The funny thing about running is that if you don’t run consistently, it sounds (and is) really hard…but once you make a point to be out there several times a week, it gets easier and you can run further, and eventually you stop feeling like you are going to die and instead really like it. 10 Mile races seem to be the sweet spot for me. A 10 mile race certainly is not easy for me, but with a regular but not exhausting running schedule, I can tackle a 10 miler (and usually only be sore that day, and feeling better by the next).
I went in to the Army 10 Miler expecting it to be ugly. I knew I’d finish, but actually brought a Ziplok bag and towel with me, because I knew that I’d need to sit on a bag of ice on the drive home (darn you, achy SI Joint!). I wanted to do the race for 2 reasons- (1) My brother is in the army and was just deployed to Qatar, and I wanted to run this race in honor of him, (2) the race starts and ends at the Pentagon, and I’ve never seen the Pentagon before, so I thought that would be pretty cool. One of my co-workers told me that the Pentagon is a big squat office building and a parking lot, which it really is, but the run also went in and around DC, so it was a pretty cool sightseeing experience.
The race was on Sunday, so I got to DC on Saturday. I went to packet pickup, which was, in expected military fashion, remarkably efficient. The whole thing took maybe 30 minutes, and that includes me weaving through all the shopping stalls at the expo. Afterward, I had a whole afternoon by myself. I could have gone exploring in DC, but I didn’t want to tire out my legs with a big run on the horizon, so instead I treated myself to some QT at Nordstrom Rack (tragically, there is no Rack in Pittsburgh, so this is a real treat), and to a manicure and body polish at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Back at my hotel, I carbo-loaded on some take out See Ew Noodles from a local Thai restaurant, enjoyed some television time with the remote ALL TO MYSELF, and went to bed at an early, sensible hour. #WildWoman
I got up pretty early to head down to the starting line. I stayed at the official race hotel, and let me tell you, I am SO glad I did. It was maybe a 10 minute walk to the start and finish lines, which made for nice warm up/cool downs. I would have loved to take race selfies of all the neat things I ran by in DC, but the race packet said that mobile phones and cameras were FORBIDDEN. And also that earbuds were FORBIDDEN. And that we were going to be going through a security checkpoint. Since this is the Army’s show, I thought it would be all SERIOUS BUSINESS, and I didn’t want to have to walk back to the hotel to put my phone away, so I just didn’t bring it with me. And you know what, out of 35,000 runners, I’d say that 34,999 had their phones, were snapping selfies and were rockin’ out to their own music. I started the morning bitter about it, but then I told myself that it was a beautiful morning, I was in for a beautiful run, and I’m going to focus on the scenery and not tether myself to all the little reminders that I usually use on my phone to pace myself.
You know what, it turned out really well! It was a crowded and enthusiastic course, so I wouldn’t really need to rely on music to keep me energized anyway. And because I wasn’t getting constant mileage reminders in my ears (and a few times wasn’t paying clear attention when I ran by the time boards), I just kept running and didn’t focus on how far I had come or how much further I had to go. This worked especially well at the 9th Mile, where I played a ridiculous mental game with myself, saying “Oh, I just woke up this lovely morning, and I’m a little sore and tired, but I’m just going on a 1 mile run” and as completely stupid as it is, it WORKED. I felt good about every mile of that race, and especially good in that last mile.
Now, after I stopped running is when it didn’t feel so good. I knew from the beginning I was not ideally hydrated, and my usual practice isn’t to drink water until after the race, if I’m running a distance that is 10 miles or less. I did drink water a couple times in the last half of the race, but I really should have been drinking more the days before and in the earlier part of the race. So when the race was over, I had a brief while of feeling very much bad, until I got myself appropriately rehydrated.
The only downside of the race is that, because it is so big, there are a lot of waves and they take a LOT of time to get through. The first wave went out at 8, but mine didn’t start until 8:48. Of course I got to the corral at like 7:15. That is a lot of waiting time before going out on a long run.
I absolutely would love to do this race again. For the next time, I would either like to work on my speed and try to get placed in an earlier corral (no, I will not sneak into a different corral than the one I am assigned, that makes me NUTS), or maybe since I now have an idea of the lay of the land, I might just leisurely drink my coffee and show up a little later to the starting line.
My next big race is the EQT 10 Miler on November 9. I’ve barely run since the Army 10 Miler, but my bronchitis is really on the upswing, and absent any further complications in my life, I plan to be pounding the pavement again on Tuesday.