Marine Corps Marathon 2022

On October 30, 2022, I completed my eighth Marathon; Marine Corps. The Marine Corps Marathon takes place on the ancestral homelands of the Piscataway and the Nacotchtank.

This one was on my mind since 2016. I wanted to do it in honour/memory of my best friend Clint Phillips, who served from 2000 to 2004 (and was in Afghanistan and Iraq), and took his own life in 2006. I applied in March 2020 and was accepted in early-April. Obviously the pandemic postponed things. I did the virtual option in October that year, but it wasn’t the same thing. Then in 2021, I decided that 2022 would be my year to run it.

It took about ten days after the Boston Marathon for my Body Battery a la my Garmin to return to 100%. I also made a point from that month on that I would do my best to practice yoga at least once a week, something that I was very good at committing to. May 10 was my first fast run post-Boston, but the next day, my Wednesday Workout was quite tough (as it was my first real one in almost a month). On May 22, I tried to beat my previous 10K at the Blue Nose (which was also my first 10K), only to miss it by 31 seconds.

Then on June 6, Coach Erin emailed me, saying that she was talking to Coach Lee McCarron about me, offering/suggesting that I come on out to try and run a few sessions with the Halifax Road Hammers. I didn’t hesitate, but did ask her about this. She said that while I did progress quite a bit, team training would help me out a lot (as I was a purely a solo running until then). As I trusted her, I went to a few group practices and absolutely loved it. After a few trials and some email exchanges, I left Love Training More and joined the Halifax Road Hammers. I told Erin that I was a bit sad that I would no longer be her client and that she was no longer my coach (as she helped me out so much). She framed things differently for me – that I wasn’t losing her so much as a coach per se (as I still kind of see her as my coach as I learned so much from her), but rather, gaining her as a new running teammate. Maybe your first coach is someone who’s always a coach to you, no matter where you go.

So I officially joined the Halifax Road Hammers on June 13, and the first order of business on June 15 was to switch my Nova Scotia Marathon distance from a full to a half (in order to pour my concentration into the Marine Corps Marathon). But my training took an immediate hit. On June 17 I did my shakeout and felt fine, but did test positive for COVID-19, and missed the Summer Solstice 10K (where I was hoping to earn a personal best). Once my self-isolation was done (June 25), the first thing I did was an easy 10K. Doing it, breathing was fine, but physically, I felt it. My Epic Canadian race paces were also reduced. By July 5, I felt as if I was pretty much back to normal. Later that month, I earned a 21.1K personal best at the Nova Scotia Marathon with a 1:26:56 finish. Two days later, I spent several hours researching flights and hotels with points and payment to find the most cost-efficient way to get to the Marine Corps Marathon. Once I got everything booked, I started getting really excited.

On August 10, I tried something new re training. An idea that Paula James gave me, I would use my Nike Vapour Fly shoes for my Wednesday Workouts and Saturday Long Runs. Doing the Fartlek 3-2-1 (my favourite Wednesday Workout), I had one of the best training sessions since March. That same day, I ordered a new carry-on backpack to travel to my race (as I didn’t want to deal with checked luggage). Eighteen days later, I earned a new personal best in a 21.1K race with a 1:22:29 at the Cobequid Trail Run. I was quite achy the next day, and it may have been the sorest to date that I have been after a half marathon (still feeling it going into September).

On July 10, 2016, after doing my fourth 10K, I set my then-10K personal best which stood for what felt like forever. I thought I was jinxed for it – I just couldn’t seem to ever beat that one no matter what race I did. That ended six years later at Maritime Race Weekend with a new 10K personal best of 36:56. I was pretty happy with this one especially as I didn’t get the best sleep in days leading up to it. The October 1 Long Run was challenging (it had various marathon paces within in). While I stayed on pace, I struggled to do so, and felt my legs get heavy. Erin thought it was from the last Long Run being the Sunday before (rescheduled due to Hurricane Fiona). I accepted that sometimes, you simply have a tough practice day, and this was one of them. Five days later, Kathryn Burton asked me if I would dedicate my Marine Corps Marathon run in honour/memory of her brother Mark Sark (who was also a Marine) in addition to Clint. Mark was of Listuguj First Nation, worked for my community for a bit, and was an artist. We interacted/talked on Twitter several times, and he passed away in November 2019. I told Kathryn that it would be my honour do this for her brother as well.

