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Army 10 Miler Race Report

For one of the first times in the history of my sweat, I was not excited to race this weekend. At all.

This probably had more than a little bit to do with the fact that I raced 5 straight weekends from the beginning of September to October 6th.

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Parks Half Marathon, Madison 50k, Forest Park Marathon, Vermont 50 Relay, Can Lake 50. 132+ miles of racing in 5 weeks. Holy Garmin overload.

As much as I love a good start line, I also need a few weekends to just lounge in bed with Meet the Press and Starbucks. And this weekend, I was feeling much more like a Venti black unsweetened iced tea than a Venti hoard of bib clad runners.

Things might have been different had I been registered for a low-key, low-hassle race within walking distance from my apartment. But I wasn’t. I was signed up for the Army 10 Miler. A race that draws 30,000 runners to the Pentagon to toe the line (every 5 minutes for too many corrals to count) and proceed to race 10 uber-crowded miles around DC and Virginia.

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Not exactly a relaxing Sunday morning.

But I felt obligated to follow through with my race commitment. Army 10 Miler is one of the biggest DC races, one that a lot of people love, and I felt seriously pressured to run it while I’m still living in this city.

So on Saturday afternoon I trekked across town to brave the crowded expo and fetch my bib. Needless to say, sacrificing my beautiful Fall day to ride the metro for two hours did very little to heighten my level of excitement.

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On my way home from the expo, I stumbled into a few of my favorite Vermont boys lounging on their patio, blasting 90s Alternative on Pandora and drinking gin and tonics. I probably don’t need to tell you what happened next.

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Obviously I was powerless to resist joining in the fun.

I was equally powerless to resist spending the rest of the afternoon/evening catching up with my friend Charlotte (the one who just got married in Wisco) over a few beers. And to audition for a role in High School Reunion Crashers after stumbling into one at the neighborhood dive bar with the Vermont boys. Fast forward through a lot of untapping and very little sleep to the hour of 5am on Sunday morning, and I was at a rock-bottom level of excitement for my date with the Army.

But I chugged some nuun, stumbled to my closet and threw on the first running apparel I could find. I was a little overdressed in long sleeves but at least I matched?

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On the rare occasion when I arrive at a race so unexcited, it usually only takes one wave of a sea of race bibs to get me pumped up to run. Not even a little bit the case on Sunday morning. Instead, I got to the Pentagon, with very few minutes to fight my way through thousands of runners to get to my corral, and all I kept thinking was “ugh ugh ugh why am I here, take me back to bed, ugh ugh ugh.”

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The only small highlights of the morning were my miraculous on-time arrival in my corral and running into this girl.

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I legitimately had no pace plan for this race. With my legs only two weeks removed from racing 50 miles, it seemed unreasonable to task them with anything other than “just run (or walk or crawl) the damn thing.” I knew I didn’t want to race-race, but I did want to push the pace a little faster than I’ve been slogging through my recovery runs over the past two weeks.

When the gun went off, I resisted succumbing to the adrenaline of the crowd and settled into a pace that felt good. A glance down at my watch informed me that that I was currently hovering somewhere around a 7:10.

“So much for any hope of negative splitting,” I thought, as I laughed at myself, knowing there was pretty much no way I would be maintaining that pace for another 9.75 miles.

But as each mile beeped away at me, the pace stayed pretty consistently hovering around a 7 minute/mile and my legs continued to feel fairly fresh. Apparently I was incorrect in my assumption that my legs are no longer capable of holding sub-7s in the wake of ultra training. I decided that a 10 mile tempo run was a very achievable goal so I powered on at the pace I set during mile 1.

Mile 1-7:02

Mile 2-6:53

Mile 3-6:54

Mile 4-6:57

Mile 5-6:56

Mile 6-7:06

The more I ran, the more I stopped resenting the fact that I had abandoned my pajamas and David Gregory for my Hokas. Especially when I got to mile 6.5 and saw this adorable young thing holding this sign:

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Thank you Jason (who will be kicking ass at MCM this Sunday), for making the best sign ever. And for teaching your daughter that race courses are the best place to be on a Sunday morning. (I’m guessing it won’t be long before you have her out on one instead of cheering from the sidelines.)

