A few years ago, I caught the running bug, and I caught it hard.
I’ve run at least 30 races since then, of distances ranging from 5K to sprint triathlon to marathon, but there’s one race that will always hold a special place in my heart: the Army Ten-Miler. I’m running it this weekend, and I can’t wait.
I first ran it in 2006 while I was living in D.C. I didn’t train for it. I was then convinced to do my first race, the National Press Club 5K with coworkers the month before, and basically thought I was invincible. If I could do 3.1 miles, I could do 10, right? (This same stupidity has returned over and over again in signing up for races. Jump from a half to a marathon? Sure!)
I don’t have any photos from that race, but here’s a photo of me in 2006 for some context. (Hi Linds, I know I owe you an email.)
It was my first big race, and I arrived at the Pentagon with a friend, completely overwhelmed with the spectacle of such a big race and terrified of what lay ahead, but excited for the challenge. I looked across the parking lot at the tens of thousands of limber people and felt like I was one of them.
I had no idea what a Garmin or a Spibelt was, and I probably didn’t even wear any sort of wicking clothing. My chubby thighs definitely chafed, I had to pull my inhaler out of my shoelaces six miles in, and I probably walked more than ran. But good lord was I proud of myself for finishing. I remember going to Whitlow’s On Wilson to celebrate and proudly wearing my t-shirt. My time: 2:19:20, an average pace of 13:56.
I lose a whole lot of weight and start to truly love running, rather than trying to get into it because it’s something a lot of friends and coworkers do that I want to be a part of. I convince my college roomie, Jen, to sign up with me and we train for this together.
I wouldn’t say the race was easy, but it was definitely easier than 2006. Funny how that training thing works. Jen and I run the whole thing together, and finish holding hands triumphantly over our heads, beaming. The two girls who were on a first-name basis with the Chinese food deliveryman in college, who set their alarms every day for the gym…and then snoozed through them for hours…had just finished a 10-mile race together. We invite a bunch of friends to meet us at Clarendon Grill, and I remember, again, beaming with happiness. Or maybe that was the beer. Time: 1:58:55, an 11:53 pace.
The last race I ran in D.C., the RNR USA Half, this March.
I’m running this race again Sunday. I’m going to be in D.C. for another wedding this weekend, and when I realized I would be in town, I knew I couldn’t not run this race.
I won’t be racing it, but barring some catastrophe, I’ll still be PR-ing it. I’m probably going to try to run it in around 1:30ish (emphasis on the ish) total to be near marathon goal pace but not racing.
After years of leading such an unhealthy lifestyle in our nation’s capital, running races there is really special to me. Each race goes a little bit further towards filling that void I felt inside living there. Each race there is a reminder of how I grabbed life by the balls and learned to do what makes me happy. I’m so excited to bring that to D.C. for 10 miles this Sunday and 26.2 next Sunday!!!
Are there any races that are special like this to you? What makes them special?