Monday, October 13, 2014

Army Ten-Miler Recap

Yesterday's Army Ten-Miler race went by in a blur. Even though I got up at 4:30, and didn't return home until 2 pm, it almost seemed like it passed in the blink of an eye.

What to Wear?
The weather forecast was temperamental throughout the week. Originally, we were looking at a 60% chance of rain with temperatures in the low 50s. As the week wore on the chance of rain dropped and the predicted temperature climbed a bit. I was still waffling on my race outfit Saturday night - capris or running skirt?

race gear ready to go

I used Facebook crowd-sourcing to eliminate the capris. All three of my coaches who commented on the photo said "skirt." Sunday morning I made a last-minute decision to bench the skirt and pull out my compression shorts that I wore for most of my long runs. The skirt had never gone more than 3.1 miles and Coach Shannon wisely tells us to not try something on race day that we haven't tested in a long run. I didn't want to find out that the skirt started to chafe after 5 miles mid-race!

Pre-Race Fueling
One thing I didn't test out on a long run was my adjusted fueling plan. I typically get up 75 minutes before my long run and have a Clif bar along with half a cup of coffee mixed with half a cup of dark chocolate almond milk. Traveling into Arlington for the race meant that I was getting up at 4:30 and leaving my house at 5:30. My wave wasn't scheduled to start running until 8:48, so the timing was very different from my usual long run.

I planned to have a Clif bar around 7. I also planned to have my coffee & almond milk when I got up at 4:30 to help move my digestive tract along before my 5:30 departure. I decided to have a Clif Mojo bar with my coffee to put some easily digestible (for me, probably not for everyone) food into my stomach along with the coffee. The combo worked well. I actually ended up eating my other Clif bar while we were on the Silver Line metro around 6:40. It was a little earlier than I had planned, but I realized it was probably the calmest time to eat it and I didn't want to miss that opportunity. I felt like a real rebel, too, because I have never in my life eaten on the metro (which is against the rules). I was careful not to leave any crumbs or trash! I am usually not a rule breaker...

Getting to the Race
This was the first DC race that I traveled to by Metro. I was meeting Catherine, Christina, Sallie, and Mike at the Wiehle Silver Line Station with a plan to be on the platform by 6. There were delays in the system and the 6 am train came around 6:10 instead, but we had plenty of time so we didn't panic. Too much.

Sallie, Catherine, me, & Christina
waiting at the Metro in our warm throw-away clothes
(photo courtesy of Mike)

We got off at Rosslyn to transfer to the Blue Line. It was crowded, but not overwhelming. We waited a short time for a train and then headed to the Pentagon station. Again, it was crowded but not overwhelming. We followed the crowd and headed to the portapotties. The line wasn't too bad but we thought we could do better and headed to the back of the row, where we discovered more portapotties and almost no one in line. So my first race portapotty experience was a success!

We said goodbye to Mike as we got ready to go through security to the runners-only section with the race corrals. Mike took Sallie's glasses and offered us all water and gatorade before we split up. Thanks, Mike!

Mike's parting shot of us
before heading to the corrals

Hanging Out in the Purple Corral
We were starting in the purple corral, the 8th of 9 waves of race participants. The wheelchair athletes and Wounded Warriors started at 7:50. The next wave started at 8:00 with subsequent waves every 8 minutes. In the pre-race opening ceremony we watched the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team descend from the sky:

The entire group of Golden Knights

A closer picture of a single Golden Knight
(photo courtesy of Tracy)

During the pre-race ceremony I looked for the "Moms Run This Town" multi-chapter photo meet-up. I linked up with some other MRTTs looking for the meet-up. We realized we weren't going to find the official photo, so we took our own group photo:

Impromptu MRTT photo in front of the purple corral
Springfield, Alexandria, Herndon chapters
(and probably some others I forgot - sorry!)

The official MRTT picture we were trying to find

We settled into the purple corral and linked up with some of our fellow Potomac River Running Distance Training Program buddies:

PR Reston DTP! Don't judge us based
on our fashionable throw-away clothes.
We looked much better during the race!

It was great to be with such a big group, although we got separated into two groups when waves 5-8 moved up into the spots previously occupied by waves 1-4. While we were waiting to start the race we saw the first of the wheelchair athletes finish the race, followed by the first runners from wave 1. It's always a little strange to see people finish the race before you've even started, but it was inspiring and we cheered loudly.

The Race!
Finally, it was our turn to start at 8:48. I turned on Garmin live-tracker so Rick and Freddy could see my race progress from the computer at home. My plan for the race was to do 5:1 run:walk intervals and to run the second 5 miles faster than the first 5. My goal was to beat my Cherry Blossom 10-Miler time of 1:59:45. I was happy that Sallie, Catherine, and Christina all wanted to start the race together and follow the same strategy.

We crossed the 5-mile timing mat at 1:03:22. It doesn't take much math to figure out that I was really going to have to pick it up in the second 5 to make my goal. I struggled mentally for about a mile, not wanting to leave Sallie and Christina behind, but knowing that I needed to run my own race and push out ahead. I had mentally practiced and prepared for many parts of the race, but I hadn't planned on running with anyone so I hadn't mentally practiced what to say when we parted on the course. We hadn't agreed on a signal. I couldn't think of the right words, so I just ran ahead. And I felt like a crappy friend. I wish I had thought of something inspirational to say before I took off at the 10k timing mat.