The next day, something incredible happened. I’m very agnostic, and I don’t like to talk about my personal beliefs or spirituality. But I do believe in miracles. I took Looloo for a walk in Shubie Park and I was talking to her aloud about doing the marathon in honour/memory of Clint and Mark (yes – I do talk to my dog like a normal person). Walking along the canal and headed towards the bridge near Shubie Beach, for the first time ever, I saw an owl in the wild. In Mi’kmaw, the word for owl is “ku’ku’wes,” where my last name (Googoo) derives from. While some may see owls with negative suspicion, I view them as beautiful, and took this as a sign from beyond our world that perhaps Clint and Mark were thinking of me from the other side. It was a moving moment that I shared with some friends, including Kathryn.


In my last race prior to the Marine Corps Marathon, things weren’t the greatest. I did the Valley Harvest Half Marathon at a reduced pace. It got rough near the end, and I think it was the previous day’s six kilometre walk combined with what I had that night that did it to me. Furthermore, I ran in what were essentially new/fresh shoes. Aside from the Saturday shakeout, I never used them. It reminded me of a rule I forgot; don’t use new/fresh shoes on a race (even a half marathon). Lesson learned. Wednesday’s Fartlek was mainly good even tough I was still feeling a bit sore on the top of my right foot, stemming from new/fresh shoe race.

Going into the Boston Marathon, I was over 225 pounds. I do believe that this factored into my time for that race. Mainly, while I was doing my trainings all winter and into the spring, I still ate almost as if I was doing a full marathon every weekend. After Boston, I had a new plan. If I wasn’t racing, then there was no need for the marathon-level of carbs. By mid-October, I was under 200 pounds, was much fitter, faster, and felt great.

October 26 was my last Wednesday Workout before the marathon. I was doing the “racer weekend,” for that morning (a reduced distance and speed), and had a last minute chat with Coach Lee on some things. Normally I’m the last person to leave the Halifax Common on Wednesdays (as I do a 4K cool down), but I was done early. Before I left, several Road Hammers were wishing me well and cheering me on for Sunday, which truly meant a lot.

The next day, I woke up for 4:00 a.m. to catch my flight. This was my first time flying since the Pandemic began. The last time I flew was when Kerri and I went to Texas in January 2020. I was very excited for the race, and obviously emotional as well. I thought about Clint, and pretty much right after takeoff, I cried a bit. In Montreal, there was a delay and as such, a missed flight. Fortunately, I was rebooked pretty quickly. While waiting around Montreal and eating Skittles, I caught up on The Social Media, and saw an incredible comment from Tom Boyce that teared me up a bit: “At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew that I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized that I had become too tough to kill.” It really moved me. Once in the United States (using only carry-on luggage for short trips is so convenient), I took an Uber to the hotel (the Washington Westin) to check-in. However, I was informed that the hotel would not offer me a microwave in my room (although when I phoned to ask/confirm, they verified that one would be provided). I felt as if they lied to me so that I would book with them. I was irked, but no time to stress. I would simply adjust to not preparing pasta in my room. I took an Uber to Target to stock up on pre-marathon foods (I was informed to stay off my feet for as much as possible prior to a 42.2K). Returning to the hotel, I went out for an Easy Run to the White House and back. That night, breaking my own rule of not eating late (which was due to the earlier flight delay), I ordered a pasta dinner from Spaghetti Nation (which wasn’t that great I found).

