Category Archives: 10 Miler

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap

I’m a couple of days late, seeing that I flew to Brazil just hours after running.  By the way, don’t ever do that.  I’m more sore now than I was after my marathons…  I guess sitting down for over 12 hours after running is not a good idea, huh?

This was my third time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  Last year, I hated the race and was pretty honest in my review.  This year, though there was still some of the same problems as in 2010, it was a much more pleasant experience, and I didn’t hate it.  I actually kind of *gasp* liked it.

We picked up our packet on Saturday morning, and though the expo is on the small side, Hugi was able to find some good deals and spent quite a bit of money on very discounted Brooks stuff.

Like in previous years, this year I also paid for the upgraded shirt.  It is cute, but not sure how often I’ll wear a black short sleeve shirt…

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Race morning, I woke up super early and met up with Gray and Hugi in Crystal City, while we made our way to the metro to meet everyone else from the group in DC.  The metro was crowded but not ridiculous, and we found everyone with no problems at our usual meeting spot for this race.

A little while later, one of my readers, Beki, who was in DC for the first time, approached me and joined our group!  This was her first time running 10 miles, and her one goal was to not get picked up by the bus.  She made it to the finish line with plenty of time!  (Congrats, Beki!)

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Did I tell you that it was FREEZING?  It’s not that it was cold per se, but the wind was kicking, which didn’t help.  I knew once we started running we’d be fine, but I was suffering for a bit.

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We finally made our way to the porta-potties.  I knew where the quieter porta-potties were, but was disappointed to find out that the set up was different this year, so there was no “good” lines for it.  It actually looked like there were a lot less porta-potties than last year, since last time they were lined up back to back.  The lines were long, but we still made it out with time to get into our corral.

The other reason I think there were less porta-potties?  I encountered the most disgusting one EVER.  Why?  The amount of crap (literally, crap) piled up in it, went past the toilet seat.  Like a volcano peaking out.  How much must people have crapped in one place there to make it peak out?  I did a quick pee and ran out of there, as luckily it was a handicap sized one, so I had plenty of room to maneuver sideways so my butt wouldn’t touch anything (I squat, but yes, it was that bad), but the woman behind me came right out and said there was no way she could use it.

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We were finally ready to start!  Hugi, Amy and Ben all went to our green corral, and we were moving in no time.

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Now the blurry-taken-while-running pictures start.  Remember how my biggest complaint about this race is how crowded it is?  See it for yourself:

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I had no goals of a PR, but I was hoping to maybe finish in 1:55, preferably 1:50.  I decided to not pay attention to my pace and just go by feeling.

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I was feeling pretty good!  I was running with Hugi for the first few miles, and we were keeping less than an 11 minute/mile pace (which nowadays is a pretty good pace for me).

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Not that we had much choice to go any faster if we wanted to.  It was too packed to even try to weave in and out of people!

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The thing I like best about this race is how scenic the course is.  We start right by the Washington Monument, then run alongside the Tidal Basin.

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Another thing that was a HUGE improvement this year?  The cherry blossoms were actually in bloom!  Last year we spotted only 3 trees at the entrance of Hains Point that had any blooms.  This year we missed the peak by only a couple of days, so there were blossoms everywhere!

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About a mile in, we reached the Memorial Bridge, passing by the Lincoln Memorial.  You know that’s one of my usual routes for my Saturday long runs and back when I use to run home from work!  (Remember that job I used to have?  Ha, me neither!  Quitting was my favorite part of the year!)

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I never get tired of running in front of the Lincoln Memorial!

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We ran across the bridge, to the circle at the end of it, ran around the circle and came back to DC.

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Can you tell it was a gorgeous day in DC?

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From the bridge, we run towards the Kennedy Center, and there’s another turnaround point right in front of it.

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Then we run back east on Rock Creek next to the Potomac River…

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And cross in front of the Watergate steps.

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Before running under the Memorial Bridge (I think it’s the prettiest bridge in DC).

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There was yet another out and back on Ohio Dr…  (I really hope the construction for the Martin Luther King memorial will be finished soon, so it can go back to the old route, which had one less out and back route.)

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Then we go over the Tidal Basin, with the Jefferson Memorial in view.

