Sunday, April 22, 2012

GW Parkway Classic Recap

I ran the 28th George Washington Parkway Classic 10-miler this morning.  It is put on by Pacers, a running store local to the DC area.  The race was executed flawlessly.  But before we get to the race, lets talk about getting our little family unit to the race.


The race was held in Alexandria, VA, about an hour from our house.  It is a point-to-point course, meaning the start and finish lines are (in this case) 10 miles apart.  Buses were provided so runners could park at the finish line and get shuttled to the start.  Not to mention, the start line was at Mt. Vernon and there was no parking available nearby.  The race details encouraged runners to get to the buses by 6:30, with the strict warning that the last bus would leave promptly at 7:00 (the race started at 8:00am).  

With this in mind, I told the hubs that I wanted to leave our house by 5:00, so that in the event we hit traffic into Alexandria, the likelihood of me getting to the buses by 6:30 was still high.  Which meant I needed to wake up by 4:15.  I guess I was really nervous about this race, because I woke up at 3:45.

I ate a leisurely breakfast of a banana, two pieces of raisin-walnut toast with almond butter and a cup of coffee.  To get me pumped, I read Born to Run (absolutely loving this book, but I'll talk about it once I'm finished). The hubs was downstairs by 4:30.  I got dressed, gathered last minute items, and loaded everything into the car while the Hubs grabbed Nugget.

Ready to race!

 The kid was amazing.  He didn't cry or fuss, and he seemed eager to be going on an adventure so early in the morning.  His two demands: juice and music.  Once he had both, he was golden.  Sadly, he didn't fall asleep AT ALL on the hour drive to Alexandria, which caught up to him (and us) a little later in the day.  But he was still a trooper.

We encountered ZERO traffic on the way into Alexandria.  Such is the curse of over-planning.

I kissed my cheering section good luck, boarded a bus to the start and off I went!  I guess the Hubs found a great parking spot near the finish, so they just hung out in the car for an hour (which is probably Nugget's favorite thing to do anyway).  

My cheering section staying dry until race time.

Complimentary coffee, bananas, bagels and water were available the start, as well as Vita Coco Coconut Water.  I had a sample of Pure and found the taste slightly odd (you'd think it would be in my blood to love this stuff, right?  Considering I am half-hawaiian.  Too long I've been here in haole land) yet very refreshing.   Definitely put an extra spring in my step.  Will be checking that product out for future runs.  

Complimentary coffee shots!

A half-hour before the run I also had two Clif Shot Bloks.  Today I had one orange flavor and one mountain berry flavor.  I enjoy the mountain berry, I LOVE the orange flavor.  These things really work for me, plus the orange flavor totally reminds me of the Tomoe Ame candy that I devoured as a kid, minus the dissolving rice paper.  Always puts a smile on my face. :)

The weather was cold, drizzly, and windy.  Free heat sheets were on hand and, omg, those things work.  The hour-and-a-half wait was bearable due to these awesome amenities.  Pacers knows know to put on a race!

Due to my foot, I was changing my race goal from sub-9:15 minute/mile to sub-10:00 minute/mile because I didn't want to push too hard.  I positioned myself at the start line accordingly.

Hindsight being 20/20, I could have started in an earlier corral.  Que Sera.  Was still a good race.

The Race

The first mile was pretty much downhill.  Not a steep downhill, but enough to make it difficult to find my rhythm from the git-go.  People were passing me left and right, and I had to fight with myself to reign it in; if I pushed too hard at the beginning, I would burn out and/or injure myself.  By 0.8 miles or so, I hit my stride and gained some ground.  I ran mile 1 in 9:56 and was pleased that I was 4 seconds faster than target.  I was feeling good so I challenged myself to run mile 2 in 9:00, and was able to run it in 8:45!  Thats a total "Hell Yeah!" moment for me.  I was pushing hard, but not too hard; I felt I could sustain this pace for the rest of the race, so thats what I set out to do.  I wasn't entirely successful, but I'm happy that I was able to maintain a sub-9:00 pace for most of the race:

Mile 1:  9:56
Mile 2:  8:45
Mile 3:  8:58
Mile 4:  8:55
Mile 5:  8:51
Mile 6:  8:48
Mile 7:  8:51

I told myself I would take a Cliff Shot Gel at 5 miles, but I was feeling pretty good so I revised my plan and opted to take it at mile 7 for a boost through miles 8 &9.  Bad idea.  By mile 5.5, I could feel my energy levels plummeting quickly.  I have heard/read that you should refuel before you actually need to refuel, but seeing as how I'm new to this running scene, I wasn't sure at what point that was for me.  Turns out, 5 miles is about right.  As soon as I felt my body drop, I whipped out my gel.  Gave me a good kick plus we hit an aid station with Gatorade, so I think that also helped (as you can see above, my pace improved through miles 5 & 6).  

