You'd never have guessed, since I probably didn't mention it on this here blog, but I spent last weekend in D.C. with Alex for the Army Ten Miler. I'm not sure what got into my head when I registered for such a large race back in May, especially since my running was sporadic at best, though I figured I'd get it together in time.
Well, that didn't happen, so here I was, in D.C., with a ten mile race (let's be real, at this point, it was more of a long run than a race) looming in the horizon, and me not having run once the 2-3 weeks prior. I'm a terrible runner.
My goal was just to hobble along at a slow, slow pace. The B goal was to finish in the top 15k in order to snag one of the 15k free Army Ten Miler hats being given away at the finish.
We actually stayed in downtown Arlington, though I think it was really called Rosslyn. I loved this little downtown area, too! There were many places to eat and a grocery store within walking distance, and the metro stop was a mere half mile downhill walk from the hotel. We got into town late Friday, so Saturday was the first real day to see the area. I walked to McDonald's to get a sausage egg mcmuffin combo, and Alex went to run on the really great running path that goes through VA/DC that I have yet to experience. Priorities.
Before lunch (I think), we took the subway to the Armory where the expo was being held. Word to the wise: When registering for this race, it's rather imperative to include a recent race time rather than a projected finish time. Even my most recent, slowest race would have put me in a higher corral than I originally was in (purple, i.e., the very last corral). I managed to turn my bib in for a higher corral (white), but it was still further back than I probably would have been. But that didn't bother me too much, I mostly didn't want to wait around for half an hour after the start of the race to actually begin running.
After the expo, we went to the grocery store (Safeway) to pick up some things. We purchased a Mexican Coke, Pepsi, and Fanta, a four-pack of Izze, and race day food. For my meal, I chose my winning combo of instant oatmeal, Gatorade G-Chews, and 5-Hour Energy. The Clif bar was not mine.
Before dinner, we went to watch airplanes land and take off.
Now we get to dinner time. I found a little pizza place on Google Maps that was about less than a quarter mile from our hotel. The pizza is thin crust and cooked in a brick oven, and cannot, BY ANY MEANS, be sliced into 8 slices. FOUR SLICES ONLY.
I don't know, it was a sign posted to warn the employees.
Moving on. Alex chose a sauceless pizza with brie and smoked salmon. For whatever reason, as at first I meant to order a normal pizza, I chose the pizza with brie (yum!), arugula (odd choice, but I could take it off), and... carpaccio (you know, that thinly sliced raw beef thing). I have always wanted to try carpaccio, and you're probably wondering why on earth I chose to try it for the first time the day before the race. I don't have a good answer to that.
The pizza arrives at the table and upon gazing at the fleshy mass of meat that tops my pizza, I immediately regret my choice. I don't admit it, even when Alex asks me how it is and I reply with, "Um." By the second slice, I cannot contain my disgust.
Alex thought it was amusing, so he took a picture.
I know I'm painting a bad picture here and I feel I need to clarify. The pizza was actually really good. The brick oven-cooked crust was amazing, brie tastes wonderful on a pizza (though my disgust of the carpaccio was ruining it), though arugula should not be on a pizza since it gets stringy and unappetizing when warm. Honestly, the beef carpaccio didn't really even taste like anything. It was all just me.
By the last slice, I admitted defeat and comforted myself in tiramisu.
Alex woke up at 4:00 AM to eat. I stumbled out of bed shortly thereafter to prepare my oatmeal and eat it under the covers. Around 6:00 AM, I woke up for real, ate a banana and some coffee, and got dressed in my outfit. I've had success in this combination of top+bottom before, so I stuck with it. I think I drank the 5-hour Energy right before leaving the hotel, though I didn't take the G-Chews until I arrived at baggage area.
Getting to the corrals was a disaster. Imagine funneling 30k people through two narrow security chutes. It was a MESS. Eventually, they opened them up and just let people walk through. Alex had to hurdle over a fence to make it to his corral on time (he was in yellow, which is for the fastest runners). I headed on over to the white, trying to keep from freezing to death.
Now, I will give you my mile splits.
