Race Report – Boo! Run For Life 10K

Finish time:  58:08

Placing:  135 out of 310

80 out of 127 (male)

21 out of 35 (male division 30-34)

 

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As soon as I found out about this race, I knew I was going to run it.  It is a 10K that raises money for the Dean R. On’Neill Renal Cell Cancer Research Fund.  My mom’s kidney cancer diagnosis wasn’t the origin of my running life, but it accelerated it, and so of course I was going to participate.  I ran it with Mini for an experience I will not forget, running with my daughter to honor my mom.  Though I have not been running very much lately, due to an eventful September, I did enjoy this run a lot.  It was a beautiful and crisp fall morning by the Potomac with Jess and Mini.

 

PRE-RACE

 

I’ve been pretty tired this week.  Lack of sleep.  Got rear ended on Thursday.  General life, work, etc.  Overall, nothing to complain about, but it’s been a tiring week for sure.  So, there wasn’t really any plan for this one except to run with Mini.  I was up late on Saturday watching the Clemson-Virginia Tech game

 

It was a fairly early start, 8am, but anyone with kids knows that leaving the house takes a lot longer than you’d think.  Since I was running with the stroller, that meant a 6am wake up with the plan to get there at around 7:20 to pick up my shirt.  The race was at West Potomac Park, and we got there right around 7:45 in time to get my bib and stretch out a little.  It wasn’t a terribly large crowd, but it was a decent turn out for a good cause.  Jess, Mini and I waited for the start.  I chatted briefly with a few people, one woman who had also just done the Clarendon Run and another person who came in from Rockville.

 

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Miles 1-3

 

10:14 min/mile; 9:20; 8:59

 

I decided to start off slowly.  In actuality, I have been feeling pretty out of running shape.  As mentioned, September was a low mileage month, and I had actually tried to run the day before this race at the same location, but I had to abandon the run because my legs weren’t working.  I think it is a combination of the all the events, the lack of sleep, the lack of running, and some worn out shoes.  So here, I decided to just take it easy.  Also, since I had the stroller, I wanted to start in the back and not try and weave through with it.

 

The course is basically an out and back, starting near the Lincoln and down to Hains Point and back.  It’s a beautiful run, and I do a portion of it a lot.  On a cool fall morning there’s not much better than running with the Potomac on one side and the monuments on the other.

 

Miles 4-6

8:50; 9:13; 9:20

For the next three miles, I thought I’d pick it up a bit.  As I hit the turn around, I ran by a few other people with strollers and we exchanged some looks of solidarity and words of encouragement.  At around mile 4.5 or so, I started chatting up a runner who also has a six month old at home.  I had to stop a few times because Mini’s blanket was starting to fall off.  Also, she was giving me that classic 4.5 mile look of “you better hurry up and finish the race, or there will be hell to pay.”

 

Miles 6-6.2

[2:16]

Jess was waiting for us at mile 6 and she ran the last bit with us before hopping out.  As I ran across, someone told me that I was the first stroller to finish.  Not sure if that was true or not, but I’ll assume that it was.

 

POST-RACE

 

Jess and I took some pictures with Mini at the finish line.  Then we dressed her up in this really cute octopus costume we bought for her.  I was initially thinking of running with her dressed in it, but that was going to be too cumbersome with the stroller.  So we changed her into it and took some pictures.

 

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Afterwards, Jess treated us to a nice brunch at this biscuit place called Mason and Dixie.  It was really good–the first “southern” biscuit and gravy + fried chicken place in DC that I’ve enjoyed.  Jess and I have this standing tradition to sometimes eat fried chicken and daal with Oberon beer while watching college football in the falls–we might have to get  the chicken from this place the next time we do.

 

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Mini with the thumbs up.

 

 

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Old School Race Report – Marine Corps Marathon 2015

I don’t really have a race report here because it predated my blog.  Just a screen shot of the course from the 2015 MCM marathon and the splits from that day.  I’ll try to summarize in a few sentences what I remember.

 

Miles 1-4

10:26 min/mile; 11:56; 11:19; 10:46

 

Miles 5-8

 

10:54; 10:33; 11:04; 10:45

 

Miles 9-12

 

9:59; 9:46; 10:07; 9:55

 

Miles 13-16

 

10:32; 10:27; 9:45; 9:59

 

Miles 17-20

 

10:37; 11:21; 10:20; 10:57

 

Miles 21-24

 

11:04; 12:48; 11:59; 12:59

 

Miles 25-26.2

13:18; 12:42; [12:00]

 

Race memories

 

This part is going to be a stream of conciousness, things that I remember, but not really when or where in the same organized way as the others.  I ran this race after having a mild stress fracture which sidelined me for seven weeks immediately prior.  I still maintain that running this race was a terrible, egotistical decision.  I’m lucky that I did not get hurt.

