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Monday, October 06, 2008

Army Ten Miler: Long Report

The metro was crowded Sunday morning with runners, so I was glad we decided to leave at 6:30 am because we arrived at the Pentagon at about 7:15 with throngs of other eager runners. I left my gear with my dad, hit up the port-a-potty line and was in my corral in time for the National Anthem at 7:45.
The National Anthem always makes me a little emotional but yesterday morning's particularly did. In part, it was because the race brought out my patriotism -- I mean I'm standing in front of the Pentagon, about to run through the streets of the capitol, the Army helicopters are flying overhead, and surrounding me are current soldiers, former soldiers, and those running in honor of fallen or injured soldiers. But on a more personal level, I thought of my own family, and in particular, I thought of my youngest brother Sam, who is currently serving in the Army and who will be deployed to Iraq in January (a fact that moves me to tears now just typing it).

So, when they performed the Anthem and the helicopters flew over us, I cried.

The Start:
I quickly composed myself after the National Anthem, and got ready to run. It was a perfect morning, weather-wise, with temps hovering around 50 degrees with a nice breeze. The gun for the first wave went off at 8 am, and runners who were corralled first were off. 10 minutes later, the rest of us, in wave 2, were also off, and I crossed the start line about 17 minutes after 8 am and joined with the other runners in a hearty "Hooah!" as we crossed the start line.

Miles 1-5:
The first two miles were, by far, my favorite. We ran northeast towards the Potomac, leaving the Pentagon behind us, and we passed Arlington Cemetery on our left as we approached the Lincoln Memorial Bridge. I could see General Lee's house set up on the hill of Arlington, and thought a bit about the fallen soldiers who are buried in Arlington, as well as the tombs that represent unknown soldiers. My thoughts lingered there for just a moment and then were quickly re-focused to the upcoming bridge.

It's always an impressive sight crossing the memorial bridge with the Potomac stretching out below, the Lincoln Memorial ahead and the Washington Memorial silhouetted in the background, but that impressiveness is magnified by running over the bridge instead of driving over it. The sun was rising over the Potomac, and the Lincoln Memorial looked grand and impressive as we approached.

That moment was probably one of the best race moments I've yet experienced.

The course shifted to the right at the Lincoln Memorial, and we headed northwest, passing the Watergate hotel, and then looping around by the Kennedy Center and heading back toward the Mall. I felt pretty good during this time. For a brief bit, I suffered from a side stitch in mile 4, which is weird because I never get side stitches, but I ran through it, and by mile 5, it was gone.

Just before the 5 mile marker, I walked for a few seconds while I drank some water from an aid station, and then I resumed the run.

1: 9:51
2: 9:34
3: 9:55
4: 9:40
5: 10:20

Miles 6-10:
The course merged us onto Independence Ave, parallel to the Mall, and this is where the crowd support was best: People lined Independence Ave and cheered us on. So, we not only got to pass some of the classic museums, like the Smithsonian Castle and the Air & Space Museum, but we also got to enjoy the spectator involvement.

At the 6 mile marker, the course began it's short loop in front of the Capitol: turned left on Second, then briefly ran on Constitution Ave, then turned right on First and then returned to Independence Ave, this time in the opposite direction.

I got another drink of water, and walked while I drank it, at the aid station at mile 8, and then headed into the last, and most boring, part of the race: Crossing the Potomac again and heading back to the Pentagon, but this time we didn't get to cross the scenic Lincoln Memorial bridge; instead, it was the George Mason Bridge, which is just a lot of highway. So, the last mile and a half was a bit of a struggle: The incline on the bridge sucked, there was no shade and the sun was kinda hot, and the path was narrow because only half of the highway was closed, so it felt crowded. My pace slowed in miles 9 and 10, and I was ready to be done.

6: 9:45
7: 9:53
8: 10:09
9: 10:36
10: 10:21
.22: 1:48

The Finish:
The crowds were roaring as I entered the last stretch of the race as we circled back into the Pentagon's parking lot, and I felt good as I crossed the finish line. My Garmin read 1:41:56, and the Chip Time nearly matched: 1:41:57.
The finish chute was crowded, and a bit of a clusterfuck, but I got my chip removed, got some refreshment, and received my Finisher's Coin. Overall I felt good: The race was spectacular on many levels, and I ran a solid race, so all in all, I felt pretty happy.

Last Thoughts:
  • I wish they would put that Finisher's Coin on a ribbon, so I could string it around my neck. I'll admit it, I'm a medal-whore, so while the coin is cool looking, I would like it better if it could hang around my neck.
  • The military is rigid with their rules, and that sucks. I would've really liked to run with my iPod. Plus, I saw a soldier reprimand a runner who didn't exit "appropriately" out of the finishing chute. No wonder I was never inclined to join the military.
  • It was quite the crowd, and I always find that crowds make racing difficult for several reasons, but chiefly because it's hard to establish your own rhythm and pace when you are swerving or maneuvering around so many others.
  • Despite those 3 criticisms, I really loved the race, and 10 miles never went by so quickly!


Laurel said...

Awesome job! Great splits for a 10 miler!

