Get them while they're young
Wingman and I talked a little about goal times for the race. I told him what I thought I would finish in and was even a little worried that I might not make that time.
I had some trouble sleeping the night of the race. I kept having bizarre dreams about 'outcome measures' and PT. But once the alarm went off at 5a, it was go time! I got up, had my breakfast, took a shower and relaxed a few minutes. Once Wingman was ready, we went down to the metro. We stayed close to the race start in Arlington so we only had two metro stops to get to the Pentagon. We checked out bags and Wingman made one last port-a-john stop.
We had no time to spare and had to move quickly to get to the race start. It was like the warrior dash all over again as we climbed over railings and dividers. We were up on the highway about 5 minutes before the race start. We chatted a few minutes and then we heard "BOOM!!!" The Army cannon went off and we were NOT on our way. There were so many people in our wave it took 8 minutes to get to the start. I wasn't worried as my clock didn't start until I crossed the mat. We walked together and then we were separated by congestion near the actual starting line. Once I started running, I tried to settle into my pace which is hard to do. I always go a little too fast, but at least I recognized it and tried to slow it down. But then I looked ahead. What do I see? The Wingman is ahead of me. How did he get up there? I looked at my watch and realized he was running ~2 minutes/mile faster than his goal pace. I picked it up a little to catch up and let him know to slow down. We waved goodbye and I made my way down the highway.
1st mile was pretty easy. I just focused on my pacing. I had a goal to finish strong and I really wanted to meet that goal. Once we get off the highway we are running towards the back of the Lincoln Memorial. It's amazing that they shut down parts of our capital so we can run through the streets. I keep checking my watch to be sure I an on target. My goal was to run the 1st 5 miles at one pace and then pick it up for the last 5. So far, so good.
As we ran alongside The Mall, I was reminded of why this race is run. There were quite a few people running with shirts on that had pictures of family members killed in action or currently serving. As I came up on wounded soldiers in the race, I thanked them as I ran by. It's very inspiring to see these men and women out there competing. They are braver then I could ever be.
Between mile 2 and 3, the Army Brass band is out there. It's a help because they are positioned at the start of the first hill. This course is not really hilly, but because it's so flat, any incline looks like a hill. I kept the pace going and made my way to the top easily. Now the fun part - DOWNHILL!! I let it rip and made up some time. Before I knew it I was at mile 3 and in front of the Watergate building. I observed a moment of silence for my man, Richard Nixon. Next up is the U-turn to take you along the Potomac and the Kennedy Arts Center. Here I passed a man running in a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and shorts. Strange combo. I also remembered coming up between mile 3.5 and 4 was some road construction. They warned us at the expo about rough road so I knew to run looking down.
Just before the construction zone, there was a guy saying you could go right or left. So I went left. Well, the left splits again and I was in the middle. There were 3 lanes divided by concrete barriers. The middle lane had most of the rough road. Naturally I wound up there. The surface wasn't bad so I opted to stay. Then I had to slow down to climb around a bulldozer. I started thinking, is this the Army 10 Miler or another Warrior Dash? I ran a little more and then decided to hop over the wall and go back onto the pavement. I knew all that warrior training would pay off!!
We made our way out of Rock Creek Park and up to Independence Ave. The street is lined with spectators and runners going out and back. When I crossed the mat for the 5 mile marker I looked at my watch and saw my pacing was good. In fact, it was a little faster than I planned, but I was feeling good so I decided to pick it up a little. I made my way down Independence Ave towards the Capitol building. I was hoping none of our elected officials would be out cheering as I didn't want to run with extra rage!!
When I got to the 6.5 marker I picked it up a little more. My thought was to bring up the average now, because I will slow down between miles 8 and10 because of the rolling hills on the highway. When I got to mile 7, I was running back up Independence Ave and started to look for the Wingman. When I spotted him, I went over and we high fived. He was looking good!! The further up the road I went, the closer I was to finishing. My legs were getting a little tired and I was worried about the highway section. But I kept thinking about why I was running the race and all the wounded soldiers that were running as well. I passed a few guys with bilateral leg amputations. If they can keep it up, then a big HTFU was in order for me.
I made the turn towards mile 8 and the highway. It looked so lonely. All the spectators would be gone. It was just me and the clock. I looked at my watch and knew my goal time was easily achieved as long as I didn't do something stupid. Now I started to think of a new goal time - 5 minutes faster than I planned. I knew it would be a real push to make it, but I was going to try. I ran up, across and down several times and soon could see the Pentagon from the highway. the finish line was near!! I had my finish strategy planned out. When I exited the highway it's a hard right turn and then there's the finish line. I had to start my 'sprint' before the turn. I picked it up and went around the corner hard. I looked around and thought "who moved the finish line?" Then it set it - there was another right turn I forgot about. That was the turn I had to plan for. The only thing that went through my head - motherf*^#&$!! Now I was out of gas. I did my best to hang on, but of course I slowed down a little. I crossed the line and stopped the watch. I was 4 minutes faster than the goal I originally set and ~8:30 faster than last year. Wingman kicked some serious butt too and finished ~6-7 minutes faster than last year.
Overall I was pleased with my race. It was complete from start to finish. I had no regrets about how I ran. There were things that were out of my control (construction) but I adjusted and kept going. I've been waiting a long time for a race like this one. Normally I am a BOP (back of pack) racer, but when I looked at my stats for this race, I was a MOP (middle of pack) racer. I finished in the top half of my gender and division (more like the middle, but better than 50%).
For my fundraising efforts, I passed 8,288 people in the race and I raised a lot of money. Thank you to everyone that generously sponsored me for the race. I had Michael on my mind the entire race and I was focused on passing everyone out there!!
My racing season went pretty well. I have some nice things to build on now for next year. The rest of the fall will be fun stuff. Then it's back to the drawing board.