Yesterday I did the George Washington Parkway Classic. It's a 10 mile race beginning at George Washington's Mount Vernon and ending at Founder's Park in Old Town Alexandria. The majority of the 10 miles is run along the George Washington Parkway. It's a beautiful road to drive along in the spring and summertime in Washington. Pacer's closes the entire parkway for the race. The road runs along the Potomac River, making for some very scenic views. The course also starts out downhill, running from the Mount Vernon estate down to the river. The mile downhill didn't hurt my confidence either.
|some examples of the scenery along the parkway|
I was feeling good for the first two to three miles. I knew I was going too fast to start, but it was hard to slow down since the beginning of the race was downhill, and I was running in a big pack of people before things started to thin out as the miles went on. During the fourth mile things started to get a little tougher. There were some major uphills along with the rising temperatures. During my training I have had very few days where I really felt like I needed water. Yesterday, I found myself desperate for the next water station. I really mean desperate. And when I got to the water stops I started taking two cups one to drink and one to dump on myself. I got to mile 5 and felt a lot better mentally. I was halfway done and the next mile was mostly downhill. I felt really pretty good for the next two miles, but I could feel it getting hotter. I found it really hard to want to run instead of walking. There was a photographer at mile 8 so I tried to look as happy and ridiculous as possible when I ran past him...I really can't wait until that picture gets put up in the next couple weeks. After I passed the 8 mile flag and knew it was less than two miles, I felt good.
Shortly after the eight mile mark you leave the GW Parkway and are running the Alexandria city streets. It was kind of a nice change of pace. This part of the course had the most crowd support of the race. Throughout the parkway there were patches of people here and there where residential neighborhoods (with ridiculously gorgeous houses overlooking the Potomac) backed up into the parkway...there were some funny people out there and a lot of kids doing crazy stuff. During the last two miles through Alexandria I walked a lot more than I wanted to, but when I look back at my mile splits they weren't really as slow as they felt at the time. About a half mile from the finish I passed a man that was approximately 85 years old. I kid you not. Apparently this guy does the 10 miler every year and walks the entire thing. Early in the race I was passed by an approximately 7 year old kid too. I think that was one of the best parts of this race...it was friendly and fun with people of all different paces and ages. As I ran across the finish, first I was handed a finisher's medal, and then right behind that guy was someone handing out bottles of water. I have never been so thankful for a bottle of water. I think the guy that gave it to me knew it too. I kept walking through the chute and couldn't get that bottle open for the life of me. My hands swell to like twice their normal size when I run. I finally asked a volunteer to help me. And she gave me snacks too.
|The finisher's medal...it was the 30th anniversary of the Parkway Classic|
I found Matt and my friend Shari, who also ran the race, at the end of the chute and then we quickly found some shade until I could cool down a little bit. Pacer's had a post race party in Founder's park with some post-race food and drink. There was also a tent where you could find your official race time, and a beer tent with free beer for all the runners. The line was way too long for me to wait in, though.
Overall, I am happy I did this race. I went back and forth about doing it for a long time. I registered on the last day possible. I only registered because I told Shari if she registered I would too. And of course she registered. It was a good way to fit in my last long run before tapering for the Pittsburgh half, I'm not completely sure I would have done 10 miles otherwise. The only thing I did not like about this race was the heat. Everything was pretty well organized except a little bit of craziness with the busses dropping people off at Mount Vernon at the last minute, but I quickly got over that.
|View from Founder's Park|
This race combined with 2 weekday runs on Wednesday and Thursday, and a Saturday afternoon walk brings me to 19.54 miles this week. There's only 20(!) days until the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I really can't believe it. I'm excited to start cutting down on my mileage in the next few weeks. I think my biggest challenge in the next 20 days will be maintaing motivation to keep doing miles.
Side note: I borrowed a lot of these photos from Swim Bike Run Photography (exceptions are the one of me and Shari and the last photo of the park) so that you could get an idea of what the course looks like. The pictures were taken at last year's Parkway Classic. I am looking forward to them posting pictures of this year's race! I will post some here if I don't look too much of a mess :)