Running the Marine Corps Marathon

They began running for different reasons, but Sunday they ran with the same goal -- finish their first Marine Corps Marathon.

The 36th Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) on Sunday is limited to 30,000 participants. Yet registration sold out in record time -- 28 hours, four minutes.

Three first-time MCM runners who trained with (Burke and Reston) gave an overview of their preparation.

Angeline Hannachi of Fairfax (first marathon)

I began running last year in order to further my weight loss goals. Prior to July 2010, I had never run more than a couple miles at a time, and I have always struggled with my weight. Between being a single mother, working full time and going to school part time, my weight had ballooned to 240 by the end of 2009.

On Jan. 1, 2010, I determined that I would lose the weight once and for all. Since then I've shed about 80 pounds. In October 2010 I decided to train for a marathon.  I'll attain that goal Sunday at MCM.

I thought training for a marathon would be a great challenge. It turned out to be one of the most life-changing decisions I've ever made, but a good change nonetheless.

I started running to lose weight, now I lose weight to run.

I usually train with my boyfriend Scott. He's doing the Marine Corps Marathon as well, and this will be the first marathon for both of us. I signed up for Potomac River Running's Long Distance Program back in June, but once I met Scott, I just trained with him mostly.

In addition to running, I also do boot camp for strength. I do that and yoga at .

Fitting this all into my busy life has obviously been a challenge in and of itself, but I find that we can always make time for the things that are important to us.

I took time off from school during the summer to train for the marathon because I knew doing both would be overwhelming. I plan to start back in the spring.

My diet has changed drastically. When I first decided to lose weight I went ultra low carb, which has always generally worked for me. When I began long distance running and learned that I actually needed a significant amount of carbohydrates, it was a mental struggle to begin consuming them again.

Overall I just try to eat healthy and avoid junk food and sodas. But I try not to get too extreme with it. I believe everything in moderation is OK.

My strategy for the marathon is to keep running first of all, and to have fun. Some will say to take walking breaks, but I will try to avoid that and just rest a bit at water stops. I plan to sustain my energy levels using Gatorade and gels.

Laura DeFraia-Colee of Reston (first marathon)

I broke my ankle about a year and a half ago, and it took a long time to get back to any kind of physical activity. I decided to start running and cross training. I wanted a goal to focus on and also to know what it was like to run a marathon!
I signed up for the distance training class at so that I had some idea what to do, since this is my first time running this kind of distance.

To train each week, I ran long runs Saturday or Sunday mornings (mileage based on training schedule), three evenings a week of short runs, and I cross trained the other two days.

I had to run late in the evenings or early in the morning. I made sure to make the time, and actually scheduled it in my calendar.

My strategy for the Marine Corps Marathon is to keep it simple -- run each mile at a nice steady pace, keep a positive attitude through all 26.2 miles, and hopefully finish!

Victor Tran of Annandale (second marathon, first MCM)

I started running so I could carry water for my girlfriend and keep her company.  She's been running for more than 14 years. I decided to do a marathon for one of my personal annual goals, and thought it would be a good milestone toward running the JFK 50 milers.

To prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon, I trained with my girlfriend on long runs and by myself on the treadmill at home or the gym. I was part of the Potomac Runners distance running program in Reston, but the driving distance kept me from coming back.

I run about four times a week for a total distance of 30 to 40 miles. My long runs are on weekends. I do quick 5Ks or 10Ks at the gym.

My strategy for the Marine Corps Marathon is to maintain a good pace to achieve my 4:15 goal.

Susan Larson October 30, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Email: Hi Susan - I was reading your piece about MC Marathoners from the area, and thought you might like to know about the Darner family of Burke/Fairfax Station. Mom, Dad and two 20-something kids are all running it today! And I believe this is the second year they have all done the Marathon. - Mary Jane D.
Susan Larson October 30, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Great, Mary Jane. Can you provide -- or ask them to provide -- photos and results from their run today? Or ask them to contact me? I have a second MCM story coming later today/tomorrow AM. Thanks for letting me know. I was trying to find more runners from our area.
mjg October 30, 2011 at 01:19 PM
My granddaughter Cara who is 14 today (her birthday present from her father) will be running in the MCM w/her sister and her father who has run it 7 times. Good luck to all. She is the youngest runner today.
Susan Larson October 30, 2011 at 01:32 PM
mjg: That's awesome. Send me a photo after the race to use in our follow-up story, which will be published tomorrow. Susan.Larson@patch.com!
Bob Eldridge October 30, 2011 at 10:28 PM
It's great to see the MCM still going strong after 36 years. I ran the first one in 1976 and we had just 1200 runners. It truely is the "People's Marathon", no prize money for professional runners. The Marines do an awesome job taking care of all the runners.


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