Scroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.
The Army Ten Miler is one of the largest 10 milers in the world. It’s also one of my favorite local races. Running with members of our armed services is incredibly motivating.
I’d been training for the New York City Marathon since July. The heat has been unrelenting this summer! I’ve been getting in good mileage but not hitting goal race paces. I ran the 2017 Dulles Day on the Runway 10K in 45:08 (7:14 pace). The week before the race, I ran all of my workouts by Thursday and had two easy days on Friday and Saturday.
- 10 Mile PR: 1:08:26 (6:51 pace) at the 2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
- Course PR: 1:08:40 (6:52 pace) at the 2012 Army 10 Miler.
- Most Recent 10 Miler: 1:12:40 (7:16 pace) at the 2017 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.
Achievable: Sub-1:18:00 (7:48 pace). I ran close to 7:50 pace at the end of my most recent marathon paced run. I should be able to repeat that effort.
Stretch: Sub-1:14:00 (7:24 pace). I ran the completely flat 2017 Dulles Day on the Runway 10K at 7:14 pace. If I could manage to keep my slow down to 10 seconds/mile, I’d be very pleased.
Strategy: Start out at 7:50 pace and see if I can run negative splits after the mid-point.
The course is mostly flat. It starts at the Pentagon in Virginia and crossed the Memorial Bridge into the District of Columbia. After a loop through northwest D.C., the course goes along the Rock Creek Parkway near the Kennedy Center to Independence Avenue. After a brief out and back, the route heads back into Virginia on the 14th Street Bridge. After a brief jaunt through Crystal City, the race finishes back at the Pentagon.
There were three aid stations with water and Gatorade approximately at 2.25, 4.25, 6.6, and 8.75 mile marks. The crowd support is mostly at the Pentagon and along the Mall.
Listening devices are prohibited on the course, so I ran without music.
Friday and Saturday
I went to the expo at the D.C. Armory on Friday afternoon. I think this is the first year the race shirt was technical fabric instead of cotton.
I returned on Saturday morning to pick up some items I needed for The Bourbon Chase. Waiting to cross the street to the Armory, I saw a girl get out of an SUV. The car bumped her and seconds later, she started screaming and hopping around on one leg. She yelled “You ran over my foot!” over and over again. When she went to put her foot down, I ran over. I supported her by the waist and told her not to put weight on her foot. I left her when the woman who had been driving the car came over.
For some reason, I woke up at 3am. I couldn’t get back to sleep until 4am and only slept an additional hour or so. I started getting ready for the race at around 6am. Since it’s been so hot, one of the first things I did was check the forecast. It was going to be around 75 degrees with high humidity and 10 mph winds out of the south. There was also a chance of thunderstorms towards the end of the race. I wondered if they’d cancel the race. “Nah, it’s the Army,” I thought. I drank some coffee and water, and ate a half bagel. I left the house at 7:15am and jogged to The Pentagon.
There were so many people at the starting area! The security screening was quick and I walked briskly to my wave since it was less than a half hour to race start. But intermittently, I stopped for the National Anthem or some other tribute that required respect. I got to Wave 1 about 15 minutes before the start.
After the wheelchair start and a few more announcements, the crowd was off!
Conditions were miserable – 76 degrees, a dew point of 74, and 94% humidity! It rained a little during the middle miles of the race but it didn’t bring any relief! (The day turned out to be the highest low temperature for October for Washington, D.C.)
Early Miles – Miles 0 to 4
It was hot and unbelievably humid! I felt tired from the first steps. Running without music, I thought it was oddly quiet. I checked my Garmin after maybe a quarter mile and I was at 7:50 pace – exactly what I wanted. Runners streamed past me but I figured they weren’t adjusting for the heat and I would see them again. “Hmm, maybe I should slow down,” I thought. But, I knew 7:50 pace was a conservative start for me, so I kept the pace going. I finally felt I hit my stride by the time we hit the first mile marker near Arlington Cemetery.
I ran well on the Memorial Bridge but then I felt myself fading again around the Lincoln Memorial. I clicked off the second mile. I saw it was a little fast, but wasn’t concerned.
