I love how they call the race the “Marine Corps Marathon 10k”. It’s almost like we really ran the marathon. Except we got to quit 20 miles early!
Yesterday’s race was another fun one! I was excited to participate in marathon weekend, as MCM really takes over DC and my neighborhood each year. I’ve been a spectator on more than one race day, so was especially looking forward to getting out on (a section) of the course myself!
The 10k starts downtown on the National Mall, takes you across the 14th street bridge, through Crystal City and then finishes at the Iwo Jima memorial…a little deja vu running some of the same streets as last Sunday’s Army 10 miler! The starting line was both dark and cold, with a little bit of a drizzle. Hurricane Sandy held off, however, and we had near perfect racing temperatures for the whole day – mid-50’s, cold breeze, little to no rain and lots of cloud cover.
I stayed warm at the start dancing around a bit with my friends. For once, I actually started a race with a couple people, so I was super distracted and not really thinking about running until we really got started.
The first mile of the race was a lot of dodging and weaving, as there were a lot of folks in my corral that were starting off at well over a 10 minute mile pace. I started out a bit fast and paid for it around mile 4.5. Overall, I finished in 61 minutes and 9 seconds or 9:51 minute miles – a new 10k PR! My previous 10k time was 63 minutes and 20 seconds, so I shaved off just over 2 minutes or about 20 seconds per mile. One day soon, I’ll get under 60!
The best part of the race was at the end, where all the runners “take the hill” and power up a short, but very steep incline to race to the finish line. There was lots of crowd support with grandstands set up along the last hundred yards.
But, the real highlight of the day was watching the marathon finishers. Since the two races finished at the same location, we were able to enjoy the post-race festival before heading right back to the hill to watch the handcycles and wheelchair finishers. Man, the amount of dedication and strength it takes to complete a marathon race by pushing yourself forward with your arms, is just unbelievable. I loved cheering for these men and women and watch them give it all they had coming up that hill. I’ve been a teary-eyed mess at these last two races!
About an hour and 20 minutes after I finished running 6.2 miles, the first male finisher came up the hill to round out his 26.2. Watching the first wave of marathon runner finishers was so awesome and not something I’d had the chance to do before. The amount of training, physical pain and mental dedication it takes to run 26.2 miles at a 5 minute 20 second pace is just amazing. Congratulations to the winner!
I also had a few friends running the full, so while I did get to run, I definitely got my spectating in too! I was so happy and proud to see two of my friends and running buddies charging up that hill and giving it everything they got to (both) get a marathon PR and just do a fantastic job.
The whole weekend, including the expo, definitely got my wheels turning about whether or not a marathon is in my future. It sure would help me chip away at my 1000 mile goal!
For now, I’ll bunker down and drink hot tea while Hurricane Sandy gets her rain and wind on. Fingers crossed we don’t lose power. Stay safe!!!
The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.
Bill Bowerman, co-founder of Nike, Inc