Sunday, May 27, 2018

National Women's 8k Recap

Last June I registered for the Inaugural National Women's Half Marathon, even though I was still learning how to manage hallux rigidus and didn't know if I could actually run a mid-distance race again.

It was low-risk because they were running a special registration promotion - some slots for $1, some for $5, some for $10... When registration opened, I went right for a $10 slot figuring most people would try for the lowest ones first.

That strategy worked, and I registered for $10. I figured I could always transfer to the 8k, or even blow it off completely without losing much.


I started training for the race with the Reston Potomac River Running Cherry Blossom Ten Mile program. The half marathon was three weeks after Cherry Blossom, so the ten-mile program lined up fairly well with a half marathon training program.

A few weeks out from Cherry Blossom, I realized I needed to plan those final weeks beyond the program - and that's when things began to unravel. During the program, I had built-in long runs with PR Training. Then I looked ahead, starting with Cherry Blossom weekend, and realized I had a problem. 

While everyone I was training with had a 10 mile run on April 8th, I didn't. Being the social media coordinator for Cherry Blossom meant my weekend would be beyond full covering the expo, answering last-minute social media questions from runners & spectators, working the race, and responding to the post-race social media chatter. All of that busyness also comes with some sleep deprivation. There would be no opportunity for a long run that weekend

As I looked at the following weekends and our family commitments, I realized that I didn't have the time to properly complete my half marathon training. There was a 4-hour time limit, so I could certainly finish the race, but I wouldn't be able to push myself to the limit and run a race I would be proud of. 

I transferred to the 8k a month before the race and felt tremendously relieved. I found it a bit funny that it cost me $15 to transfer my $10 registration.

The race shirt had a flag on the back & heart logo on the front.
We also got a blue drawstring bag with the race logo on it.

Race Morning

The logistics for race morning were plagued by the all-too-familiar lack of an early Metro opening. Metro now charges exorbitant fees to open early, and won't open earlier than 7 am even if those fees are paid, so there is just no way around this for early morning races, especially those operating on a tight budget.

West Potomac Park, where the race was staged, is a bit of a hike from metro anyway. It's also a bit of a hike from parking garages. We were very fortunate to have Jen's brother, Jonathan, drive us into DC and drop us off close to the Lincoln Memorial. Thank you Jonathan!!

After drop off, our next challenge was staying warm! It was a cold and blustery day, not the type of weather one would expect in DC at the end of April. We spent a chunk of time under a tent that had a heater as well as booths offering sunscreen, makeup, and hair braiding.

Jen said I looked like I was ready for
a hazmat situation

The Race 

I started the race with Ritu, but I knew she was too fast to stay with me for long. The first mile was pretty congested and it took us nearly 14 minutes. Soon after that mile, I saw Ritu's ponytail quickly disappearing into the crowd in front of me.

I picked up my pace a little bit and finished the next two miles in 13.33 and 13:31. The fourth mile, though, things started to feel really hard. The wind was blowing directly in our faces. I had a lot of negative self-talk running through my mind and wondered why I even sign up for races now that I'm so much slower than I used to be pre-hallux rigidus. 

I switched my intervals to walk 2 minutes, run 1 minute and felt like I was letting myself down and that I should be mentally tougher. After the race I looked at my heart rate data and saw that even with the increased walk interval, my heart rate was way up during that mile...walking more was a smart choice and I wasn't being weak like I thought I was.

I promised myself I would switch back to 1:1 intervals for the last mile. This turned out to be easier than I expected because (1) we left Hains Point and the wind was no longer blowing directly in our faces, and (2) we rejoined the half marathon course and it was motivating to be running alongside those fast early finishers. I redeemed myself with a final mile of 12:11 and patted myself on the back.

Crossing the finish line

Post Race

It was really cold so we didn't hang around long after the race. We headed toward the metro, pausing to take a quick selfie by the Lincoln Memorial. 

Jen, Lynn, & me - cold but proud!

Back in Reston, we had a celebratory brunch at Founding Farmers which was truly amazing - for both the variety of incredible food at the buffet and the really expensive price tag that went along with it. It was worth it, but not an expenditure I would make very often!

Would we do this race again? Registration opened a couple of weeks ago and we jumped on those promotional prices again. All three of us registered for the half marathon, Lynn & I for $10 and Jen for only $5! I'm still not sure if mid-distance races are a realistic choice for me any longer, but perhaps we'll find out next year.


  1. Great going! I logged in to the registration mid-morning and it was already beyond bargain rates, so I passed. Not sure I need another race around Hains Point anyway. ;-)

    1. Good call to pass and there is definitely no need for another race around Hains Point.

  2. You did kind of look like you were ready for a Hazmat situation! Great idea to switch to the 8K and not be stressed.

    1. Thanks! I wouldn't be surprised if I end up running the 8K instead of the half again next year.