My favorite…

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These guys were awesome.

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And this guy deserved mad props.

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This was our first glimpse of Nate, 10 miles into the race.  I was all, “Really, Nate?!?  Really??  You’ve been running for 10 MILES, and you wave and smile and stick your tongue out???  How do you do that?  How do you manage to look as though you are actually enjoying this?”  I was impressed, to say the least.  Of course, these were all just my thoughts, since he didn’t stop to chat. :)

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After that, Betsy, Toryn and I found a good spot somewhere between the 15 and 16 mile mark.  There, we saw this crazy guy…He earned himself a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records by running the entire marathon while wearing a gas mask.  Seriously.

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And then, before we knew it, Nathan was happily jogging by again.  Insane.  He still looked like he was feeling great.

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From there, we made our way to somewhere around 20 miles.  The Washington Monument stood as a backdrop for the runners.  Nathan was cruising right along until our yelling caught his attention, and he ran over to say hello.

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A hug and a kiss, and he was on his way again, down the final stretch.

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We hopped on the subway to make our way toward the finish line.

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But alas, this was the closest we would get to the finish line.  I guess when you have 30,000 plus runners and 100,000 plus spectators, it can become a mob scene at the end.

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So, we made our way to the predetermined meeting spot and waited patiently for Nathan.  There was lots of laughing and hugging when he found us!

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You did it, Nate!!!

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I was so very impressed, Nathan!  You made it look so easy running your first marathon.  I am so proud of you, and I am so incredibly happy I could be there to watch you run and cheer for you and congratulate you in person.  Thank you for running in memory of Jack.  That meant so much to me and my family.  You know Jack would have been impressed by your training and your run.

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As I mentioned before, the entire trip was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  I want to thank God for blessing me with friends who have become family, and for precious times spent with them.

~abi~

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Rachel HofmeisterNovember 9, 2010 - 12:33 am

All I can say is WOW! I wish we had jumped in the car and followed you up to DC to see all that in person. Nathan made it all look easy and your photographs made every minute of it look like art. You never stop impressing me!!!!! Love you!

Kriea ArieNovember 9, 2010 - 3:57 am

I love reading and seeing your trip!!! Fantastic!

ashley o.November 9, 2010 - 1:50 pm

How amazing! The whole thing just brought tears to my eyes. Nathan's dedication, the purpose of his run, all those runners, 26.2 miles! Thank you so much for sharing

Kathleen MillerNovember 9, 2010 - 5:31 pm

This is AMAZING Abi. i LOVE your blog. I JUST found it today! I can't stop reading- you are such a gifted writer, and I can't ever say enough about your photos. I love this….please continue!

BetsyNovember 10, 2010 - 2:30 am

I feel so fortunate to have you in my life! Thank you for being a part of this, it made it that much more special for us! I love you, girl!

Raquel R.November 20, 2010 - 5:31 pm

Great photography, Abi. Thanks for helping us "be there."

[…] p.s.  this was the second time I have gotten to cheer on someone running the Marine Corps Marathon in memory of my brother Jack.  Last time, it was my dear friend Nathan, a few years ago, and I blogged about it here. […]

oh, the sights you will see

We arrived in DC after dark on Friday night. Even driving through the city at night, you can feel a charge in the air…the intoxicating excitement of being in a big city, a place where important people make big decisions that affect our very existence as Americans. I had previously spent brief amounts of time in Washington, DC, and was thrilled looking forward to the next couple of days there.

Saturday morning, we made our way to the Washington Convention Center so Nathan could pick up everything for the run. The building was packed with runners and their friends and families, and the atmosphere was one of anticipation and excitement.

I have to give a shout out to Toryn, Nathan and Betsy’s 7 year old daughter, for taking the pic on the right. :) Betsy’s laugh and my peace sign make me smile here.

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A little decor inspiration from inside the convention center…

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From there, we set out for a bit of walking and sight seeing. The one mandatory destination for the day was the Lincoln Memorial. Toryn adores Old Abe, and was super excited to see his statue.

I apparently adored the Washington Monument, as I took at least 50 pics of it on our way over to see Lincoln. These were some of my faves…

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Off in the distance, people were gathering in front of the Capitol for the Restore Sanity/Fear Rally that was going on there that day.

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More random sights from around town…

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People-watching always enthralls me. I noticed both of these couples and was impressed by how cool they were in very different ways…

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Looked how overjoyed Toryn was to be there at her hero’s feet.

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He is pretty impressive.

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After spending some time ogling Abe, we took this shot of ourselves on the steps in front of the memorial.

