After doing the Army Ten Miler now for 2 years I know exactly where to stay and how to handle race logistics. We flew down on Saturday hit up the expo and then headed back to the hotel to relax. The expo is always filled with lots of goodies. It's a fairly big one in comparison. I didn't end up with Army Ten Miler gear this time but I did find a good deal on my sneakers and some other things that I would normally have to pay for shipping.
Luckily I was seeded in the 3rd wave- Blue- 10 min after the first wave starts. So I knew I would be with faster folks meaning less weaving. All positive in shooting for my new goal 1:25. This race is run just as you would think- Military Operation. You would never dream of jumping into a higher seeded wave since they have Soldier's manning the corrals. The cannon signifies the start and each wave gets its own cannon boom.
To the resounding boom of the cannon Wave 3 started down highway 110. Yes you read that right- they shut down the major highway to start this race- in both directions we start on one side of the 2 lane divided highway. The fist mile is on the open highway, in the past I have had to do a lot of weaving since I started further back but this year it wasn't too bad. I tried to avoid too much weaving and wasting energy.
I am always surprised in run races how many people run with their music either not in headphones or with it so loud I can hear it through their headphones. This race says you can't have phones or music players. I think they are a bit more relaxed about it than they used to be but even saying that you can't cuts down on the amount of people with them SIGNIFICANTLY! I was happy that for the first mile all I could hear was the shuffle of everyone's feet across the pavement. It was soothing.
We headed into DC and I was feeling good. Hoping to stay on a 8:30ish pace, knowing that would put me on a 1:25. My legs felt good. I even had time to laugh at the "Unlike Congress You are WINNING" sign. I tried to give a Looking Good or Nice Work to every Wounded Warrior I passed. I was feeling pretty good. Every once in a while I'd feel my quads twinge a bit but not too bad.
When you come down along the National Mall the course loops on itself and you can see the other runners from the faster waves, and the roar of the crowd is awesome. They usually have a band playing and the screams are fantastic. It is a great boost right before the last couple miles on I-395 back to the Pentagon. The miles on the highway can be tough. They are really quiet- again you hear the shuffle of the feet around you. And quite a few people end up walking and stretching on the barriers. I was trying to keep my eye on pace and time. I wanted to make up for the first couple miles that the pace had been a little slower than I wanted. I wanted to finish strong.
I crossed the line even faster than my goal 1:24:27. Thank you to those Rangers for the extra push at the end! I took 15 minutes off my time from last year!I was psyched! I can't believe how much my running is improving. I think I am still figuring out what my actual run speed/pace is but it is fun to try it out!