Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Army 10 Miler Report

The morning began at 4:30 with the alarm clock blaring it’s ugly tune to get up.  I don’t recall what time I got to sleep but it was somewhere around 10:00, so I wasn’t for lack of sleep, but it was still hard to get up that early.  I got up, hoped in the shower and we were off.  Stopping at 7-11 for some coffee along the way.  We made it to the metro station about 25 minutes to 6:00 and had to wait on the platform for awhile before it opened.  When it did, we had a pleasant surprise… we were able to catch the yellow line and didn’t have to make a switch over like we thought.  Connor was tired, but he loves trains and enjoyed showing his stuffed animals the train.  Off we went and about 45 minutes of rest.

We arrived at the pentagon and out to a darkened view. The excitement was in the air and  I had a twinge of excitement…… wait, it wasn’t from the excitement, but the need to pee.  We fumbled around locating the jons and ended up getting in line while a guy was hollering about 100’s of open potties on the other side of the stage.  We decided to stay put… a good thing too, because after I headed through the runners security, I realized they were for runners only.  Jen would have been out of luck 

We watched a paratrooper come in and I prepared to head out.  We said our goodbyes and I was off to the starting line.  I took about 10 minutes to do some stretching, ate a GU (mint chocolate…yum!) and proceeded to my corral.

About 1/3 of the starting line is in the distance.  It was huge!It was supposed to be two waves, and subdivided by color.  Well when I lined up in my color (white) corral, it was a rainbow of colors… bib-wise. 

We stood around, thousands of us, waiting for the start. Wounded warriors first, then wave one, then us.  I crossed the starting line about 13 minutes after the wave 2 gun went off. 

The race was packed tighter than a cheap can of sardines.  I made an executive decision to run the first mile without walking, for fear of being run over.  I took it slow and steadying, knowing I tend to get caught up in the excitement and go out to fast.  The crowd and runners were both awesome.  and things were off to a great start.  Hitting mile one at a 10:52, I was going strong.  That’s when I decided to start the run/walks. Mile two was great.  We crossed over into DC and to a large crowd of spectators.  Running by the Lincoln Monument and around to Virginia Street, I was feeling strong. I hit mile 2 in 11:34, right on target.  Up Virginia Ave, to the sounds of a band (there were several along the route), and passing by the State Department (I do some work there on occasion).  Scenery-wise, this is probably the dullest of the entire route.  Mainly, I was pushing strong through here and focused on my running.  I could tell I was have a great race at the time. 

Miles 3-4 along the river.  Again, I was focused hard on myself and the pack.  My preferred position is on the left side of the road, and there were plenty of spectators cheering us on.  Somewhere around here I started to take a Cliffs Bloks.  I’d been drinking water throughout the race and thought I was doing well nutrition-wise.  Mile 5 and along the Washington Monument, I was really enjoying myself.  My running was strong, I wasn’t over doing it, and everything about the race was just working.  Coming on the mall and the crowd became huge!   It was extremely motivating and running through the mall, where I’d worked for nearly a year, brought back memories from my former job and thoughts of how much better my life is now.  I was having a great race.

Mile 6 marker was by the American Indian Museum (Which I used to service) and right on the corner was a high school band.  We turned north and looped back around the front of the Capitol then back down the mall.  Somewhere around here I started to feel some pain in my hamstring, but I didn’t think much about it.  My feet were feeling good, I was well hydrated, and breathing was steady.  Somewhere between mile 7 and 8, I hit it.  I had stopped for a walk, and realized my right hamstring was getting worse.  I stopped and did some stretching, and took the next run very slow.  It didn’t get better.  Turing the last main corner and it was slightly over 2 miles left.  I took a break at a port-a-jon and massaged my leg.  Did some stretching and attempted to get back to it. I got about 10 seconds in and more sharp pain.  I tried off and on to run for about 1/2 a mile from when it first hit, but about the 8 mile mark I made the decision to stop the running and walk the rest. 

This was very disheartening.  Only about 5 minutes prior, I was having a great race.  It was going so great, that I had decided I was going to run the last mile without walk breaks.  I’d been set to run well above my goal and was excited.  When the pain over took me, I was pissed off and feeling like crap.  I tried to speed walk it, but after a bit, even that was causing pain.  Stopping every few minutes to stretch and rub my hamstring, and I only continued to slow down.  Soon enough even the other walkers were passing me, and people were asking if I was ok. 

Around the 9 mile mark, I could have easily given up.  I’d been walking for over a mile, the pain was constant, and my goals had all but slipped away. One thing I kept noticing were the shirts of my fellow runners.  A lot of runners were doing it in memory of fallen soldiers, or were injured or retired soldiers themselves and I used that to help me through the last mile.  Hobbling along, I came into the last turn and pushed through to the finish.  I nearly collapsed, not in exhaustion, but from the pain.  I found the medic tent and checked in to have my hamstring looked at.  The Dr. that saw me agreed that it was a cram and not a pulled muscle.  I did some stretching and proceeded to go find Jen and Connor.  I collected my medal, hobbled over to our pre-arranged meeting spot, and sat down, contemplating the race.  We were supposed to meet some friends afterwards, but decided it was better to head home. 

When we got off the metro at the last stop, a fellow runner got up, and was hobbling similar to me.  Come to find out he works at Fort Meade as well, and had a similar (although not as severe) injury as me.  It’s strange, but that made me feel better.

Finishers medal.  Medals are an Army tradition and I'm adding this one to my collection! So to sum it all up… The Army 10 Miler was one of the best races I’ve been in.  Partially because I work for the Army, used to work in the area of the race, and the administration and spectatorship of the race was top notch.  the first 7.5 miles of the race I was kicking ass.  I was feeling great, having a good time doing it, and happy as can be.  The last 2.5 miles were a struggle I faced and beat.  Even though it came off crappy towards the end, the race was still an accomplishment, and I am very glad I did it.   Did I meet all of my goals, no.  Did I complete my first one (to finish) yes I did and I’ll do it again next year damnit!  Possibly side by side with my wife too!


Paul said...

Great write-up, and good race...sometimes it's just not going to be smooth sailing...but hey, if it was aways predicable, it wouldn't be worth doing

(Same thing just happened to me in my last race..different muscle, less pain, but still gumming up the plan 8)

Heal up the leg, and maybe sign up for a half between now and your full?

Kim said...

That stinks about your hamstring. It sounds like a great race otherwise, so great job on pushing through at the end!

Andrew Opala said...

I would say this is a great achievement! Plus you got some sexy bling.

13:26 pace is awesome will all the pain and walking you did! Way ahead of the 15:00 cut off pace.

Way to hang in there!

Abby said...

Thanks for your note! Glad to see that you had fun at the 10 miler this weekend (last 2.5 aside) - hope you're on the mend soon!

Jen said...

Like I said when you finished....I am so proud of you for finishing. Last or first doesn't matter...you crossed the finish line and have the medal to prove it!

Annie said...

Congrats on finishing your first 10 miler, James! You're doing very well with your running. I'm proud of you, bro!