 

PRE-RACE

I metro-ed (to which stop, I don’t remember) and walked to the start line.  There was a power outage that caused a very massive back up.  Instead of passing through regular security, Marine volunteers had to hand wand everyone through, which took forever.  Missed the national anthem, air show and parachuting guy.

 

RACE

 

My memory comes in fits and starts.  I remember running nice and easy through Rock Creek Park and feeling pretty good.  I picked it up right around mile 9 and carried it until about mile 18.  I was foolishly optimistic that I’d be ok carrying that pace.  When I hit mile 16, I remember thinking and kind of yelling out loud, “10 more to go.”

 

At mile 18, I knew I was hitting the wall.  I stopped running for the first time right on the bridge.  The rest of the race would be this start/stop mess of a run.  My boss, who is in the marine reserves, was at the race that day working with the VIPs and he was planning to meeting me at the finish to give me my medal.  I texted him at mile 22 or so, telling him when I thought I’d finish.  He wrote me back telling me to pick it up or that I’d be fired!  Sadly, I ended up not seeing him at the finish line.  I crossed during a 30 second window where he wasn’t there.

 

At mile 23, I remember someone handing out donuts to us.  At mile 24, my hamstring felt like it was going to give way.  I turned to the person next to me as mile 25 finished and said to her, “let’s finish up strong.”

 

After I crossed the finish, I walked around Iwo Jima to find Jess and our cousin who also ran (and finished way before me).  We walked back to their place and I cramped up really badly.  It was the first time I’ve experienced not being able to lift my leg off the ground–my muscles were just done.  I had to crawl my way to the shower at his place.

 

We went and got some Bonchon wings, and then Jess and I drove back to our place.  Her family was in town visiting, so we spent time with them afterwards.  I was gimpy the whole time, but still proud to have finished marathon number 2.

Race Report – Clarendon Day Double (5K and 10K)

5K

Finish time:  24:38

Placing:  291 out of 1129

206 out of 492 (male)

83 out of 186 (male division)

 

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10K

Finish time:  57:42

Placing:  340 out of 772

217 out of 354 (male)

90 out of 136 (male division)

 

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Double

Finish time:  1:22:20

Placing:  135 out of 262

102 out of 153 (male)

44 out of 64 (male division)

 

I am tired.  I ran this double coming off a week with very little sleep and minimal training.  Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it, even though about half way through the 10K, I was pretty sure I wasn’t even going to finish.

 

This was mainly a product of poor planning, dehydration and exhaustion.  I didn’t really look at the race logistics, I just figured that it was close enough to home that I’d be able to figure it out the morning of.  Which was mostly true, except that I did not realize the finish line was about a mile downhill from the start line.  Which means, if you’re doing the double, that after you finish the 5K, you have to walk up the hill in approximately 30-40 minutes to get back to the start line for the 10K.  And when I finished the 10K, I had to walk back up that hill because that’s where I parked my car, near the start line.

 

Also, it was a lot warmer than I thought it would be.  Not really warmer, but sunnier without much shade.  As we ran down Jefferson Davis Highway (and as I type that out, I realize how weird it is that we have a highway that is still named after Jefferson Davis), the sun was relentless.  I didn’t bring a hat or sunglasses.  Thankfully, I brought a water bottle.

 

But it was a good race.  A fast course with a downhill that you don’t have to make up at the end.  I’ll do it again next year, this time with a lot more sleep and a bit more planning.  I originally signed up planning to run with Mini–it is stroller friendly.  I am very glad that I didn’t do that just because it was a tough race for me.  Then again, maybe I would have taken it easier with her, or maybe I would have just gone home after the 5K.

 

PRE-RACE

 

As I mentioned, up until the morning of, I was thinking about skipping the race and sleeping through it.  Mini has been going through some sleep regression, and that’s ok but it has kept us up a little last week.  I didn’t help matters on Friday and Saturday because I stayed up late on both nights–socializing on Friday and watching football on Saturday.  So when I went to bed on Saturday night, I was beat, and that 6am wake up wasn’t very fun.

