Luckily since I'm familiar with the race and area (and was staying at a hotel about a mile from the start) I walked to my corral with about 25 minutes before start time. It's great to be in the 1st wave but it's daunting to stand around waiting for the start in a herd of Kenyan-looking, long distance runner-looking folks! Even though I was dealing with the hip injury, I decided to wear my Saucony Virratas because I'd hoped the zero drop and lightweight would help me with quicker turnover and get me through the race faster. I just kept going over the course in my head and kept telling myself to focus in body position/gait. The cannon goes off (I mean it is an Army event, we're not gonna use some puny starter pistol) and we get moving.
Miles 1-6:54, 2-6:46, 3-6:49
I know everyone always says "run your race"...which for me is start way too fast and pay the price. I mean, the race I really want to run is fast out of the gate, getting faster every mile with a podium finish and champagne...so there's that. But...the better way to go is start slower, gauge effort and focus on negative splits after the first third of the race. I thought I was starting slow until I hit the 1st mile mark on a sub 7. Ok, I'm not hurting and feel good so let's see how this goes. The course is flat and miles 2 and 3 went the same way. Ok, relax, focus on gait and form and let's see where this takes me.
Miles 4-6:56, 5-6:46, 6-7:01
As I hit the 4 mile mark I was surprised that I was feeling good and still running well. Yes, I had a plan but I was feeling really good. Then, I realized that if I can keep this up I'll not only have a good race but I might blow the top of my 10 Miler PR...hence the uptick for mile 5. Coming up on mile 6, I got the tell tale sign of an eroding body position because my right foot nicked my left ankle. That means I was collapsing my left side...again...ugh. Ok, ok, deep breaths and keep going. As I hit mile 6 and the 10k mark I could feel myself slowing down and I felt the speed bleed right out of me. I mean it was like my bubble burst. In one fell swoop my hip started hurting and my speed trailed off.
Miles 7-7:10, 8-7:03, 9-7:10, 10-7:05
The course turns on itself for miles 6-7 and offers a chance to catch your breath and gear up for the last 3 miles. Those miles are on a highway leading back to the Pentagon. It's weird. Racers are out on a highway overpass, there's no crowds and no noise. All you can hear is the sound of feet hitting the ground. Pretty cool indeed. The 9 mile mark is at the exit ramp for the Pentagon, with a slight downhill and is a great way to build steam into the finish. I just gave all I had toward the finish. I was surprised to see the finishing clock as I closed on the finish. I crossed the line in 70mins. Really? Did I just run that in a 70?1 I DID get a PR! My hip didn't feel great, I didn't have a pain free race...but I took 2 minutes off my 10 Miler PR and was satisfied with the day. Not to mention, I got another one of the coveted Finisher's coins. Those things mean a lot to me and I was happy to not only pick one up but have a PR to boot. Next year is the 30th anniversary of the race...and I"m already started to plan out my race schedule for next year so I can be healthy for it...run somewhere around a 65...and then maybe do the Marine Corps Marathon the following weekend. No rest for the fluffy!