Total distance: 10.25, avg. pace: 8:50
Total time: 1:30:26
Mile 1: 9:10.61 -
My strategy was to run the first 7 miles at whatever pace felt best, and speed up the final 3 if possible (thanks to my friend who suggested it). The large crowds kept me from doing something stupid like sprinting, which is good because I just wanted to find a pace that allowed me to breathe normally. I was surprised and a little shocked when I saw 9:10, since I figured I'd hang around 9:45, which was the pace I ran my last 8 miler that felt difficult.
Mile 2: 8:55.80 -
There was a slight downhill here, and I was nervous about seeing 8:anything because I really really really was trying to keep my pace steady. But my breathing felt the same.
Mile 3: 8:53.02 -
Maybe I'd be able to pull out a somewhat respectable time (for me)! Still feeling good. I expected my hip to rebel and my foot to protest, though I felt fine for now.
Mile 4: 8:56.35 -
Around the second mile, I noticed my splits were off the official mile markers by .2 miles. I figured this was caused by weaving in and out of the crowds. I took my Carb Boom apple cinnamon energy gel (the gel I've found works the best for me, and will have to order more) since I wasn't sure where the next water stop was.
Mile 5: 8:47.72 -
Although I was freezing at the start, I felt great now. There was a light breeze and it was just cool enough to feel comfortable after warming up. I'm glad I didn't buy emergency arm warmers at the expo, since I didn't really need them. My hands were surprisingly fine, too. My foot was starting to feel sore, but not like it was on the verge of injury. (I wore my racing flats instead of my trainers, which was probably stupid, considering I've never raced in them for longer than a 10k.)
Mile 6: 8:47.68 -
I took a check here to see how I felt. I was still running like a poised running model on the cover of Runner's World (it was a weird mental strategy thing suggested by my friend), and I wasn't feeling too bad, just a little tired.
Mile 7: 8:51.13 -
During this mile, I was deciding whether or not I should stick to my pace or attempt to speed up. What I didn't realize is that the last few miles of the course ran on overpasses, which means up and downhills. It's probably better that I didn't know it.
Mile 8: 8:30.99 -
I decided to do it, and muster up some reserved energy. I immediately felt BAD. BAD. Because there was an overpass here.
NO, that does not make me "bad ass". This entire race does not make me bad ass, it makes me stupid. For not training or running at least three times a week the last 2-3 weeks.
Mile 9: 8:44.59 -
Overpass 2. I was feeling it so bad. All I did was concentrate on my form, taking short strides and pumping my arms.
Mile 10: 8:42.21 -
Half a mile to go, I began counting down the tenths of a mile, reminding myself that I had an extra .2 to go. I'm mildly impressed that I managed to maintain an 8:40ish pace here, even more so that I ran such even splits.
Anyway, I crossed the finish line.
They made us keep walking for a while before we could get our medal pendants. During this time, I seized up and felt like an 80 year old, particularly in the hips. I was also cramping, and had trouble standing upright. I walked through the food tent and grabbed everything good, then I headed over to the shuttle line and got a hat!
My underarms had chafed badly, I'm not sure if it was the shirt or the bra.
I couldn't find Alex. Before the race, we decided to go back to the hotel on our own if we were unable to find each other after the race. So many people. However, he managed to spot me after I got off the shuttle at the baggage area. We made our way back to the Rosslyn metro stop to walk the half mile uphill back to the hotel.
By the way, Alex ran a really great race. There's a reason why he's in the first corral.
I pretty much felt terrible for the rest of the day, though the most intense pain subsided almost entirely by dinner time. We had breakfast lunch at at The Diner and dinner at Neisha Thai.
On Monday, before going out for Indian food and leaving the city for home, we headed over to Arlington Cemetery to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the the Changing of the Guard. It was amazing to be able to watch in person.
So ends my weekend. It took three days to return to normal. I realized, however, that I really do want to train properly again to see what kind of race I'm capable of running. I'm thinking of a spring half marathon, which gives me plenty of time to just get into a running groove before thinking of training. Now that it's cooling down (lows in the 30s this morning!), I can just kinda enjoy the changing scenery and not worry about the heat. Hopefully, I'll enjoy running again, too. And I promise, no more crazy races for which I do not train.