Thursday night Easy Run.
Carbs for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Waking up on Friday, I realized how much Thursday’s travels (with the delay) exhausted me, as my Body Battery was at 33. I knew that I needed to relax that day. I headed to the D.C. Armory to collect my race kit, and while we all waited in line to enter, a Marine Corps band performed for us (which was very nice). This was another touching moment for me, as it was the first time that day I thought of Clint. Ahead of me in the line were two men; one was a retired soccer player from the United Kingdom who got into marathon running, and the other was a retired Marine (who didn’t look too much older than me) who was doing the Marine Corps Marathon for (from what I recall was) the fifteenth time (or something like that). While we chatted, I commented that as I get older, incorporating yoga into my running training has been incredibly beneficial and helpful (as I tend to get less injured than when I was in my thirties). Both men enthusiastically agreed, and said that they too do yoga to help them stay healthy. Then I told the Marine why I was doing this marathon, and he seemed very moved, shook my hand, and thanked me for doing this for Clint. Inside the D.C. Armory, I got my race kit, took a photo, and bought a jacket. I was also happy to find a GU flask for my gels. I’m not fan of opening individual ones during the race due to worrying about littering and I don’t like how it leaves you sticky. I would practice with it on my shakeout run (and not experiment during the race). I didn’t consider this “trying something new” per se in a marathon. Rather, I was just finding a new and efficient way to get my gels in. Back at my hotel, I FaceTimed with Kerri and Looloo. I told her about my conversation with the Marine in the lineup, and she said that he probably knew a few who took their owns lives over the years. Late that afternoon, I ordered another pasta dinner (chicken parmesan) from Pasta di Famigila, which was a few steps above Spaghetti Nation but still not entirely the greatest. That evening, I was texting several folks back in Mi’kma’ki (fellow runners and or friends/family in We’koqma’q). One conversation that stood out strongly was with Erin, who reminded me of paying my tribute to Clint by preparing to the best of my ability for this, holding onto grief while focusing on my marathon goals, and albeit being alone, my team was behind me back in Mi’kma’ki. Her strong words got me watery-eyed and I cried, and I thanked her for what she said and for her friendship. Before bedtime, I did some yoga.

Banner outside the D.C. Armory.
Marines and some music.
Good listening.
More good listening.
Meeting Miles, the Marine Corps Marathon mascot, outside the D.C. Armory.
Representing We’koqma’q First Nation at the Marine Corps Marathon Expo.
“I run,” in Mi’kmaw.
Happy that I was able to buy this.

Saturday was Mark Sark’s birthday. That morning, I did my shakeout although I nearly sprained my ankle on a loose piece of sidewalk paver that sunk. The gel flask mainly worked but if you squeezed it when the cap was loose, it made a bad mess. I had to promptly clean my FlipBelt and flask when I got back to my room. Mindful of my Body Battery, I napped later that morning then ordered again from Pasta di Famigila  early that afternoon (I didn’t want to chance a new place). I made a new playlist, booked my Uber to the drop off spot for the next morning (I didn’t want to stress navigating the transit system), and finished the day with yoga.

Shakeout on a Saturday morning.
Marathon gear.

On marathon day, I woke up for 4:05 a.m. (as this gave me lots of time to consume liquids right away and for it to go through my system). I had both a bad and good feeling. On the one hand, my Body Battery was at 23 – even less than half of what it was going into Boston. This did add to the stress of things. But on the other hand, I managed to get eight hours of sleep (which I didn’t in Boston). Thinking about both, I thought it was better to have at least gotten those eight hours than having a Body Body at 100 but being sleep deprived. I had my breakfast of a bagel, a banana, a small glass of orange and pineapple juice, and a full bottle of Gatorade. I got to the drop off spot and began walking to the start area. It was still quite dark and aside from first responder vehicles, there was barely any other artificial light. It reminded me of a disaster/horror film where massive crowds walk along to gather at a central safe place. I was half-expecting a horde of zombies to swarm us from the side, although as marathoners with numerous Marines around us, we would’ve survived the pincer attack. Once near the starting area, I sat on the highway and waited. My mother phoned me to wish me well on my race.

