Every year ahead of Presidents Day weekend I get a little notice on my front door saying that there’s going to be a race that upcoming weekend and to be aware of the impact it might have to residents attempting to use the roadway that sits a a few yards from my front door. And almost every year…I sleep-in right through it.
This year though, would be different.
I figured it might make for a fun early season race – a bit of a barometer, but also something just for entertainments sake. Since the ‘commute’ to the start of the race would be about as short as it would ever get (actually, there’s a race in June that starts about 300 yards away in another park) – I had no excuse for not racing it.
The only catch would be, with only about a month of stable training under my belt, how would I fair? Further, with zero taper and the last build week of the set, how would it impact things? Well, let’s find out.
First up though – the pre-race. The race start was in front of the US Patent and Trademark complex, and in fact – the race headquarters was inside the giant atrium of the main building.
I think one might be able to consider this to be the best place on earth to house the pre-race packet pickup and staging area. First off, they had free parking in a covered garage connected via a covered walkway (and Metro access was just a few hundred yards away too).
Then, once inside everything was in the giant (warm) atrium.
They had real indoor bathrooms, a massive area for hanging out and getting changed, and even an indoor bag drop. Awesome.
About 15 minutes ahead of the race start I got out and ran about a 7-10 minute warm-up, just a nice easy pace at first and then built up to a bit quicker. Once completed, I found myself at the back of the massive pack of folks:
So I made my way closer to the start line…ok…not quite that close, but just behind them:
There, with 1-2 minutes until start, I found this gentleman. I’ve never seen someone so ready to roll…but he was definitely ready for the gun! Like the Boy Scout motto…be prepared!
And, as I was standing there waiting to start, I caught the below out of the corner of my eye. Just thought it made a good picture:
With that – off we went!
The first 2/3rds of a mile was slightly downhill – which only serves to help you overextend your starting pace a bit further. But fear not, a solid overpass shortly thereafter puts a dent in any attempts at going out too fast. Just at the very peak of this overpass was this volunteer. I’m sure that many of us thought that perhaps now would be a good time to turnaround, and still keep this a ‘fun run’:
With the bridge behind me, I made my way back home…quite literally. The next mile towards my house is pancake flat – but slightly uphill. After all, you’re going upriver. Once there, The Girl was hanging out in the median cheering.
She would be the only non-volunteer spectator out on the course, aside from the first/last hundred yards. She has her cheering report here.
From there I continued uphill. In fact, save for that first section, almost the entire first half is uphill. A gigantic false flat of sorts.
Also a false flat that I’m painfully familiar with. I’m used to doing interval sets up and down it – usually in one-mile increments. Here’s a quick overview of the ‘false flat’:
But I actually hadn’t done a 3-mile up-interval before on the street at full 10K race pace…so by time I got towards the top of the hill, I was hurting a bit. It’s right around here I had my first reader say ‘Hello’. Nice timing. That’s him below:
By hurting, I mean, my legs were on fire. Aerobically I was fine – heart rate at roughly 180bpm, but holding on. My legs though, they were just burning from Thursday night’s hour-long interval-tempo run thing.
Luckily, shortly after the above picture we got to turn around and head back down said hill. At this point I just focused on high turnover. I’ve run this section so many times fast that I know with it being downhill the only thing that’ll keep my pace up is high turnover (cadence).
Well, that and perhaps seeing George Washington himself. Funny, I didn’t think he’d look so cartoonish in real life:
A bit later I stumbled back on The Girl and our neighbor Mark, who were still out cheering (Mark was awaken by The Girl’s use of cowbell…).
Along the way I met up with a few more DC area folks that read the blog – cool to get to run with you! Finally, we had that darn bridge to cross over again. You might mistake the below brightness in the photo as being a lens flare from looking into the sun. In reality, it was me seeing white from wanting to pass out going over the bridge. Sorta like my skydiving experience, only without the 14,000 feet of elevation.
Finally, down the last half-mile stretch I latched on with another guy and we went surge for surge towards the finish, keeping that last section solidly in the 5-minute mile range. Ultimately though, with the hill earlier on, I slipped to just beyond the 40-minute marker.
