Sunday, October 21, 2012

Race report: Army 10 Miler, October 21, 2012

I ran the Army 10 Miler this morning, finishing in a time of 65:33 by my watch.  Not the time I was hoping to run, frankly. But I ran the best race I could, on a fun course in perfect weather (temp 53, dp 44).  There are far worse things than missing your PR by 2 seconds.

No race report on the Army 10 Miler is complete without a discussion of the logistics of getting to the start line – a process that always ends up being much harder than it should be at Army.  Last year, when I ran this race, I was trapped in a Metro car for 20 minutes on my way to the start, and then needed another 20+ minutes to exit the Metro station – the Pentagon station simply can’t handle the # of people passing through it on race morning.   

Eager to avoid a repeat, this year I took a cab to National Airport, and then got on the Metro northbound for three stops,  meaning that I exited the Metro station on the side that had much less traffic.  Worked beautifully.  My cab picked me up at 6:05 am; I was at the exit of the Pentagon metro station by 6:30.  Once I made it through the metro turnstiles, I then parked myself just inside the station, to keep warm.  I thought leaving the station at 7 would give me enough time to check my baggage, warm-up, and get into my corral.


I had completely forgotten that Army requires people to use their clear bags (provided that morning, not at the expo) for bag check.  And…I might be just a bit of a packrat.  After a determined but ultimately futile attempt to cram my large backpack into a much smaller plastic bag, I opted for divide-and –conquer – splitting my possessions into multiple plastic bags, and then tying them together.  Luckily, bag check took this contraption without arguing.

[my argument, had I been forced to make it, would have been the following:
“either you let me check all this stuff, or I’ll have to leave it in a pile by the side of the race course.  Where it will be flagged by the roving Army personnel as an unidentified suspicious package, and result in massive disruption and chaos.  Your call.”]

So that was one obstacle overcome.  Now just to go to the corral and do my warm-up. 

Um yeah.  I forgot that Army requires runners to go through a “checkpoint” before going to their corrals.  I’m honestly not sure what they’re checking – there was no pat down, and nobody looked for my bib (which was under my throwaway shirt).  I guess a bottleneck just seemed like a good idea.  And so we had one.

The end result was that, despite having gotten to the race site well in advance of when I needed to be, I still ended up finally making it to my corral with precious little time for a warm-up.  Oh well.  Jogged a bit less than a mile, did one stride and one drill, and then I had to jump into my corral.  I’d have to warm-up on the course.  I wasn’t too worried about it, as I felt pretty good and limber.


Jumped into my already packed corral, chatted with some friends, and waited for the start.  And then the gun went off.  And we stood.  These larger races always crack me up – when the race starts, you don’t go, but instead stand and then start slowly walking towards the front.  Finally we crossed the start line, and were off.
I spent the first mile trying to find my groove while not wasting too much energy swerving around people.   

From then on, I tried to hit a groove and just hold it.  I felt a bit slow, but also felt like my legs were locked into that pace.  As it turns out, they were.  In retrospect, I’m not sure I could have done anything different – had I surged, I might have gotten myself into a perkier rhythm, or I might have pushed myself into oxygen debt.

Army, though a fairly fast course, is not altogether flat, with some elevation changes/hills on the 14th street bridge.  For some reason, the hills of the 14th Street Bridge didn’t seem anywhere near as onerous as they have in the past – a positive development, I think.  I held my pace constantly though them.

The most annoying part of this race was the finish line.  They move it every year, it seems, and it’s about a quarter mile further each time.   Several years back, you would come down a sharp descent to a final turn, and then the finish line was there.  Then last year they redid the course, with the finish line being moved a half mile further (on the other side of a very mild overpass that still seemed insulting).

This year, the finish line was yet ANOTHER 400m away.  And not visible in the distance.  “WTF” was going through my mind – i.e. “Where’s the Finish.”  We were running past the Pentagon, so it couldn’t be too far away.  Then finally I saw it, and flowed across, before slowing to a walk and hitting my watch.

Final time – 65:33.  2 seconds off of my PR from Cherry Blossom.  Weird thing was that though my legs felt like they couldn’t turn over faster, I also felt about 5 minutes later like I could have run the race over again.  That’s a good sign, I think.  My legs may just be marathon primed.

Splits were:
Mile 1: 6:52
Mile 2: 6:32
Mile 3: 6:32
Mile 4: 6:33
Mile 5: 6:34
Mile 6-7: 13:08 (6:34)
Mile 8: 6:31
Mile 9: 6:34
Mile 10: 6:18

So, very consistently paced – I just wish I could have hooked into a bit faster rhythm.  But ah well.

Overall, I’m happy with it.  I was hoping to at least break 65 minutes, and am a bit sad I didn’t.  But, I essentially tied my PR from Cherry Blossom on a slightly slower course (Cherry Blossom is lightning fast) while in the middle of marathon training, and I didn’t taper like I did for Cherry Blossom.   And I ran the best race I had in me today, and I can’t be unhappy with that.


  1. Congrats - you ran a great, smart race. You'll get that PR!

    Great seeing you this morning!

  2. Awesome race! And the fact that you felt like you could run it again afterwards. . . awesome!

  3. Great race, taper is huge on times I think, and running this on a high load of marathon training, all says good things about your marathon!

  4. Sounds like perfect execution.
    I too, thought WTF? ... but I think that helped my finishing kick last longer.

  5. Nice race and great execution! And I would agree that if you felt like you could run another ten miles at that pace, you are definitely in good shape for the marathon.

  6. Great job! Moving the finish line??? WTF that is crazy. If I ever get myself to a workout, I look forward to running with you again someday... :)