The Marine Corps Marathon had some great logistics that I liked. By an honour system, everyone was to line up at the corral of their expected finish times. In hoping to break that sub three-hour barrier, I went to the 2:30 to 2:59 finish field. I was also quite amazed at their portable toilet layouts. There were numerous ones all along the way – even practically right by the start line. The wait times were minimal compared to other races that I’ve done. I will say though that it was the coldest morning pre-race that I have experienced to date. In fact, it felt as if it reviled some of the Hypothermic Half Marathons I’ve ran. I shivered and shook as I did my The Social Media posts, acknowledging who’s ancestral lands that I was running on, and my dedication to Clint and Mark. The announcer asked everyone to high-five someone next to us and to wish them the best in the race – I did it for two folks. A chaplain did an opening prayer. There were low-flying Ospreys, parachuters, and a Howitzer to start us off.

Lining up with my expected finish time.

About a minute before we started, like many others, I removed my jacket and placed it on the fence for goodwill. Then we were off. I immediately noticed that, unlike Boston, I felt as if we all had more space. Maybe it was because I wasn’t trying to navigate my way past people and that I was near the start, but it felt like the beginning had ample room. I kept my focus on a 4:10 pace and to consume my gels from my flask every five kilometres. Arlington does have hills, and while not as steep as Blue Nose or Boston, it was more than the Nova Scotia Marathon. But it was very scenic, especially when running down the 124 and we first saw the Potomac River with fog over the islands and on the other side. While I knew that the Marine Corps Marathon was popular and one of the largest in the world, it wasn’t until I turned around at Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway (just before Connecticut Avenue) and headed south that I finally saw what it looked like. It was the first time I witnessed a massive thick sea of marathoners in-person. I was proud to see so many coming along. The Rock Creek Trail reminded me a bit of Victoria Park in Truro – a large presence of trees surrounding all of us. The other scenic piece was further down Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and seeing the Potomac River (where the fog was pretty much gone by now). I did glance out a bit when I could, but I honestly didn’t really get to “sight see” a whole lot as I was focusing on my run.

Downward on Wisconsin Avenue. Photo credit:
Smiling on Wisconsin Avenue. Photo credit:
Running on Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. Photo credit:
Running by numerous marathoners. Photo credit:

Then came my most emotional moment of the marathon, and the reason why I was doing it. Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway turned into Ohio Drive, and then we entered East Potomac Park. A bit before the 21.1K mark, we entered the Blue Mile, which I knew about from researching the race. It was a section of the marathon lined up with posters of pictures and names of those who died while in active military service, followed by folks holding up United States’s flags. This was where I thought of Clint (and Mark) a lot, practically for the entire mile. Neither died during active service. Clint killed himself two years after he got out and Mark passed away. Seeing the many pictures of Marines, it made me remember who I lost, and how much it hurts to lose someone that you love to suicide. I thought back to second year law school (when Clint died), and how depressed, sad, and lonely I was. Yet here I am – strong, healthy, and happy – and how I was now doing this marathon for him (and Mark). I was alone on this trip (Kerri was unable to come along, and no other Road Hammer was doing this race), but unlike second year law school, I wasn’t lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and lonely – I wasn’t scared of the former and I survived the latter. Perhaps it was fate that I was meant to be alone here – that this was something that I was meant to do on my own as it meant to much to me. I welled-up within the Blue Mile, was grateful for the inspiration and friendship Clint gave me in life, and continued on.

Finishing up the Blue Mile. Photo credit:

At the marathon’s halfway point, I saw that I was around 1:27:45, averaging a 4:09 pace. I felt good, and decided that if I can keep my pace at 4:15 at the absolute slowest, I can finish in under 3:00:00 and finally break that three-hour barrier. As I understand it, it’s a very low single digit percentage (I think it’s 4%) when it comes to marathoners who can do this. I wanted to be one of them since 2016. I told folks that there was an app to track my progress along the route, which would give updates at various track pads. Every time I crossed one, I smiled and thought of people who were getting notifications of how I was doing. I imagined them cheering me on and telling me to keep up the good work (or maybe to slow down or speed up).