No worries though, I’m running pretty quickly these days in training for being early season, and looking forward to the bit of a planned recovery week that I’m in this week after three tough build weeks culminating in the race.
At present I actually don’t have a full season scheduled planned out. I’m kinda taking it a few months at a time, based on how I feel. I’d rather go into a race feeling prepared than just doing it because it’s on my schedule. Sometimes work and travel might impact that – so I like the freedom of choosing less high profile races this year and then aiming to do them when I feel right. That means at the moment I’m tentatively planning on doing the GW Parkway 10-miler in April as my next race. But again, if life events change that – that’s cool too.
Finally, post race they had a fair bit of healthy food, and offered the ability to hang out indoors.
Also of note was that a rep from Motorola was there giving demos of the Motoactv! Pretty cool, plus he had free water bottles and little key/money holders for running.
I went back outside to enjoy the finish area, and the incredible weather. Could have asked for a nicer winter morning to hold the race.
In wandering back outside I met up with a ton of readers, so very cool to put faces to names. Awesome to chat with those that said hello! And of course, thanks for reading too!
With that – hope everyone who raced had a great race! And enjoy your week ahead!
Be strong Ray.
I am a vote for NO PETS even if it is a cute bunny.
No pets is a happy home.
Great timing, Ray! And good running form too!
@Nathan, some pets are cool though. Especially if they come to cheer you up during your run, like that cool shark.
Nice race report, Ray. I can’t believe they just let all those runners hang out in that Patent Building, it must not be part of the Federal Govt. stable (I think the Patent & Trademark Office is semi-private). You had some funny pictures, especially of that “ready” guy and the line of watch setters (no lefties in there).
Hey, that is a very cool pic of all of the watches. I like it. And I like the shark 🙂
C’mon, Ray, buy the Girl a bunny! Every girl needs a good pet! My husband finally caved and bought me a dog a couple years ago, and she puts me in a much better mood every day. I would think guys like it when girls are in better moods more often!
But you should keep the shark, too, because he is pretty awesome.
Give the Girl a bunny! It would make a great Easter present and I think it would get along splendidly with the shark!
Sorry, but if you are allowed t have all this exercise gear and bikes inside, than you have to allow a bunny (or two). Just be carefull to not eat ‘raisins’ that are on the floor.
Good time for a 10k (I would get about that time in a 5k, LOL)
I say YES!!! to the pet bunny. We have a New Zealand White. He’s cute and fluffy and has more personality than half the people I know. Plus he’s litter trained! The SPCA usually has a bunch for adoption especially around easter time. Do the right thing, rescue a bunny and make The Girl happy.
Nice run, and good to meet you — I only wish I’d thought to ask for a sticker.
(I was the woman in a red singlet and long black braided pony tail) — we finished in about the same time, so we must have been running near each other.)
I love your readers more and more!!! Bunny time don’t you think!??
Great report, although… I’m curious. How did you take those pictures on your run? Hopefully it’s just a camera on a gadget and not your fancy one (although that would be quite impressive).
Ray, it was great meeting you, even though the timing was not ideal (mile 3). I am amazed you were able to take a picture at that point. I was just trying to stay upright. We should have jumped on that bus when we had a chance. Fantastic race report!
I’ve boycotted that race for a decade after they cancelled in advance on the THREAT of snow that did not materialize, then did not give any refunds. You can make a lot more money on a race if you cancel and don’t have to pay the police costs, etc. Fool me once…..
The race is now run by Pacers (the local running shop), who has a pretty good record as far as races go.
Knowing Pacers races as well as I do, they’ll happily run through pigs falling out of the sky.
Dang. I was in that race, and missed the chance to say hi to one of my favorite bloggers. I did see the shark, though I didn’t make the connection to the shark that I had seen on your blog. I agree that the US PTO atrium is a fantastic place to host a winter race.
I am a big fan of sports(triathlon,running,..) and this is how I found your blog. I live far,far away (do you know where Barcelona is?)I enjoy reading your posts but the most I like is the huge quantity of pictures you add.I have never been in USA and the fact to add such a quantity of pictures gives to me the feeling I am there.
Keep running but also keep writing
This is a test to see how to link.
click here: link to quarq.com to see a bottom bracket