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Hugi had run with me until mile 3, but since I was running with music (a review and giveaway to come soon, yay!), I didn’t mind being on my own as much.  I was having a hard time talking and running anyway, and though I was well within my goal of finishing within 1:50, by mile 5 I was getting tired.  The pretty view was not helping me today.

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I kept trying to distract myself by taking pictures, reminding myself that this was my last race in DC, for at least the next two years.

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There wasn’t much spectators either, which never helps.

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But the blossoms did lift up my spirits a bit.  Just not enough…

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Finally, we were approaching Hains Point, and we could see those approaching the finish line coming in the other direction.  On my end?  The course was still as crowded as ever.

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To make matters worse, right in front of the Jefferson Memorial, there were a few school bus parked.  How is that even allowed in the middle of a race course?  If all the bottlenecks from the out and backs weren’t enough, taking a whole lane out certainly didn’t help.

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It was around this time that Kristy came and gave me a friendly bump.  We chatted for a couple of minutes and I admitted I was having a hard time, for her to go on without me.

And a little while later, we spotted Blair, who was volunteering today!  I stopped to give her a hug and take a picture of her.

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An she took a picture of me…

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I think that was my biggest mistake.  I lost about a minute on my time saying hello (I didn’t care about time anymore at this point), but when I started running again my legs just felt heavier.  I was having a harder and harder time keeping pace.

I knew Hains Point was going to be boring (heck, I’ve run there 3 times in the last 6 months:  Marine Corps Marathon, Veterans Day 10k and now the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler), but I was ready, I’ve had many training runs there last summer (if you’re ever in DC, it is a great place to run, since you can run on the road any day), and it’s not the worst place to run, the scenery is even pretty, it just kind of all looks the same.

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It was nice to see all the blooms there, but the course was still crowded despite being around the 7 mile mark.  I had hit a wall.  Badly.  I might be smiling in the picture below, but my eyes show my desperation…

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Distracting myself by taking pictures was not helping today…  At some point Sarah, who I have run with a few times on our Saturday long runs passed by and said hello.  Since I was feeling craptastic, I told her to keep going without me.  She was definitely looking strong!

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But finally I reached the turnaround point, and I knew there was very little left on this race…

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I wish I could say knowing that helped.  Funnily enough, mentally I was ok, I just had no energy left (the pictures also stopped here, though mostly because one half of Hains Point looks almost the same as the other half).

I kept telling myself “move faster, move faster” but my legs just couldn’t keep up.  Every time I checked my pace, I was slacking off, but being aware of it didn’t make my body move any better.

Miles 7-9 were my slowest ones.  I just couldn’t keep up.  I kept trying to change songs to see if anything would give me that burst of energy, but no go.  Eating a gel didn’t help either.

The course was still very crowded, and I started walking the water stops trying to sip more water, see if that would help, with no luck.

I knew the race ended on an uphill, I thought I was ready for it, but once we hit it, my legs still couldn’t keep up with what my mind was trying to do.  I just had no speed left in me.

Finally, the finish line was in full view and I sprinted to it.  It was one of my slowest sprints to a finish line ever!  I saw Karl waiting on the sidelines and yelled for him 3 times before he noticed me, which definitely didn’t help on that sprint…

On the bright side, once I finished, I was surprised to see this:

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YES!!!  They MUST have read my recap from last year.  Not only they had water for me, but they were definitely stocked up, and had enough water for every finisher too!  I HAD to take a picture, of course!

I met up with Karl, went to claim my medal (you have to pay $12 for the medal, and hello, I like displaying mine, so of course I paid up!).  I did forget to take a picture of it, however, but it looks very much like the design on the shirt above.  Last year’s was much nicer…  (I’ve been having a bad streak medal-wise lately, as my friends keep joking about with me!)

We met up with the group at the end, then while everyone went off to brunch, Karl and I went home to finish packing, drop off Lily at my friends and still make it to the airport by 3:30pm.

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Oh, and my finish time?  I met my “B” goal, crossing the finish line in 1:52:13, which is an 11:14 pace.  That’s about 11 minutes slower than my Army Ten Miler time, less than 6 months ago, but I’m happy with it.  You probably noticed on the pictures that I’m a lot chunkier now (stupid injuries!), so I’ll take what I can get!  It was still slightly better than last year, so yay!

