I was going to do a Top 10, but that had already been done this weekend. Well I’ve raced 13.1 miles, kinda, and I’ve trained to race 26.2. I’ve raced 5k’s and run 10k’s. However, I’ve never done 10 miles at anything other than an easy pace. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this distance and this race; it isn’t raced often, but almost always sells out. The GW Parkway Classic was a great first experience! Pacers put on a great race; as they always do. Even when dealing with a possible postponement due to the possible gov’t shutdown. They kept us informed and had two contingencies. Great job by RD, Kathy Dalby.
I’ve run on the Mount Vernon path (parallel to the GW Parkway) a lot, and while this race was run on the road, it was actually a lot easier then the path. The path is extremely hilly as opposed to the road, which could really only lightly be described as “rolling hills.” That I can remember, there were only two major hills; one decline the whole first mile and the other going into the 9th mile. Yup, the 9th mile marker was actually on the hill; and before the apex. Note: This is a good reason to drive the course before hand. I thought that I knew the course pretty well, but I was way off. Note: Ignore the announcer in the morning; almost always. if you pay attention to the first note, you can ignore this one. The reason for the previous note is because the Announcer warned us of the start being downhill (100% accurate) but he was a little off on the uphill later in the race. He actually caused me to alter my half-baked race plan by stating that the “surprise” at mile 7 or 8 would be big if we are not ready for it. The surprise was obviously a hill; but it was actually at the end of mile 9 and wasn’t that bad of an incline. I actually averaged a faster pace on the hill than I did for the overall race.
Warm-up: 1 mile easy with 5 sprints. The warm-up was sufficient, but done way to early. I planned on running another mile with some race-pace strides, but…I just didn’t.
Mile 1: I decided before we took off that since this was a mainly downhill mile, I would make sure that it was my slowest mile. I was pretty close. I intentionally took it slow on this decline as to not push out too fast. The night/week before plan was to choose on race day if I’d run either 8:00 or 8:30 and I eventually decided that 8:15 would be a good pace to go after; I’d re-access at 7 miles. That was before the warning of impending doom, that never actually happened. Also forgot hit start on my watch, oops. 8:13
Mile 2-5: Nothing special here. There may have been some rolling hills but I can’t say that I actually remember them. The pace felt really slow, but since I didn’t know how to run this distance, I decided to stick to my race plan of 8:15. I actually tried to slow down and correct my pacing in miles 4&5. Note: don’t make drastic pace changes. Ease into the correct pace. 8:07, 8:08, 8:18, 8:13. 41:27 for five mile split.
Mile 6: So I have no idea why, but this mile was way fast. After checking out the elevation, there was a slight decline. We’ll blame this mile on that, not on bad pacing by me! 8:01
Mile 7-8: More of the same. I’ll take a second to highlight a few things. The volunteers and spectators that were out this morning were awesome. Often times, great racing weather means crappy spectating weather. Today was no exception. With temps in the low 50’s (probably a little colder) it was a great morning to run, I can’t imagine that it was a great morning to cheer, hand out cups full of cold liquid or stand still and make sure that we weren’t hit by cars. Big High Fives to all of the volunteers! Also, one can never get enough cowbell. I have no idea what that means, but there was a lot of cowbells, and I was* digging it. 8:17, 8:18
Mile 9: This mile ended a little short of the top of the biggest incline on the course. I actually ran the incline really good but overall this mile was slow. I think I may have just lost focus. Bleh…8:27
Mile 10: This mile began by cresting the previous hill. After a few meters it turned onto the last street and it was pretty much a straight, flat mile full of spectators. At first I decided to hold back and finish in 8:xx, I didn’t think that I’d earned the right to run fast the last mile. It felt as if I had dogged the race, just to look good coming down the home stretch. This was the fastest mile of the day and it probably could have been much faster if I hadn’t thought so much for the first half of this mile, instead of actually running it. All-in-all, I had a blast and I did run faster towards the end. The crowd support here was amazing. I felt like I was racing in some big city race. It was amazing. 7:30
A few more notes:
Plan accordingly, but be flexible. I planned to take a Gu at around 45 minutes into the race. This wasn’t necessary, but all of my efforts are geared toward my Fall Marathon, so I wanted to practice. But, I didn’t plan on leaving the Gu in my bag that got checked. The only time that I actually slowed was to drink a cup of Powerade somewhere after mile 5. I did not have any other water or food on the course. I was prepared to run the whole race without taking anything in, so leaving my Gu didn’t deter me. Plan B!
Pick a person, catch the person, pass the person. Simple enough. The race was nice and I used my own set of pace setters to get the job done today. I used them to keep me from running too fast, but just as easily they could have been used to help “pull me along,” if needed.
Thank a volunteer, then do it again. Take at least one moment to thank one of each kind of volunteer. We probably all thank the people handing us food, or blankets or water. But, what about the cop on the corner, or the spectator or the Race Director?
Have a little faith in yourself and why not push it(?): We all have a plan for the race. But, not every race should be a PR and that is OK. Follow your pacing plan and if you feel good, inject a little more pace into a few of the miles. Speed past a water spot, charge a hill. Why not? If you are feeling extraordinarily good, speed up. I really wish I had done this. I had a much better time in me today, but I let the race get away from me. If you try and fail, that’s ok. There will almost always be another race.
AG (20-29): 107/281
5 mile split: 41:27.8
Fastest mile: 7:30
Slowest mile: 8:27