Hitting the halfway point. Photo credit:
A bit of a downward slope. Photo credit:
Running in Washington, D.C. Photo credit:
Running by the National Museum of African American History. Photo credit:
Another Washington, D.C. running shot. Photo credit:
In front of the Capitol. Photo credit:
In front of the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial by the Capitol Reflection Pool, I turned my music off around this spot. Photo credit:
Somewhere along Jefferson Drive (I think). Photo credit:
Always trying to smile for the camera. Photo credit:

Another thing that I thought I was doing right was running tangents. This is something that is just coming along with practice. It wasn’t always on my mind (so sadly I sometimes forgot), but I remembered more often this time around in comparison to my last two marathons to run this way. At around the Capitol Reflecting Pool, I turned off my music. I was at a point where I just wanted to embrace the crowds and their encouragement. As I was leaving Washington, D.C., I commented to myself, “well D.C. wasn’t exactly flat per se, but it was definitely much flatter than Arlington.” It was also around the 32 kilometre mark, heading onto the bridge of the Interstate-395 to return to Virginia, that I did something. With ten kilometres to go (and just doing barely faster than the 4:15 pace), I thought of Clint and Mark and said to myself in my head, “guys; I want to finish this in under three hours. Just give me the strength to do this please.” Then at 34K, I took a minor scare. I tried to pick up my pace a bit (I felt that I still had energy to do it), but when I went for it, my left hamstring got a little warm, as if it wanted to pull on me. I thought to myself, “no way. We did yoga these last few days. You’re supposed to be good to go; not vulnerable.” But to play it safe, I wouldn’t force the extra speed. It was also on the bridge and getting into Virginia that I started noticing injured runners (or those who just had to take a break). While I always saw a few here and there in my other 42.2K races, I think the Marine Corps Marathon may have had the most runners that I have ever seen who had to stop due to injury or needed a quick stretch. Obviously I’ve been there too, and like other marathons, my heart went out to them, and I tried to shout some kudos to lift their spirits as I ran on by. I read that Kipchoge smiles a lot when he runs to help him out, and I do this too. This explains why I’m almost always smiling in many photos, and I got a kick out of how some cheer stations commented on how happy I looked.

Back in Virginia, things got serious. Around 35 kilometres, my pace went down to 4:19, four seconds slower than my needed 4:15 to ensure that I finished within three hours. I got it back to 4:15 at 36K, watched it slip to 4:31 at 37K, and managed to pull it back up to 4:15 at 38K. But in Crystal City on Crystal Drive, my 4:15 strength ended and it no longer returned for the rest of the race. I tried to calculate what slower pace I could do that would still give me that finish in under three hours. But I decided to forego the mathematical work and just said to myself, “you used your head for as much as you could. Now run with your heart – you can do it. Clint and Mark were Marines. You can at least do a marathon in under three hours.” Hearts on Fire from Rocky IV played in my head.

Turning from Long Bridge Drive and onto North Boundary Channel Drive (the approximate 38K area), I approached another hydration station full of Marines. Several metres away from it, they yelled at me to keep it up, and remembering Clint’s stories from boot camp, I returned the motivation quite loudly with nonsensical noises and roaring (which I sometimes do on my Wednesday Workouts and Saturday Long Runs). The Marines got a kick out of it, applauding and returning the cheering, which resulted in more noises from me. The Marines definitely know how to motivate you in their marathon.

Back in Virginia. Photo credit:

Then came the hardest four kilometres of any marathon that I’ve done to date. North Boundary Channel Drive just seemed to keep going up and up, and my pace kept slipping. Running with my heart, I just needed to keep pushing. On the 110, I began to recognize everything – the start of the race. Via Garmin and familiarity, I thought that the end was very close. The hill seemed to keep going slightly upwards, something I didn’t bother to notice that cold and dark morning hours before. I eventually got to the downward slope, which was most certainly welcome. Then something strange happened that I didn’t like. I passed where the start supposedly was (if I recall correctly), and around that time, I hit 42 kilometres on my Garmin. I immediately thought, “where’s the finish line? I should see it by now. It should only be 200 metres away.” I presumed that I was running accurate tangents, so if anything, I figured that I was ahead of my distance, or at least, on track. I wasn’t. I was over 42 kilometres and didn’t see the finish. Then further panic kicked-in. “What if I’m a full kilometre away from the finish? I can’t be, could I? There’s no way I could do one more kilometre to finish in under three hours.” Then I remembered what I read months ago – uphill finish into the United States Marine Corps War Memorial. We were all to exit the highway and get onto Marshall Drive. “Okay! It’s not a full kilometre, but you got that one last hill. You did Blue Nose and you did it well. You can easily do this.” Pushing upwards and fighting the gravity, my hamstring held out, I had strength, and I turned onto United States Marine Corps War Memorial Access Road. No more turns. No more hills. I saw the finish banner, and stayed strong till I went through.

