Washington 1/2 Marathon Race Report

IMG_8183The race season has begun! Jackie and I left for Washington after work on Thursday and drove about 4 of the 8 hours. We stopped in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for the night at a Hampton Inn. Well, we actually had dinner in Binghampton, NY first at a really good restaurant in the downtown district. We used the GPS to send us somewhere unique and it did! The food was great but the area, well lets just say that we wanted to get out of there before it got dark.

On Friday morning we had an uneventful drive into downtown Washington. Our hotel was located in an awesome spot right beside the FBI building. After paying $39 for valet parking (the only option) we unpacked and headed out tot he race expo to pick up my race kit. This was a big event, over 25,000 runners, so the expo was huge. I could have spent lots of money there but passed on the opportunity. How much running clothes does one need? I almost picked up a new Garmin watch, but didn’t.

IMG_1171We went back to the hotel and I got my clothes and shoes ready for the next day. We then did some touring of the White House area and all of the monuments around. We ended up back near our hotel and ate dinner at a pub. We were lucky to get a seat as the Friday after work crowd was booming. The food was great, two good dinners in a row.

It was rest time. We watched TV in the room and set the alarm for the next morning at 5:30. That is an all out sleep in as far as race mornings go! For the Ironman events it is usually alarms set for earlier than 4am! I had a banana for breakfast and we headed out to the start line. It was pouring out and 3 degrees, miserable didn’t describe it. Jackie stood there like a trooper holding my water bottle and knapsack as I stood in Corral #15. They placed us in our corrals by our predicted race finishing time. Oh yeah, I lined up with 30 minutes to go at one of the long porta-potty lines and made it to 4th from the front of the line but I only had 5 minutes to get back to the start line! I passed on the potty opportunity. Tip #1, don’t get in the line with mostly girls, they take forever.

IMG_4648The gun went off and the race was on. I had a knee problem the last 10 days so there was a chance early that I might have dropped out. Thankfully it felt good and I started out at my planned pace. We ran past the White House, than the Lincoln Memorial, and then we crossed the Potomac and into the Arlington Cemetery. It was nice to see the various places, takes your mind off the fact that you are running. We turned onto a scenic winding road and stayed on it as it headed north for about 7-8 kms. We hit a major uphill climb. I could see it coming for about a kilometre, there were 100s of people walking up it. After the hill we turned onto the city streets of Washington for the remainder of the race. There was pretty good race support along the roads. The rain was still pelting down at this point but I was not really noticing it anymore. Once you are soaked through I guess it doesn’t matter much anymore. At 15k I hit a metaphorical wall. My quads were tightening up and I knew the last 6k would be a struggle. We ran past Georgetown University, many students were out on their porches screaming with strange signs, it made things interesting. “You have great endurance and I am wet, want to meet after the race?”

IMG_3268So the race ended at RFK stadium, the home to the Washington Redskins. I thought about my uncle Dave as it is his fav football team. After crossing the line and getting my medal I started looking for Jackie. It took awhile to find her even though we had a strategy. She was soaked and miserable as well.

After I stopped running I got extremely cold and was shaking uncontrollably. We took the Metro train back to the hotel area, but it took forever. Everyone on the train was from the race and none of them were looking to excited. We all just wanted a hot shower.

So overall the race was good. It is not a good place to go for a record time. I always had people shoulder to shoulder with me the entire race. I thought it would spread out a bit after the first couple of kilometres but it didn’t at all. The weather of course put a major damper on the entire thing. People made the best of it but it would be a stretch to say it was fun. Maybe next year the conditions will be nicer to us. The atmosphere was certainly more relaxed than my Ironman experiences. Things are so tense prior to the IM events, all type A driven people. The Washington Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon had its share of families running together, etc. It was just more relaxed overall. My final time was 2:12:30, a little above average for me but I wasn’t pushing at all, I just wanted to finish today.

IMG_0761We had planned to do some sightseeing afterwards before driving home but the weather didn’t cooperate so we jumped in the van and drove all the way back to Kingston. Not the best of moves after just finishing 21.2 kms of running as I was pretty stiff trying to get out of the van when we got home.

For this week’s closing, we will go with English. I wonder if anyone will guess it?

See you at the finish line…..

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