(I wrote this yesterday morning but just getting around to posting now.)
Hey, y’all. I’m writing from a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, somewhere over Oklahoma, on a Frontier Airlines non-stop flight to Denver. I’m heading there for business.
Funny how real life gets in the way of life online. It’s been a week since I last posted, which is light years in Web life. I’ve been so busy: I returned from a 3-day business trip to New York City last Wednesday evening, ran the Army 10-miler on Sunday, and have been filing news stories left and right the entire time. In fact, I didn't even get a chance to unpack from NYC trip before having to re-pack for my Denver trip.
Fear not, my millions (okay, three) of adoring fans: I’m going to be posting more often from here on out. But enough about work – I had a great time at the Army 10-miler. It didn’t start well, though. Because of extra security measures at the Pentagon (where the race began and ended) and because we had to be at the start line no later than 7:30 AM, I hopped on the Metro at 6:08 AM in the dark. It was raining. The only people on the train were other runners in sweats, their bib numbers already pinned on them.
The Pentagon Metro was closed (that’s unfortunately where I was supposed to meet my running team), so we disembarked at another metro stop. There was some confusion on where to check our bags, and my SO (who gamely accompanied me) and I walked in the rain from security checkpoint to security checkpoint staffed with cute, super-friendly, but not very helpful soldiers. We got a lot of different directions on where to go, frustrating a good number or runners, including me.
I finally just gave my bag (containing a fleece pullover, my cell phone, mints and extra socks) to my SO, who wasn't allowed into the race area with me. He waved goodbye and wished me luck, saying that he’d see me at mile 6 and 8. I walked through security and looked in vain for my team. It started to rain harder and I shivered in the cold (45 degrees) and wet weather. I finally just went to the starting line and to my “seeded area.”
What that means: The starting area is actually in sections, with the faster runners at the front. Yellow was the fastest, then green, then red, white, orange, and last, purple – my group. That way, the popular reasoning is, the slower runners don’t get run over. I was seeded in the purple group. That was not my idea, but our team leader’s idea. That was so we could all start together as we had runners of different speeds. But I found out later that my team was up with the faster runners. Ah, well.
Unexpected ego boost: At 7 AM, I stood alone at the starting line with wet hair, no makeup, and was shivering almost uncontrollably when a cute soldier walked over and started chatting me up. After a minute, he said, "I just wanted to tell you that you're beautiful. I'll be here at the end of the race. Good luck!" I flashed him a big smile, thanked him, and slowly jogged away, feeling 10 times better.
I didn’t cross the starting line until almost 13 ½ minutes after the starting cannons went off (the Army cannons were very dramatic, lots of noise and smoke). I couldn’t break free of the slow pack at first – there were 20,000 people in the race, after all – and I had to jog very slowly for the first mile or so. I finally broke free around mile 2, when we crossed the Memorial Bridge and rounded the Jefferson Memorial. I ran around the perimeter, past some policemen who couldn’t catch me, and caught up with two team members in mile 4.
We ran together for a couple of miles, and I mugged for the few cameras and sparse number of spectators (remember, it’s early in the morning on a cold, wet Sunday) in front of the Smithsonian. In fact, there were so few onlookers that for long stretches the only sounds you heard were heavy breathing and the rhythmic whomp of thousands of feet hitting pavement.
I was feeling good, so I ran past my colleagues at mile 7, which is just past the Capitol (which had the most security). I took water twice from alarmingly-good-looking Army soldiers, who yelled “Incoming!” when they saw me swoop away from the pack to grab a half-full dixie cup from their outstretched hands. At mile 8, it started to rain again, but it didn’t bother me too much.
The last mile and a half was a gradual but long hill, so I heard lots of runners laboring for breath. Strangely enough, I wasn't tired, and didn’t realize we were nearing the end until some spectators started yelling at us in encouragement. That spurred me on. So with a mile left to go, I really started to push it, running faster – racing a young stud just ahead of me - and finally sprinting the last 1/8 of a mile. I was so elated to finish I jumped up and down and high-fived a few other runners.
At the end of the run, my hamstrings were a bit sore, but I still had a lot energy to burn. Now I know I could have run the entire race a bit faster. I was the 4th-fastest runner on our team, and the second-fastest female.
I’ve got the runner’s bug now. Next up: A half-marathon. Anyone care to join me?!