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Oct 14 / Jane

Army Ten-Miler 2014

Several months ago my plan for 2014 was to complete the Spartan Trifecta. Beyond the Beast on September 20th, I had made no plans for fall races. That’s when my friend Beth invited me to run the Army Ten-Miler with her on October 12th. I’d known from a co-worker last year that the race sells out very quickly, so when registration opened, and I saw that my friends Dan and Amanda had signed up to run it as well, I put the race on my calendar. I was in!

I didn’t think much about it before last week. I arrived at Beth and her boyfriend, Brett’s place on Saturday afternoon. We took the Metro to packet pick-up and were disappointed to find they’d run out of every race shirt size other than men’s large. How does that happen? We picked up some goodies and headed back to their place before picking a Mexican joint for dinner. Quesadillas and a pitcher of margaritas later, we were setting our alarms for 5:30 am.

5:30 am came faster than expected. We were out the door and in a crowded Metro train within the hour. By the third stop, it was standing room only and I don’t think we could have fit another person in the train car! The station was worse when we arrived, still full from the previous drop off. We meandered towards the start, in the parking lot of the Pentagon. I checked a bag with sweats for after the race. The forecast called for sunny skis and temps in the low 50’s: good running weather, but I figured I’d be freezing once I stopped moving.

We were in the corral by 7:30 am. The race began at 8 am, but would be in a wave start; 8 waves with 8 minutes in between each. We were Wave 4. I shed my $5 Goodwill sweatshirt once the canon signaled the start at 8:24 am, and we were off. I was hoping to keep a 9 minute pace, finishing at 1:30. Brett was looking to do the same. Beth would meet us at the finish.

Beth and I in the corral before the start

Beth and I in the corral before the start

We started running towards DC, over a bridge to the back of the Lincoln Memorial. We turned left and looped around, towards the National Mall. We didn’t run on the Mall, but around it. It was a scenic course, although I seemed to find some of the points I’d really like to look around and enjoy DC were right when I was picking which volunteer soldier to grab a drink from. Oh well. It wasn’t completely flat, with some small rolling hills and over two bridges in and out of DC, but it definitely was not hilly.

Brett and I stuck together, at mile 5 we checked in: if you’re up to it, go ahead, I’ll meet you at the finish. -Ditto. We were running a consistent 8:30 pace, and it felt good. Comfortably hard. We hit the 6 mile and I thought (and said) “less than 5k to go!” I do that during the half marathon too: at 9 miles I always think it’s only 5k to the finish. Oops? My running brain cannot do basic addition. So we ran on, and over a bridge back into VA. Mile 8, still feeling good. Mile 9, who cares if you’re feeling good? ONE more mile, GO!

We rounded a corner and a spectator shouted, “just past the bridge!” I saw the Army banners signaling a finish chute and figured the finish was just out of sight. I hit the beginning of the banners and lengthened my stride, all the way through the finish. I had a little too much left at the end, which makes me think 8:30 may not be out of the question for the Trenton Half… But I can worry about that later. Brett and I had just destroyed our 1:30 goal with a 1:25 finish!!  And we’d done it together.

This was my first time racing 10 miles, and I loved it! My official time was 1:25:17.

With Beth a bit behind us, we walked through the chute, collecting water and our finisher coin, waiting in line for snacks; then we found free coffee at the USO booth. Mmmmm, coffee! There were TONS of vendors at the finish, maybe more than at the race expo the day before, so we walked around a bit, collecting more snacks and smoothies. Back at the finish, we reunited with Beth and continued visiting various vendors. Before heading back to gear check and the Metro we met with Dan and Amanda. It is always good running into friends who run. 😉

Coffee and coin (in contrast to beer and medal)

Coffee and coin (in contrast to beer and medal)

Beth, Brett and I with reenactors at the finish

Beth, Brett and I with reenactors at the finish

With Dan and Amanda

With Dan and Amanda

We walked back to the start together and picked up my gear bag. It ended up not being worth checking anything since the gear check was so far from the finish it would not be an option to quick grab your things then walk around the finish festival… Thankfully, it stayed warm-enough I was not uncomfortable. The ROTC tent was also handing out free t-shirts so I took a large to give to Alex and wore over my race outfit (tank top) until I was reunited with my sweatshirt. We Metro’ed back to their place, and had a short lay-over before heading out to Beth’s friend’s 25th birthday brunch.

Bottomless mimosas and a personal pizza later, we were playing Pay Day in a bar back near Beth and Brett’s place. Beth and I grabbed a quick bite on the way back to her place and hung out until it was time for me to drive home. I opted for a night drive to avoid traffic. My sore legs appreciated cruise control, and the easy drive made easier by an audiobook (Gone Girl, not sure how I feel about it…).

I had today off to sleep in and catch up on a couple things. All I did was shop and clean the pantry. I’ve had some time to reflect on the weekend though, and it was AWESOME.

I really enjoyed spending time with Beth and Brett. They were so welcoming and flexible with me. The race was great. I was nervous with the amount of people running it: big races are not my thing. The expo turned me off a bit since the first thing we did was receive the wrong shirt size. Then the Metro became incredibly claustrophobic. The start brought some much needed fresh air and the waves moved very smoothly. We did do a decent amount of bobbing and weaving on the course, but it didn’t feel as crowded as other races have. The finish area was large and I had decent cell service so it made getting back together easier. I really do love DC, and I have so many friends (excuses) to visit! I hope to get back there again soon (and with Alex next time!). It was such a short trip!

WWII planes in formation over the finish

WWII planes in formation over the finish

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