 

But it’s all good.  There are worse things in the world than having to get up at 6am to run a race for fun.  I left at around 7, got to Arlington by 7:20 and went for the packet pickup.  Lined up at around 7:45 and waited for the 8am start.

 

5K Race

8:13 min/mile; 7:33; 8:00; [0:57]

The race starts at the top of a Wilson Blvd. and you run all the way down it to Jefferson Davis Highway.  This makes for a fast run.  Next year, I’m going to rest up enough because, though it is a net downhill, I’d like to see how fast I can do it when adequately prepared.  I thought about holding back on this race and saving some energy for the 10K, but I decided that, what the hell, let me just try and go a little fast and see how it ends up.  I think I paid the price for that on the 10K, but I got a decent time for this race.

 

Finish time 24 min, 38 sec.

 

In between

 

At the end of the 5K, I actually had told myself that I wouldn’t run the 10K, and honestly, if the start and finish were at the same spot, I would’ve just gone home.  But that walk up to the start line cooled me down.  Like I mentioned, you have to walk back up Wilson Blvd for about a mile to get back to the start line to run the 10K.  On the walk back, I chatted with a guy who was doing the double as well.  He was also training for the Marine Corps Marathon in a few weeks.  I’ve made it my goal to try and talk to someone for some time in every race I participate in.  It’s the reason I pay the money–to run but to also get the shared experience to run with others.  I didn’t catch his name, but we mainly talked about different races and racing strategies.  He clued me in to the Reston 10 miler which happens in the Spring.  I’ll put it on my radar for 2018.

 

10K Race

I got back to the start line just in time to line up and go again.  There wasn’t much down time in between.  Which was kind of nice because I didn’t want to wait around.

 

Miles 1-3:

8:05 min/mile; 7:38; 8:10

 

Basically, the 10K route is an extension of the 5K.  You take Wilson Blvd to Jefferson Davis and go out and back a little further, til about mile 4.  So the first few miles of this part were the same as before.

 

I started off fast, like before, due to the downhill.  I felt alright, but knew that I was running on fumes.

 

Miles 4-6

9:27; 11:21; 10:30

 

Right around mile 3, things started getting tough.  Very tough.  Before this race, I never thought that I’d have to stop and walk during a 10K.  I figured that regardless of how tired I was, it was just six miles, and I’d be able to get through it, even at a slow pace because it’s not a terribly long distance.  When I started walking at mile 3.5, I wasn’t sure that I’d even finish.  The sun was just incredibly crushing once you got to the bottom of Wilson, and but for a few overpass structures that we ran under, there was absolutely no cover from it.  I knew that the sun was dehydrating me and also amplifying my exhaustion from the lack of sleep I had.  I should have worn a hat because dousing myself with water was not working.  Part of me was trying to push through without stopping, but then the smarter part of my brain went off and told myself that I wasn’t doing this to prove anything to anyone, and that if I kept pushing, I’d end up in a terrible situation.  The last thing we needed was another medical incident this month.

 

So I stopped, and walked.  I think I walked most of the way from miles 3.5 to 4.5, and started a slow trot from there.  I picked it up a little at mile 5 and told myself that I should just try to finish in under an hour.

 

Mile 6-6.2

[2:37]

 

I felt alright for this segment–no sprint to the end, just an easy trot to finish.

 

POST-RACE

 

I collected my second medal (you get two medals when you do the double) and a few snacks + water, and sat down to cool off.  I was still overheated and overtired.  And I wasn’t looking forward to walking back uphill to my car.  I looked for metro options, and then thought about Ubering, but I decided to just walk back.  I was ok to walk and I didn’t have to be anywhere too soon, other than going home to see Mini and enjoy the wonderful brunch that Jess made for me.  It took me about 25 minutes to get to my car.  Next year, though, I’m either going to metro or park near the finish line.

The funny thing about this course is that I stopped to walk for a good mile and I still finished the 10K with a pace under 9:30.  That’s not an indication of my athletic prowess, but rather that this race is super fast.  Next year, I’d like to see how it goes with some planning.

 

I went home and gave Mini my medal.  She enjoyed playing with it, and then when I took it away from her, she cried as if I took away her most prized possession, even though she learned of its very existence only minutes before.

