Thursday, October 25, 2012

Army Ten Miler Report: Like a Deer in Headlights

Okay, couldn't resist that title. You will soon know why.  It was a race morning that I will never forget.
 I was able to get a race number for this race through the Carlisle Barracks Sports Office.  The race had sold out in 9 hours, so to get a number at all, and a free number was a great bonus. There were 30,000 runners registered for this race, and next year they will open it up to 50,000, making it the largest 10 mile race in the world.
 Carlisle Barracks was offering a bus ride to the race, so I decided to get myself to Washington D.C. that way.  I arrived at the bus at 0415, for a 0430 departure.  We left right on time (gotta love that military precision).
 It was very dark, everyone was quiet and subdued, so I decided to pull out my iPhone and listen to the latest Another Mother Runner podcast to pass the time.  Ironically, the subject of the Podcast was all about Race Morning. Sarah was talking about how she always remembers race mornings, Dimity stated that she rarely remembers them, and I was thinking to myself "I don't really remember many mornings either".  Well, that would change in a moment.  The next thing I know, I hear a very loud "BOOM! What was that????!! Something has hit our bus, or we have hit something.  My initial thought was another car has run into us.  The bus driver,  calmly pulled over to the side of the road, and we waited for an explanation.  Turns out, a deer had come from the right side of the road, and our bus hit it.  It was enough of an impact that the front part of the bus flew off, over to the left, into the other side of the road.  Luckily, no other cars were involved.  The deer was behind us on the road, and cars were having to drive around it.  A dangerous situation.  The police were called to report the accident, and then the director of the trip got on the phone to find us a new bus. Because of the damage to the bus, the radiator was leaking fluid, and we were unable to continue on.
 By this time, it was 0515, we had 1 and 1/2 hours of drive time left, and we had to be in the starting corrals at the latest 0750.  No way we were making it by then.  The director of the trip was able to get a hold of the race director and explained our situation.  It was decided that instead of parking further away, we would be able to get fairly close to the starting line, and get into the last corral. That wave of runners was to start running at 0825.  Hopefully we would make it by then. 
 So, we waited for the new bus.  By this time, I had eaten my bagel with peanut butter and honey, and sipped my gatorade.  I knew a potty break was probably going to be out of the question.  I was one of 3 ladies on the bus, the rest were military soldiers who had no problem getting off the bus and going in the bushes to relieve themselves.  Sorry, but I was not about to do that.  I would hang tough for now, and if I had to I could stop at the first water stop if there were port-a-potties.  The new bus arrived at 0620.  And we were off, again.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, and we pulled up to where we could see crowds of people lined up to start. It was 0810. I was the second one off the bus, and I started running towards the corrals.  I estimate it was 1/2 mile to the start. Just enough for a "warm-up" after sitting on the bus for almost 4 hours.  I lined up in the last corral and waited for us to move to the start.  I was feeling good, and ready to run.  I took a GU gel and the last sips of my watered down gatorade.  We started shuffling forward and I crossed the line at 0827.
 Because of the large number of runners, it took me several miles to find a good pace to run.  My goal going into the race was to maintain a 9:00 min/mile pace for the first 5 miles, then increase my pace to 8:45/mile for the second half.  Basically marathon pace as a pre-marathon practice.  I was unable to run as fast as I wanted for the first 5 miles due to the sheer amount of people.  I was weaving around people, trying to make up some ground, but I really didn't find my groove until mile 7. This was a bit disappointing, but I decided to just take in the experience of the race and enjoy the sights of D.C. This is a great race, with many people running for charities benefiting the military, including Fisher House, Wounded Warriors, and Wear Blue to Remember.  Many people had memorials written on the back of their shirts with photos to remember the fallen.  Very inspiring and sobering. This race is really like no other. It made me think "These are my people. The Army Family".
 I took a GU at mile 6, and then focused on picking up the pace.  I was feeling great, enjoying the run. My last 3 splits were my fastest, and my most favorite miles of the race.  I crossed the line at 1:32:19 according to my Garmin Forerunner 10 watch. 
 Splits for the race were: 9:40, 9:25, 9:11, 9:13, 9:17, 9:12, 9:18, 8:49, 8:40, 8:37. Total distance on my watch was 10.14 miles.  Probably all the weaving around people.
 I walked through the finish chute, collected my finishers coin, and grabbed a bagel, Kashi granola bar and water.  Finally went to the port-a-potty, and met up with my busmates at our "Hooah" tent. Then an uneventful bus ride home completed my Army Ten Miler adventure.
Overall, a great race that I will plan on doing again. Run Army. Run Strong!

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