Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Army 10 Miler Review - Part 2

Back to the Army 10 Miler!  We left off part 1 with being in the corral holding area.  We listened to the first 4 waves go off and then waves 5 to 8 walked to the finish line in order.  We were in corral 7 so we slowly walked toward the start line as waves 5 and 6 went off.  And then it was our turn!

A view of the monuments in the distance from our corral

The race was huge, I heard more than 30,000 people. So it was crowded.  No way around that, especially at the beginning.  There was a spot in mile 1 where we were taking a ramp up to a bridge where the course narrowed so much everyone had to walk.  But I think that was the only part that was quite that crowded.  The rest of the course was full and I had to weave quite a bit but I never felt like I couldn't go my pace.  But I was in the back of the pack.  I imagine it was worse in the middle of the pack.  One place the crowds were really felt, even in the back, was at the water stops.  I'm really glad I had my hand held water bottle so I could ski most of the stops.  They were really crowded with an unbelievable number of cups on the ground.  It seemed to verge on dangerous.

Mile 1was a road from the Pentagon to the Memorial Bridge.  And then mile 2 was Memorial Bridge over to DC and this started the scenic part of the course.  It was absolutely beautiful.

Crossing the Memorial Bridge into DC

Mile 3 was through a bit of the city and mile 4 was a beautiful section by the river and the Kennedy Center.

Beautiful stretch by the river

Miles 5 and 6 were by the mall past the Smithsonian museums and the Washington Monument.  This section was also an out and back so it was cool to see runners on the other side.  I gave as many high fives as possible!

Lots of runners were stopping on the side to take photos during the race

Miles 7 to 9 were the hardest for me.  This was a bridge back to Virginia and no longer scenic.  The bridge was also steeply banked and this started up the knee pain again.  A lot of people around me seemed like they had given up and a lot of them were just walking.  I kept to my regular run/walk intervals but I was definitely flagging.

Miles 7, 8 and 9 were not pretty

Mile 10 perked me back up because I knew I was almost to the finish.  It also had a section in the Crystal City neighborhood where there were a lot of spectators and that was a nice boost as well.  The last bit of the race was another stretch of highway back to the Pentagon and we ended on the other side of the building from where we started.

So this was about my long run pace which had been my plan so I was ok with this time.  Especially when you add in the knee pain and the high wind.  It was windy for most of the race and there were parts with a rosette strong head wind blowing debris at us.  Add in the stops to take photos and I'm actually ok with my time on this race.  The only other 10 miler I've done was the Tower of Terror 10 miler in 2014 at Disney World.  That was my first big race, super crowded, and took me 2:30.  So this was actually even a PR!

After crossing the finish line, the organization continued to be efficient.  I didn't experience any bottle necks.  I walked along at a comfortable pace, got my finisher coin, water, a pre-package box of food in a plastic bag (so convenient!), and a banana.  I met up with my friends and then we found Mike at the family meet up area.  He had carried extra clothes for us so we didn't have to use bag check.

So there was a long walk from the finish area back to the start.  There was a shuttle but the line was huge, so we just decided to walk.  I think it took us 20 minutes plus another 10 minutes to walk to the garage where Mike had parked the car.  It seemed like everyone had parked there as it took forever to actually be able to drive out of the garage.

So that was my race experience!  We had a great time overall and all felt we would do this race again.

Pros - great pre- race communication, well organized, beautiful course, mostly flat, 15 minute per mile pace requirement, really smooth post-race area, plenty of water stops, military bands along the course, and supporting the military and the environment that comes along with that.

Cons - difficult race morning logistics with the start at the Pentagon, crowded, long walk or shuttle line to get back to the start