Smiling because the end is near. Photo credit:
Looking up at the finish banner. Photo credit:
Hitting the finish line. Photo credit:
Passing the finish line. Photo credit:

Glancing at the timer as I crossed the finish line, I read it as two hours, 59 minutes, and some seconds. With that, all I knew and cared about was that I finally nailed a sub three-hour finish for a full marathon. Like Boston, not only did I not feel like getting sick, I felt good and not too sore (for having ran 42.2K). The day was beautiful, and I walked to get my medal, being congratulated by Marines all around. As I received my medal, I told the Marine who placed it on me why I ran this marathon, and he simply said that was a great reason to do it. I took some photos and then FaceTimed Kerri to share the wonderful news that I finally broke the three-hour barrier. I was emotional from the race, but I didn’t cry. A part of me thought that I’d cry crossing the finish line. Maybe I did enough crying over the last few days and during the Blue Mile. Perhaps the race was for Clint and Mark, but this sub three-hour finish was mine. But as I asked them for strength at 32K, maybe this was our shared victory. I truly see running as a communal/team sport, so maybe this finish also belonged to Erin and Lee for their coaching over the last year, to the Road Hammers that I trained with (especially the New York Marathon crew), to my community that raised me, and to those that supported me along the way. I just knew that I was grateful for all of it. Life may not always be fair, but it’s always beautiful.

My eighth marathon medal.
Gorgeous medal.
The medal even opens.
Posing with my medal. Photo credit:
All smiles post-marathon. Photo credit:
Another pose with my medal. Photo credit:

Speaking of beautiful, I’ve completed numerous races since 2016, and the medal that you earn at the Marine Corps Marathon is probably one of the most beautiful designs that I have ever seen. The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor was simply gorgeous (hours later I learned that it even opened up). If you love racing for medals, this is one you may want to earn one day.

Soon I started walking towards Rosslyn to find my post-race bag. Along the way, I noticed it felt more spaced and open than what I experienced in Boston. Maybe it was because Boston has a higher population than Rosslyn, but the vibe was less intense and more relaxed here. After getting my bag, I switched into my flip flops to let my feet breath, and I opted to walk back to my hotel (about three kilometres away). The weather was practically perfect. Along the way, a homeless person asked for help. Remembering that I had a bag full of food that they gave out after the race, I handed it to him. Back at the hotel, there was a dog adoption fundraiser of sorts going on, and it was uplifting to see all the doggies in Halloween costumes (but no Shelties that day). Once in my room, I hit the shower, and was in it for a very long time. I would even dare to say that it was the longest that I ever showered in my life. I may have been in there for over a half hour. Afterwards, I set out to find some food. I wasn’t hungry, but knew that I had to eat. As I had fish tacos after Boston, I thought it would be fun to do the same in Washington, D.C. I went to Taco District, and not only was it the worst bunch of tacos that I ever had, it was one of the worst meals ever. I didn’t finish my food, tossed it in the trash, and left, fuming that I wasted my time and money. I crossed the street to grab a coffee, and a homeless Marine asked me to buy him a Big Mac combo (which I happily did). I walked a bit more just to get some recovery movement in, grabbed a salad at a Wawa, and went back to my room to do some yoga. The results were delayed in getting posted, but once they were up, along with the sub three-hour finish, I accomplished something else that I was very proud of; I was the first-place Canadian with a time of 2:59:33. I finally responded to iMessages, inboxes, emails, etc… that I was getting from folks congratulating me. I was ignoring all notifications for the day, and by that night, some reached out (even phoned) to ask if I was okay (as I wasn’t responding to anyone nor posting on The Social Media). I wasn’t ignoring to be mean or to cause worry. I just sometimes needed the time/day to go over everything and let things sink in. After watching the new The Simpsons Halloween Special, I reflected a bit more on my friendship with Clint, and life without him.