 

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Race Report – San Francisco Marathon

Finish time:  5:00:05

Splits:  2:32:48 (half); 2:27:17 (end)

Total elevation gain:  1684 feet

Placing:  4098 out of 6544 (overall)

2907 out of 4194 (male)

549 out of 744 (male division)

Goal 1:  Finish and have fun (yes)

Goal 2:  Under 5 hours (no)

Goal 3:  Beat Baltimore (no)

 

 

If you told me at the beginning of training that I would run a five hour marathon in San Francisco, I’d probably guess that it was a terrible race.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  This was one of the most fun, stress-free races that I think I’ll ever run.

 

This marathon was the most laid back culmination of a lot of things:  on a large scale, training for my first marathon after Mini was born, and on a smaller scale, running after just a great weekend with friends.  The race came right after making a major career decision.  It came with uncertainty all the way up until the night before the race, where I went to bed thinking I’d run the half, and woke up with a “fuck it” attitude to run the full anyway, even if it was going to be slow.  For no other reason than (1) someone told me after Mini was born that I’d never run a marathon again and (2) I knew that running the half while watching others finish the full would just make me mad at myself.

 

During training, I developed a vague plan for the race.  Before the marathon, I threw it all out the window.  No rituals or routines, and it made the race feel weird.  I didn’t watch Castaway the night before.  I didn’t take a Sharpie to my arm to write out my race-pace plan, I didn’t listen to any of the music I listened to during training.  In fact, I forgot my headphones at home and I didn’t listen to any music at all during the run.  The night before races are usually spent with me in a contemplative and relaxed mood to get my mind right; the night before this one was spent with me out with friends in the Mission.  And I don’t regret any of it.

 

The only tradition that I did keep was to run with a purpose, to dedicate to my run to someone or something, this time it was to all the folks whose messages I have read on the Smart Patients kidney cancer blog–the success stories and the set backs, all the fights that people on there were going through, this marathon was dedicated to that.

 

 

At the end of the day, I just got up and ran.  With a plan to run slowly.  To run-walk the race so that I could just complete it and let Mini see for the first time that her dad finished.

 

PRE-RACE

 

Aside from having to travel across the country to run this, it actually turned out to be on of the most convenient races that I could run.  Jess, Mini, and I were out in San Francisco for a vacation, which was kind of built around this race, but also just a summer getaway for us with an excuse to travel a long distance with Mini.  We flew in on Tuesday night and left on the Monday after the race (marathon was on Sunday).  After an AirBnB on Tuesday and Wednesday, we moved over to a friend’s apartment for the rest of the weekend.  He was out of town and let us crash there while he was away.  He’s such a great friend.

 

His place is in the Marina neighborhood, literally steps away from Fort Maison, where the race expo was held.  One of my other friends and I walked over there on Friday to grab my bib.  At this location, there was an SF event later that evening , a food truck festival called Off the Grid.  So we went to the expo and stayed for Off the Grid, hung out with our friends from DC and our friends from Michigan/NYC.

 

On Saturday, we planned a picnic out in Dolores Park, and I made sure to keep hydrated during the sunny day.  I won’t lie, I also had a beer or two, still not knowing if I’d drop to the half or still run the full.  I was about to drop to the half simply because the training had fell off in the last weeks, and I didn’t want to attempt to jump out at the full and destroy myself (and thus not be helpful for Jess and Mini as we left the next morning).  Saturday was mostly spent relaxing in the park.

 

The marathon was on my mind, but kind of in the back of my thoughts.  My main priority was hanging out and spending time with friends.  Jess and I got back to the apartment at around 9:30pm, we put Mini to bed (I say this so nonchalantly, but I fully understand how incredibly awesome it has been to have such an easy four month old baby who we can take to freaking San Francisco and still have her sleep perfectly fine during the night), and I laid out my clothes for the next morning.  I tried to continue my Castaway movie tradition, but it was already late, and I started to watch a bootlegged Russian version on YouTube that just wasn’t doing the trick.   I went to bed telling Jess that I think I’m going to run the half.

 

RACE DAY

 

Before the start

The marathon had an early start, 5:30am, so I got up at 4 with an intention to leave by 4:30.  When I got up, I decided that I was going to run the full after all, and decided that I was going to run it at an easy pace.  I looked up a run walk technique (something I never tried before), where you run for five minutes, walk for one minute, rinse and repeat.

 

So, grabbed my stuff and my water bottle and GUs and Ubered down to the start line.

