Saturday, February 17, 2007

10K Race Recap

I ran my first race of 2007 this frigid and frozen February morning. The great thing about this little 10K was that I could actually jog to the starting line - about a mile from my house.

And the bad thing? Well ... actually a good thing for the race organizers, but the GW Birthday 10K was pretty crowded. While I love seeing fellow runners - and there were tons of us skinny people in tights and fleece caps, shivering so hard our heads vibrated - there was no room, at least in the first 1 1/2 miles, to stretch out and really race on the narrow two-lane road.

The race also was not chip-timed, so if you got hemmed in in the back of the crowd, which is what happened to me and E., there was not a snowball's chance in hell to PR. But these are minor grumblings. All in all, the race went off without a hitch.

And ... we're off!: As I was trying to synch my race watch, a starting gun and an old-fashioned musket (!) sounded. One advantage of being in an area full of Civil War re-enactors. E. and I didn't cross the start line for about 15 seconds.

Then we got stuck in a sea of Lycra. We had to jog that first mile. I tried to squeeze through groups of people, but I almost inadvertently (?) got elbowed in the ribs, so I backed off. I glanced at my watch at the Mile 1 mark: 9:32/mile. I needed to run a 7:49/mile or better in the first mile to PR. My hopes of running a fast race faded for good.
Ah, well.

Huh?: As the trails had a good 3-4 inches of snow and ice, race organizers re-routed the course. So instead of an out-and-back course, we did two 3.1 mile loops. I didn't realize that at first, so when I saw the top 3 men sprint by me going the other way, I thought, "What the hell? I know I'm going slowly, but I'm not crawling."

I lost E. after Mile 2. As I wasn't going to PR, I decided to do a good tempo training run (about 8:00/mile) and enjoy the scenery. I clapped for the top male and female runners as they flew by and cheered on the ones at the back of the pack. I was the only one yelling encouragement to the other runners, but I didn't care.

The two-loop course also meant we climbed and descended a hill four times. I passed a good number of folks on the hill, though my stomach hurt from the coffee I drank this morning.

Breathing room: Once the roads opened up around Mile 2, I breathed a sigh of relief. I kept my tempo pace and steadily passed some folks. Many of the races I run have few spectators, and this was no exception. Besides a few chilled and bored-looking cops, nobody stood on those windswept, icy sidewalks. Not that I blame them.

At the Mile 6 marker, one runner who had already finished cheered people in the home stretch, which I was extremely grateful for.

"C'mon No. 6XX!" he said. "Good pace!"

I flirted with the idea of sprinting to the finish. There was nobody around me for about a dozen yards. Or so I thought (foreshadowing!).

The pitter-patter ...: Before I decided, and with about 30 yards to go, I heard the sound of rapid footsteps behind me. The dozen spectators on the sidelines perked up and started cheering. In the corner of my eye, I saw a woman come alongside me. She was my size and Asian-American, like me.

I sprinted. In reply, so did she. Our ponytails flew in tandem. It was the battle of the 5'2" China dolls. I picked up my pace even more. So did she. I was only one step ahead of her. I started smiling, appreciating her hubris, and almost laughed. We had the same competitive spirit.

In either a display of generosity or a sign that I lost my killer instinct, I stopped surging in the last few feet. I glanced at her and said, "Go girl, you got it!"

Her final time: 50:55.
My final time: 50:56.

I congratulated her afterwards on her good kick. She said "Thanks! I saw your red jacket ahead and you helped pace me to the finish."

Note to self: Do not wear red jacket next time, lest you want to be a target. E. came in four minutes later, shiny-faced and happy.

Feeding frenzy: Afterwards, I was ready to run another few miles. But I decided to do a longish run tomorrow instead. E. and I jogged the mile back home, where I fixed and ate a huge mess of eggs, soy sausages, and rice.
After I finished, I gazed at my empty plate.

Still hungry. I rooted around in the fridge. Found a mini BBQ sandwich. Inhaled it cold.

Hey, at least I didn't eat a doughnut.


  1. Yay! I was going to come, honest! Only, um, I didn't! Good way to be flexible. I'm kind of surprised that there were so many nuts out racing today. We have to start finding SMALLER races, so that you can win them!

    I like the doughnut bit. More foreshadowing.

  2. Good for you for going out and racing in that weather. I rode my bike today - it was in the70s. I'm sorry! I also ate eggs afterward because I felt like I wanted to gnaw my arm off.

    Maybe you should do that Missouri Labor Day marathon on CRN - only 130 people! I'm pretty sure you could place in that field!

  3. Nice job.

    I might have tried to keep her from beating me, though. If she's going to come in ahead of me, she's gonna work for it. I say this since I made the mistake of not pushing past someone at the finish and (surprise) lost 1st in my age group by 0.2 seconds.

  4. And who is surprised Bex was looking to PR on a day like that, without a chip, in her first race of the year, on a 2-lane road, in a crowd?

    Uh .... nobody who knows this little Asian-American dynamo.

    ...and then she goes all soft at the end, providing kindness to a stranger.

  5. Hi David - Yeah, I must have a benevolent gene deep down. Though if I knew I had any chance at all of getting an age group award, I would have muscled her out. But I know I didn't.

  6. Benevolent gene my a$$! C'mon Bex, you knew you had already beaten her when you let her win ;-)

    Yup, the killer-instinct Bex can run, but you can't hide!

  7. Letting someone edge you out at the end of a race! .. you're a far better person than me! Great race report. Sounds like you had a fun morning after a slow start. I don't know what it is with people organizing races with out electronic timing. Even my tiny club out here in the middle of no-where chip-times their road races.

  8. hey bex,
    good to see that there are races in DC area. My girlfriend just moved there so i'll be doing lots of weekend runs.. where are the best places to run? I was happy to see lots of runners whereever we walked..

  9. Sounds like a great race to start off the New Year. I never worry any more about passing anyone or them passing me at the finish of a race. Besides, with chip times, I may think I have beaten someone who is a minute ahead of me based on chip anyway, so I just enjoy the finish. DC is a great area to run, and I always love running on the Mall when I'm up there. If you get a chance, please visit my running web site, Faithful Soles. I have a categorized and searchable Running Blog Database on there and would appreciate it if you would link your blog to it.

  10. Great race report! Excellent show of generosity at the finish line... You had her!