Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The 2016 Army Ten Miler

This should be brief, but it isn't....

tl;dr version
I ran the Army Ten Miler on October 9th.  I finished with a time of 1:15:25 (7:33 avg pace).

This was my second ten mile race, but the first one I entered (the 2015 Cherry Blossom) was cut to 9.5 mile because of an accident on the course. So technically, this was my first.  Either way I got a PR because my time for Cherry Blossom was 1:16:34.  The Army Ten Miler is large race with a field size of about 35,000

I entered this race months ago but didn't train for it specifically.  I was training for a November marathon up until mid-September but changed my mind about that.  I got in some long runs up to 20 miles before abandoning marathon training.  After the 20, I focused on shorter distances and tried to see how well my legs responded to getting in some speed work.

Race Day
The race begins and ends at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  Because the DC Metro is trying to recover from years of neglected maintenance, they aren't opening early for anything right now.  With an 8:00 start time, that meant I needed to find another way to get downtown.  Parking was very limited and I don't know the area very well so I was nervous about arriving late.  I planned to run the race with my friend Linda, but she was in the same boat as me.  Cindi saved the day by volunteering to get up before dawn and drive us to the race.  The plan was to meet Linda at the Shady Grove Metro station where would leave her car, drive to the race and then take Metro back so Cindi wouldn't have to come get us.  This ended up working out great.  A few days before the race I was contacted by Evan, another local runner looking to carpool.  So he met me at my house at 5:15 on the morning of the race and we set off to meet Linda.  We got about half way down the road when I realized that I had forgotten to put on my Garmin and it was too late to turn around and get it.  I only freaked out for a couple seconds and then I laughed.  I quickly decided to just roll with it and run the race by feel.  I sometimes think focusing on what the Garmin is telling me can dictate how I run the race too much.

Cindi dropped us off near the start and we checked bags, used the port-o-John and found our way to through the corrals. The Army Ten Miler has a wave start.  When I signed up for the race I chose a projected finish time that was a lot slower than I planned to run.  Linda and Evan were both in Wave 1 but I was in Wave 2.  With a little encouragement from my friends, I walked up to Wave 1 with the faster runners. Because it was cold and windy, everyone had extra clothing on to keep warm so my green bib was covered up.  Once we got up to the wave 1 corral we ran a little to warm-up and settled into a spot about 2/3 of the way back.

The Race
Once the gun sounded it took about 2 minutes to get to the start line.  I felt myself reach for my wrist as I crossed the timing mat even though I knew my Garmin was still sitting safely at home on the charger.  The field was crowded but not so much that I felt held back or needed to do a lot of zig-zagging to pass people.  We got to the first mile marker and I was pleasantly surprised to see there was a clock there with the gun time.  I made a mental note of the time and hoped that there would be one at the next mile.  When I got to mile marker two I was happy to see another clock running. My mile time between 1 and 2 was at about 7:35.  To reach my goal of sub 1:16:00, that was about where I needed to be. So while I didn't have the constant input from my watch, I was at least able to see how well I was staying on pace as each mile passed.

The course takes you through downtown DC and past a lot of monuments and memorials.  However, we could have been anywhere as far as I noticed.  When I'm racing my focus is almost entirely on trying to maintain good running form and keeping my pace under control.  At one point I glanced over to my left and saw the Washington Monument rising up into the sky but otherwise I couldn't really tell you what we passed and when.  I'm always impressed by how well other people remember race details.

After the first few miles it seemed like I was holding pace right around 7:30.  I was a little surprised by that but the effort felt like something I could sustain for the entire 10 miles so I just went with it.  By the time I passed the 8 mile mark I was ready for the finish line.  Using my crude math skills, I determined that I still had two more miles to run.  Mile 9 was right at 7:30 pace and I tried to give a little kick for mile 10 but I don't think I manged to go much faster.  After what seemed like an eternity, I spotted the finish line but I didn't have anything left for a sprint.  I was just fine with that because I wasn't in the mood to throw up.

I forgot to check the gun clock as I crossed so I didn't know my time until later that evening when I was able to look it up on the race website.

Net Time: 1:15:25
Gun Time: 1:17:01
Overall Place: 1917 out of 24,077
Gender Place: 1637 out of 12,777
Division Place: 94 out of 1335

I met up with Evan first and we traded war stories until Linda found us.  We chatted and shared our thoughts on the race as we made our way back to pick up our bags and jump on the Metro.  I got home around noon and had a great breakfast and spent some time in the hot tub.  Later I watched the Redskins beat the Ravens and had a beer and some pizza.  You can't ask for a better day than that.