 

The start was at the Embarcadero.  It was pretty crowded–word was that a record 27,000 people were participating in the running activities, the full, halfs or shorter runs.  I snapped this photo before the gun:

 

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By the way, I looked up this dude’s number–he’s from France and beat me by almost an hour.  Looks like he was ready to go too.

 

Start of the race, miles 1-4 “run-walk and gotta pee”

11:09 min/mile; 11:07; 15:05;10:42 (note, tracked on my watch with auto-stop, so it’s not going to add up to the finish time)

 

The race starts at the Embarcadero and the first four miles go up to North Beach and west across the Marina to the edge of Presidio, running through Fisherman’s Wharf.  As mentioned, I looked up a five minute on, one minute off run-walk technique that I was trying out for the first time.  In hindsight, it might have been way too conservative as when I finished the race I felt like I had a lot left in the tank.

 

I started off fine, though it did feel weird to start walking just five minutes into the race.  I felt like people around me were probably thinking “WTF, five minutes in and this guy’s walking, he’s done.”  But I quickly got over that because, whatever, everyone’s running their own race.

 

At about mile 1.5 I had to pee really badly.  We ran by some port-a-potties that were set up for the race but that were locked.  I guess they were there for the finishers.  That was a bit of a mind fuck, and then for the next 2.5 miles, all I could think about was how I needed to go.  I finally got a bathroom break at mile 3, and it shows with the 15 mile split.  I ate my first GU, grabbed some Nuun at the water station and moved on.

 

Jess and Mini met me at mile 2 since the race passed literally right by our friend’s apartment in Marina where we were staying.  It was before 6am, so Jess was a trooper for getting Mini up and ready to see her dad run the very earliest stage of the race.

 

Miles 5-8 “foggy as hell and absolutely stunning”

10:57; 11:10; 11:00; 12:43

 

This part of the route goes across the north edge of Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge.  During the morning, it was really foggy, and the temperature was in the mid 50s.  It was so foggy that you couldn’t see much in front of you.  We were steps away from the Golden Gate Bridge and I couldn’t even really see it, let alone the bay in front.  I knew that Karl the Fog is notorious in SF, but I was surprised to see it so thick.

 

I’ve run across the Golden Gate Bridge once before, at night during a work trip a few years ago.  I basically did it just to say that I did, and it was after an evening of a few drinks, which I strongly recommend against.  So I don’t really remember much of it.  This time was different.  The bridge is actually a bit of a climb.  According to the GPS, it’s about a 250ft climb over a mile and a half, starting at the base at Presidio.

 

As I entered the bridge, I remember thinking how it was a disappointment that it was so foggy, that it would have been cool to be able to get the bay view from the bridge.  This is what it looked like when I snapped a picture during my walk break:

 

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It felt like we were just trusting the route as we ran into the fog, but really, we could have been duped into running into a different dimension altogether, and we would have never known.

 

As we got close to the end of the bridge, I overheard someone, probably a native San Francisco runner, say “sun’s out, about to get beautiful.”  And man, was she right.  Towards the end of the bridge, we exited the fog, and almost instantaneously, as if running through a gray wall, the fog lifted and the scene was just stunning.  Blue skies with the view toward Sausalito and the Bay.  It honestly was one of the coolest run views I’ve had–the juxtaposition of running through the dense, dreary fog, opening up into this amazing bay view, and then turning around and running right back towards the fog again.

 

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I got across the bridge, stopped for another gel and headed for the run back.

 

Miles 9-12 “annoying hill and big downhill”

10:17; 9:47; 11:25; 13:28

 

The route exits comes back over the Golden Gate Bridge and then heads over to the western edge of Presidio, right along the water.  However, after exiting the bridge, there’s an annoying 70 foot, half mile hill that kind of catches you off guard.  Running across the bridge was a little slippery, so I was kind of out of any sort of groove, and then the hill showed up.

 

I actually went a little faster during this part.  It was the one time where I felt annoyed at taking the easy pace.  I sped up for miles 9 and 10, but then held myself back again, remembering the reasons for why I decided to take it easy:  (1) I didn’t want to burn out and be useless after the race; (2) I was running the race with the intent to finish it; and (3) I was kind of ad-hoc-ing my plan enough to begin with, so don’t try and go completely off the reservation.

 

After climbing the short hill to Presidio, there was a long downhill segment, almost a 200 foot drop in half a mile.  I actually found that part to be a little challenging, just because running such a steep down hill taxes your legs in different ways.  The end of mile 12 takes you between Lands End and Richmond, just down to Golden Gate Park.