I can imagine how emotional you must have gotten. My brother was in Iraq a year ago and it still upsets me knowing that he may have to go back at any time. It must have been amazing to be surrounded by so many people who took this race so personally.

But that is still weird someone was reprimanded for exiting the chute appropriately. Sheesh.

*aron* said...

awesome race and awesome report jess!!

Running Knitter said...

Congrats on a great race. Please thank your brother for us for serving our country.

Melanie said...

congrats on a great race and an amazing race report! :)

runner26 said...

Congrats! It sounds like a great race! That's one of the reasons I loved running the MCM--I felt similarly.

Marcy said...

Very nice Jess! A most excellent race report! ;D ;D And the top looks good! What size is it? When I was shopping at Target for Keira and thought . . ."hmmmm maybe I could squeeze into an XL girls. The arms might be too short though" The Girls Champion stuff is MAD cheap yo!

Cindy said...

nice work! The course sounds pretty amazing.
I like the tee! Long sleeves are my favorite free shirts!

L*I*S*A said...

Great job, Jess. Sweet shirt, too!

Anonymous said...

Nice job! Wonderful race report. I wish your brother the best as he prepares to head to Iraq.

Glad you had a nice race.

Anonymous said...

Nice job.
And, I hope things shape up quickly for your brother's sake and any other solider who might be fighting.

Erin said...

Nice job Jess! It seems much more enjoyable to run in DC than the silly 5K around the Bank Atlantic Center with absolutely no view. I guess you have to memorize the route and sights since you couldn't get lost in your music.

chia said...

Fantastic report Jess, I'm so jealous, this sounds like a fantastic event! I pray for a safe experience for your bro.

J~Mom said...

Sounds like something that would get me all teary as well. Congrats on a great race!!

Shannon said...

Wow, sounds awesome. Curious... what was the runne doing that wasn't "appropriate?"

teacherwoman said...

Sounds like a wonderful race overall! Congrats!

BTW, I got choked up just reading your paragraph about your brother. My brother-in-law has been over there and back and it was very hard on us all.

MCM Mama said...

Great job on the run! I love the races in DC, but I'm not so fond of the sheer number of people running them. I remember getting choked up more than once during the 10 miler last year.

Will you actually ever wear a long sleeve running shirt in Florida? LOL

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Good job on the ten miles!!

What a cool race to do. It would probably make me emotional too. I also like the finishers shirt. :-)

Marci said...

Great report Jess! What a unique event to participate in. Congratulations!

Kevin said...

Great job! Sounds like an awesome race course

kelsalynn said...

YAY! You did so wonderful, and I'm glad you remembered to stop and think about all of the soldiers. I hope everyone there took time to do that.

Great job again on your race Jess! It sounds like a beautiful course (besides the last 2 miles)- maybe I'll look into it for next year!

Erik said...

How could anyone not have been emotional in that setting? Wow!

Great report, so detailed. I would LOVE to run in that.



Jamoosh said...

Sweet - This former military man salutes you!

Wes said...

Excellent, Jess! You really nailed that one. I will HAVE to add D.C. to my short list of places to race in the future!! Well done!

ws said...

great race, Jess. And thanks for the tour of DC...gives me the chills and warms my heart.

SLB said...

Nice jop, DC is an inspiring place and it looks you got your's there too!

Jess said...

Congrats on an awesome race Jess! It looks like you had a good time!

Crystal said...

Glad to hear you had a great time and visiting your dad had to be a nice bonus. Great job chica!

Marlene said...

Sounds like quite the race with a lot of meaning. Glad you enjoyed it and ran a great time too! Nice pics! :D Congrats!

Philip said...

Congrats. I ran the same race and by chip time, at just about the same time as you. I think you did a great job explaining the flavor of the race experience and this was my first Army 10 MIler (or any race > than a 10K).

Another emotional edge to the race that you did not mention were that a lot of runners would have "In Memory of ..." (deceased soldiers) on the back of their shirts, which put a raw human element to the race, besides just the personal struggle of trying to finish 10 miles.

Viv said...

Fantastic race, Jess! The splits are spectacular, babe! I love the tee those long sleeve shirts are cool and you might get to wear it umm once or twice this florida winter :-)

I bet it was a beautiful patriotic run!

Get Jer to drill a hole on that coin and tie a ribbon through it.

Anonymous said...

Great Job! I ran the race too and I didn't do as well. I ran in 1:58. I wasn't pleased with that time as I agree with you. The end was a clusterfuck. I got caught up in those who didn't make it to the 5-mile mark in time. They were rerouted to mile 8 where I ended up having to go uphill AND swerve in and out of walkers. It was frustrating and slowed me down quite a bit. Anyway, I share a lot of the same feelings with your three things about the race.

I hope all is well with your brother. It sure is an inspiring race!

gemini said...

Nice report :-)

sRod said...

awesome run Jess! I'd feel jipped by the coin too. You need to show off your hard work!

Paul said...

Sweet race! Nice work on avoiding the clusterf*ck at the end. hahah too true.

sRod said...

Nice job Jess! Gets me excited to one day do the Marine Corps Marathon