Embarrassing admission: I can't do math on a sunny day in June, and I sure as hell can't do math halfway into a 10-mile race.  I was planning on gunning it at mile 8, thinking I only had two more miles to run.  I COMPLETELY FORGOT that you actually need to run the 10th mile.  So I was mentally preparing myself for a race that was a mile shorter than the race I was actually running.  Pure genius.

Mile 7 was a bit tough.  I wanted to kick but told myself to reel it in because it was too early.  I was trying to stay focused and prepare myself for the kick through miles 8 & 9 (because I forgot about mile 10), when I saw a mile post up ahead that says...11?  No that can't be right.  I'm not wearing my glasses, so things in the distance look blurry.  Does it say...1?  That also can't be right.  It must say 7.  WHAT?!?!  I thought we already passed the 7 mile post.  I thought I was already running mile 7!!  Oh no!  I'm screwed!  I'm mentally one mile ahead of my body!  "I can't do this!," I thought.  "I should just die.  Or throw myself into the Potomac.  Or maybe less dramatically, just curl up in a ball on the side of the road.  Or just shut-up and keep running."  My mind was all over the place at this point.  Luckily, there was a chipper couple next to me who noticed that it was a 1 mile post...for the 5K earlier that morning.  So turns out my body and mind were still together, on pace.

But only just.  My kick at mile 8 quickly fell apart when I saw the hill that I was fast approaching.  The course was relatively flat with just a few rolling hills, so this was the first significant incline we had seen all race.  Damn you race directors!  But it really it was my fault for not having paid more attention to the race details.  At any rate, my body could not sustain my increased pace up that hill, so I had to dial it back considerably.  We also hit another shorter but steeper hill in mile 9 and while I ran that one strong, my body was pretty fatigued.  

Mile 8:  9:05
Mile 9:  9:02

And then I had to run the mile I completely forgot.  The final mile was a flat straightaway, and I wanted to finish strong.  I picked up my pace considerably, but couldn't sustain it the whole way through (note to self: practice mile sprints!) and ended up slowing about a quarter-mile out.  Still, despite the fact that I couldn't run at that increased pace for the whole mile, it was my fastest mile of the race, and I think I finished strong:

Mile 10:  8:40

I saw DJ Research and Nugget as I was closing in on the finish, which made me so happy.

I used the RunKeeper app on my iphone while running, and I think the stats from the app are different from what the Pacers timing device logged.  According to their device, I finished in 1:31:31 with an average pace of 9:10 minute/mile.  I'll take it.

Rank: 2206 overall / 362 in Age Group (F, 30-39) 
[out of 4822 entrants overall / 1058 entrants in my age group]


We didn't stick around for the post-race activities due to the weather and the fact that Nugget was getting cranky because he was so tired.  He put up a half-hearted fight when the hubs strapped him in and promptly fell asleep as soon as we turned the car on.  Woke up immediately upon getting home, so not much of a nap either today.  He's still bursting with energy though.

If I may say so, I'm very proud that I was able to not only beat my amended goal for this race, but beat my original goal of sub-9:15m/m by 5 seconds, despite not being 100% today.  I think running a 10-miler sub-9:00m/m is not beyond my reach, and I look forward to training and pushing myself to meet that.

Still want to share my podiatrist appointment with you, but will have to post on that later.  Blogging in exhausting!


  1. Great race update. Happy to have been "with" you through the event. You did awesome, and you've got a great support "community-of-two" behind you. I love your blog updates.

  2. Love hearing about your race!!! Great job...Iʻm so impressed with your ability to do this...AND blog about it...AND love it.

    Seriously, seriously, LOVE reading your updates.

  3. Wow, congratulations! I'm so impressed by your drive and determination. 9 minutes per mile, holy cow!!