 

Miles 13-16 “Golden Gate Park for days”

 

10:43; 12:44; 11:34; 11:18

 

Mile 13 enters Golden Gate Park from the north.  Here, the first half marathoners split off and headed to their finish line, and the full marathoners face the depressing split “to the right” when the course bifurcates.  I remember this before on the DC Rock n Roll marathon, the first one I ran back in 2015, where the course split between the half and full plays some mental tricks on you.  I was going slow enough to get over it pretty quickly, but still, it was funny running by the half finish area when you were only half way done.

 

These four miles are beautiful and quiet.  There isn’t much crowd support in this segment.  In actuality, there isn’t too much crowd support in the first half of the race, which is totally understandable given the bridge segments and the early start.

 

This segment, though, had a few rolling hills which were tough, even while running slowly.  The first is about a 100 foot climb for a mile, followed by a 100 foot drop for a mile, and the second is about a 200 foot climb over two miles.  That second one is tougher.  You have the second half folks joining around here, and the full marathon folks are starting to slow down.  It’s still a beautiful portion of the run, but the isolation and quiet of the park, together with that relentless hill and 10+ miles still to go, it’s a pretty lonely part of the run.

 

Miles 17-20 “I don’t care at all about my time anymore”

13:47; 12:21; 11:22; 12:19

 

This part went through the eastern half of the park.  By this point, I was ready to see something else, as we’d be in the park for about 8 miles by the time the segment finished.  I decided here that I didn’t really care about how I finished, even beyond the five-on one off-plan, I just wanted to finish without killing myself, so I was very liberal with the run-walking.  I took a gel somewhere here, maybe even in the previous segment and hydrated up well at every water stop.  I figured, since I’m running just to finish this, I’m going to take it easy, “enjoy” it (as if that’s possible 20 miles into a race) and I did just that.

 

Miles 21-24 “plenty left in the tank”

9:30; 9:50; 12:03; 9:21

As I was doing the run-walk method, I decided (somewhere around mile 14 or so), that if I still felt fine at mile 20, I’m just going to go to the end.  Part of holding back was because I didn’t want to cramp up before then and kill my race, as I feared it might base on how my long-ish training runs went.  And if I got to mile 20 feeling fine, I figured that I can just push a faster pace for a 10k like I’ve done many times before

 

When I got to mile 20, I felt great.  My legs felt fresh, and I felt like I could hit the last 10k fairly hard.  So I picked it up at mile 21, where you exit the park on Haight (close to Ashbury) and head east towards Mission and Dogpatch.  The miles here felt great.  I slowed down at mile 23 to chat with friends who were so kind enough to come outside and cheer me along.  I talked with them, about the race and whether or not I regretted hanging out the day before for so long (which I absolutely did not).  After a few high fives, I continued on to the last 2.2 miles.

 

Miles 25-26.2 “finish up strong”

9:23; 9:48; [1:46]

Every time I have entered the last 2.2 miles of a marathon, I tell myself “finish up strong.”  I originally got this phrase from a classic rock radio station in South Carolina.  When I was growing up, FM 102.3 would play songs at around 4pm as I drove home from school, and they would always end the afternoon segment with a song to “finish up strong.”  I adopted the phrase when I went to college, using it as a mantra for taking finals in my Electrical Engineering courses to try and finish the semester with a bang.  When I was studying for the LSAT, a friend and I would say that to each other as we took practice tests, to remind ourselves to avoid fatigue and attach the last the test sections with vigor.  Every now and then, I still say it to myself, whether I’m at the end of a crazy gym class, finishing up a tiring day at work, or wrapping up a long run.

 

So, finish up strong, that’s what I did, from Dogpatch up north past AT&T park and back to the Embarcadero where we started.  I felt great and ran hard through the end.  When I got to the line, I actually heard the MC call out my name, which was kind of cool and has never happened in the prior races.

 

Post-race

I grabbed my medal, some free water, bananas and muscle milk and looked for Jess and Mini who were waiting for me at the finish line.  I was so excited to see them after finishing this run.  We snapped some priceless pictures:

 

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Shortly after seeing Jess, we met up with our friends who met me at mile 23.  They biked down to the finish to meet up with me, which I just appreciated a whole lot.

