I did not miss the start of the Army Ten Miler this year. Why is that the lead story in this race recap? Go read the Army Ten Miler race recap from 2013 and you’ll see…
You may recall that 2014 was my year of no-big-DC-races. I swore them off just for this year. I’m so lucky that I get to run in DC whenever I want because I work downtown – it’s such a gorgeous city for running! And although I love big, jam-packed races for the excitement, and I love the thrill of running with a crowd through the awesome sights of DC, I needed a little break from the DC-ness of bit-DC-races – the security, the crowds, the complicated parking, the packed Metro, the challenge of getting to the starting line – you get the point.
I focused on other races and discovered some new favorites this year.
So I wasn’t going to register for the Army Ten Miler. This was 2014, my year of no-big-DC-races. But I did. I pushed that registration button. I got swept up in the moment – it sells out quickly! – and the fact is, after my less-than-stellar experience last year, I wanted another shot at it. You see, everyone loves this race. My friend Melissa flies up from Texas every year to run this race. People come from far away to run it because they love it.
I did not love this race in 2013.
I wanted to love it. But I didn’t, despite the moving atmosphere of running with military personnel and wounded warriors. I was thankful to be a part of the experience for that reason, but didn’t love the race itself. So I wanted another shot – I needed to see what all the fuss is about when you don’t miss the start, and when you can enjoy the run.
As time went on, I thought I’d transfer my registration before the transfer deadline. I don’t need to do this race, I thought to myself, I have tons of other races this year! And with the Baltimore Half Marathon the next weekend I decided I didn’t need to be out at a race two weekends in a row.
But I never transferred. So I ran. And I had a good experience.
The Expo didn’t disappoint – tons of vendors, very efficient getting the packet and race necessities. My shirt was a little too small, but since I tried it on over my clothes before realizing this, I couldn’t exchange it. The guy at the desk said you can only exchange unworn shirts. Oops. Oh well.
The night before the race, I set out all my things. Which was like nothing after doing duathlons and triathlons for months. Seriously, I hadn’t done a run-only race since the Spring, and it took about 3 seconds to pin my bib to the shirt.
The hardest part was figuring out what to wear since my black capris are a little too tight. So I added a skirt. I may have been a little sparkly but at least I felt more comfortable than wearing too-small pants.
On race morning, I got up super early – I wasn’t going to chance a big stress for parking, Metro-ing, getting to the starting line. I did my morning routine quickly, grabbed food for the car, and hit the road. I managed to park somewhere that didn’t involve Metro (and I hoped my spot was legal), and walked to the starting area at the Pentagon.
I got near the Metro and immediately saw Sue from This Mama Runs for Cupcakes. So fun to see a friend in a crowd of tens of thousands of people! Sue was super smart and was wearing a trash bag. I was freezing.
Seriously I was so cold, glad I had my arm warmers but still freezing. I was trying to text my friends and my body and hands were shaking. I was wishing I had brought a trash bag or a throw-away shirt. I found my fabulous longtime friends and took a photo. In the green is Melissa – you can read her awesome race recap here.
I wanted to head to the starting line early so that I would have time for the portapottie line (and not be stuck in one outside the security barrier). As with last year, I found it a little confusing to navigate the Pentagon area from the Metro to the starting line, but I wandered in that direction and eventually came upon a security checkpoint. They seemed to just be checking bibs and were very clear about moving people through quickly – thank you!
I found another friend from work, and since we were in the same corral together, we kept each other company until the start. I don’t know why he wasn’t as cold as I was! Brrr, I was shivering.
I hit the portapottie line just inside the security barrier, which wasn’t terribly long, and we went to our Red Corral. I was SO EARLY!!!
We were waiting there a while and I saw more portapotties between our corral and the one in front, so I figured as long as I’m just standing here, I might as well be standing in a line and went again. Better safe than sorry!
The start of the Army Ten Miler is awesome. You can feel so much pride in the crowd.
As the corrals moved forward, it was soon our turn. I loved being in the red corral since we started pretty early. The Wounded Warriors started at 7:50am, then the first wave at 8:00am and then waves every 8 minutes thereafter. Red started at 8:16am.
I felt corralled pretty well – I think I put a 1:30 finish time as my goal, and I can’t remember if we had to submit a recent race time to be assigned our wave. If we did, I probably put my Pike’s Peek 10K finish time, which was pretty good. It definitely didn’t feel as though our wave was as crowded as my experience last year and the runners were tearing out of the starting line.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous once we started running – my pre-race shivering was long gone.
The course is pretty good, but you definitely see more DC “sights” at other races. For example, the map shows you running by the Lincoln Memorial, but you don’t actually see it. You sort of skirt the edge of the touristy area of DC. But you still get the DC experience – big white buildings, the Potomac River – it’s still really scenic!
The real story of the Army Ten Miler is the people running in this race.
The Wounded Warriors are so incredibly inspiring – I was in awe of their strength and determination. This is hard to talk about, but at Mile 8 or so, a Wounded Warrior stumbled and fell in front of me. And for a moment the atmosphere was tense. But the people running with him helped him back up, and all the runners nearby were amazed at his inner strength and the determination he must have to not only run this race, but to keep going when things were tough. I had tears in my eyes.
So many runners were either military personnel, or family members. There were many runners with “in memory of ___” on the backs of their shirts.
It was an incredible atmosphere or military pride, remembrance, and strength.
I was thankful to be a part of it.
As for my race personally? It’s honestly not as important. At times I felt silly for thinking about my finish time, because I was reminded of the more important things in life as I was running.
But since this is a race recap, I’ll sum it up: I did pretty well! I felt pretty strong throughout – pretty on my target pace. I pushed myself at times to keep the pace and other times the crowd carried me through
My Garmin data shows:
- Mile 1 = 9:01
- Mile 2 = 8:38
- Mile 3 = 8:48
- Mile 4 = 8:37
- Mile 5 = 8:44
- Mile 6 = 8:48
- Mile 7 = 8:41
- Mile 8 = 8:48
- Mile 9 = 9:02
- Mile 10 = 8:43
- And a 0.1 at 8:07
There’s this really big, long bridge – it’s a tough one since it just keeps going and going. Just when you think you’re done with the bridge, there’s more bridge. That’s about Mile 8 and I faded a bit after that, but picked it back up.
Garmin data for overall: 10.1 miles with average pace of 8:47/mile.
Official finish: 1:28:38. Pace of 8:51/mile.
With that finish, I felt like I could get that sub-2-hour half marathon at the Baltimore Half Marathon the next weekend.
After crossing the finish line, they kept us moving forward – at a race like this in DC, security is a primary concern.
They had lots of finish line food.
Cookie, fruit cup, hummus, granola bar, muffin, banana – it was a good replenishment of what I had exerted that morning! Last year I was doing the Whole 30 during this race, and I was glad to have normal fueling and post-race fuel this year.
I took one of everything, and a woman near me wondered if there would be enough for runners who finished later. I certainly hope there was, because I saw people who took SO MUCH food that their bags were bursting.
Okay, admittedly that person has other things in his bag, but I saw multiples of the hummus packages and other items in there, and many, many bags near me were just like that. So hopefully it was okayed by the volunteers passing out the food, and the runners who finished later had enough.
I took the complimentary shuttle back to the Metro/start area, and although the line was pretty long but I didn’t feel like walking. Plus, they were handing out these awesome hats.
Overall it was a great day – gorgeous weather, inspiring atmosphere, and a successful race.
Have you ever done a ten mile race?
What’s your favorite race distance?