Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Army Ten Miler, Round 2

Ugh. So, I ran the Army Ten Miler again. I think I probably said in the past that I wouldn't, but I signed up because a friend of mine was going to run it. And, it is a good training race prior to a fall marathon. But, it is huge and its size makes it a real pain in the ass. It is a pain to get the packet, it is a pain to slog through the crowds at the expo, it is a pain to get all the silly emails from them, it is a pain to get up earlier just to secure parking, it is a pain to deal with overcrowded public transportation, it is a pain to push your way through the crowds in the starting area...you get the picture. Add to the size of the event that the t-shirts are really rather ugly, the registration fee isn't cheap, and that the course is the same well-worn course that every race in DC seems to use. I like the idea of running over the bridges and past monuments and all that, but I've done it several times now. So, I'm not exactly looking to do it anymore. I can understand that there are probably a lot of first time racers who really look forward to seeing the sights as they run, though.

In any case, despite my complaints, I ran the race again. Last year, I ran it in 1:16:42, which is a 7:40/mi pace. That was faster than I expected at the time and I was very pleased with that effort. This year, I was hoping to crush it. I've said this before, but I did a fair amount of speedwork this year and I was hoping to see those efforts rewarded by some great PRs at this time of year. Based on my run at the PVI Runfest, I thought I had a shot at getting close to 1:13. I even thought I might have had an outside chance at breaking that. But, it all hinged on the weather and that didn't look good.

Like most people, I run way better in cooler, drier weather. Hot and humid days just aren't good because I get overheated quickly and I just can't run as fast. But, nice fall weather is a perfect fit. So, I was looking forward to the Army Ten Miler because early October should have great running weather. But it didn't happen this year. Instead, race day was forecast to go into the 80s and to have 90% humidity or higher. No good for me.

The day of the race was really uneventful. Same old story, different race. Get up early, grab some coffee, drive to race, park, and hang out. Pee, pee again, and then just wait for the race to begin. They did a wave start this year, but that ended up clogging the lines for the bathroom as the first wave got ready to go. So, when I had to go a second time around, I started looking for a tree or a bush or something. Every time I started heading towards a thicket that was already in use, some soldiers would show up and try to shoo the urinating runners away. I didn't have to go that badly, so I just held it and figured I could pee on the course if it got to be uncomfortable.

The race started and I was pacing pretty evenly. I think I ran the first half a bit fast, but I felt like I had enough energy heading into the second half to hit a time I would be happy with. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity undermined that effort. Despite starting off with a shot at a 7:15/mi pace, I kept slowing down. With just a few miles to go, I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal. Well, I would do better than I had last year, but I wasn't going to get the kind of time I really wanted. So, I just tried to run as hard as I could and let the chips fall their they might. I wish I had more to say about this race, but it just wasn't that interesting or exciting. In the end, I finished in 1:14:58. Not what I wanted, but a 7:30/mi pace on a bad day isn't so bad after all. And, any improvement is acceptable.

Afterwards, I heard a lot of reports about the slower runners finding that the water was all gone by the time they got to the aid stations. I also heard that people were jumping in the fountain in front of the Capitol building and that some folks were so desperate that they were scooping water out of garbage cans. I guess they were getting pretty desperate towards the end. While it didn't effect me, bad organization and lack of race support is just one more good reason not to run this race again.

Army Ten Miler Bib # 4150
Washington, DC
October , 2007, 8:00 am

Time: 1:14:58
Overall Place: 1233/17579
Gender Place: 1084/10078
Pace: 7:30

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