Why the Army Ten-Miler is So Special to Me

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!)

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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?

29 comments on “Why the Army Ten-Miler is So Special to Me

  1. Ashley

    I love this post! Its awesome you have something you did that went along with you on the journey! You are such a strong runner now and are going to do SO well! I can’t wait to hear about it!

  2. Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment

    I definitely plan to do my first race (See Jane Run 5k) again next year! Not sure if I’ll do the half marathon event to mark my progress or do the 5k for a ridiculous improvement. 😀

    I think it’s wonderful to enjoy these benchmarks and reflect on our growth. Do you think 2006 Theodora had any CLUE how much ass 2012 Theodora would kick?

  3. mom

    We are proud of you. We were happy when you ran that first race, happy now that you are going to run where it all started, and we are with you and stand by you whereever you go!!! Keep your strong spirit!

  4. Megg

    I will be running the army 10 this weekend as well! I always read your blog for inspiration and really look up to all you have accomplished not just professionally, but also with your running. I hope you have a great race and I’m sure you will PR!

  5. Christina

    Good luck with the Army Ten Miler this weekend! I’ll be there working my company’s Hooah Tent. The weather looks like it’s going to be fabulous. Take lots of pictures!!

  6. Jen @ Such a Funny Fat

    I have a race that I feel the same way about – it will always have a very special place in my heart and I can’t imagine not doing it every year. Good Luck Theodora! I hope you have an absolutely amazing time and I can’t wait to read all about it.

  7. Gabby @ Marathons and Macarons

    You’ve made such an amazing transformation since 2006! A race that will always be special to me is Ellen’s Run, my first 5K, which is a local race that raises money for breast cancer. I’ve run it every year since 2009. The Hamptons Half Marathon will also be very special because I just ran it 3 weeks ago as my first half!
    Have a great race this weekend!

  8. Maureen

    The Broad Street Run is that special race for me. I worked for the race right out of college, and when I finally had the chance to run it in 2011 and 2012 it was an amazing feeling. This year especially, since it was the first time I really felt like I could call myself a runner. Have a great time this weekend!

  9. Anne P

    The Army 10 Miler was my first “big/long” race, too! I’m excited to do it again (with you!) for the first time since my running debut at it in 2009.

  10. Jess

    Aw I love this walk down memory lane as it relates to this 10-miler. You’ve come so far and am constantly amazed at your journey today. You are such an inspiration!! I can’t wait to hear how this race goes AND how 26.2 goes next weekend!!!!

  11. Sara

    This post is awesome! You’re one of my biggest inspirations, both in weight loss and running, and I think it’s so amazing how far you’ve come. I started running last year (in the midst of my own 75-pound weight loss) and ran my first ten-miler (Broad Street Run in Philly) this past May. I sort of have this feeling in the back of my brain that I really can’t get much faster than I was for that one, but you just made those thoughts shut up with this post, ha!

  12. Dori

    I didn’t realize you ran as early as 2006. Running was not a thought in my mind at that time. You’re going to do great at the race, it sounds like a lot of fun and you’ve come so far.

  13. Katie

    Love reading your story about the ATM! I’ll be there too — this will be my first big DC race since moving to Maryland – so it’s already special in that regard!

  14. Maggie

    I love – LOVE – that you return to that first race. I do the same. For me, it’s the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago. The also do a 5K, which was my first race three years ago; I hope to be running the 15 every year I’m still vertical. It’s definitely a special one for me! Enjoy your Army 10, and thanks for always bringing inspiration to your blog.

  15. Coco

    It’s fun to do the same races and compare year to year. This year I am not planning on doing better than last year — I just haven’t trained for that pace — so my plan is to try to really enjoy the scenery!

  16. Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    I just ran my first race at the end of September and I definitely caught the running bug! I’m trying to not get too over zealous with signing up (they sure do cost a good deal of $$!) and make sure that I train well for each future race.

    Congrats on having such a great journey with running! (We all have to learn a little bit along the way…)

    1. Sean

      YOU ROCK!!And you inspired me to reaevl my embarrassing numbers.4 years ago I weighed 235. Yesterday morning I weighed 179. My weight RARELY goes down more than a pound a week and sometimes I go weeks without losing anything. I am not giving up. My original goal was to get to 170, but now I’m hoping for 160. I’m 5’6 , so I can carry that much.

  17. Meghan

    This is awesome Theodora! I love how much this race means to you and how special it is. What a huge transition and growth you’ve made in running. You really do have such a motivating running story! Good luck!

  18. Tara

    Great post! I did my first 10K this weekend, and although I didnt get under 60mins, I did 1:08; 11:11pace.
    I will take that! I was just glad I was able to run the entire race, I felt great the whole way and didnt feel like I was gonna get sick or pass out when I finished!
    I have another 6.66 race this coming weekend and hope its just as good of a run……
    Good luck with your upcoming Marathon!


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