Crossing the finish line was definitely bitter-sweet.  No more races to look forward to right now.  No more races with my incredible running group…  Manila better have some good races in store for me!

We are now officially on the countdown for our time in DC.  Yesterday marked exactly 2 weeks from when we will leave the city…

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Filed under 10 Miler, Pictures, Race, Race Report

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday!

Though I hated the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler last year (how can a race be soooo crowded and disorganized, when it’s been going for almost 40 years?), I had my guaranteed registration from volunteering last year (where I was treated worst than I’ve ever been in my life, when I first arrived), so I will make a point of running it this year, because I earned that stupid registration, damn it!  But, if the organization doesn’t improve, I think I will never run it again.

When I ran in 2009, it was my very first long distance run.  The most I had done was a 10k about six months earlier.  It was a BIG deal for me to finish, as I signed up not knowing if I would have to walk (I didn’t), or if I would be picked up by the slow bus (I didn’t). 

At that time, they had 12,000 people running it, and they ran out of water on mile 8 and the volunteer had the nerve to tell me “next time run faster.”  I’m sorry, you have a 2:20 cut off time, I crossed the finish line before even the 2 hour mark, YOU HAVE TO HAVE WATER FOR THE VERY LAST PERSON CROSSING THE FINISH LINE.  It’s not like you didn’t know how many people were coming!

Last year, they increased the field to 15,000 people (why do you increase when you couldn’t handle the crowds the year before?), and though they did have water at mile 8, they had run out of water at the finish line (there was a HUGE sign saying “WATER” and only empty boxes to be seen).  Luckily, Karl had a water for me when I finished.  You pay if you want a a medal, and since we already established that I’m a medal whore, I of course, paid for one.  There were huge lines to claim your medal.

The course is beautiful, but the people were mean.  I got bumped, pushed, elbowed even late in the miles, as the course was crowded even at mile 9.  I started in my correct corral, and was running the pace I claimed to run when I registered, PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE PUSHING!  There were bottlenecks the whole way, where you had to considerably slow down.  It was really frustrating.

You can read my report from last year here.  The course is beautiful, isn’t it?  I had a great run, because I was just having a good day.  I loved running with Lindsay as well (who hated it last year and will not be running this year).  I think because she was feeling so miserable and wanted to walk as early as mile 1, I concentrated my energy on getting her not to give up and cross the finish line with me, instead of my own run.  It worked!  She never gave up, and I had a great time running with her!

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I feel that despite having run two half marathons in the last couple of weeks, I’m in much worse shape than I was last year (specially after my half marathon fiasco last week).  I didn’t get one run in this week, which sucks, but the weather was just cold and raining and miserable.

I know that unless I get injured (knock on wood!) I can finish before the cut off time, but I have no idea if I can even beat my time from last year.  And to think 6 months ago, I was getting a HUGE PR when I ran the Army Ten Miler, cutting off 13 minutes off my time!  I am also 10 lbs heavier, which is taking a toll on all my runs.  I’m actually looking forward to getting some food poisoning in Manila to shed some weight.  (Kidding!  Ok, kind of.)

Wish me luck.  I’m hoping to get at least 1:55 time.  Can I make my body do it, even if it’s not up for it?

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It’s about freaking time… NYC trip!

Yes, I went to NYC over a week ago, I ran with the awesome Tracy (and stayed at her place, now how nice is she?  Plus, how nice is her boyfriend who put up with two girls and a dog crashing at their place?), and I’m only talking about it now.  Call it laziness.  *sigh*

Friday Jen and I made our way up to NYC, with Lily in tow.  Karl was visiting his best friend in Charleston, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to go to NY, as I won’t have a chance to go there again before we move.  I should mention that I went to school and worked in  NYC — I was there for almost 7 years before moving to DC, and haven’t visited in almost 2 years (the horror!  I’m only 4 hours away!).

A lot of my friends have since moved away from the city, some I lost touch, and mostly I just didn’t have time to see anyone (and only on my drive back I remembered all the people I should have gotten in touch with at this trip, but completely forgot!).

