Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Race That Almost Wasn't

First of all, can I call your attention to the countdown ticker to the right? Yeah that ticker... the one that now says Marine Corps Marathon 200 days! I know that we were ready for our 10 miler - so ready that we actually could have run a half marathon. Hopefully we continue on this path and we'll be equally as prepared for MCM in a mere 200 days (eeek). 

 But I'm getting ahead of myself... back to the race that almost wasn't... the Parkway Classic 10 miler we completed Sunday - 10 weeks to 10 miles....check!

As we've mentioned over the last week or so, the fate of this race was intertwined with the fate of our national government. Okay, maybe a bit of a melodramatic statement, but the long and short of it was the George Washington Parkway is a federal parkway manned by the National Park Service (i.e. "non-essential" government workers); therefore, federal government shutdown = no NPS available to blockade the race course from traffic.

The race directors had hopes of receiving a waiver so that if the federal government did actually shut down, the race would go on as planned because it was a special event, organized way in advance (thus, deserving exemption from the government's inability to function). Well, as we tweeted late last week, no dice - "no exemptions granted for special events on NPS grounds." Cut to Friday at 11:45 PM and we still had no idea if we were going to be running those 10 miles on Sunday and we had 16 minutes before the deadline was up. Despite the nail-biting situation we were in, I couldn't stay up late enough to hear the final word, but woke Saturday morning to a text message from Megs, "Wooo hooo!!! Race on!"

Phew - such an emotional roller coaster of "will we or won't we" - now it was time to focus and get into the right mindset. Saturday morning, my mom, (who was in town for a fabulous visit), hubs and I headed to one of my favorite places in DC, Eastern Market. I did an easy 20 minute run per training plan, then it was a wonderful lunch here, followed by vegetable lasagna for dinner and to bed by 10:30. Thankfully my nerves didn't keep me from getting to sleep - and as another good sign, Sal didn't have any of her crazy running dreams.

We were all picked up by our wonderful chauffeur/photographer at a very early 6:15, where he carted us to Old Town Alexandria to catch the shuttle to the start. (Thanks Pat, for getting up before the roosters). The race is a point-to-point, starting at Mt. Vernon and ending back at Old Town. After a 15 to 20 minute easy shuttle ride, we were dropped off among a sea of runners (4,618 to be exact), and we quickly realized this was no local 10K Turkey Trot. We found our way to the line of Don's Johns and then headed for the space blankets. D.C. had been swallowed in cloud coverage for a solid three days, so it was a bit chilly (but it ended up being a perfect low 50s and once we started we warmed up quickly).

As with every race, it was crowded at the start, but once we got going I realized why everyone loves this race and its access to the entire width of the Parkway. I can't imagine starting a race the size of the Cherry Blossom with its ten to 15 thousand runners (and definitely not the MCM with a cool 30,000 runners). We started with great pace of about 9:10 (a little faster than we would on a normal training run) but it was race day, the adrenaline had kicked in. I was pleasantly surprised with how fast the 1 mile marker popped up on us, and then again we seemed to be at miles 2 and 3 in no time. I heard about the "rolling hills" on this course - and they aren't lying - it was constant rolling through about the first 4 miles, but I found that as soon as you made it to the top, you were going right back down again so they weren't so bad.

It is such a beautiful course resulting in a scenic, peaceful race. It follows the Potomac the whole way, and amazing houses line both sides; however; since the Parkway is closed off, there is little spectator access which yields thin to non-existent crowd support... hence the peacefulness. As you're coming into Alexandria, the crowd is there waiting - which is a welcome change during the last few miles when you need that pick-me-up the most. The race ended at the waterfront park where we were welcomed with our significant others and families, music, bagels, bananas, granola bars and the beer tent (which unfortunately, the line was too long to justify waiting in so we just opted to head to our brunch for Bellinis and mimosas). At brunch we kept on burning calories from laughing (even as we stuffed our faces) from the live entertainment provided by these two adorable guys:

The Wilsonator
(who just turned one)

Megs' significant other and most hilarious person in the history of ever (aren't they precious)

As to be expected, there was no course record setting, no age group placing, but we all had a 10 mile PR (compared to our 2 other 10 mile training runs). There is nothing like a race to spark your motivation, just something about running with a herd of other people that picks you up and keeps you going - not to mention the nerves and adrenaline.

I give Parkway Classic two toes way up and would recommend it to anyone. It was so well organized - from the shuttle to the start, to the water/Powerade/porta potty stops that were basically every 2 miles. The volunteers were friendly, the course was roomy and scenic - what's not to love?! So keep your eyes peeled for 2012 registration opening this fall.

Sal, Megs, Liv at the finish
(mom says I have to wear a bright color next race like these two because she couldn't find me).

So what's next? Now we're in a little bit of limbo before full on marathon training program commences. It could be fun to run one of these 5Ks to keep the spirit. I definitely don't want to lose any progress I've made through this training. It's so amazing to really see improvements in my running. What would you recommend the footsy girls tackle next? How do you stay motivated in periods of downtime where you don't lose ground or motivation?


  1. GREAT JOB ON THE PR's!!! And you got some sleep the night before too! Way to go!

  2. Wahoo on PRs. Glad the race went off without a hitch. I keep my racing schedule pretty full to keep me motivated to keep training.

  3. Awesome job! The only time I ever have to take time off from running is when I'm injured, so I don't really have advice for you on what to try next.

  4. Sounds like a great race! CONGRATS on the PRs!