Sunday was the 30th running of the Army Ten Miler and my sixth running of the race. It is by far the one race that I have done the most. And there are so many reasons that I keep coming back. This is one of the best organized races that I have ever fun. Who would expect any less from the Army? For me, the time of year is also perfect. The weather can be cold or rainy, but I will always take that over hot and muggy.
This year, the weather was absolutely perfect. Cool and crisp, but comfortable for running in short sleeves and a skirt. Chilly before and after, but nothing too painful. The only clear day in a string of rainy days. I think the Army somehow arranged that too.
I didn’t have any real race plans going into race day this year. It was my Team Fight race, so I just wanted to run strong. Of course, as always, I didn’t want to get swept, though with a slight course change for this year, it appears that the sweeping policy changed. In previous years, you had to be past the sweep point, which was somewhere past mile 5, by 9:35. This year, they had an additional wave and all of the race info simply said you had to keep a 15 minute mile pace. That was a much more lenient policy than the way the clock time policy had worked out, so I felt pretty good about the race.
When the race started, I decided that I wanted to try for a sub 2:15, which meant running better than 13:30s the entire race. Doable, based on my training, but I didn’t want to push too hard.
My first two miles were FAST, but not uncomfortably so. The one thing that’s great about this race is that the first half mile can get crowded, but the pack breaks up so quickly. That’s not always the norm for a race with 35,000 runners. To keep my brain occupied, I started doing the race math in my head. I kept a running total of the minutes I had “earned” back from that 13:30 pace for every mile that I was under. It seems silly, since I can just set a pace goal on my watch and use my Virtual Partner for the math, but I like having something to turn around in my brain while I run.
As per usual with this race, I ran into someone I knew – my race buddy from the Frederick Half! We’re Facebook friends now, but I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that she would be there too. Too funny to see her again. I guess we really do run similar paces!
Around mile 7, I started to wonder if I had a sub 2:10 race in me, but realized it just wasn’t in the cards. That said, the sub 2:15 was MINE if I just kept it up.
I didn’t notice the course change until around mile 8 or so. I thought we seemed too close to the Pentagon when we got off of the bridge, but I figured I was just misremembering. And then the course turned left instead of right. Clearly, I should look at course maps. Not a big deal, I knew where I was based on mile markers, but it was fun to see something totally different. It was just a quick little jaunt, a few loops, and I’m guessing that’s how they managed to get the longer time limits – by getting us off of DC city streets earlier, they could have us out on the course a bit longer. I’m not going to complain about that one bit!
As I finished, I ran past a huge pack of people with one of the Wounded Warriors running. I’m guessing this was his first event back after his injury. He was on two prosthetics, and when I saw him near the end, he was being heavily supported by two guys on either side of him. His head was down and he was just gutting it out. It was absolutely amazing to see. Such an inspiration and a reminder that we’re so lucky to be able to be out there. And of course, a reminder of the sacrifice that so many of our military members make.
I finished with a time I was delighted with – 2:11:47, and I’m proud of that, but I’m even more proud of that nameless guy who just finished 10 miles with the support of friends and family.
Things like that are why I will forever love the Army Ten Miler.