 

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Afterwards, we grabbed a quick bite to eat, said goodbye to our friends and headed back to the apartment.  That afternoon, our friends from Michigan/NYC came over to hang out, and then we grabbed dinner with my cousins.  A nice end to a great morning and great trip in general.

 

The SF marathon was probably the most fun of the four marathons that I’ve run so far.  A lot of this had to do with my attitude going in.  At least three of the four marathons had a great atmosphere (the exception being the first marathon, which was more a function of a the 43 degree rainy day than anything else).  But for SF, easing off on the time and pace took a lot of pressure off, and I could just sit back and enjoy running through the city.  I had my share of doubts coming into the race–I had heard mixed things about the course and the overall atmosphere.  But I highly recommend it for a city run.  The early start dissuades some of the city support in the early segment that might otherwise be there (5:30am vs. the usual 7am or 8am starts that I’m accustomed to), but that is offset by the beauty and the experience of running across the Golden Gate Bridge.  The park is a little long, but it’s kind of nice to have that solitude too, it makes the run memorable with your own thoughts.  Maybe I felt that way, though, because I ran without any headphones or music.  The crowd support picks up in the second half of the race, an as you wind your way through the finish, it just increases exponentially.  The energy at the finish is enthusiastic as you’d expect from a major city run.  It’s a really hilly run, more than I expected, which is odd because I expected it to be really hilly.  But I’d never run that elevation gain before, so I guess you don’t know until you do it.  So it may not be a race to target for a PR (or maybe it should be for that very challenge), but I’m very glad to have picked this one.

So, yeah, five hours isn’t exactly a world record time.  But sometimes it’s fun to just let go of expectations, routines and rituals and have some fun.  We went to San Francisco and had an amazing time with great friends, and I capped it off with completing marathon number four and crossing California off my list.  Couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

 

 

Race Report: 2017 Lawyers Have Heart 10K – PR!

Finish time:  51:10 (PERSONAL RECORD!) 

Placing:  492 out of 1694 (overall)

389 out of 917 (male)

127 out of 264 (male division 30-39)

 

I'll remember this run as my first (and hopefully not last) PR since I really started keeping track of my races.  I now realize how great a feeling it is to hit a PR on a race.  I kind of went into the race teetering between pushing for a personal best or pulling it back and just running a steady 6.2 miles.  My marathon training schedule called for a 6 mile run that day, so it would have worked alright if I just ran at a steady pace.  But I had missed a good number of runs earlier in the week, and the morning of the 10K, I decided that I was going to go for it.  I was pretty happy with the end result, though I still do have ambitions of breaking 50 soon.

 

PRE-RACE

 

The race had a 7am start, and I was too busy with work during the week to pick up my race bib on Friday so I had to plan to get to Georgetown at around 6:15 to get everything set.  Last year, I ubered down there and barely made it on time.  This year, I decided that I would actually run to the start line, mainly because I decided that I was going to try for a PR, and I figured that I could use the easy warm up before the race started.  After a 5am wake up, I decided that I'd actually run from my common starting point in Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial instead of running from our condo.  So I drove down there at around 5:30 to do the 1.5 mile run to Georgetown.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and I snapped this beauty on the way to the race.

 

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I made it to the start line, grabbed my bib, warmed up a bit and just kind of hung around until the start.  Here's a picture towards the water of other runners getting ready before the run:

 

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Miles 1-3

 

9:15 min/mile; 7:54; 7:50

 

My previous PR was 52:06 at this same 10K back in 2015.  That amounts to about a 8:24 min/mile pace.  So my plan going into this race was to use the first mile to warm up at around 9ish min/mile and then hit every other mile at around 8:15 and I should be able to break it.  In hindsight, this was too conservative.  That first mile is always tough, especially in a race when you're bobbing and weaving, but I do wish I would have tried a sub 8:30 throughout to get to an under 50:00 end.  As you'll see, that first mile was the only one that was over 9, all others were right around 8, and I think I could have sustained starting off faster.  Once the first mile ended, I decided that I'd just pick it up.  I threw away my "under 8:15 goal" and put it in my head to stay under 8 mins the rest of the way.

 

Miles 4-6

 

7:52; 8:02; 8:05

 

I slowed a bit on the back half of the race especially after some of the hills towards the end of the course.  I started feeling pretty fatigued right around mile 5.3 or so, and had to mentally tell myself to push through that last mile to get to a PR.

