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Monday, October 10, 2011

Army Ten Miler: Race Report

Yesterday I raced the Army Ten Miler for the fifth time (2000, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011). With three weeks until MCM, this race was perfectly timed before I head into my taper.  My plan was to use this race as an opportunity to practice logistics of race prep and getting downtown so that I can minimize any anxiety three weeks from now as I get ready for my next 26.2.  I was also confident that I could set a new PR in the 10 Miler.  On all accounts, I would consider this race a success for me.  Where I made mistakes, I learned from them.  Where I made good choices, my confidence was reinforced. 
ATM Finisher's Coin
 So here's how it went down...

Pre-Race Prep:  
  • Packet pick-up was handled on Friday so I didn't have to worry about it at all the day before the race.  I was planning to drive down there (and started to) but because of traffic it actually turned out that my sister Jodi and our buddy Chris picked it up for me.  Hassle/stress: avoided.
  • I was really busy on Saturday with the Pumpkin 5k and my son Will's tee ball game.  I tried to lay low and keep life simple that afternoon as best I could.  I made sure to hydrate a ton - always consuming water and nuun - and was plenty hydrated by bed time that night.  Hydration mission accomplished.
  • I ate simple foods on Saturday, though I really need to fine-tune this.  Because of our busy morning, we didn't have lunch until after 2pm and I ate a taco salad.  Bad idea.  Too much fiber the day before a race = overactive stomach the next morning.  Also eating lunch so late meant that I had no appetite at dinnertime.  My husband and I were both so exhausted and full that we actually wound up having cereal for dinner.  It was all I could fathom eating at the time and made me really hungry the next morning.  But I can't eat a lot before I run so I was hungry during the race.  Nutrition FAIL.  Before MCM I really need to have a plan and stick to it.  I am working on that now.  I know myself well enough and have raced enough that I should be able to make an eating plan and stick with it.  I'm annoyed at myself for messing this up - thankfully it was "just" a 10 miler and I didn't have any major disasters as a result of my poor choices.
Getting to the Race:
It's true, I have raced plenty of times downtown and know how to get there, etc. but I have other things to consider this time around (like nursing my baby beforehand, in particular).  In addition, Metro is doing tons of construction out by where I live and that meant that some stations were closed early Sunday morning.  My sister and my running buddies and I had to come up with a solid game plan so that we didn't feel any stress or worry about getting to the race on time.

Metro opened at 6:00AM and since we had to drive further east due to Metro issues, we left at 5:30AM.  This was smooth sailing for us - we got to the Metro just before it opened and met our other two running buddies there with ample time.  We hopped on the train and made it to Rosslyn where we had to switch lines.
on the train, tired but pumped!
Once we got on the second train we realized something was not working right with Metro.  Maybe they couldn't handle all the people flooding the city so early in the morning?  Our train literally stopped and did not move for a while because of another train was stopped on the track.  We were all getting a little concerned because we still had to check our bags, use the porta-potties and get to our corrals and it was already 7:00AM by then.  When we finally rolled into the Pentagon station and got off the train the crowds were ridiculous.  There were just SO many people jammed together.  A lot of them were stinky, by the way.  Yes - stinky BEFORE the race, eeew.

Anyway, despite the stench and all the delays we made it to the race on time - checked our bags, headed to the porta-potties and then dashed over to the race start.  Phew!

The RACE:
This race start is organized in three "waves" based on pace.  I was in the second wave, but should have been in the first since my predicted finish time changed, but because I didn't pick up my own packet and it was so crowded at the expo I decided to just stay in my designated wave and deal with passing people.


You may be thinking that would be fun - to be passing people for miles and miles - but I promise you it gets old REALLY quickly and is frustrating. I spent the entire race weaving around people and almost running into people who decided to STOP dead in their tracks...it was aggravating!  And it didn't stop - from start to finish that is how I had to run this race.  I ran the first 7 miles with my buddy Justin who had his Garmin (I didn't have mine because it broke last week and the replacement hasn't arrived yet).  According to his watch we were averaging a 7:30 pace but we were adding on mileage because of all the weaving we had to do.   I ran ahead of Justin after Mile 7 and picked up my pace as best I could with all the traffic.  I was happy with my finish time - 1:18:52 - it was a 10 minute PR for me (!) and a sub-8:00 pace.  BUT I also felt frustrated because I knew I was running faster than that and if it was less crowded I would have had a better finish time.  But this is not a course for PRs - you can't let all the people frustrate you - so I finished feeling strong, happy with my new PR and resolved to find another 10 mile race to run in the winter/spring!

Official Stats:

Time: 1:18:52
Pace: 7:53
Overall: 3,102 / 21,914
Gender: 512 / 9,645
Division: 77 / 1,752

My buddies and I planned to meet back at Gear Check after the race.  This was waaay more confusing than it needed to be.  To get back there you had two choices - cross over Rte 110 (a pretty major road) or take a completely unmarked shuttle bus.  I found the bus (by getting lucky and asking for help) but my sister and buddies all walked.  It was poorly a organized post-race situation, in my opinion.  But thankfully we found one another and got back on the Metro just fine.

happy with our PRs, happy to be together again!
All of us set new PRs in the 10 miler, even with the crazy crowds!  I think we all feel the same way about the race though: that it was fun, but really not worth all the hassle we had to go through.  It was a lot of claustrophobia!  I am a people person, but that was just TOO MANY people!  Too many people to be crammed on a Metro with, too many people to wait in line for porta-potties with, too many people to race with ... I would rather spend my race-running dollars on other races.  At least for now.

Today I feel just fine.  My legs are happy and I don't feel like I'm recovering from a race.  I'm not complaining though - I have a new 10 miler PR and I'm running a marathon in 3 weeks!  I learned a lot yesterday and had so much fun with my sister and my friends. 

I cannot wait for MCM.  Bring on the taper!

9 comments:

You are on a roll! LOVE it!!!! Great job, Jessica!

Great running! Yes, it was crowded. I am glad I wasn't going for a PR. I don't remember it being that bad last year. I felt the same thing with the MCM last year though. The first 7 miles, I was bobbing and weaving my way through. It's actually dangerous. Right at the beginning in Rosslyn, I tripped over a reflector on the road. Thank goodness I didn't fall. I did see another guy trip over a curb trying to get around people and got hurt pretty bad at mile 4. He was limping after that. I was sad for him. I am not sure what the answer is though. The beauty of these bigs races is that there are so many people and the crowd support is awesome - the bad part is the same.

Next year you'll be in the first wave! :^) Great job!

I'm so excited for MCM. I plan to live vicariously through you that weekend.

Congrats on your amazing PR! I totally agree with you that the race was SO crowded. I had never run it before so I wanted to check it off my list. My friends and I had a confusing meet up point too! We scoped out the map and chose the "photo" area. Come to find out they decided not to do photos this year. I was so worried I would never find my friends. Low and behold one by one we found each other but it took about an hour and each person said they searched for 20 minutes!! Overall though I think they did a pretty good job but yikes SO many people!

You are going to rock MCM! Can't wait to hear about your new PR.

Such a great race! Congrats on the PR!

Congrats-- that is such a huge PR! I hear you on the crowding though. Yikes! Rest up now for MCM!

Congrats on an amazing PR!! I too, have a really hard time with crowded races. We work too hard to be slowed down by crowds when it comes down to it. I love how well you know yourself and running style and how you are working toward working out the kinks each time. Have a great taper!! you are so going to kill it!! Missed reading up on your training the last couple weeks. You inspire me.

Congratulations on an impressive PR! Sorry to hear that it was so crowded!

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