Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mission accomplished - HOOAH

Today was our 2nd running of the Army 10 miler. We did this race last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to go back this year and run it again. When else can you run through the streets of Washington DC with up to 30,000 other runners. Last year we were not in as good running shape as we were this year. I remember our conversation vividly from the race expo a year ago. Wingman's training for this race consisted of a 10k race in June. That was it. He didn't get any other running in so he decided to just show up and race. When we got there he was a little worried about his running shoes feeling a little small. He toyed with the idea of getting a new pair at the expo and what came out of his mouth next shocked me:

Wingman: "I'd get a new pair of sneakers for the race, but it wouldn't be a good idea to do something new the day of a race."
Me: "Are you kidding me?! You haven't run at all since June, and you are worried about doing something new on race morning?"

Fast forward to this year, and we are trained and ready to go!

Our day began at 5am. I got up, ate my sandwich, took a shower, waited for Wingman to shower and then we were on our way to the Metro. We stayed at the same hotel as last year and it is two stops from the race start/finish - the Pentagon. The Army really does a great job with this race. This year we were in the first wave. So we headed up to the highway to wait. It was a little chilly so I had a long sleeve shirt on over my race shirt. Before the singing of the anthem, 4 Army parachuters jumped from a plane and landed on the highway near the race start. The jumps were amazing to watch. Then came the singing of the anthem. I swear you could hear a pin drop it was so quiet. In the distance you could see what was coming in the sky.

The Army does a fly over with 4 Blackhawk helicopters. They flew so low right over our heads What an awesome site. My only gripe is you can't have cell phones or cameras at the race. Due to the location of the start (Pentagon) they don't allow photos or videos in the area.

Prior to the first wave is the Wounded Soldier start. Since we were way back, we didn't see them start. 5 minutes later you could hear the big Army cannons fire signaling the start of the race. My goal was to run the first few miles at an easy pace. I had a goal in mind for the race that was 12 minutes faster than last year. I was wearing my Garmin so I could keep an eye on how I was doing. I quickly realized that my pace felt waaaaay to slow. I couldn't hold it so I picked it up by 30 seconds. It still felt nice and easy and not like I was going to pay for it later.

Mile 1
The first mile of the race is down highway 27 from the Pentagon along the Potomac towards the Lincoln memorial. You cross the bridge (over the Potomac) and make your way towards Lincoln. I swear, spectators can be so stupid. I saw a woman pickup her stroller and run across the road to get to the other side. Problem here was she ran right in front of me. Now when I am running, there is no way I can stop quickly or dart out of the way. I yelled at her as she barely got out of my way. If push came to shove, I would have had to tackle her and then explain to the Wingman how I ran over more children (at least this time I wasn't on a bicycle). I settled back into my pace and calmed myself down.

Mile 2
At this point you are running away from the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool. This area is nice a well shaded and you head around the Department of State and the Federal Reserve Building. This is where you come across the first hill in the race. It's not that bad of a hill, but since most of the race is flat, any incline becomes a hill. I took it easy going up and enjoyed the downhill on the other side. It was here that I was reminded that no matter how much I felt like I was hurting, there was a wounded Army soldier competing in this race and I had nothing to complain about. He had one working leg and was using lofstrand crutches to help him walk. He's a true badass in my book. It was also at this time that I started feeling like I needed a porto-john stop. I didn't want to stop at them because the lines looked long and I did not want to wait. I knew they would come up every two miles so I figured I would wait it out.

Mile 3
"I am not a crook." Here you get to pass the Watergate complex. I observed a moment of silence for my boy Richard Nixon. On Saturday, I walked the streets of Arlington with my "Nixon's My Man" shirt.

I am sure my mother is shaking her head in disapproval at me and convinced she took the wrong child home from the hospital. Once you pass Watergate, you come along the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and also run along the Potomac.

Mile 4
You wind back around into the heart of DC. Well, not really sure you can say the heart of DC since all politicians are heartless. Anyway, at this point the race takes you down Independence Ave. I picked up my pace a little as I was feeling pretty good. I made sure not to look at the time on the Garmin, just my pace. I did not want to get caught up in worrying about my time yet. I knew if I just kept my pace, things would just take care of themselves. Passed up on the porto-john again because of the lines. Oh man, am I going to make it?