I had a 10 miler on my schedule, and it wasn’t hard to convince Tracy to tag along with us on Saturday. She even wrote about our visit too, if you want to check out her post on it!  Last time we ran together (and first time we met!) was when we struggled through the heat of the Chicago Marathon.  Fun times…

We mostly ran running along the Hudson River…

I have to work on taking flattering running pictures of myself.  All this non-running crap from the beginning of the year, means I lost the magic touch.  Don’t believe me?

I mean, I am still 10lbs fatter since the wedding, but I promise I didn’t put it all on my chin (my thighs, on the other hand, are a whole different story…)

I also took a couple of pictures of Tracy running, since hers came out just as badly as mine, I’ll refrain from posting it here, not to piss off my super-nice hostess.  Plus, she posts enough unflattering pictures of herself in her blog. No, really…  She does

Jen, on the other hand, looked splendid…

I’m not going to lie — the weather was warm, and I was struggling the whole way.

When we finally had pretty things to see (because there’s not much to see when you’re that far uptown), we stopped like the *gasp* tourist I now am and took pictures.

Anything to keep us from running again (at least that’s how I was feeling!).

Jen and Tracy were attempting to use my awesome self-portrait talent…

How did that work?  (Ok, so yes, I am stealing a couple of pictures from Jen’s Facebook page.  What?)

And this is how I do it!

I was really delaying this running thing, taking more and more pictures…

Eventually, the girls decided it was time to start running again, and I struggled along.  All of a sudden, my foot started hurting me, not on the arch like it’s known to do, but on the forefoot.  When we were just short of 7 miles, I admitted defeat and mentioned how I had to stop.  My foot was screaming in pain by then.  Needless to say, I felt miserable cutting everyone’s run short.  Ugh.

We then walked into Central Park, and back into town to pick up Tracy’s bib, for the 5k she was running the next day.  I kept on taking pictures…

I ate some of my favorite street nuts (and I still owe the $5 bucks to Tracy, ACK!  Why did I only remember that now?)

And took more pictures!

Finally, after grabbing the bib, we cabbed back to Tracy’s place, showered, and Jen and I left to eat lunch.  At around 4 or so.  Nice.  I ate falafel at my favorite falafel place ever.  No, really.  Next time you’re in NYC, please try it…  I scarfed it down before thinking of taking pictures, but I did get a shot of the place (yep, it’s a hole in the wall.  Those are always the best ones, no?).

Because I also wanted to buy Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter & Co. (specially after seeing Kim’s post about it), we went there next.  Turns out it was just a block away from the best.falafel.ever.  (Kim, how did you miss this place??)

The rest of Saturday night is a bit of a blur.  No, I wasn’t drunk (I wish!), I just had a headache that converted into something of a migraine (dehydration?  Waiting so long to eat lunch?  Who knows?).  We took a couple more pictures on the way to Starbucks, where we sat for a while in hopes I would get better…

Can you tell I’m smiling through pain?

I even saw the best food cart  ever!

After sitting for a while, we made our way over to the restaurant, where Tracy, her boyfriend and my friend Lauren were going to meet us.  On the way I bought some Gatorade and migraine medicine, which immediately made me feel like throwing up.  By the time Tracy and Joe showed up, I had already canceled it with Lauren, and was ready to go home.  Despite me insisting they would go eat without me, they insisted in going back home with me.  I passed out on the couch, while they looked for alternative places to eat.

Next morning, I was feeling much better and went with Jen to eat brunch at the lower east side, at this place that serves the best french toast I’ve ever had.  (Just like the falafel, I always have to eat there when I visit!)

Lily, by the way, terrorized Matilda (Tracy’s dog) to no end.  Don’t be fooled by her innocent face!

We mostly ran running along the Hudson River…

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Filed under 10 Miler, Non-Running Stuff, Pictures, Runs, Trips!

Army Ten Miler Report – and a PR!

Yesterday I got up earlier than anyone should on a Sunday morning, and headed over to meet the rest of the running group for the Army Ten Miler (note to self:  we should meet about 15-20 minutes later when doing this next year, assuming I’m still in DC, that is).

