Admittedly, I went into this race with sort of a bad attitude. Well, not a bad attitude, but definitely not a positive one. I was dreading it, honestly, because after two days of not feeling well (um, very upset stomach is all I will say; we are thinking food poisoning of some sort because Brian had it too!), I was exhausted, dehydrated, and just crabby. The idea of having to arrive at buses by 6am, get bused up to Mount Vernon, wait around, and then run was not really appealing to me. Also, just like for everyone else, it was just a long, emotional week. Regardless, I tried to leave that attitude at the door and just focus on doing what I needed to do. I actually arrived at Mt. Vernon at almost exactly 6am, and race time was at 8am, so there were 2 hours in chilly, windy weather to kill before the race even started.
Given everything I said above, my goal for this race was just to run under 1:30, but not put any real pressure on myself to PR or anything crazy. Of course, there is always a little pressure to PR, because that’s what being competitive does to you, but I also have a half on Sunday, so I just went in looking to do the best I could and to come out with no regrets. I’d heard mixed things about the course: some said it would be a great place to PR, some said it was harder because of rolling hills, etc. Apparently, it’s a downhill net, but I don’t know, the rolling hills didn’t necessarily make it feel that way. Hearing that it is a great place to PR made me go in thinking it was an easy course, and while it wasn’t that difficult, I honestly thought Cherry Blossom was easier (albeit WAY more crowded). Maybe this was also because it took me forever (3 miles?) to really warm up today simply because of those two hours of standing in the cold. Eventually I did end up getting into a groove, but then the dreaded knee pain hit at mile 7. It was almost identical to what happened at Cherry Blossom: sharp pains that I had to limp-run through for about half a mile and then nothing else for the rest of the race. I really started looking at the Garmin and begging the miles to go faster at about 8.5 because my legs were REALLY tired today; I was definitely feeling it more than 2 weeks ago. Oh, and also — it was windy! I ended up finishing in 1:27 even (8:42 min/mile) which was 24 seconds slower than Cherry Blossom…I will take it!
1,629 (though I have seen 1611 in official standings!) out of 4,810 total (33%)
553 out of 2,687 women (20%)
132 out of 576 in my age group (22%)
Overall, it was a fun race, and the fact that it was flawlessly executed makes up for the long wait in the cold. Maybe the wait wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t been running by myself today, so next year I will recruit buddies! Pacers, once again, was logistically perfect, though. I didn’t have to wait in line for a thing (well, except my last bathroom trip, ha ha). The course was gorgeous, too. I have actually never been to Mount Vernon before (bad, Liz, bad), and my time at the start line was motivation enough to visit sometime soon. A multitude of tulips were up in front of the house, and it was a thing of beauty. I wish I had taken a picture, but my phone was in its holder, and my fingers were too cold to move it.
This race was run in honor of an Alexandria police officer who was shot during a routine traffic stop a few months ago (Peter Laboy), and the last mile was called the “Laboy Strong Mile.” It featured policemen and cars lining the final mile to cheer on the runners. It was definitely a nice touch, especially because after the Boston Marathon, security measures were put in place for the Parkway Classic which restricted spectators from being near the finish line. Of course, everyone ran this race for Boston as well, and Pacers provided blue & yellow ribbons to pin on, and a moment of silence for both Laboy & Boston. We also began the race with chants of “USA! USA!” Trash cans along the route were also closed/locked up for security reasons. Spectator support at this race was definitely less than at other big races I’ve done, but mostly because of the course location itself. Once we started running into Old Town, there were tons of supporters everywhere, and we all know that the supporters really make it so much easier/more fun to run!
Next up is Nike Women’s Half next weekend! Ahhhh!
Since I didn’t take any pictures of the race, I will leave you with a picture of my favorite little first responder! Fairfax Volunteer Firemen came to visit Audrey’s school on Friday (oh my gosh, she loved it), and Caroline loved the hat that they sent home!