Year nine for me for the Army Ten Miler. And while this wasn’t my slowest time (that came when I ran and caught up with a friend), this came pretty close. It was definitely one for the record books. But I’m not complaining at all.
I’ve been saying all year that I’m due for a bad race. I have been nailing it all year, maybe not setting PRs, but really racing strong. Given that this past month, my goal has been to get more rest and really recover from tri season (and go to Disney World), I figured my training was a bit off for this race, and I shouldn’t expect a PR.
The weather definitely helped that goal. We had a bit of cool fall weather, but then things shot back up again, and it has been stupidly warm. To the point where most people still have their air conditioning on. The temps heading into ATM weekend were looking okay. Warm, but not terribly so, probably in the upper 70’s. There was a possibility of rain, but that turned into a possibility of light showers, which I’m okay with.
When I walked out of my house on Sunday morning to pick up Shannon, I knew it was going to be a bad race. It was 75 degrees and so insanely muggy. So gross. To compare, last year, it was freezing before the race, and we stood around in trash bags in an attempt to keep warm. (That’s the typical ATM race morning.)
This race is huge. 35,000 people. As per usual, I was in the second to last wave (the 7th), so my wave started at 8:48. They set off waves every 8 minutes, and let me tell you, those waves go off exactly on time. Would you expect any different from the Army?
I started out and was doing well, but I was literally dripping sweat. I was pushing myself pretty hard for the first two miles, but my body told me to slow down. My heart rate was too high, and I just didn’t feel great. So I slowed down. I tried to find a good balance between speed and temperatures, and did a pretty good job of it.
At the water stops, the cadets were amazing. They had enough water that they were offering to pour or throw it on runners, and I took them up on it. It was refreshing to say the least. They had fun with it too – threw the water so hard my hat flew up. But it felt great and I think that’s what saved my race. I was wearing my Coeur aero top, and while I’ve done non-triathlon races in it, it clearly also functions well when wet, and I definitely think that helped keep me cool. What I really wanted was ice to stuff in my bra, but well, you can’t have everything.
This race does attract a lot of newer runners, which is awesome. It was one of my first big races, and clearly I loved it enough to keep coming back. But unfortunately, that also means inexperienced runners who aren’t sure what to do when the weather is super humid. The race organizers were saying all weekend to make sure that you hydrate. I’m not sure everyone took that to heart.
Apparently, the number of people who were attended to by medics due to heat-related issues was incredibly high. I heard someone say that 135 people were transported to the hospital. Of course, that could be for non-heat related issues, but that’s a lot of people, given the medical treatment available at the race (including breathing treatments and saline IVs to rehydrate).
I heard people saying that they never stop at water stops because it slows them down. That was the wrong thing to do during this race. I have never consumed so much water during a race. I carried my handheld and filled it at every stop. The water stops were mobbed too, which just meant slowing down in general.
At 10:08, the organizers decided to turn the race into a “fun run,” meaning that anyone who hadn’t yet crossed the finish line was no longer eligible for awards. They also rerouted part of the race, cutting off a mile. I was past this point, so I did all ten miles, and didn’t actually hear about the change until I was in the finishers chute. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be winning any awards, and had already decided to not push for a PR, but I was surprised that this wasn’t communicated out on the course.
The initial word from the organizers was that anyone who finished after 10:08 wouldn’t have an official time. That changed after the outcry. There was a timing mat that was cut, so anyone who missed that mat but still hit the others and finished would be listed as a finisher with no official time. (This protects the people who are trying to streak the race, to have 6 finishes so they can register early, and who were racing for their employers – they can show they finished, and it wasn’t their fault they didn’t get the full 10.)
I have run races in worse conditions, so I was surprised to see this change made, but I’m not complaining about it. I can only believe that with the information in front of them, the organizers felt it safer to shorten the race. I suspect it was due to the number of heat-related injuries they were seeing.
I finished in 2:17:38. Given that my 10 miler PR (with my post diagnosis reset) is 2:07 and change, I’m pretty pleased with this. I slowed down about a minute per mile and found a good spot. I didn’t feel awful when I finished, and while I was exhausted the rest of the day, I never felt sick, which tells me I did everything right.