As I'm sure most people have heard by now, the conditions for this year's race were not ideal. It was very hot and very humid. And despite what they claim was a 70 degree start temperature, it wasn't. It was about 80 and by the time most people were finishing the course, it was near 90. My watch said the average temperature was 86, with a high of 92 during the race. This does not take into account what it felt like with the near 100% humidity and the sun bearing down. My heart goes out to anyone who had to race in those conditions without water after the Mile 4 water station. I can only imagine what it must have been like.
Ok, so back to the race. Since I knew it was going to be nasty, I made sure to drink lots of fluids in the days leading up to the race and on race morning. Rebecca dropped by off at the Pentagon around 7:05 and I made my way over the race area to get through security. Once in, I made my usual stop at the Port-o-Potty. I spent the next 20 minutes or so watching the Canadian and US Army Golden Knights paratroopers jumping out of the planes at 10,000 ft and come in landing on a spot no larger than a 10 ft x 10 ft mark. It was amazing to see. Shortly after that, we were welcomed by a flyover of 4 very low flying helicopters in a diamond formation. It was very emotional as they played the national anthem, which was shortly followed by the countless "WHOOAs!" yelled throughout the crowd. We were then led closer to the starting line when the race cannon went off.
The first 2 miles were pretty normal for a race of 26,000 people: ducking and dodging through the masses to find some running room. The first notable thing I saw was after the first mile, as we approached the Memorial Bridge to head into DC. I man was running (at 6:45/mile pace) and playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" on his flute! Simply amazing! Not sure how he did it, but good for him. Mile 3 was all up hill as we headed up Constitution Ave and then up Virginia Ave and around to Rock Creek Parkway. I think I pushed too hard on the uphill, because miles 4 and 5 were starting to hurt. I grabbed a Gatorade Endurance and a water at the Mile 4 aid station and kept pushing, hoping that the cold water and calories would keep me at pace.
And then it hit me. All that pre-race focus of being hydrated. Yea. I drank too much. Never, in any race, have I had to stop to go. As I crossed Mile 5, it was close to unbearable. I knew I couldn't hold it another 5 Miles. I knew I couldn't just go while I was running, because the entire streets were lined with thousands of people. I'm a pretty open person, but not that open. I also knew that I needed to keep taking in fluids and I couldn't given that I had to go so bad. So I decided to stop at the Mile 6 water stop and hit up one of the Port-o-Potties. It cut into my time in a big way, but I had to go. Once I got out, my legs were a bit stiff, so I had to start with a slower pace and build into a comfortable pace. I started picking it up around Mile 7 and into Mile 8, but then I reached the 14th St Bridge. Ever since the first time I ran the Army 10 Miler, I have never looked at the bridge the same way. Almost 2 miles of steady up hill hell. And in this year's race, we had the luck to have hot sun, humid air, and even hotter pavement. It felt like a slog. People were dropping off to the sides left and right. Cramps, walking, breaks...everyone was struggling. I just told myself to keep plugging away and eventually made it to the exit ramp for the turnaround into the finish.
My splits went something like this:
Mile 1: 6:50
Mile 2: 7:00
Mile 3: 7:11
Mile 4: 7:30
Mile 5: 7:48
Mile 6: 8:48 (Bathroom break included)
Mile 7: 8:25
Mile 8: 8:11
Mile 9: 8:11
Mile 10: 8:20
Final: 1:20:07 - A course PR of about a minute.
After the race, I took the Metro home and made some interesting observations. Everyone who had just run the race, had a puddle under them as they stood in the cars from sweat dripping off their body and clothes. Funny, but nasty. Then, when I got on another train after a transfer, the whole car started clapping for all of us when we got on. It was kind of cool.
Overall, I'm happy with the final result. I PR'd on the course, though I have run much faster 10 Mile times. Only annoying thing remaining is that my Achilles is bothering me, so I'll be staying away from running for the next week or 2. I went on an elliptical machine this morning and stretched and it feels MUCH better, so I'll continue with icing, stretching, and light work until the pain is gone.