I ran the Army Ten Miler for the first time last year (before I officially had a blog, but the mini-recap can be found if you scroll down to October on this page), and just like this year, it was super crowded and surprisingly disorganized.  The expo is still one of the most plain I’ve seen, considering the size of the event (there are 30,000 runners).  The start line has two corrals, where people are separated by color (different “waves” though there is no separate start time for the each of the waves), with not much reason to where each person is placed.  Last year, Karl was in the second to last wave, even though he had posted a 8 min/mile at his predicted finish time (he ended up running faster than that).  This year, he was put on the second wave (he is still injured though), while Gray, one of the guys from our running group who is a bit faster than Karl, got put on the 4th wave.

This was the course we would be running today — I think it’s the same as last year.  Despite hating the last two miles at the bridge (yes, mile 9 through almost 10 is at the bridge, even though the map doesn’t show, the bridge goes well beyond the river), I loved the rest of the course!  (Click for a bigger image)

Some of us early birds:  Angela, Kathy (as “where’s Waldo”), Jen, me, Kristy and Gray super early in the morning…

After leaving our things on bag check (including our jackets — it was a cold morning!), braving the porta-potties twice, we finally made our way to the start line.  And as always, I started taking pictures.

I was on the “orange wave” but there was no way to get there from the security point we had to pass.  It was already super crowded, so we settled into the white wave, which was one before ours, as it was the only one we could reach (the waves were placed on an overpass, so there’s no other way to get up there).  That was a lucky move though, as we were passing people the whole way — I’m glad we weren’t stuck where they had placed us!.  We waited, and 8am came and went and we still hadn’t moved.  See the picture below, on the top left side all those people under the bridge, behind the bushes?  Yep, that’s where everyone was peeing since we were just waiting for so freaking long for it to start.  And Jen and I finally had to succumb and join the group behind the bushes too.  Classy.

At 8:15, 5 minutes later than it was supposed to, we finally heard the gunshot for the second corral to start, and we slowly (sloooowly) started moving.

I think it was around 8:30am when we crossed the start line.  But off we went, on a super crowded course, on our way to the Memorial Bridge into DC…

Kathy was meant to keep me company, so I could get my PR goal of 1:45.  So far, my previous PR had been 1:54:34, at last year’s Army Ten Miler.  Since I had run 10 miles faster than that during my training runs, I knew that I could push it, but I had no confidence that I was going to be able to finish in 1:45.  My second, but more realistic goal, was a 1:50 finish time.  I knew that I could do.

I was feeling tired, I had gotten little sleep over the weekend, the course was super crowded (as you can tell by the picture above), but I figured I could pace myself and at least try.  I could also take unflattering pictures while running, of course…

Jen, Kristy and Hugi, all decided to run with me as well.  They had a “less than 2 hours” finish time goal, but none of them wanted to run alone (neither did I!), so they planned on sticking with me and Kathy for as long as they could (spoiler alert:  they stuck with me to the end!!!).

Of course, it was hard to miss Kathy, since she was dressed like this…

At mile 3, Kathy finally removed the hat “it’s too hot” — and I still wonder what kind of chafing her jeans (yes she was wearing jeans) caused.  Kathy planned to run the Marine Corps Marathon with this outfit (since it’s on Halloween), and she was testing it out today.

As the time passed, it was getting warmer and warmer.  By the second mile, it was already too hot (not Chicago Marathon hot, but hot nonetheless).

Angela passed us shortly after I took this picture, but we caught up with her again around mile 4, and lost her for good around mile 4.5, when she slowed down a bit.

Kathy also abandoned us at 4.5.  She complained that her knee was killing her — as much as I wanted company until the end of the race (remember, at this point, Kristy, Jen and Hugi were still planning on keeping up with us for as long as they could and had no idea that they’d be crossing the finish line together), I told her to be smart:  run until mile 5 then walk the rest.  She would still make the cut off time of 2.5 hours, get her medal, but her knee would only get worse if she kept pushing it.  So she took off, and we didn’t see her again.  (I caught up with her after the race, and she did walk most of the way after that, and her knee is now very swollen.  She probably won’t be running the Marine Corps Marathon…)

After around that time, I also stopped worrying about myself.  Until then, I kept going “we’re going too fast” and so on.  I just stopped caring, and figured if I burn myself out by going too fast, I only had 5 miles to go, so I could still finish with a PR even if I had to slow down later.

Even though I knew at times I was going too fast, I was still feeling pretty good, so I didn’t care…  Kristy still had a smile on her face too!

