Holy wow! Earlier this fall I had hit a wall with training (i.e. had spent more evenings at happy hour than on the trail) and thought I’d be slogging my way to the finish line of the Army Ten Miler this weekend. Somehow, I totally outdid myself! I think it has a lot to do with my attitude about the race and my (amazing) lack of anxiety. You may remember from the Rock and Roll USA Half Marathon in the spring, I had a good bit of stress and anxiety leading up to the race, which resulted in a less than stellar finish time.
This race was all about enjoying my time running through my nation’s capitol, along with 30,000 running buddies, all out there to support our troops. I was running next to enlisted men and women, officers, army wives and children and many who were running in remembrance of a loved one. I didn’t care about my time, I didn’t care if I decided I needed to walk…I just wanted to enjoy the day, enjoy the moment and remember to take a look around and be thankful for the time and lives given by our armed forces.
This “enjoy the moment” approach worked wonders for my attitude, my physical ability and my overall experience. It was AWESOME.
Just last week, I was “over racing”. Army 10 miler is proof that there’s nothing like a fantastic race to pump up your spirit and trick you into signing up for more! I loved every second of this race weekend, starting at the expo.
The DC Armory is such an easy place for race expos, especially since it is on the Orange metro line! I stopped by mid-day Saturday, and walked in through a very swift security line and managed to pick up my bib within about 10 minutes. I know the lines can be really long, so I try to avoid the peak times so I can sneak in and out without much hassle.
As far as the expo goes, it was super organized and had lots of vendors. I’m not much of a shopper, so I rarely buy anything at the booths. However, I loved that the Army expo had an outdoor section! The field was littered with a dozen or so booths with demonstrations, cool guns and camo stuff to play with and in the center was a massive MH-60L Assault helicopter. SO COOL! I was really tempted to crawl into the cockpit with the 8 year olds to poke around!
After the expo, I headed home to grab a healthy lunch before running some errands and getting some work done over a green tea at Starbucks. I was fighting a bit of a headcold on Saturday, so was downing tea like it was my job! I actually think the mid-day meal before a race helps more than dinner, so I try to stock up on some complex carbs and veggies. For dinner, I had a homemade pizza with regular white dough from TJ’s, a little marinara sauce and mozzarella. I did sneak a few slices of chicken sausage for a little kick 🙂
OK, enough prep – on to the race! I was lucky enough to have my mom come up from our family home in Woodbridge to keep me company and cheer me along! She is such a trooper! It was a little cold at the start, so I brought some throw-away clothes to keep me warm. It worked out great, as I saw my mom again right before the starting line, so was able to give her my long sleeve and gloves. I honestly needed those when I finished the race! The wind was a bit gusty for my sweaty skin!
And then we were off! The race course started in Arlington near the Pentagon, took us up by the Arlington National Cemetery, across Memorial Bridge (awesome, awesome morning views on the water) and around Lincoln Memorial. I have a place in my heart for Lincoln.
Then, we ran up Constitution and hung a left near the White House. Running down the middle of the street just never gets old! Especially when you are staring down the Washington Monument! I tried especially hard in this race to look around and enjoy the view of my home city. DC is a truly beautiful place, and even more at this time of year, when the fall colors are just starting to peak.
The course then wrapped us around along the Potomac River and by the Kennedy Center. The hardest mile for me was probably mile 5 to 6, as we weaved along the national mall and hit a few short inclines. I knew my mom would be waiting at mile 6 and then again around mile 7, so I gutted it through “just get to 6”, “just get to 7”. When I did see her at mile 7, I felt a literal pep in my step as a rush of energy gave me a little more juice to keep going.
Ok, so here’s the admission. I had totally planned on running the first 10k and then walk/jog the rest. I truly didn’t train for a 10 miler. Leading up to the race, my “long run” pretty much consisted of my Monday night fun run at Pacers, usually around 4.5 miles. And I was nearly always in the very back of our pack. I’d add in one or two additional runs each week, around 3 miles or so. I didn’t build miles, I didn’t do Saturday long runs, I didn’t do much of anything really.
But, when I hit mile 7 and I knew the 14th street bridge was right around the corner, I just couldn’t stop. I didn’t need to stop. My breathing was nearly regular throughout the entire race. My legs did get super tight at the beginning of mile 9 and I was trying to shake out a catch in my right ankle, but I definitely didn’t need to stop to walk. So, I didn’t.
I didn’t care about my time. I did look at my watch, only to be shocked that I was keeping a sub-10 minute per mile time for most of the race.
As I neared the finish, I definitely had to grit it out. I was sooooo ready to be done running. But I looked around out the crowds, the folks toughing it out around me, and thought about the 10,0000 other people still running behind me. So, I jogged my way across the finish line and into the chute. I clocked in at 1 hour 40 minutes and 9 seconds. That is just a hair over 10 minute miles! And, my 10k split was at 1 hour on the dot. Fantastic!
My only other 10 miler race was the Cherry Blossom back in April, where my finishing time was 1 hour 36 minutes and 32 seconds. I can not believe that I made it to the Army finish line in a mere 3 minutes and 37 seconds slower than my Cherry Blossom time.
The finisher’s area was full of Hooah tents – with giveaways, lots of food and drink, and tons of people just having a fantastic time. I did a little puppy stalking along the way too.
Not only did I get an unexpected personal win on the race, but I also got to take home a sweet Army race hat and finishers coin. That’s along with two long sleeve race tee’s – one tech and one regular! I made out like a bandit!
On to the Marine Corp 10k next Sunday! And Best Body Bootcamp starts this week too! Hooah!