Yesterday I ran my first long distance race (long as in more than 5k). It was also my second race ever. The Army Ten Miler was quite an experience and I really enjoyed it.
There are over 30,000 people who ran this race this year and I was somehow going to this race solo. A race is a little nerve-racking to begin with but going alone to such a HUGE race with no idea of how races go, made me even more nervous. I had NO IDEA what to expect and was just hoping for the best.
Because it was an 8 am start, metros opened up at 5 am for the race. I thought that was silly, do I really need to be there THAT early?
I woke up about 545 am and tried to sneak out of bed next to a restless and not 100%healthy toddler. Of course as soon as I moved, she stirred so I actually didn't get out of bed until 6:10am and at this point, Annabelle was awake too... 2 hours before her normal wake up time.
Luckily I had set all my stuff aside the night before and was quickly able to get ready. I had a banana (not my normal pre-run routine) and some coffee (decaf and I typically have coffee pre-run), then set out to the metro.
Here is Annabelle and I in a not so prepared photo (but the best one we got) before I left for the race!
When I got to the metro, I remembered i forgot to grab a candy just in case I started to get tired mid run (not the best energy but the only one ive tried mid run) and mentally told myself "it's not a big deal" !
I got on the train and sat next to another runner. Melissa, from VA who was actually moving to New Mexico after the race. She was Air Force. There was also another runner on the train next to us, brook. She was from North Carolina and army! Both had done this race before and after chatting a bit until we got to the pentagon stop, we all decided to stick together. The metro was a mess! This made the three of us feel much better since none of us knew anyone else at the race! We waited and eventually got out of the metro about 7am only to wait another hour in the bathroom line. We were able to start with the 815 wave which wasn't too bad and parted ways there. Thank GOD I met them! They really helped calm my pre-race nerves!
The race itself was pretty fun. I saw things like the "pee bridge" as one blogger/runner pointed out; where men just jumped off course to the nearest tree and peed on it. At one point I think I saw the backs of at least 10 men! Made me wonder why the men even used port o potties! They could have saved those bathrooms for the ladies to minimize lines!
I also saw old men, old women, young men, young women, men and women of all sizes struggling together en masse to finish this ten mile race. It brought a lot of energy to the race! The course at every point I was running was crowded. Even while running on constitution avenue where it is like six lanes wide, it was a little more bearable but still crowded.
I focused on the Gatorade stations to keep my energy up and when I got tired, I reminded myself to look around. The view was breathtaking and if not a nice view, I was running on parts of the road I wouldn't normally be able to run. I reminded myself to breathe it all in.
The water stations were very wet and sloppy. I didn't anticipate this but quickly got over it and was just grateful for all the volunteers who were graciously handing out water and Gatorade.
What surprised me was how many spectators I saw! So many people in droves. Moms & dads, grandparents, children and babies sitting outside on a fairly brisk day cheering on their loved ones and even strangers. It was encouraging.
Another aspect of this race that really inspired me was that I was running with wounded warriors! Men and women missing limbs were doing this ten miler, I had no excuse not to be giving it my all! And I did !!! When the hills came up, I focused on it as a short term goal and picked up the pace up hill and tried to dominate the hill. It made hills less intimidating and more fun! Around mile 8, I started to feel like I could vomit, not sure why, so I focused on evening out my pace and my breathing! And the distraction got me to mile 9 in a blink. Being at mile 9 was so exciting that I forgot I felt slightly nauseous at mile 8! I glided through that last hill, took the downhill with a little more vigor bc I knew the race was almost over and picked up my pace and my smile as I crossed the finish line!!! It felt so good to see the clock read 01:58:xx as I finished.
My personal goal was to finish the race and not get carted off the course by lagging too far behind. A bigger goal was to finish the race in 2 hours. That meant a 12min/mile pace. Since I finished it under 2 hours from the overall start, I knew I surpassed my goal and just felt really proud!
This is me immediately after finishing the race and as we were walking to the runner's area!!!
I finished (unofficially) the race in
Here I am right before my phone died waiting in line for the shuttle.
This was a huge accomplishment for me and while my husband wanted to bring Annabelle to the finish line to celebrate with me, I told him it would be way too hectic and too close to her nap time for it to be worth it. So I rushed home to see them! I'm glad they didn't come because it took me SO LONG to get home!
I thinking I waited in lines (exiting metro, bathroom, start, shuttle) for a longer amount of time then I actually ran for. I ended up walking to pentagon city metro to avoid the drama of getting in the huge line at pentagon metro (smartest decision of the day) but it still took me over 45 minutes to get home!