We were approaching the Capitol, which meant that once we passed it, we would be towards the end of our run!

Hugi kept complaining we were going too fast (but everyone knew I had a time goal!), but she never gave up either, despite the heat!  At mile 6.5 she was still looking strong!

I was also doing pretty good!

Kristy and Jen were doing ok!

Oh, you need more proof?

Finally in front of the Capitol — so many of our training runs were near here!

We finally passed mile 8 and reached the bridge.  I looked down at my Garmin and saw the time 1:21.  By then, I knew that even if I slowed down to a 12 minute mile, I would still make my 1:45 goal!  That was a great feeling!  Then I started thinking…  My PR was 1:54:34, maybe my new goal should be at least 10 minutes faster so I can say I took off a minute per mile off my pace?  I knew I could do it.

The bridge is BRUTAL.  It’s two miles on top of concrete, on the heat, with nothing to see but the crowds in front of you.  The right hand side is also open to cars, so you hear them zooming by.  It’s miserable, and I knew that and was ready for it from last year’s race.  It’s also the only true elevation we had on this course.

I didn’t let that stop me and with Kristy (who really got a second wind, but later she admitted she wanted to pee so badly that she HAD to run faster) I kept on going.  It was around this time I lost Jen and Hugi!

We were able to run the last two miles below a 10 minute mile pace.  It was good to look down and see the “9” on my Garmin.  I was tired, I wanted to walk, I wanted to give up, but Kristy definitely help me get through it and pushed me to the end!

We crossed the finish line holding hands with our arms up in the air (I hope they caught this picture!).  Turns out I finished 14 second faster than Kristy, since it looks like I crossed the start line first.  I feel bad!  I really thought we were exactly the same pace!

So how did I do?  Official finish time of 1:41:19 — a whole 13 minutes 15 seconds faster than my previous PR!  That means I took 1:20 off my pace!

I was SUPER excited (and later a bit peeved, as my Garmin registered 1:41:11, so I was hoping the official time was a bit less, since I started it a few feet before the start line).  Hugi and Jen were just a minute behind us and also finished in spectacular time!  (Remember, they both started hoping to finish in less than 2 hours!  How’s that for blowing their goal out of the water?)

Kristy was tired, but happy!  And to think she only made the decision to run at 5pm the day before, after one of my friends decided not to because of injury!

I was also super-sweaty, but DONE.  And could not freaking believe my finish time!

We grabbed our finisher’s coin then caught Jen and Hugi at the finish line (so so so crowded, I think it took us a few minutes to get across it and grab our coin).  I think Hugi is liking this running thing, and is starting to get addicted like we are!

Here am I with my finisher’s coin (I really should take a better picture of it to post it…)

Though the coin is cool, and a very military thing, I really wish I had a medal instead — it’s much easier to store it, specially now that I have a proper medal holder.  (I was creative, and was able to balance the coin on top of the holder — I post a new picture once I add the Marine Corps Marathon medal to it!)  Plus, I was afraid I was going to drop it and had no way to carry it.

Of course, the four of us who stuck together until almost the very end, deserved a picture!

And after we met up with a few more people from the group, we had to take another one!

Since Kathy had picked me up, I now didn’t have a ride home.  Jane and Tatiana tried to convince me to go out for brunch, but my stomach was starting to make itself noticeable (luckily I didn’t feel a thing during the run!), and I also had to get home in order to clean our place up, since my friend Gabriela was coming over later to (attempt to) teach Karl and I to dance, so we don’t look like nervous junior-high kids during our first dance.  (Have I mentioned that I’m the messy one, not Karl?  So there was no way of me skipping out of cleaning…)

So I called Karl up, told him how excited I was about my finish time, and made him walk towards me so I’d have company for part of my walk.  The one advantage of having a race that ends at the Pentagon, is that it’s a mile from my apartment…  And the walk is not too shabby, since I even pass the Air Force Memorial on the way!

The rest of Sunday went pretty well.  I was exhausted though, and had two failed attempts at a nap.  Then later we embarrassed ourselves by dancing, and went off with Grant and Gabriela for some delicious Thai food (where I promptly replaced all the calories burned during the race).

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Filed under 10 Miler, Army Ten Miler, Pictures, Race, Race Report