I know, I know. You, my faithful reader, are sick of all the running related posts. But, what did you expect? I spend as much time running and thinking about running as I do working or dealing with my family. So, bear with me, a few more running posts and then I might chill out for a bit.
So, a little over a week ago, I ran the Army Ten Miler. I signed up months ago with my friend Jon. We were going to run in the team competition, but we never got a fourth member on the team, so the team was disbanded and we ran as individuals in the "All Comers" group. This race was huge, something like 24,000 people registered for the event. I read that only 16,000 or so actually showed up, which seems like a heck of a lot of drop offs to me. Did those clowns not care that they paid $45 or more to run this thing? I don't get it and I wonder if the total registration numbers weren't inflated a bit to get some press and to pressure people to sign up quickly. At 24,000 people, they can claim that they are the largest 10 mile race in the US and the second largest in the world. In any case, as you can expect, a big race means a big pain in the ass for most runners. I'm not interested in going to a festival, but that is how these events often turn out. packet pick-up is always a chore since there is a limited amount time to get your stuff and they don't do race day pick-up, something that smaller races can handle. So, I had no choice but to waste time on a Saturday afternoon to go get a bib and the t-shirt for the race at some overcrowded hotel. And it was a waste. Parking was a bitch, the hotel was packed, and the t-shirt is fairly boring to look at. Not the ugliest one I've got, but not something I want to even wear on a plane when travelling home from a business trip. I thought the expo might be worthwhile, but I was wrong about that too. No good deals and a bunch of shitty idiots milling about, making it impossible to move or to find anything on sale. Ah, anyways. I got out of there, irritated and not particularly excited about the race. I wouldn't have even bothered to do any of this if there was any way to get my money back, but there wasn't.
The night before the race, I fell asleep early, but woke up at 2AM or so. And I couldn't get back to sleep. As it was, I planned on getting up around 5:30AM to drive to the race. I would have loved to take the Metro, but the wacky security that they'd set up for the race that disallowed runners to have cellphones, not to mention heart rate monitors and bottled water (fascist idiots), had me concerned that I'd have no way to contact anyone post-race to figure out what was going on. There were plans for a picnic at a nearby park, but I didn't want to just wing it and head over there without calling Audrey to make sure that the plan was still valid. In any case, I did catch a bit more sleep, but not enough to make much difference and then I was up and out of the house.
It was freaking cold. 50s maybe? Maybe 40s even? I didn't make any coffee (and no place was open at that time), so I grabbed my crap and headed out. I got to the parking garage in Pentagon City at 6:20AM or so. Race starts at 8AM, so I've got tons of time to kill. I hung out in the car for a bit, listening to the radio, before deciding to head over and check things out. Crowds were starting to form, but there wasn't much else to see. I hung out in the starting area, watching the parachuters come down and rubbing my legs together to try and stay warm. I didn't really prepare for the cold, so I only had shorts and a t-shirt on. Next time, I'll bring a black plastic garbage bag or something that I can ditch during the race.
It was a pretty cold and boring morning until the race started. Despite the wave start and the bib colors for general race paces, lots of people didn't listen and jammed the front. I got off fairly lucky, only having to wait a few minutes from when the gun went off until I passed the start. Some folks had to wait fifteen minutes or more. So, gun goes off and the throng lurches forward, slowly jogging as one, then suddenly stops. We start jogging again, slowly through the start, and then things pick up as the pack thins out a bit. The pack never really thinned out much over the ten miles. I spent the entire time dodging and jumping and sidestepping other runners to try and keep my pace and find room to run. It was very frustrating and I'm glad I didn't trip anyone or have anyone trip me.
I'm sure it was a scenic run, but I can't ever pay attention to the overall surroundings when I'm running, so I didn't see the Pentagon or enjoy running the bridges or look at the monuments or anything like that. It is a shame and kinds of makes it silly to keep running races in the city. If not for the sites, who cares where it is? I've enjoyed my regular runs much more, particularly those on the boardwalk in Jersey and the few runs I got to do out in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
I didn't intend to go crazy and push it, but I couldn't help things once I got started. I don't consider myself to be supercompetitive, but I just had to run as hard as I could that day. In truth, I think I could have run a bit faster, but I didn't rest up much and I took it easy for the first few miles. In the end, I crushed my previous PR for a 10 mile race, but I assumed I would considering all the training I've done since the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
Army Ten Miler Bib # 4725
October 8, 2006, 8:00 am
Overall Place: 1942/15589
Gender Place: 1669/8970
Moral of the story? After my marathon, I'm not doing any more giant races like this. Except the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon, of course. But, really, that is it.