Mile 7-6:55

Mile 8-6:55

By the time I got to the later miles, my attitude had done a complete180 since the race started. There is a reason I am hooked on these things and that reason was abundantly clear to me on Sunday morning as soon as I was actually running.

Mile 9-6:59

Mile 10-6:44

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Final time: 1:10.14

While I was initially dreading this race, I was seriously runners high-ing by the end of it. And the runners high was about much more than the 10 mile jaunt I took around DC with 29,999 other runners. I loved spending the summer running long and racing ultras, but I am SO ready and SO excited to get back to marathon training. And  ATM, and the surprisingly good time I had on the course, seems like the perfect kick off for my Carlsbad training cycle.

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And finally, a big congrats to my friend Jason who absolutely dominated his 10 miles. And also thanks for convincing me to actually show up on Sunday. You were right, it was worth it.

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15 Responses to Army 10 Miler Race Report

  1. Even though the beginning was tough, it’s awesome you were able to turn things around, Emily. PS – I can’t *imagine* surviving a 10-mile tempo run at your pace–you were flying, girl! :)

  2. Simply amazing. You are always such an inspiration. Congratulations!

  3. Congratulations! You are a running pro for racing all those weekends!

  4. Ok, I’ll bite. I don’t understand the little girl’s sign.

    • Blair, that’s my kiddo — it’s a reference to Emily running the Army Ten Miler followed by the Marine Corps Marathon. We were at mile 6, so she was 6 miles into her 36.2.

      Of course, had I known that she would ALSO be running the New York Marathon the following weekend, then we’d have made it read “6 down 56.4 to go!”

  5. Awesome splits for not being initially excited to race!! Way to go!

  6. How do you go out week after week and come back with these amazing times?!?!?!? I’m super bummed at the moment – strained my hip flexor muscle on a training run over the weekend and have not been able to run since. :(

  7. you are super speedy

  8. WOW. I’m not surprised you didn’t want to race! Way to turn it around. Looking forward to your 50-mile report (unless I missed it, in which case, nevermind)!

  9. Emily! I’ve never commented before, but I don’t know HOW I missed you. I’m in the Army and traveled from Colorado to race and finished only 17 seconds before you! I totally should have been paying attention for your pink I <3 Sweat shirt! Congratulations on completing your first ATM. It's my favorite race. :)

  10. YAY – loved seeing you! :)

  11. OMG, I hope someday my uninspired race can be as fast as your uninspired race.
    Great job and awesome time (!!).
    I’m gonna think of your sub-7 miles as I slog out my much, much slower run today, hee, hee. (Sub-7 is my totally impossible I’ll-never-reach-it-but-I’m-still-gonna-dream-damn-it goal.)

  12. Congrats! i came across your blog while doing a little google searching on being sick on your taper. i did the rev 3 anderson 70.3 10/14 and am doing the MCM this weekend. I thought i was being crazy because after the race i had to travel to charlotte, atlanta, nyc, tampa, back to nyc before home to va this weekend but it looks like you have me beat with all the traveling/racing every week! i’m trying to fight getting sick now and definitely plan on sleeping a lot this week! congrats again and good luck this weekend! :)

  13. Congrats on an awesome race! I’m glad that even though you weren’t digging it in the beginning that you went and had a great time!

  14. Emily, Annabelle has *already* run in four races! When she was three, she would see me head out for races and insist that she wanted to run as well; we promised her that when she turned four we’d start finding fun runs for her. Her first was the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler kids’ fun run (we might have lied and said she was five), followed quickly by Laps Around Lincoln, then the Capitol Hill Classic fun run, and then the North Face Endurance Challenge DC fun run…. she’s totally an addict. :)