Alternative Title I: Finally!
Alternative Title II: Adventures of blurry cam!
But more on the alternative titles in a bit. Let’s get to the start first.
And getting to the start required the Metro. It’s just so much easier for downtown races, given how limited parking is in that core area. Further, with the start line literally right at a metro station, it couldn’t have been much easier. So we got onboard, vegged out, and a short bit later arrived downtown.
Upon arrival I took care of packet pickup. Another thing I love about running races – the vast majority of them allow packet pickup the morning of, none of this wasted time the night before picking up a packet usually required – even for a Sprint/Oly distance triathlon race.
The race used the throw-away RFID tags, which are great for events like this with tons of people – minimizing the costs of lost tags.
We had some time to burn before we started our warm-up, so we loitered around a bit and watched a number of very energetic folks dancing to all sorts of music – from the Macarena to the latest Hip-Hop, all just a few blocks from the White House – and with a backdrop of the Capitol.
After that we headed out on a 15 minute warm-up run. About 10 minutes easy, and then a slightly pushed pace for the last five minutes, just slowly building pace. If timed perfectly thus would put us at the start line within five minutes of go-time. We ended up going out to the Mall to have enough space to get in 2 miles of running.
(Sorry about all the blurry pics. With the drizzling and mist and low light, my little Optio camera wasn’t in happy land. I’m hoping that the new version which comes out in two weeks (woot!) will fix some of this.)
We made it back to the start line without issue, and got all lined up. For me, it was basically on the line. Or about the second row back.
After a ‘long pause’ – we were off!
The overall pacing strategy set by Coach for this race was conservative, so I just started out kinda easy and looked to build into it. The challenge is remembering what’s easy pace-wise those first few hundred meters. Had I not checked Mr. Garmin I would have fallen/stayed in a rut of a 5:15/mile pace – which was a fair bit faster than I had planned to run. So I kept it easy and kept on trucking.
The first mile or so this put me at about a 5:45/mile pace – right about where I wanted to be, building a bit in the bank time-wise. Right around the first mile marker you hit a bit of a climb – nothing significant, but enough to slow your pace (or increase your effort). I ended up finishing the second mile right at 6:00 flat – about right including the hill.
As I was running back down the hill I got to see the full crowd coming towards me (the course double back on itself). I took a picture and went ahead and made it blurry (on purpose of course) – just so you know how I felt:
From there we ran past the front of the Capitol and across the mall. My third mile was pretty solid, clocking in a 5:48 pace according to Mr. Garmin. But this also includes the tiny bit extra I was running. As I’ve mentioned before – you tend to run longer than the course is measured due to ones inability to run the exact course. Taking turns wide costs you time – specifically me time in this case. I’d guess it cost me about 35 seconds. You can see that easily in the table below (an actual 8K race is 4.96 miles – I ran 5.06 miles.):
Soon we were heading back down the home stretch – and I was pretty happy with my pacing.
(This will probably be the only race this year where I actually take the camera on course, I only do that for races I’m not terribly concerned about results…It also helps to keep things a bit more entertaining for me when the going gets tough.)
I was executing just about perfectly on the race plan with a very even build over the course of the race. You can see it was fairly conservative in the first half a mile. And you can also see the shift of pace around the 3 mile marker, per Coach Alan’s plan.
I should point out I’ve never actually raced an 8K race before (well, ok, I’ve done the Turkey Trot twice now – which is a 5-miler, but both times it was in a Turkey Costume, so that doesn’t really count). It turns out 8K is a rather nice distance – you still hurt aerobically, but you can also have fun with it. Before I knew it, I was coming down the home stretch towards the (blurry) finish:
As for the final time – 29:45. Which, per the official results is a 5:59/mile average pace.
Which, officially makes it the first race I’ve gone sub-6 in (I don’t count the 3K races I’ve done in this little tally – and I have yet to do a standalone 5K race.). I’ve been trying to break that barrier for a bit, and always ended up at like 6:01/mile. Now I’m looking forward to racing a bit more aggressively and starting to pull that pace in some more – I think I have a fair bit of leeway possible in that area.
I do want to comment on the awesomeness of post-race food they had – St. Patrick’s Day themed cookies! Real ones, made by a real bakery. None of these little plastic wrapped ones made 12 years ago and recently found in an old box deep in the closet.
Turns out – that despite wearing my Team Failboat shirt in the race, it wasn’t too much of a Failboat after all. Woot!