Race Report – Army Ten Miler

The Army Ten Miler is one of my favorite races.  I realized this weekend that I have lived in the DC area just over 5 years and have run this race 5 times.  It wasn’t my first distance race in the area (that honor goes to the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler), but it’s definitely my favorite.

This race is very military themed.  Not only is it run by the Army, but there are so many military members and military family members running.  People run in honor of friends and family serving overseas and thousands of people run in memory of fallen soldiers.  The charity groups are mainly military related (Team RWB and Fisher House to name two).  There are even teams of foreign military members who run.  It’s an amazing sight.  In some parts of the country, this would be extremely frowned upon, but here in DC, it’s something we are very proud of.  There are even satellite runs overseas at various military bases and it’s not uncommon to see spouses running wearing shirts indicating that they are running “with” their spouse who is running overseas.

Last Friday, I hit up the expo.  Talk about well organized.  It gets crowded, and there is security since the expo is held in the Armory, but things moved smoothly.  There are a lot of military-related booths there, but there are also the typical race expo booths.  I didn’t buy anything, but did sign up for another race (RNR USA) while I was there.

Race morning, Jen met me at my house.  Yes, that’s right, for once, I didn’t have to drive to Annapolis for a race!  We decided to go early so as to not have to deal with crazy Metro crowds.  We drove to my office in downtown DC and then made the short Metro trip to the race, where we sat and waited to meet up with our friends.

ATM meters people through the security checkpoints at the race so that everyone isn’t mobbing in at once.  The first corrals can go through the earliest and so on.  The downside to that is that the portapotties are inside the corrals, and the lines this year were LONG.  But there were a lot of them, so I’m not sure how that could be improved.  I guess it’s just a given with 30,000 runners.  The corrals were setup in various areas in the parking lot and then moved to the start area.  This was a bit confusing, but it was an improvement over last year, I think.

Our goal for this race was to make the cutoff at the five mile mark and then see how things went.  The cutoff shouldn’t have been a problem, but last year, I got caught up in crowds and just barely made it through that point.  This year, I was in an earlier corral, so I thought I would be fine, but I was nervous.

Jen, David and I got started and were running pretty solid 1:1s.  I don’t know about them, but I was just enjoying the crowd.  And we saw something that trumps the Joggler.  We saw a FIFER!  That’s right.  There was a guy running, wearing a tri corner hat, and playing the fife!  It takes an insane amount of air to play a fife.  I don’t know how he was running and playing.  And he was good too.  Incredible.

We lost David a few miles into the race.  He’s running MCM next weekend and Jen and I are being lazy slackers next weekend, so we’re glad he decided to back off and run an easy race.  We really wanted to push and see what we could do.

This race has a great course through Washington, DC.  It’s beautiful, though it does involve the bridge that everyone hates from MCM.  At least it’s during the last miles of the race.  As seems to be typical for military races, the finish is on an uphill, but hey, we’re strong, we can do it, right?

My finish time was 2:11:26. A little over that sub-13 goal that I thought I could hit, but we got stuck at a few water stops.  I’m not disappointed in the time though.  It was an amazing race, a beautiful day, and I can’t wait to run again next year.

(Yeah, not the greatest pic.  We’re not allowed to bring cameras to the race, though lots do.  I’m such a rule follower.)



Race Report – 2010 Army Ten Miler

First off, this race is emotionally very tough.  I grew up in the Midwest, an area of the country known for the intense support of the military.  And this race is filled with military – active military, retired military, family of military, etc.  There are a lot of wounded warriors participating, both in wheelchairs and on prosthetics.  There are also a lot of people wearing shirts reading “In memory of” or “In honor of.”  And then there are the spouses and children running “with” their family members overseas.

It’s intense.  And it always makes me want to run faster and run stronger.

Now on to my run.  Since being diagnosed with heart rate issues (must write post about that), I’ve had to slow down.  In fact, I’m thinking that I should set up a series of new PR goals – PRs for “before” issues and PRs for “after.”  I know that I’m never going to beat my old 10 miler PR, but it would be nice to have a new PR to go along with my new run/walk pattern.

For this race, I used a 2/1 walk/run pattern.  It felt a little bit slow, but I have to say, I felt really strong for the whole race.  My first mile was faster than the others, and that’s probably a bit because of the excitement of a race and a bit because of the way I set my watch.  Because I like that my Garmin 305 shows me my mile splits, I have it set to beep every 3 minutes, and then when it beeps, I watch it for the minute of walking.  So that means that for the first 3 minute interval, I run all 3 minutes.   I had moments where my HR got high, but I forced myself to just slow down, and my average HR for every mile was a very healthy point.

It was a bit of a weird race because a stranger discovered I was doing a 2/1 pace and decided to run with me.  She joked about hijacking my run.  I was alternately irritated and glad to have the company.  Ultimately she couldn’t keep up (though at times, I felt as though she was pushing me), and I lost her around mile 7.  I’ve never run with someone before, but I clearly should try it at some time.

My finishing time?  2:09:36.  A far cry from my old goal of 1:50:00.  But I’m really happy with that.  I kept a sub 13:00 pace.  I probably could have kept it up.  Based on this race, I think that PRing on a half marathon isn’t out of reach.  Not sure if it’s going to happen in my next race (two weeks after this one), but we’ll see.

The Army Ten Miler has some nice finisher’s bling.  Instead of a medal, it’s a Finisher’s Coin, in true military tradition.  It’s a great thing to have, something to pocket for a good luck charm or just keep on a dresser to remind you of your accomplishments.