Sunday, October 5, 2008

Army Ten Mile

[apologies for the long post, got a little out of hand]

Summary: 58:20 chip time, 86th place overall

Narrative :

I cruised down pitch-black 295 doing about 75 at 5:30 this the morning, heading to the biggest race I've ever run in (people-wise). I couldn't figure out how to get down to the Pentagon easily and get parking, so I just drove to Reagan since I new there would be parking there (turns out it's $4 bucks an hour at that airport -- damn thieves) . Hopped on the blue line and easy-peasy-one-two-threesy I get to the Pentagon.

It's about 6:40 at this point, and still dark. Hit the porta-potty pueblo and then have to figure out what to do with my bag while I warm up. Wander around a bit, get on the wrong side of some Army guys by trying to climb over a barrier, try to get a DC policeman to watch my bag (epic failure), and finally wind up sweet-talking an old lady into watching my stuff for a while. Go for the warm-up, try to stay away from camo-fatigue uniforms, then to the chaos of the bag check (about 7:15 at this point, time to strip down to race-wear and chuck the bag for good). Fun time there, my bag is too big to squeeze into the little plastic bags they wanted runners to put all there stuff in, run around like a headless chicken for a while (7:30 now) until I steal a couple more bags and jerry-rig them together into a monstrous, amorphous bundle.

Wade through the crowds, takes me about 10 minutes just to reach the start line, which is on the other side of the Pentagon and about 10,000 people away. Get in position about 15 before go-time, do some strides, crack up at the hundreds of people dashing across the on-ramp to get to the tiny strip of woods on the other side - one looong, leafy urinal.

I end up getting stuck a couple hundred places back when the gun goes off (a huge freaking cannon, actually), but no biggie for a 10-miler. I take it out conservatively, slowly moving up through the crowd for the first couple of miles, hitting a little under 5:50 pace. First time I see the old dude who turns out to be a half-Army-general/half-raging beast.

Things are good through the 5 mile, moved up into the top 100 now and go through in ~28:50, feeling decent. My hip's really tight for some reason, but it goes away after a while. We're heading down Independence Ave, now, right along the mall, and it is packed both sides, spectators shoulder to shoulder. There's a band playing on the corner by the Capitol building and people are just rocking out in the street.

About this time, I'm running next to this short guy who I've been tailing for a while, and hear someone coming up behind us. Look over as this woman just absolutely breezes past us and proceeds to take out the next two women over the next several miles (she gets the win in the end).

I start to feel the distance as we go through the random 6.5 mile split (38:35), and it's a long haul back down Indep Ave to the bridge. I keep passing this old dude, but somehow he's keeps coming back-he just won't stay passed. Still reeling people in at this point, but definitely slower. Start feeling the mental fatigue around mile 7, an effort to force myself to think about something other than having to run the next three miles.

Then the bridge. This is the bad part; you'd think a bridge would be fairly short, but the 395 bridge goes on and on and on, and somehow is hilly at the same time (I think we passed the 8 mile just before the bridge, and the 9 mile at the other side). I had to turn it down some over this stretch, and the old dude passes me for good. I still manage to reel in a couple other people who are paining more than I am, but it's pretty rough heading into the final mile, especially since I can see how far away the Pentagon is. Struggle through and all of a sudden the finish line pops into view around a bend. I'm plum tuckered out, but another old dude tries to pass me in the last 100m, and it's one old dude too many - somehow find one last bit of steam and rocket past him to the finish.

It was an amazing race and I'm definitely signing up for Cherry Blossom as soon as registration opens this year. Tens of thousands of people just blew me away, especially since somehow I managed to randomly run into four people I know while wandering dazed through the multitudes after the finish. All in all, a great day.

4 comments:

THE KRIS said...

hey congrats, sounds like a good race. way to put a whippin' on that old guy... you can't let them get the better of you.

Alex said...

Who's pb? Good job though.

PB said...

PB would be me, Patrick. I don't know if we've met, but I'll keep an eye out for an Alex at future runs.

RM said...

You can't miss Alex, he's all flamboyant and wears lots of bright colored outfits. As well as a basket of fruit on his head and sings "the girl from ipanema"

Nice job Patrick, those last two miles are challenging after the first 8. Kip and I went down to it last year and just bandited; by that point I was really struggling to get over the bridge. Cherry Blossom is a better race to me and logistically easier than Army to get to.