As my marathon training winds down (it’s this weekend, guys!), I’ve sort of been struggling to keep my head in the running game.
Life gets busy sometimes, and priorities change. Motivation changes. I made the decision a while back that following the marathon, the next couple of months were going to focus less on racing and more on my other fitness goals. Running just isn’t giving me the same balance that it used to.
So, as I’ve been struggling through this “running is meh” mindset, I’m glad that the “I love running!” version of me decided to sign up for a handful of races as part of my marathon training. It’s definitely been a little bit more motivating to have events to go to and publicly accountable reasons to get my training miles in.
In the last month, I’ve done the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon (which I’ll re-cap soon!) and the Army Ten Miler. This is the cool thing about living in Washington DC: lots of opportunities to run really fun, well-organized races put on by different branches of the military.
Obviously, the big one that everyone recognizes is the Marine Corps Marathon – I haven’t run this one yet, but I have spectated it! It’s on my bucket list… maybe next season? If I feel less meh about running then?
But after MCM, the Army Ten Miler is probably the second most well known. At 35,000 runners, it’s the third largest ten miler in the world.
Yesterday morning, all 35,000 of us descended upon the Pentagon to get things started. Because there are so many runners, ATM does a wave start, with eight waves that start roughly eight minutes apart. It works pretty seamlessly. Both times I’ve run this race, the start was smooth sailing.
The only downside to yesterday morning? It was CHILLY. Like 44 degrees by the time I got to the Pentagon. I had worn capris and a tank to run in (which was ultimately the best call), and had brought a sweatshirt to throwaway at the start, but because I didn’t want to have to check a bag o’ stuff, I decided not to wear anything else to stay warm.
Consequently, that also meant that because I got there STUPID early (I’m talking 2 hours early, folks. I’m an idiot. Or I just wanted to get there and get it over with.), I was faced with the prospect of standing outside in the cold for far too long. So, I decided to huddle in the Metro station until the security guards threw us out. Ultimately, that ended up being about an hour.
I was warm for an hour. And then I was banished outside to wait for the sun to come up and bless us with her warm, inviting rays.
I went to my corral, found a curb, and proceeded to sit on it with my knees up around my ears until it was time to start.
Fortunately, that happened quickly and as my wave rolled forward, I kind of scooted into the wave in front of me and ended up starting with them. Ultimately, this worked out well for me, because it was clearly the pace group I should have been in.
My race plan was to stick to my marathon training strategy: 5-1 intervals, pacing around 10:30-11:00 min/miles. But then I thought about it some more. “It’s only ten miles.” “You can run faster than that.” “Why the hell not?”
So, I decided to push this race. I had a time in mind to finish by, one that I haven’t seen in a couple of years and knew I was more than capable of achieving. As we started, I kicked it out a bit, not going too fast, but hanging with the swifter-moving folks in our group. Turns out, I banged out the first two miles (without walking) in 8:20 and 8:14. Not mad about it.
After Mile 2, I decided to implement the intervals again, because I know they work for me. So I did. Stopping to walk for a minute every five definitely affected my pace, but I was surprised to see that I was still moving at a good clip. Miles 3-9 were all between 8:58 and 9:30 min/miles. And then I ran Mile 10 straight through, without intervals, to finish that one in 8:20, and ultimately meet my time goal for this race.
I don’t know what happened, but I was pretty stoked on it.
Today, however, my legs are a liiiiittle tired. I’ll have to be nice to them this week as we go into marathon day.
Here’s to knocking out that last bit of training and looking forward to 26.2!