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The Vietnam Wall. Wow. Words cannot do justice…

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Sobering and unreal…

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There were some gorgeous fall colors on display around DC…

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So beautiful!

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I love-loved this building!

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What an exhilarating city to see! I loved every minute and only wished we had a bit more time. But the marathon was the next morning, and we couldn’t keep Nathan out walking all day. We headed to get some rest in preparation of an early morning and long day.

Monday, I’ll share photos of the marathon.

Have a good weekend, all.

~abi~

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Jill MooreNovember 6, 2010 - 4:50 am

I love reading your blogs…I feel like I am right there with you…beautiful Abi…love you

stephanieNovember 9, 2010 - 4:44 pm

i have a huge love affair with dc…i mean, it's just such an amazing place!! these photos are fantastic, they make me want to go back…possibly forever? hmmmmm

Leaving flowers seems inadequate

{Welcome to my new and sort of improved blog. I had a need for change, so I chose an unpretentious blogger template. I am happy with it for now.}

There are some pieces of my lifetime that are burned into my mind and thoughts forever. Maybe not each detail, because my memory capacity is a bit pathetic; but rather, the feelings and emotions of certain times are seared into my brain. I might encounter a sight, a scent, or a sound; then, close my eyes and be transported back to a place and time, a few days, a week…a collection of memories. Last week, I took a trip that I will remember forever. Nothing huge or earth shattering happened, but it was a sweet and special time spent with dear, lifelong friends.

I flew out of Oklahoma City on Tuesday, October 26, and landed in Jacksonville, FL. As I stepped off the plane, I felt the hot, heavy air surround me. Even at the end of October, Florida and Georgia were engulfed in an oppressive heat wave. My friend Nathan picked me up from the airport, and from there we drove over an hour to his home in Georgia. Nathan had just recently returned, October 4th, from yet another deployment to Iraq. The date of his return happily coincided with his wife Betsy’s birthday. I’m sure the Georgia heat didn’t phase him when he arrived at home, after his many months spent in the Middle East.

I have known Nathan and Betsy for most of my life. During our early teen years, we formed a tight and enduring friendship after meeting at a church youth conference. We are actually part of a group of friends…fondly referred to amongst ourselves as Our Group. {There’s a photo of Our Group under my About Me section.}

The first couple of days of my trip were spent relaxing in Georgia. Just catching up with each other; staying up late talking; and, best of all, sleeping in late in the mornings. Except for Betsy, who watches a couple of babies for some friends during the day. {Sorry, Betsy, for keeping you up late, even though you had to be up early.} I didn’t even take any pictures while in Georgia, which shows you how truly lazy and relaxed I was.

The plan was to leave Thursday evening and drive through the night to Washington, DC, where Nathan would be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 31. Yep, halloween morning. {Don’t worry, I’ll do a post on that.}

We hit the road Thursday evening, and made a brief stop in Savannah {one of my favorite cities in the US}. After a spur of the moment change of plans, we ended up stopping again later to spend the night at Fort Bragg, NC. My brother Jack’s name is on a memorial wall there. He was killed September 29, 2009, while on a mission as a Green Beret in the Philippines.

I bought some white lilies to leave for him at the memorial wall. I texted a photo of the wall with the flowers to my family, and my mom pointed out in her reply that it was 13 months to the day from when Jack was killed.

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My family has been extremely blessed by getting to meet and spend time with Jack’s brothers from his Special Forces team and their families. Several of them are now at Fort Bragg, and I was fortunate in getting to catch up with a couple of them during our brief stop there.

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I can’t really articulate how meaningful it was for me to be there at the wall with Nate and Betsy.

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One of the biggest things that has brought me comfort since losing Jack, is just seeing and hearing people remember him…to know he is not forgotten, and that he made an impact and a difference here on this earth.

This is just the beginning of the photos I have to share from the trip! Next up, DC.

Check back in a bit.

~abi~

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tinaNovember 5, 2010 - 9:57 pm

Beautiful post Abi! XXOOXX

ScottNovember 5, 2010 - 10:13 pm

Breathtaking photos. Love your new blog. You are an amazing person, Abi!

Sherie

MichaelNovember 6, 2010 - 7:09 am

Abi, you have got to be the most beautiful person that I know, inside and out. How you articulate your love for family, the dedication and loyalty to those around, truly leaves me speechless. An amazing, amazing person you are. And what is most confusing, is how you seem to accomplish all this so effortlessly.

Love you so much,

Mike.

imagineamelodyNovember 6, 2010 - 6:19 pm

I cried through most of this post. I feel the same about moments embedded into my mind forever. This life of yours is beautiful, and I love seeing it all from your veiw point through your pictures! Love you and your family

Jamie Leigh