Mile 5
I crossed the mile 5 time checkpoint and saw the first funny sign of the day. It said "Ben, Bacon at the end." And it had a big picture of bacon on it. At this point I am feeling really good about the race. I almost get a little cocky about it thinking maybe I could shave off more than 12 minutes. But I knew I was only halfway there and the last two miles can be rough. This stretch of the race takes you down Independence Way and there are lots of spectators around. Plus, the runners ahead of you are making their way back up the road towards the highway.

Mile 6
Here you make your way around the Capitol Building's reflecting pool. You get a nice view of the Capitol Building and if you listen very carefully, you can hear the sucking sound of your tax dollars being wasted. I picked up my pace here because I was getting a little ticked off at my government and wanted to get the heck out of there. My pace went through the roof and I had to be sure I reigned it in quickly. Now I am back onto Independence Ave heading back towards the highway. I also pass on the porto-john since the line still looked long. At this point I am a little nervous about what to do. I did start to dart across the road, but decided not to. I can wait.....I think.

Mile 7
It was here that I was almost stopped dead in my tracks. I saw a sign that said "There's no place like home." It was a sign thanking our troops. But with my Wizard of Oz reference in an earlier post, it was a little weird. Plus, about 10 feet away from the sign was a woman dressed like this:

I swear I started looking for flying monkeys at this point. Where's the Wizard? If I could have clicked my heels, I would have. But I think I am more like the scarecrow - if I only had a brain. Heck, I would have settled for a bigger bladder at this point.

Mile 8
Last water stop and last bathroom stop. Now I see there is no line so I dash between the tables and make my way in, take care of business, and head back out. Overall the stop probably cost me a minute. I looked down at my watch now and realized if I wanted to go under my goal time, I had to keep a certain pace. This was going to be difficult as the last two miles is up and down on the highway. Why oh why can't it be flat. Plus a song came on that reminded me of my sense of urgency:

Number one, time is running out
Number two, time is running out
Number three, time is running out
Number four, let it all hang out.
"Time is running out" - Apollo Four Forty

I also saw the funniest sign in a race to date. "Hey Jen, keep running. You're still fat." Wow, with friends like that, who needs enemies. After the sign it was back to the highway. This part was rough. It had a few ups and downs as you made your way over. At this point I could feel my pace slowing down. It took everything I had to not lose too much time. Again, I was constantly reassessing my times and figuring if I could make it.

Mile 9
Please, let me hang on. Just let me make it to the end in one piece and feeling strong. This is what I kept trying to tell myself as I kept looking at my time and pace. It was getting close to the sub-goal time threshold. Can I make it? I had one last little hump in the road to get over - the exit ramp to the Pentagon. Once I got to the top, it was downhill from here - literally. I flew down the hill and made the turn towards the finishing chute. I looked at my watch and new I had to haul ass if I wanted to make it under my goal time. Feet don't fail me now!! My legs and arms were pumping furiously. If it came down to it, the elbows would be flying and I'd be taking people out of my way. But I was able to make it to the finish without hurting anyone and especially myself. I stopped my watch and saw that I made it under my goal with 18 seconds to spare. Phew.

So overall, I shaved 13 minutes off of my time from last year. If I didn't have to stop for the bathroom break, it might have been 14 minutes. Oh well, there's always next year.

I made my way through the finish chute and picked up my finisher's coin. I wanted to get some food as I was quite hungry at this point, but the food lines were outrageous. The food lines in Russia were never as long. I passed on the food, grabbed my clothes and waited for Wingman to finish. We met up and made our way back to the hotel. I sat down on the bed and quickly fell asleep. It was a nice power nap and then I got up, showered, packed and we grabbed lunch and headed to the airport. At BWI, there would be no groping. Oh well, maybe next time.

And for those interested in the Army 10 Miler next year, the race date has been announced: October 24th, 2010. The signup is in April and it sells out in a matter of a couple of days.

1 comment:

  1. Hey good job sue, and funny outline! Might even get me to lace up my sneaks again!!