Sunday, September 20, 2015

Navy-Air Force Half Race Recap

Wow, what a race this was! I am so glad that Coach Adam encouraged me to sign up for it and to use it as a pre-MCM fitness test. It fit the bill perfectly and left me feeling confident.


The day before the race I was surprised by how anxious and undecided I felt. I didn't expect that since this was just an impulsive tune-up race, not my big goal race. My tummy felt unsettled and I couldn't decide what to wear for the race, what to bring in my checked bag, whether I needed throwaway clothes. It made me realize that the more of these decisions I can make in advance for MCM, the less frazzled I'll be before the race.

I finally picked out some race clothes, and I turned my attention to figuring out my race dots. I had trouble with them last week, but so many of my friends rave about them that I knew I had to be doing something wrong. I did what I should have done in the first place: watch the video about how to use them. And there it was - I was trying to make adjustments to my bib position by moving my bib, when I should have been gently moving the race dots. Success!

I finalized my race strategy, target pace, and goals and went to bed early, setting the alarm for 4:30.

Flat Kim, ready to race!


Although Metro was opening early for the race, a 6 am opening isn't early enough for a 7:10 race, especially for the Reston suburbs. I made plans to meet Sallie, Mike, Mekhla, and Viji close to the Metro station (giving us the option to come back by Metro after the race if we got separated). Viji was so awesome - she drove us to the race and supported us on the course with cheers and pictures.

Sallie, Mike, Mekhla & me
Early morning drop-off on Constitution Ave.
(picture courtesy of Viji)

The early morning view was beautiful

We headed to the porta-potties and there was no line! We started walking towards bag check and saw that there were already long lines for the porta-potties that were directly behind the ones we used. It was just like last year at Army Ten-Miler...people don't think to look on the other side because they don't realize there is a whole row behind the row they can see.

Bag check was very well organized and quick. And the volunteers were so nice! I ended up taking off my throwaway jacket and putting it in my bag before I checked it because it wasn't that cold. I did have arm warmers on that I was planning to put into my hydration vest right before the race started. And that ended up being the right call; I was comfortable before the race and happy to have the jacket as an extra layer after the race.

We met up with some other folks from PR Training and talked about the race. Then I left to go to the Moms Run This Town photo by the Washington Monument, planning to meet back up with my PR buddies after the photo. There were so many MRTT ladies and it took us a bit to get organized and capture the moment. By the time I made it back to the medical tent, my buddies were gone. I waited for a few minutes, and then headed to the starting corral.

Multi-Chapter Moms Run This Town Half-Marathon photo


I seeded myself in the 12+ starting area. I knew that I would be going faster than that ultimately, but I like to start conservatively, so that seemed like the right choice. I chatted with the woman next to me and she put my arm warmers into the back of my vest for me. We wished each other luck as the race started.

My plan was to run just under a 12 min/mile pace overall (goal time of 2:37), starting a tad slower than that and picking up the pace after mile 6. While on the course I checked my time against the course mile markers, but I'm going to describe my pace using my Garmin splits since that is what I have readily available. 

Mile 1 - Independence Ave
  • My first mile was 12:03 and I wondered if I had gone out a smidge too fast

Miles 2-6 - East & West Potomac Park
  • I adjusted my pace (I thought), but miles 2 and 3 both came in at 11:25
    • I felt good, but worried that I was going faster than I planned
  • I adjusted again (I thought), and miles 4 and 5 came in at 11:18 and 11:20. Hmm.
    • I decided to try to keep it steady, rather than starting to speed up after 6 miles
  • I saw Viji cheering - yay!
  • Mile 6, 11:14
    • I sure hope I don't regret this in the 2nd half of the race

Miles 7-12 - Out & Back on Rock Creek Parkway
  • We could see the runners coming back on the other side so I started to watch for Mike
    • I saw him at (my) mile 7.2 
  • I looked up and saw tiny yellow leaves falling on our heads like snow
    • It made me think of the Cherry Blossoms from the 10-Miler last spring
  • Miles 7 and 8 came in at 11:22 and 11:26
    • We were running gradually uphill and I was feeling mentally tired of the same scenery
    • I watched for Mekhla, but didn't see her
  • Mile 9, I kept looking for the turnaround that never. seemed. to. come.
    • We were now running steeply uphill - where is the turnaround?!
    • Finally, the turnaround, and we were coasting downhill! 11:13
  • Mile 10, working to keep the pace steady
    • I watched for Sallie, but didn't see her. 11.21
  • I was feeling strong and decided it was time to pick it up; I only had a 5k left, I could do that much a little faster, couldn't I?
    • Mile 11 was 11:14, Mile 12 was 10:53 - wow, where was this coming from?

Mile 13.1 - Independence Ave
  • I realized I was going to come in under 2:30 if I could stay strong 
    • I turned the effort up another notch
  • I saw Viji again - yay!
  • I saw Mike and he asked me how I was feeling. Awesome!
  • Mile 13, 10:04!!!
    • I think (know) I said a curse word out loud I was so surprised
  • And I finished off the last 3/10 of a mile at a 9:12 pace for an official finish time of 2:28:43
    • So much for that goal time of 2:37, huh?

Splits from my Garmin

Viji Sighting at Mile Marker 12!
(photo courtesy of Viji)

New records for me!

Post Race

A really nice woman put a medal around my neck. I headed towards runners village to find some water and food. Both were easy to find, and I appreciated that the food came in a pre-packaged box that you got in exchange for the ticket on your race bib. Back-of-the-pack runners like me appreciate a system that keeps the food from running out before we get there. 

I went to bag check where there was again no line and a nice volunteer. She found my bag almost before I got to the tent. I found a spot on the grass and gingerly sat down. I pulled out my "She Believed She Could, So She Did" socks and my Cherry Blossom shirt, which both have special meaning to me, and proceeded to change into them. 

I discovered that my big toe was bloody and my second toe was blistered. Ouch! Good thing I had wipes, Ruby's lube and bandaids in my hydration vest. I cleaned the situation up, and headed over to Viji's car, where Mekhla was waiting. 

We talked about the race and enjoyed our post-race munchies. Pita chips, cheese spread, salt & pepper cashews, applesauce, caveman bar, wafer cookie, and a banana. Yum! What a nice variety of snacks. I was bummed to discover that the much-anticipated Nestle Quik chocolate milk was not part of the box and must have been in a different tent that I hadn't noticed. 

Mike texted us a picture of Sallie finishing strong. They were heading to the Redskins game after the race, and rumor is that Sallie enjoyed a Johnny Rockets Chocolate Milkshake with Jack Daniels in it. Guess she didn't mind missing the chocolate milk!

Mekhla, Viji, and I headed home, reflecting on how grateful we each felt for the experience. 

We did it!
(photo courtesy of Viji)
Feeling confident about MCM!


  1. Congrats again, Kim! This is so great!! Looking forward to following you at MCM!!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Deborah! There was such a great MRTT turnout for this race.

  3. Great race! So many MRTT members ran this my whole FB feed was full all day - I love it. The weather was amazing too!

    1. Thanks Coco! The weather was wonderful. There were so many MRTT visors and shirts on the course - it was awesome :)

  4. way to go! you are going to rock mcm - hope to meet you out there :)

    1. Thank you Courtney! I hope we meet there, too :)

  5. Congrats!! MCM - watch out for Kim!! Great recap - I hope they keep this reverse course for next year.

    1. Thanks! The reverse course was cool - it made the trip around hains point seem shorter.