I linked back up with Catherine again around mile 6.75 where her husband & kids were spectating. I said hi to them and felt like they were my surrogate race family. I felt inspired by Carter's smile. Catherine was treating ATM as a training run and didn't have a specific goal. She asked what mine was and I told her. We couldn't do the math to figure out exactly what pace we would need to run. We knew it would be challenging, but was feasible. We set out to make my goal! Catherine cheered me on, and reminded me periodically to keep my head up, shoulders relaxed, and pump my arms. I was so grateful for her support!

on the 14th St Bridge!
Catherine in yellow,
me in blue

After averaging 12:45 miles for the first 6 miles, we proceeded to run 11:05, 11:09, 10:43, 9:17 for the next four. I really didn't know I had it in me...I guess those track workouts are paying off! I crossed the finish line in 1:58:37, beating my Cherry Blossom time by 1 minute, 8 seconds. My Garmin also reported a new 5k record (32:05) and 10k record (1:09:43). I was thrilled!

After the race we picked up our finisher coins and headed to the long line for food. When we finally reached the front of the line, we were smacked in the face with "back of the pack" syndrome - most of the food was gone. While in line we saw people with plastic bags filled with chocolate muffins, granola, kashi bars, bananas, fruit cups, and other unidentified goodies. All that was left for us were bananas and fruit cups. Which is better than nothing, but doesn't quite hit the spot like the chocolate muffin you were anticipating. The same thing happened to me at Cherry Blossom.

We wandered around and found some of our PR DTP buddies as we worked our way to the "P" meetup area where we had planned to meet (P for PR).

Me, Catherine, Amy, Erika, Kathleen & Laura

Showing off our finisher coins!
(photo courtesy of Mike)

WWII Flyover after the race - WOW!!

Home Again, Home Again
Mike, Sallie, Catherine, and I stayed the longest. We were looking for Christina for a while, not realizing her phone had died and she had headed home. That gave the crowds some time to start dissipating, and Catherine & I found cookies and Rocklands bratwurst (thank you KBR for the bratwurst - it REALLY hit the spot!). We also found a nice (fast) runner who gave us his chocolate muffin and kashi bar after hearing our back-of-the-packers' tale of food woes. 

We saw the kids take off for the fun run, which was cute until one came back and nearly barreled into Catherine, causing her to tweak her knee. Oh, the irony of a post-race injury. Then we saw the Geico Gecko:

At the Pentagon, the Metro still looked a little crowded, so we kept walking to the Pentagon City station. We probably didn't save any time, but I like to think we saved some hassle & crowds, and we got in some good post-race movement. 

I finally made it back home at 2, hungry and ready for a shower. Rick & Freddy congratulated me on my race, gave me quesadillas to eat, and showed me the sign Freddy made for me:

Go Momster!

I was happy. Mission accomplished.


  1. I tried commenting on this yesterday, but my phone and comments don't seem to get along.

    Anyway, nice writeup, and glad you hit so many PRs and goals in ONE race! That's gotta feel great. I feel for you about the supplies at the end, though. As a mid-packer, I tend to not have a huge appetite after these races, so there's still all this food, but I don't want it. I just don't get the folks who stuff their bags, though. Like it's going to keep?? Are they going to serve it to guests? "Oh, hello Beatrice, so nice of you to stop by! Can I offer you a banana? A chocolate muffin? A Kashi bar that's been pulverized to the consistency of gravel?" It just seems weird.

    This race was my 10-mile PR race last year, and while the Reston Perfect 10 was a much harder course, it was my 2nd fastest 10-miler (despite doing speedwork the day before -- don't ask). Between the 2 races, I think I lean a little more towards the Reston one, although it's far, far easier for me to get to the Pentagon from Capitol Hill than out to Reston. Alas.

    Anyway, congrats on hitting so many goals! Well done!

    1. Thanks Tai! You win the prize for the longest blog comment I've gotten to date. And perhaps the funniest (pulverized to the consistency of gravel - so, so true). I'd like to do the Reston 10-mile course next year. And it's a little easier for me to get to than it is for you :)

    2. Haha! Oh dear, my day job's tendencies are coming through again . . .

      But you're quite welcome -- it was a nice recap, and I really enjoy different perspectives of racers. For instance, Adam L (whom you know), at LesserIsMore is of course lightning fast, and it's interesting to read his take on times that I couldn't clock even on a Segway. But I do like reading from runners of all abilities, because we ALL have the same doubts, struggles, and triumphs -- they just occur in difference places in the pack!

      Happy running!

    3. I liked getting a long blog comment; it wasn't a complaint by any means. One spends so much time writing, and you know people are reading and having thoughts about your writing, but those thoughts rarely come back to you. So I really appreciated it. (mental note...I should actually comment on your blog instead of just thinking about how funny it is and how clever the beavis & butthead clips are and such...)

      I find Adam's blog fascinating. The thoughts that go through his head during a race are so radically different from anything it would even occur to me to think about. It's like getting a glimpse into a different world. It blows my mind, in a good way.

      Happy running to you too!

    4. OK - I've read that Lesser is More blog before! And Tai_Fung - I think I want to read YOUR blog as well!

    5. Thanks! Although I'll apologize in advance for the disappointment, lol!

  2. I love your MOMSTER sign! That is so cute! Great race report and big congrats on your PR and a negative split! Fantastic job!!

    1. Thanks Gina! And I found out Freddy did the Momster sign all by himself, no help from Rick. I'm so proud of him :)

  3. Congrats on your new PR! Sorry we missed you at the picture but at least we saw you at the expo. Nice job friend!

    1. Thank you Deborah! It was great to see you at the expo. One of these days we will actually run together, or at least have coffee. In the meantime I will look forward to your monthly coffee date blog post. Hugs to you!

  4. Congrats on the 5K and 10K records and the finish! Great race poster!