Running a 50K in the woods makes for a perfect warm-up the day before a 10 mile race, right? After Stefan and I returned from Prince William Forest, we headed over to the D.C. armory to pick up our packets for the Army 10-Miler. I’ve been hearing about this race for the past several years, largely as a result of Stefan and Jamile being nearby and various friends visiting the to run the race. Thus, I was quite excited to have the opportunity to share in the experience myself this year. The expo itself was larger than many marathon expos I’ve been to, and it was clear that the size (35,000 runners), location, and notoriety of this race made it quite the high-profile event. We spent some time wandering around the expo, but were eager to head home and get cleaned up and find some food!
As it turns out, this was the first race expo I had been to since beginning my part-time job at the Delaware Running Company. I’ve learned an enormous amount about the specialty running industry (shoes, gear, apparel) in a short amount of time, and the result seems to be my viewing expos “sales” with an entirely new light. I’m far less tempted now that I know what times retail for, and when they happen to be a discontinued or updated product. It made it much easier to walk out without purchasing anything!
We headed back, met up with Jamile and the epicurean, and wasted no time leaving for dinner. An amazing gluten-free Ethiopian feast awaited us at a little restaurant around the corner. It had been entirely far too long since either of us had been to an Ethiopian restaurant (not a cuisine you see much of in Iowa), and we were elated to re-acquaint our pallets with the delicious earthy flavors. The GF injera was an added bonus, and tasted remarkably similar, and even better than the gluten-laden conventional Americanized variety. Then we made our way back home (after stocking up on some delicious ciders and micro-brews) to relax for the remainder of the evening and prepare for the race the next day.
The race began at 8AM, so we arrived around 6:45am at a parking spot within walking distance of the start outside the Pentagon, and wound our way through the crowds and security to the start. Others had said the security bottleneck had been atrocious in previous years, but they clearly made some changes because we wandered through with ease and began making our way through the various corals. I had underestimated my pace quite a bit, and was initially assigned to a slower coral, but was able to make my way further up, and Stefan and I settled in around the 7:30/mile mark.
Even thinking about moving along that fast was a mental contradiction of sorts. After my training this summer, I knew I was capable of holding that general pace for the full 10 miles, but my mental image of myself hasn’t quite caught up because it still seemed like an intimidating pace. Nonetheless, it was a calm, cool, sunny morning and I was feeling good so I wanted to give it a go. Luckily Stefan has a very similar easy-going attitude and felt like hanging out with me for the race despite his ability to hold a faster pace. I was certainly happy for the company and motivation!
The pre-race ceremonies were well done, and everyone seemed to be a good spirits when the gun went off. We were far enough up that I didn’t need to do much weaving through crowds, aside from the woman who was walking with heavily swinging arms and landed a light blow a bit too close to my groin for comfort! We took off at a pretty good clip, and were close to 7:00 minute miles for the first few miles, which wove through D.C. amid large crowds of spectators. I was feeling really good and trying not to get too excited about my pace, which was even a bit faster than I had hoped. My breathing was dialed in, and my legs felt fresh and strong despite the 50K the day before. I had elected to wear my Delaware Running Club singlet for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of folks who recognized it and shouted words of encouragement. I guess I was indeed on the east coast now!
At the half-way point, I was making amazing time and sitting at a 7:12/mile average. I knew that holding that pace was probably not possible for the next 5 miles, but I figured I would simply push as hard as I could, and see how long I could hold it. As it turns out, I had about 8 miles in me at that pace before I began to pull back out of necessity. I was finally able to convince Stefan to push it a bit more, and he began to pull away, but I kept him in sight. the final two miles went over the Potomac, and then turned around and headed back towards the other side of the Pentagon. The final push took all the energy I had left, but I held on to finish in 1:13:56, which was a definite PR!
It took me about 15 seconds to down a bottle of water as I made my way through the finish chute, after I caught my breath a bit, of course. Stefan had finished just ahead of me, so it was easy to find him, and we made our way into the after-race area, where all of the different branches of the military from various parts of the country had their own tents and were handing out food and other goodies. We made our way through the light crowds (the benefit of finishing rather fast) and collected a nice haul of snacks and other fuel, along with some other swag. The epicurean and Jamile met us in the finish area, and stopped to chat with some folks before heading out. It was an enormous race, and certainly lived up to the hype, and I was quite pleased to have had the experience. Another amazing running weekend was in the books, and I had a blast #chasing42. I do love the fall race season!