 

Miles 6-6.2

[2.11]

 

For the last mile or so, I was trying to pace with this dude who was running right along side me since mile 4.  He seemed to be doing just fine, and I had delusions that if I stayed with him and sprinted the last quarter of a mile or so, I could maybe break 51.  With about 0.3 miles to go, he took off and I tried to stay with him, but he just got ahead.  We weren't racing each other or anything, in fact, he probably had no idea that I was using him as a pacer, but in any event, following him actually pushed me to finish strong.  I crossed at 51:10.

 

POST-RACE

I got my medal, which was actually pretty cool this year compared to years past, and sat down in a grassy patch to cool off.  By then it was about 8 am, and it was starting to heat up a bit into what would ultimately turn out to be a 90+ degree day.  I wandered the area and ran into some former colleagues of mine from a previous employer.  It was good to see them–we caught up for about 15 minutes or so, and then parted ways.  I walked back the 1.5 miles to my car parked near the Lincoln.  It was a nice walk, I made a conscious effort to turn off my phone, put away my music and just enjoy scenery and be in the moment.

 

It was a fantastic morning for a 10K PR.

Race Report: The Capitol Hill Classic 10K

Finish time:  59:06

Placing:  1069 out of 1934 (overall)

667 out of 919 (male)

291 out of 373 (male division)

 

Even though at first glance the numbers don't bear out a memorable run, this was probably my favorite race I've yet to participate in because I ran with Mini.  I was debating back and forth the day before on whether I should run with her.  I've gone on a few short 5 mile runs with her before, and she's pretty content until near the end, where she goes from zero to sixty.  I was afraid that she would start getting uncomfortable or hungry near mile 4, and I'd have two miles of a screaming baby to finish off the race.  But I also realized that this would probably be the only stroller friendly race that I could run this year, so I should give it a shot, which I did.  And I was glad to do that.

 

Mini slept for most of the time, and when she wasn't sleeping, she was quietly observing the world around her.  It was a great feeling not just to run 6 miles with her, but to run a race with her.  Can't wait to continue doing this one over the years.

 

PRE-RACE

 

I was a little paranoid about getting there in time to do the same day packet pickup, find parking, get situated, etc.  The start was at 8:30 at Stanton Park.  Jess and I got there at 7:30 and waited in the car.  It felt a bit early at the time, but pretty soon parking started to fill up, so I'm glad that we did.  Jess fed mini at right around 8, and we headed over to the start line at around 8:15.  There were a few thousand people there.  The weather was perfect for running.  Mid 60's and cloudy with no humidity.  I did some stretches and took a few pictures before lining up in the back with the other stroller runners.

 

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Miles 1-3

10:17 min/mile; 9:38; 9:20

 

The first three miles go around the US Supreme Court and down East Capitol to RFK Stadium.  It was pretty crowded in the beginning, and it was hard to get into a rhythm until about 1.5 miles in.  I was curious to see how difficult it would be to jockey for position with a stroller while running a race, and it was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.  It's a lot more difficult to shoot through gaps and to find open spaces to pace on.  This may be just symptomatic of the beginning of this race (or any race), and also symptomatic of the 10K distance.  I imagine a less crowded half marathon  would give you plenty of time in the back half to hit your stride.  Regardless, I was just happy to get going with Mini, I wasn't too concerned about time.

 

Miles 4-6

9:32; 8:55; 8:48

After RFK you go along the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.  It's a nice running path for sure, but definitely narrow.  I had resigned myself to not worry about passing people–after all if I was that concerned about time, I should do the race without a stroller.  I stayed with a few other people who were running with strollers, and was really impressed by one woman who was pushing a double at the same speed as me.

 

Once I got through mile 4, I was able to see some daylight, and picked up the pace.  There's a minor hill at 2nd Street NE, but Mini and I were able to handle that alright.  Once we got to mile 5.2, I told Mini that we're going to cruise a little faster for that last mile.

 

Miles 6-6.2

[2:36]

 

Not much to talk about here, just a sprint to the finish.  A friend who finished before me jumped in with me and ran the last 0.1.

 

Post-Race

 

After the race ended, I collected a bagel, banana and water bottle.  And snapped my first ever post-race selfie with Mini:

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Jess and I went to Eastern Market with some friends for brunch, and hung out there for a bit before heading home.  Overall, it was a fantastic race, and I was super proud of Mini for sticking with me.

 

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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?

 

PRE-RACE

 

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.

 

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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.

 

POST-RACE

 

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:

 

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