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!