Friday, October 14, 2016

2016 Army Ten Miler Race Report

I ran the Army Ten Miler this year, 10 years after the previous time I ran this race. The race has changed in some ways, but not in others. I had a great day this year running the entire course with Karen.

My bib, finisher coin, and a photo of a fallen soldier that a Team RWB member asked me to carry. Kind thoughts for the family of SGT Lance Oliver Eakes

On Friday I went to the expo at the DC Armory, thinking it would be less crowded than on Saturday. There were all kinds of exhibits and demonstrations going on both inside and outside the building.

The DC Armory
Outside the armory

I didn't sleep soundly the night before the race. We had some spitting rain and strong winds from Hurricane Matthew, and the sounds woke me up periodically. It was still raining and windy as I got dressed and ready. Because of Metro not opening early, many people were going to drive to Pentagon City or Crystal City to park. I worried about parking selling out at the closer garages, so I left home early to ensure I'd find parking. I lucked out and found free street parking just around the corner from the garage entrances, which were backed up. I hung out in the car for a while before walking over to the Pentagon. I found Karen and her friends at the port-o-potties (of which there were many) in the south parking lot.

I went with them to the meet-up for the RWB photo. There, I finally met Shannon (Scot's cousin in-law), whom I've been friends with on Facebook but never met in person. After the photo, those of us in Wave 6/Orange Wave headed to our corral. Funny story: while we were in our corral, Scot drove by the Pentagon on I-395 and sent me a screen grab of video he took while driving by. And it turns out, my little group is in the photo. I can't pinpoint myself exactly, but from the camera angle and the timing, I know we're there in front of the orange balloon arch.

My pic of Team RWB runners and supporters
Selfie with Shannon, who wisely bundled up in a robe
Scot's drive-by pic

We waited in the corral during the national anthem and other announcements, Blackhawk helicopters flying by (no jumpers due to the wind), and all the faster corrals taking off. Finally, our wave moved forward to the starting line and went out at the cannon blast. Karen and I agreed to do intervals of 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking. The crowd was thick, and we had an early bottleneck on the ramp from Rt.110 onto the Memorial Bridge.

Four Blackhawks before the start; one of them also followed us around the city for much of the race
Blackhawk selfie with Karen
Almost to the starting line

The weather had cleared up, so we didn't need to worry about rain, and the temperature was perfect, but there were still strong wind gusts from time to time. We fell into a good rhythm and were very consistent with our pace, walking a little extra through the aid stations. The course shared some of the same route as other DC-area races, but was unique enough to keep it interesting. There were more spectators than for the Navy-Air Force half a few weeks ago, and there was also more entertainment. By the time we reached the 14th Street bridge (the same bridge that is infamous in the Marine Corps Marathon), I was getting tired. If I had been alone, I would have walked a lot of the bridge. Thank goodness for Karen keeping us on track. Our goal was to finish under two hours, and she made sure we did, even though I asked for a little extra walking in the last couple miles. Both of us were training for other races, so we weren't trying for a fast PR here, just a good, solid run. I didn't take any photos during the race, which is unusual for me.

When I ran the Army Ten Miler in 2006 the course was different. In 2006 we crossed the bridge and exited at the Pentagon, turned right into the south parking lot, and the finish line was in sight. But this year's race had us turning left off the exit ramp and adding some more distance in Crystal City before running to the north parking lot of the Pentagon. Once on Pentagon property we knew the finish line was near but couldn't see it. After a 90 degree right turn and a few paces, there was the timing mat. There were a few flags on the side of the course, but no finish arch, so I didn't really know I'd reached the finish until I was running over the mat. It was kind of anti-climactic. But we finished in 1:59-ish, so we met our goal for the morning. Though still a ways off from my 10 miler PR, it was the fastest one I had run in a couple years, so that felt good.

Once thorough the finish chute we claimed our finisher coin. This is a tradition of the Army 10 Miler. There is no medal, but there is a coin, and it is usually pentagon shaped. This year's coin was larger than the one from 2006.

Finished my fastest 10 miler in a couple years
With Karen and our finisher coins 
The back of the coin (you saw the front in my first photo)

After grabbing our snack box, Karen and I went off to find the RWB tent, where team members were served a hot breakfast. I hung out with Karen and friends while they ate, enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful morning after the sun came out. Then we had a long walk back to our cars. We easily added two miles to our distance just by walking to and from our cars that day.

This was a good day. The buddy system worked well for both Karen and me. We had an enjoyable race, got to chat, and also met our goal. When I ran the race in 2006, it was with my friend Trish. I dug up my photos from that year's race and am sharing them below just for fun.

2006 Army Ten Miler with Trish
In the finish chute of the 2006 Army Ten Miler (the bibs haven't changed much at all)



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