Friday, March 9, 2012

Operation Extreme Redundancy and the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon Registration

The clock read 2:49. I’d had the Marine Corps Marathon tab open in my browser since I signed on at work many hours ago. I went about my day but always with a frequent glance at the time in my taskbar. My Outlook appointment reminder popped up one minute later. I clicked the “dismiss” button then turned to my vibrating phone, which twitched to give me the same message.

Operation Extreme Redundancy had gone into full effect.

All the weeks and months, all the planning with my friends, had finally come down to just a few minutes. Several waffled on whether or not to sign up, and we pleaded with them to just do it and transfer the number later if they decided they couldn’t run it. As Sheldon Cooper said, "I warned you thusly."

For grins, I clicked refresh on the screen and watched as the banner said, “Register Now.”

A quick glance at the clock again. Really? Now!

I clicked and watched the registration page pop up. After the initial shock, I got ahold of myself and shook that feeling that I somehow had cheated the system. My fingers flew over the keys entering my information and then doing it again for my wife. The confirmation e-mails arrived in my inbox, and just like that…it was done. I exhaled and fell back into my chair.

I texted my friend who I’d made a pact with to let him know that registration had opened. All part of Operation Extreme Redundancy. Except, as you can see, it reads more like Will Ferrell in The Wedding Crashers yelling, "Mom! The meatloaf! We want it now!"

Before 3:00, I’d registered my wife and me, texted a friend, and made the obligatory Twitter and Facebook page updates, then proceeded to retweet and “like” many of my other friends’ similar statuses. This in addition to shaking my head at the posts from people reeling from server crashes. I had flashbacks to signing up for Boston two years ago when the registration page kept you in an endless loop that never quite made it to the submit page.

When the dust had settled, I realized that signing up for races had suddenly become the musical equivalent of purchasing concert tickets, or the scholastic equivalent of registering for classes. Let’s face it, running a marathon, or any of the big short races, is the new “it” thing. I can still remember back in 2004 when I ran my first marathon in Philly, you could have walked up and signed up to run the day before the race. Not anymore.

30,000 slots. Two hours and forty one minutes to fill them all. Unbelievable.

I went through a similar ritual to sign up for the trail series I’m currently in. Just another in the long line of races that reaches capacity in a matter of days, let alone hours.

Well, I’m happy to have survived the madness that became the Marine Corps Marathon sign up. I ran MCM back in 2006. It was my second marathon and I was a different runner back then, just hoping to break four hours…which I missed by seven minutes.

As Quenton Cassidy once said, “I’m just happy to back on the bus again.”

Who's coming on along?

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