|The Army Ten Miler course.|
At the time I went to the website to find out when it was. Unfortunately that was when registration had started and the whole system was frozen! I was never able to tell when the race was held!
So when this year's registration started in June, I decided to register for the race. I got in and started planning, noticing that I could rely on my experience in the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon, namely that both races start in roughly the same place, one of the outer parking lots of the Pentagon.
For the 2014 marathon, I stayed at the Residence Inn in Arlington, which was a great place since it was within walking distance of the Pentagon lots. This year, the hotel was booked and I stayed a little further down in Crystal City at a hotel called the Americana. It was a great place to stay since it is only a few blocks from the Metro station and also a brand-new Whole Foods Market where I filled up on beet salad and spaghetti the day before the race.
I knew it was going to be warm the day of the race but on race morning the temperature was similar to this year's Peachtree Road Race -- 76 degrees and humid. Even though I was less than a half-mile's run from the Pentagon, I had to make sure I got there in plenty of time since the cutoff for entering into the first four waves (I was in the first wave) was at 7:30 a.m. Plus, given recent security concerns, I was not sure how long it would take for me to get through security.
So I started out at 6:50 a.m. and really breezed through security. I got to my wave in plenty of time and waited around a little bit before the race started. When it did, it was crushingly humid. I didn't have a set time in mind -- with my training I knew I was going to be slower than what I'd intended on training -- but I was surprised that I was having trouble running faster. An early glance at my watch said I was running about an 8 minute mile.
I finished the first mile in 7:50 and then struggled to get speed on the second, finishing a little faster at 7:40. After that, it started to rain lightly but with the rain came a nice breeze that lasted the rest of my race. I took my first water at about 2.4 miles.
By this time I could tell trouble was brewing. I finished Mile 3, which has the only significant rise in the race, at 8:17 and just told myself to take it easy. I forgot to bring a GU gel with me and only had a caffeinated Run Gum packet. I'd originally hoped to use this for later in the race but the way things were going I ate it before Mile 4. It helped boost my confidence.
At this point I divided the race up into two mile sections and this one was very familiar to me. It overlaps the course of the Marine Corps Marathon and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, which I've run twice.
It was nice to just trot through the National Mall and when we exited onto the highway that brings you over the Potomac River into Crystal City, I noted that although I was running slow (Mile 7 was 9:10), at least on this stretch I did not have to struggle with calf muscle cramping like I did in the 2014 marathon.
I made my way into Virginia and soon you could tell the finish was coming. I finished in 1:27:30, which was a far cry from my 1:22:16 PR from a few years ago in the Atlanta 10-Miler. Coming into this race I thought it would be nearly a given I would PR on a flat course (and) only having to run an 8-minute mile pace.
But of course no race is a given and I was pretty fortunate to have slowed down and run carefully in the humid conditions. During the race I passed by three people who were receiving medical attention, something that I have seen in hot races in the past such as the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
After I finished, the race trimmed a mile off the course because of the hot conditions, diverting people from the mall directly onto the highway back to Virginia.
If there's a silver lining to my race performance, I've nearly always rebounded from slow races with much better results in subsequent months. Today's race reminded me of the pretty slow showing I put up in the Atlanta 10-Miler in October 2013, followed up by almost not being able to finish in two hours the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon.
Those races set me up for a marathon push that ultimately led to my first sub-4 hour finish in the Marine Corps Marathon the following year.
But if anything else, I need to recognize that I have to remain more diligent with my training, especially getting in the right amount of weekly miles and tempo runs.
Time: 8:01 a.m.
Temp: 76 degrees, light rain
Gear: Singlet (Nuun, Pactimo Sports), shorts, Headsweats visor (Phidippides), Newton Gravity V.