Just awful. Yuck!
Finally finished a full marathon in under three hours with a time of 2:59:33.

On Halloween, I woke up to a Body Battery of 64. This was strange as I got even less sleep than the night before. I seriously think it was the stress in leading up to the race that resulted in the low number. I need to find proper ways to relax prior to future marathons. October 31 was my only real day to explore Washington, D.C. (well, aside from me running through it the day before), so I went out and about and wandered around. At the Lincoln Memorial, I saw Marines practicing a march of sorts, and I spoke to one named Ben (who spotted my jacket and medal). I told him why I ran the race, and like the other Marines, he too seemed to recognize the importance of this. I sat down on a bench at the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and just as I did, Kerri phoned to wish me a happy birthday. This was the first time that I was celebrating a birthday completely alone (but not feeling lonely). I spent the afternoon at the National Museum of the American Indian. There, I had an Indian Taco for lunch (the only real good meal that I had in Washington, D.C.), and learned quite a bit, such as the Trail of Tears, Indigenous history and the United States military, and Treaties. Appreciating being able to learn of others’ histories, I made a donation before I left. Outside, I went to go see the National Native American Veterans Memorial and took a moment to think about Clint and Mark. The rain picked up, and being tired, I cut my touring early and opted to go to my hotel in Sterling, Virginia. The Uber driver was a former track athlete himself, and we spoke of running for a bit. It was also the only time in my life that just one person ever wished me a happy birthday on Halloween in-person. It felt both fun and odd, but it’s a memory from turning 42. At my hotel, to treat myself, I ordered Popeyes Chicken. Unlike the days after Boston, what was quite nice was feeling relaxed post-Marine Corps Marathon when it came to media interviews. I love doing them to promote running, good health, my community, and my Nation, and I did this a lot re Boston, but it also left me a bit tired. With this one, it felt good to simply walk around for the day, not balancing and scheduling out when and with whom I was going to speak to, and to just learn about the history of other Indigenous Nations.

Posting with my medal on Halloween.
Marines in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Posting with my medal with Ben.
The best meal that I had in Washington, D.C.
National Native American Veterans Memorial.
National Native American Veterans Memorial.
Halloween birthday dinner.

The flight home was good. Unlike sitting around in Halifax and Montreal (as I was in a pre-marathon phase), I walked around a lot in Sterling and Toronto to just get things moving (as I don’t like sitting before boarding a flight). I saw a couple of other Marine Corps Marathoners at Dulles-Washington, and I ended up sitting across from someone who did the marathon himself several years ago, and he congratulated me on my finish. Landing at the Halifax Airport, Kerri was ordering warm drinks for us from Starbucks (our first date was at a Starbucks). I snuck-up beside her with a gentle nudge, and we embraced. While I absolutely loved my trip and accomplishing my goals, it’s always nice to come home. That night, we celebrated my marathon time and birthday with Little Caesar’s, Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake, and Friday the 13th: Part III. To further aid and assist with my recovery, I took Looloo for a good walk the next morning, got a massage that afternoon, and relaxed at Sensea Nordic Spa till after sunset.

For Mi’kmaw Marines Clint Phillips (1982 – 2006) and Mark Sark (1963 – 2019). Two different communities (We’koqma’q First Nation and Listuguj First Nation), two different districts (Unama’ki and Kespe’k), but one Mi’kmaw Nation. Semper Fidelis!

Corporal Clint Joseph-Bernard Phillips.
Lance Corporal Mark Joseph Sark. Photo credit: Kathryn Burton.

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