Race 4 of 4, in 4 weekends
Every year since I have lived in the DC area, my mom has come up from Florida for a Girl’s/Army 10 Miler weekend. My favorite part about the weekend (besides running 10 miles) is that I get my mom all to myself! When I go home to Florida, I have to share her with my dad and sisters – Army 10 Miler weekend, it’s 100% uninterrupted Mom/MP time – and I love it! Since my mom is the reason that I am a runner, it seems fitting that our girl’s weekend would include a 10 mile run. No shopping sprees or mani/pedi’s for us – we are all about the Army 10 Miler!
Expo: One statement – I love Expo’s! I love getting 20% off running shorts. I love discounted running shoes. I love One More Mile slogans, like “One Bad Mother Runner” and “Toenails are for Sissies”. I love to people watch.
And this year, I love TRX. Since the website says it better than me, TRX Suspension Training gives athletes, military personnel and fitness pros a complete total-body training tool and the cutting-edge training programs they need to take their performance to the next level (yes, I will) . The main reason I love TRX: I won one – for free – by winning the “low row” contest. My new friend Shawn (see picture below), told me that he would give me one, on the spot, if I could do 30. I made it to 24 and had to call it quits. However, 24 placed me #1 for most female rows. So, I still won (awesome, right?!)! I seriously think that TRX will take my workout routine to a whole new level – and I can not wait to start using it! (Thanks Shawn!)
After we left the expo, with new shorts, a pair of running shoes and 3 running tops, we headed to my favorite pre-race restaurant – Faccia Luna – and ordered a delicious pizza. Since high school, I have eaten pizza before every road race – it’s the one routine superstition that I can not give up. Delish dinner with mom and BJ, wine, dessert – and off to bed. I needed as much “dreaming-of-a-PR” sleep as possible.
Race Day: We woke up to awesome weather – it was a little chilly but I knew it would warm up, so I wasn’t concerned. The forecast: 72 and partly sunny. I love awesome running weather! Mom, BJ and I got to the race about 1 hour before the 8am start. We got to see the beautiful sunrise, the Golden Knight parachute team and cheer on the Military Veterans and amputees who started at 7:45am. 8am race start – I was ready to rock the ATM!
Since the 2009 Army 10 Miler marked the 25th Anniversary of racing, they opened the race to 30,000 runners! Since there were 30,000 runners, they had specific waves for specific race numbers (all color coordinated by having same-color race numbers and balloon arches indicating the wave). Since I was bib number 2245, I was in the wave (#2) behind the elite runners. However, like any big race, with 30,000 runners, 96 year old, Grandma Betty, with bib number 29,987, thought she could start in wave #2, too. Sorry, grandma – you can’t! My biggest frustration (besides not enough water) is runners who think that they can start whenever they want. There are wave starts, bib numbers and timing chips FOR A REASON! If you’re not in my wave, don’t start running with me!
Miles 1 – 1.5: I spent the entire first mile (and next half mile) running in and out of people that started in the wrong wave. I had to slow down, break my pace and actually walk around people. I had to yell: “on your right”, “or your left” and “in the middle” too many times to remember. Seriously, people, you think that’s acceptable?! Now, please don’t get my wrong, I am not an elite athlete nor do I think that I am “so awesome” that I’m not human, but I just don’t understand why people start in the wrong wave. It is clearly marked, there are a million color-coordinated balloons to help you, should you get confused, AND, for the love of God, you know you are not running that fast!
Surprisingly, I crossed Mile 1 in 7 minutes (it should have been faster but honestly, I’m surprised it was that fast).
By mile 4 I realized that I was consistently running 7 minute miles and wondered if I could keep that pace for 6 more miles. I felt really strong – plus, my mom gave me some awesome advice the night before. Awesome mom advice: it doesn’t hurt any more to run a 7 minute/mile than it does to run a 7:15/mile or a 7:36/mile (my pace from last year). What the hell – I’ll keep running a 7 minute mile – and I’ll be done sooner! I love mom advice, especially because moms are generally right.
I saw BJ around Mile 7 (for me – and Mile 5.5 for him). We always get excited to see each other and I love when he tells me that I look strong, or yells: “Go Melly go!” Since he knew that I was a faster runner than him, even before we started dating, he is the most supportive and awesome boyfriend on race days!
Approaching Mile 8, I still felt really strong, continued to pass people and knew I only had 2 miles left. A little blister started to form (I really need some blister advice – how do I make them stop??) – but with 2 miles left, I knew that I could run through the annoyance and deal with it later. Still on a 7-ish pace, I tried to pick up the pace, even if just a little tiny bit. I hit Mile 9, only 4 laps around a track left, and started to pass runners one by one. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but as a former 400m runner, I still feel really strong at the end – and am usually able to find a little extra kick somewhere deep down!
With (probably) half a mile left, I looked down at my watch and realized that if I kept running hard (and fast), I would:
A) Shatter my time from last year (2008: 1:16:01)
B) Run under 1:10:00 – which means my pace would less than 7 minute/mile.
I sprinted to the finish line – and crossed in 1:09:58!! Even, if just barely, that’s a sub 7 minute/mile pace – and 6 minutes and 2 seconds faster than last year!! (YAY!!)
Overall Time: 1:09:58 (6:59 pace)!!!!
Age Group: 32/1966
I am so thankful for:
A) Awesome weather!!!
B) My best ATM ever (this was my 3rd year running) – I ran 10 miles at a 6:59 pace!
C) My mom being able to run the whole race – and not stop (It’s a LONG story but my mom had a terrible horse accident less than one month before the race and she wasn’t even sure she would be able to run)!!!
D) A PR for BJ, too!
Awesome things about this race:
1) Location – close to home, the race starts and finishes at the Pentagon
2) Supporting our Troops! I’m an Army Brat, so I have a special place in my heart for the men and women that serve our country! I clapped and thanked every amputee I saw on the run (and after) – they deserve it.
3) Washington D.C. – shit happens here. It’s cool to run 10 miles in and around our Nation’s Capitol!
4) Hundreds of AWESOME volunteers – some civilians, some Military personnel.
5) The ATM is beyond organized – probably one of the best organized races in the U.S.
6) Awesome expo – see 3rd paragraph, above.
7) The after party is so much fun! There are tents everywhere, good food and everyone is having a good time.
Not so awesome things about this race:
1) Very, very crowded. Because this race is so well organized, 30,000 runners just barely works – however, I am NOT happy about the “laissez faire-ness” of the bib numbers and wave starts. There are HUNDREDS of [handsome] military guys working this race – you need to enforce it, fellas.
2) 30,000 runners – YOU ALWAYS NEED MORE PORT-A-JOHNS. Yes, trust me, you do! (I almost missed the start of the race but thankfully a very kind man (who was obeying his later wave start/time) allowed me to cut in front of him – I just barely made it in time.)
Verdict: I love this race for a number of reasons, including my mother/daughter weekend, great weather and another reason to support our troops! I’m 3 years strong – and I hope I can run this for (at least) another 25 years. We will be there in 2010 for round #4!
Overall Score: 9