Race Report: The George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler

Finish time:  1:29:53

Placing:  1552 out of 4483 (overall)

962 out of 1848 (male)

163 out of 272 (male division)


This race rivals the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, and I will be running it every year when I am able to.  I registered for the race on a whim.  I saw a post about the run on a running website, and I had never heard of the race before.  The last minute registration came at a steep price, $89, and I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to pay that kind of money to run ten miles by the Potomac when I was perfectly ok to do that on my own for free.  I convinced myself otherwise, though, mainly because I read good things about the race online and also figured that I'd give it a shot.  The worse thing that could happen is that I'd run ten miles and be out 90 bucks with a lesson learned.  So I bought the entry and then became even more reluctant when the weather forecast was showing a morning set at the mid 40s with steady rain.  Great.


Turns out that the weather forecast was wrong, and the race weather was beautiful and perfect.  Low 50s, no humidity.  Knowing what I know, I would do it even in the rain.  It's a relatively quick course, from one historic site to another, on a tree-lined road just miles outside of DC.  What's not to like?




The interesting thing about this race, what drew my eye to it, is that it's an end to end run.  You start off at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and you run ten miles on the GW Parkway along the Potomac River to Old Town Alexandria.  There are three bus loading stations (in Alexandria and Arlington) to take you to the start line.  The buses run from 5:30am until 7am, depending on the location.  If you miss one of the buses, you miss the race.


Being an amateur, I decided that I'd choose the bus shuttle that was closest to the finish line, which was on Fairfax Street in Alexandria.  That way I could just park my car there and I wouldn't have to Uber there and back (and avoid any crazy uber surges).  Great idea, right?  No shit it's a good idea, that's why everyone else decided to do this.  One of the variables I was not accounting for was how many people would be running.  Even if there were a couple thousand, I figured, how long could the wait to get down there be, especially if there are three different pick up points?  Well, there were more than a couple thousand, there were almost 4500 people running this race, and how long could the wait be?  Pretty damn long.  The shuttles ran from 5:30am to 7am, and the organizers (Pacers Running) indicated that the best bet to get on a shuttle without a wait would be to board by 6:15.  Of course, I ignored this advice and decided to just get down there by 6:40.


I've said this before, and I'll say this again.  The time it takes getting to the start line of a race moves by at warp speed.  That plan to arrive an hour or 90 minutes before a start quickly erodes and before you know it you're hurrying to get to the line.  It wasn't quite dramatic with this one, but that law certainly proved itself again.  By the time I got to Alexandria, it was about 6:35, but parking in the garage took forever.  And when I got up to the line for the bus, it was wrapped around a city block, several hundred people deep. I randomly ran into a friend from law school, but didn't stop to chat because I was worried that I'd be left behind if I didn't get in line.  It ended up not being too much of a problem, it seemed like everyone got on one of the buses.


While in line, I chatted up another runner.  His name was Peter, and while in line and on the bus we talked about a lot of things, from running, to technology, to having kids.  He was a really nice guy, and it's people and conversations like that which bring me back to events like this over and over again.  During our ride on the bus, Peter said something interesting–a book he was reading was describing how early humans would run together in groups on the savanna.  He made a good point:  why is it that we would pay a bunch of money stand in a line hundreds deep to get on a bus and be dropped off ten miles away, just so we can all run back to where we started?  We started talking and postulating that it must be something primordial about our biology and psychology, that we would do all this just to run together in a group, even if we don't know any of the people with whom we are running.


We got to the start line, Mt. Vernon, and Peter and I parted ways.  At the start, there were tons of people heading to the bag check and stretching out.




The race started right on time, 8:00am.


Miles 1-4


9:14 min/mile; 9:01; 8:57; 8:45


I don't really remember much mile to mile, but I'll try my best here.  A lot of the run scenery looked the same.  What I do remember is that the first mile has a pretty decent size downhill.  In fact, looking at my run analytics, you go from 95 feet to -25 feet in that first mile.  This course was fast and a good amount of downhill or flat running.  I think I stopped for water once during these four miles.


Miles 5-8


9:03; 8:44; 8:52; 9:02


The climb ascends a little during this stretch, but it's nothing crazy.  It goes back up to about 50 feet above sea level.  I don't really have too much that I remember here, except that starting at mile 5, I decided that I'd try and go for a sub 9 min/mile pace (sub 90 minutes).  When I've been in better shape, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but pushing a pace like that would be the fastest I've run since baby Asha was born.  I figured, what the hell, let's keep it at or under 9 and see what happens.


Throughout the race, I was convincing myself that the hardest miles would be miles 7-9.  That was kind of true, but I think that was more psychologically than anything else.  When I hit mile 7, I told myself that mile 8 would actually be the hardest.  When I hit mile 8, I told myself mile 9.


Miles 9-10


9:01; 8:43


When I entered mile 9, I wasn't really thinking about my sub 1:30 goal.  I had stopped in the previous segment to get water and I figured that it cost me enough time to just miss the mark.  I wasn't dead set on getting that goal, so I didn't give it another thought.  When I got to mile 10, I looked at my watch and did some fuzzy math to realize that I'd be close.  So I decided to pick it up a little and just see where I was at when I got close to the finish.
As the finish line approached, with about a 0.15 miles left, my watch hit 1:29.  I knew I could break 1:30 if I just turned the jets on for the last tenth.  I did that (or tried to) and was able to finish across with 7 seconds to spare.




I collected my medal, my boxed treats and a muffin from the welcome area, and decided to head back home.  I considered hanging around for a while–it was a beautiful morning–but I was eager to get back home to see Mini.  Also, I didn't want traffic heading out of the parking garage to slow me down.


I did really enjoy this race too.  I imagine taking Mini here too, as she gets older.  There was one guy I saw on the ten mile route who was running with a stroller (faster than me, I might add), so I'll have to look into how to set that up next year.


Some pictures from during and after the race:







One thought on “Race Report: The George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler

  1. Pingback: Race Report – 2018 George Washington Parkway Classic Ten Miler – 10 Miler PR! | fiftyonemarathons

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