*A note on my shirt: it’s the same shirt I wore in 2009, so I wore it for good luck. It says Blanchfield…on the back, because as a total rookie three years ago, I thought names on race shirts meant last names on the back like a jersey. Apparently this is not the case.*
After the wedding fun on Saturday night, I was in bed before midnight so I could get up for the race. I went to the afterparty with the group and had a raging inner debate with myself about if I should have another beer or not, and finally decided to go for it, since I wasn’t planning on racing. Or winning.
I set my alarm for 5:20 and got ready for the race in the dark of the hotel room while my friends slept, and I slipped out wearing my race outfit…and a leather jacket, because I didn’t want to carry it. I took a cab to Anne’s, and we had a quick bite and left for the race together.
We took the metro to the Pentagon and met up with Tina. Anne had talked to a guy at the expo who said that we weren’t allowed to have cameras or phones on us during the race. I never take my phone out during the race, but I do like to have it immediately before and after. (#bloggerproblems) I told Anne that they hadn’t checked three years ago when I did it, and she said the expo dude said there would be security checks. I was still dubious that they’d check 23,000 people but we all decided not to take our chances and checked our phones with bags. I wasn’t about to mess with some Army guys.
We decided to at least start together and that if Anne was trying for a PR, she might go ahead.
Oh hey, just some dudes in parachutes in the sky.
A trip to the port-a-potty got us lining up for the start a bit late, and we never saw the corrals and just jumped into a large line of people. The cannon exploded (obviously?) and we were off. The first mile was just as congested as I remembered the first time, and as we ran up one hill, we were nearly walking, it was so packed with people.
I missed the first mile marker, and the second mile marker snuck up on me quickly. Only 8 miles to go? Obviously my perspective had changed a bit since the last time I ran this race.
We ran back into D.C. and around the Foggy Bottom area, and I passed familiar spots, like the CVS I used to stop at when I visited my friend Sara at GW. I’d loosely planned on running marathon goal pace (9:09), but as we started off at a 9:15ish pace, I decided to just run with what felt comfortable. If I ever felt like I was pushing the pace, I was going to drop behind the other girls and do my own thing. I tried not to look at my watch much, but the few times I did, I saw that we were around an 8:50 pace. It didn’t feel hard, so I stuck with it.
When we discussed the race later, I was convinced a middle part of the race had changed, because I definitely didn’t remember running past the Kennedy Center, since we were so chatty, but apparently we did.
As we got closer to mile 6, I told the girls how that was where I’d fallen apart the first time. I’d been doing some walk/running, and running more than walking, but at mile 6, I stopped to use my inhaler and had a really hard time running again, and I ended up walking more of those last 4 miles than running.
We ran past the monuments, and the Mall was on our left. I couldn’t get out of my head how much I’d struggled in this patch the first time, and how great I felt this time.We turned on 7th Street SW and turned back onto Independence to head back towards Virginia.
We hit the last water stop just before 8 miles, and it was here that I knew I could probably reach my secret goal of 1:30. The last time I ran this, a guy I knew ran the race in 1:20something, and I thought that sounded SO FAST. One day, I told myself, maybe I’d be able to run under a 9-minute mile for 10 miles. At the time, I thought the odds of doing so were pretty similar to winning the lottery. But when I looked at my watch and saw that I was under 1:10 at 7.73 miles, I knew it was possible. Still, I didn’t say anything to the girls, for fear of jinxing myself.
We ran the Memorial Bridge, and I remembered how it beat me up the first time, and how it beat up my friend Jen the second time. I was fading a bit at this point, but still felt strong overall. We were still chatting, but I was doing a little victory dance inside.
The mile 9 marker seemed to come up much earlier than I’d remembered it from last time. Anne said something about turning it up for the last mile, and I politely ignored her. This was not my race, and I was not going to turn things up. Until I got sucked up in the excitement with them…and turned things up a bit. Somewhere around 9.5, they decided to really turn things up, and I swallowed my ego and let them go, reminding myself, “Save yourself for next week–this is not your race.”
I remebered the end of the race as being nearly immediately after the Pentagon exit from 395, but the course ending definitely changed. We ran for quite some time on a highway (110?), and passed a marina before FINALLY reaching the end.
I guess I’m going to start playing the lottery, because I crossed that finish line in 1:29:44.
I’m really really happy with that time, but now I’m dying to find another ten-miler that I can race to see what I have in me.
What’s your favorite distance?