Last weekend I ran the Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9-11 Memorial 5k. Like most Americans I vividly remember where I was that day 11 years ago when the planes first hit the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It was surreal at first. I remember thinking it must have just been an accidently plane crash when I heard about the first plane. After the second plane hit, the terrifying realization that this was not an accident set in.
During last year’s tenth anniversary of the attacks, I watched hours of footage from that day – much of it sad and horrifying, but also uplifting to remember how everyone came together for each other after the attacks. I was amazed at how many of the stories I had forgotten about. I think it’s so important to remember that day, the victims and their loved ones left behind, and one of the ways I can do that is participating in this race.
This is my second year running the local 9-11 5k that takes off from Army Navy Drive and loops through Crystal City before running by the Pentagon where another one of the terrorist planes struck that day. It’s incredibly moving to pass by the Pentagon and to see all of the law enforcement and fire fighters running together. I love the bag pipers along the course as well. Last year we finished under an American flag held up by the ladders of two fire trucks, which was amazing and I’m assuming had to be scrapped this year because of the weather.
As my last post mentioned, I haven’t been able to run as much lately due to some hip issues so this would be my first time out on the road and off of a treadmill in awhile. My plan was to take it easy and see how I felt back on the road. I put in a slow, one-hour treadmill run on Friday night and cranked out a couple miles Saturday morning also on the treadmill before spinning class. My main reason for getting some miles in that morning was that I wasn’t sure if the race would go on.
We had some pretty severe storm warnings for Saturday night, but fortunately the storm hit early enough and moved quickly enough that the race went on as scheduled with a minor delay. The start of the race was pretty chaotic and disorganized as people piled into the starting corral after the rain delay with little regard for what pace they were running. I got the biggest laugh out of a girl I passed in the first quarter mile who was telling her friend that she was going to go slow so that she wouldn’t sweat – apparently she missed the fact that one, it was raining, and two, she was running a race! Knowing what this race was about certainly puts things in perspective and kept me from getting angry.
Despite the crowded start, I still went out a little faster than I planned, finishing the first mile in about 7:15. I pulled in the reins and slowed it down a bit for the remaining 2.1, finishing in 22:49. While much slower than my PR, it was a lot better than I had expected given the circumstances and my hips only tightened up slightly after the run, but didn’t bother me during it, which seems promising.
The time was good enough for 246th overall out of 3,070 and 10th out of 504 in my age group. I also ran as part of the Pacers Ambassadors team which finished in an impressive 16th place out of 68 teams in the open division!
I encourage anyone who lives in this area to run this race next year if you haven’t yet. It’s an experience you won’t forget, and a way to always remember what happened on that tragic day.
9.11.01 Never Forget.