The first water stop was on Constitution Avenue. It was mayhem, so I opted to run through it. I thought, “What’s your hydration plan?” but didn’t have an answer. I slowed down quite a bit during the uphill on Virginia Avenue. A runner friend passed me and I sputtered out a, “Hey.” My next split was over 8:00 pace but I thought my effort was where it should have been.
Near the Kennedy Center, it started raining. I wore a headband and sunglasses instead of a visor for the race because I thought I’d try that combination for the New York City Marathon. It was a bad decision. I wiped away rain and salty sweat from my eyes and clicked off the next mile.
Splits (by mile markers): 7:50, 7:40, 8:02, 7:53.
Middle Miles, Miles 4 to 7
Coming out from under the Kennedy Center, I started feeling the effects of the heat. I’d been so smug about other runners starting too fast but it appeared as though I hadn’t made enough of an adjustment for the heat! I ran through the next water stop since the road was narrow and I wanted to avoid the crowds. Immediately, I knew it was a mistake. It’s too hot out here not to take in fluids! On Independence Avenue, I slowed down significantly. By the time I reached the next mile marker, I was running over 8:00 pace.
The course was a slight uphill to 14th Street. I heard a shout-out from my friend and Run Washington reporter cheering on the sidelines. I felt a ping of shame that I was running so slow and sped up once the course flattened out. I passed a fair amount of runners during this part of the course. There were spectators cheering, which really helped. On the back side of the Federal Aviation Administration Building, I hit the lap button for Mile 6. I was still running over 8:00 pace, but it was a little faster.
I continued running well heading back on Independence Avenue. I turned left onto the 14th Street Bridge and despite knowing this was the hardest part of the race because it’s slightly uphill without crowd support, I felt a sense of relief the the race was closer to finishing! Finally, I grabbed some water from a water stop but it was too little too late. By the next mile marker, my legs couldn’t manage much more than a jog. I knew my race was over and started telling myself, “Save it for tomorrow’s long run.”
Splits (by mile markers): 8:16, 8:09, 8:13.
Later Miles 7 to 10
On the Bridge, I saw a runner at the side of the road with his head in someone’s lap being fanned. I think this is when it first occurred to me just how dangerous the heat had become. I heard an ambulance approaching in the distance. But then, a group of runners jaunted by carrying flags and wearing shirt dedicated to a fallen soldier. They seemed to be running well, so maybe the conditions weren’t so bad. I clicked off Mile 8.
Coming off the bridge in Crystal City, I saw a friend who was cheering and I waved. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade at the next water stop. The mix was strong and I coughed some of it up. I passed a runner cramped up on the side of the road before heading onto Long Branch Road. At that stage of the race, runner were abruptly stopping so I kept a keen eye on runners in front of me. Finally, Mile 9!
I ran past the area where I’d be cheering for Marine Corps Marathon runners in a few weeks. A medical golf cart was attending to a runner laid out on the side of the road. The road was a bit torn up and dark under the bridge. I saw a runner dry heaving and being comforted by some people just short of the finish line area. Hearing the ambulances, I picked up the pace for fear that they would shut down the race at any minute. This video gives a good sense for the experience:
Splits (by mile markers): 8:35, 8:39, 8:31.
I chatted with a friend at the finish line, got my finisher medal and a box of food that contained pretzels, a cookie, almonds, granola bar, and a fruit cup. I lingered a little while to cheer on runners. Later in the day, I read that the course was re-routed at 10:08am, 142 runners got medical attention, and 39 were taken to local hospitals.
My time was 1:22:20 (8:14 pace) [Log Details]. I was the 2,298th finisher. I was 407th woman and 26th in my age group.
In the elite race, the winners were Haron Lagat in 49:23 and Susan Tanui in 56:50. Both run for the Army.
One month out from the 2017 New York City Marathon, I wanted an honest race effort so I could get an indication of what goal marathon pace should be for me in November. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get that but I had a big training week ahead to focus on – almost 90 miles on my schedule – before I start my taper!
The weather on race day was miserable – 76 degrees, a dew point of 74, and 94% humidity! I stayed with my plan to start the race just under 8:00 pace but gave up on it mid-way through. I finished in 1:22:20 (8:14 pace). Due to the heat, the race was rerouted two hours in and 39 were taken to local hospitals.