Last Saturday I started running, and kept on running for a lot of my day. It was my last big, long run before my upcoming marathon so I had a 20-miler on tap for the day. I was up bright and early so I could get 6 miles in before meeting up with the DC Road Runners for a 14 miler at 7.
I started out with a loop that took me over the Key Bridge, through Georgetown, down Rock Creek Parkway and back to the Iwo Jima Memorial via Memorial Bridge. The Road Runners route took me on a course I hadn’t run before, and if I’d know how hilly it was ahead of time, I might have just chosen to finish my 20 on my own! The first five miles felt like a seemingly endless uphill battle, but hills are always easier when you’ve got other runners to help push you up them. The run took me up the Custis Trail, through Zach Taylor Park and by Marymount College before a very steep downhill sent me over Chain Bridge onto the C&O path, by the Kennedy Center, back over the Memorial Bridge and up the Mount Vernon trail back through Rosslyn.
I’ve had some tough, bad-day runs over the last couple weeks, which can be pretty discouraging leading up to a race, so I really wanted to do well on my last big test before my next marathon. My pace was a bit slower than I’ll need to qualify at 8:29 per mile, but I felt strong throughout and given the terrain we followed, I wasn’t disappointed with the time. I ran some pretty fast late miles too finishing miles 17 and 18 in close to 8 minutes each. I crashed a little at the end and slowed way down for miles 19 and 20, but instead of letting this freak me out, I’m going to hope it just had to do with the extreme ups and downs over the course and will look forward to the mostly flat marathon course I have coming up at the Niagara marathon.
One of my favorite Saturday post-long run treats is waffles, so I had my waffle iron, mixing bowl and ingredients out and ready to make things as easy as possible when I got home from the run. After a quick shower and some delicious waffles, I had a few hours to sit on the couch and ice my legs. I wasn’t done yet though.
I met up with my friend Lindsay and fellow Pacers Ambassador Blair for the Pacers Mini Relay. Pacers teamed up with Ragnar and Saucony to put this race on and it was a lot of fun. It was more of a fun run since it wasn’t a timed event and there were no winners or awards, but it was a blast and ended with a great party at the Clarendon store. The starting point was the Pacers location in Alexandria and the run went from store to store with the last leg ending at Clarendon. Blair started us off running the longest leg from the Old Town Alexandria store to the Pentagon Row location. I took off from there on a 5-mile route to their Logan Circle store, where Lindsay finished things off with the shortest, but by far the steepest leg of the race ending at the party in Clarendon.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to move very well, but was surprised how good I felt. After running my first mile in 7:25, I looked at the Garmin shocked and decided to slow it down a little, but still managed to average a 7:40 pace over the 5 miles, which left me feeling pretty good. My only issue was the lack of signage at a few spots along the course. There was no set route as you were allowed to get from point to point taking any route you wanted, but there were suggested routes and at least along my section a turn off of Rock Creek Parkway onto P street was completely unmarked. Not being familiar with that section of the trail, I would have had no idea it was where I was supposed to turn had I not seen another runner sporting an orange snap bracelet out of the corner of my eye. A small sign posted in the ground would have been really helpful, but I guess figuring out your way was also part of the fun of this event.
All participants got a commemorative pint glass at the finish filled with complimentary beer – more races should end this way! To make the day even better, a grilled cheese food truck pulled up outside of the party so Lindsay and I enjoyed delicious Vermont Cheddar Cheese sandwiches on sourdough. The event was a lot of fun and a great way to meet and mingle with other runners in the area. I can’t wait to do it again next year, but maybe next time I’ll plan better and won’t run 20 miles earlier in the day!