Maybe the best thing about my race recap for the 2013 GW Parkway Classic is that there is nothing too exciting to report. I did earn a recent PR (I didn’t finish quite as fast as I did in 2002) but that’s jumping ahead to the finish.
I started my day with my current pre-race routine: a quick shower, a 1 mile walk with my dog, a cup of coffee and a Kashi® waffle with a drizzle of syrup and sliced bananas.
It was a glorious day for a race. It was sunny but cool, with temperatures in the low 40s and a nip in the air. I wore my new “We Run This Town” t-shirt with a yellow ribbon in remembrance of the Boston Marathon and a light-weight jacket that I was ready to part with if I needed to.
My husband dropped me off at 7:30, which left me just enough time for a short warm-up and a picture at the gates of Mt. Vernon.
I lined up in the middle of the 8:00-8:59 pace group, and the race started promptly at 8:00 am. I used my Garmin to monitor my pace, with a goal of staying in the 8:15 to 8:30 range. I didn’t really need to make myself slow down–the rolling hills in the first half of the course took care of that! I was looking forward to mile marker 5, because I knew the next mile was mostly downhill, and the rest of the course was relatively flat until the final hill at mile marker 9.
I am pretty proud of my pacing!
The parkway is lined with neighborhoods, and families usually are out at the intersections cheering people on and holding signs for their runners. It was so heartening to see families and children out today–I made an effort to slap hands with all of the kids who had their hands out, even if I had to veer slightly off course to reach them. I was grateful that their parents felt that it was safe to be out along the course, and grateful that I didn’t have any doubts myself.
The last mile of the race was dedicated to an Alexandria Police Officer (Officer Laboy) who was injured in a brazen shooting a few months ago. It was a touching reminder of how our first responders really do put their lives on the line every day. I was thankful for his dedicated service, and thankful for the many, many officers who were out along the course today.
Because I’ve run this race several times, I know the finish line is further off than I think it should be, so I tried not too push my pace too hard until I had less than 1/2 mile to go. I was pleased to notice that I did have some energy left for a final push. There were crowds lining the street near the end, but they had blocked off the final finish area for security reasons in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. I put both of my hands over my heart as I crossed the finish line, and found myself sobbing as I thought of all that happened this week in Boston.
Although I had planned to meet my husband a few blocks away, he found me at the finish line–I was so happy to see him! I grabbed a bagel and we headed for the car–I was eager to get my post-race Starbucks!
After my ice bath, I check my official race results: 1:24:17! I was surprised to see that I finished a smidge faster than last year, and even more surprised to see that I finished faster than I had in 2011 or 2010. I know I didn’t beat my 2002 course PR (1:22!) but I bet I beat the line of expected age-related decline!
After reading about so many poorly organized races, I really have to give a shout-out to Pacers (@RunPacers). This race is so well-organized and so well-run. There are tons of porta-pottys at the start, and at least four potty stations along the route. (I told my husband it must be the race with the most pottys per-mile!) The race started promptly, and there were split clocks at every mile. The water/Gatorade stations were where they said they would be, and were well-staffed with cheering, smiling, volunteers. The finish process was smooth, with plenty of water right at the finish, people handing out boxes of post-race snacks to finishers, and bagels and bananas available in the post-race festivities area. I heard one person complain about the headwind along the course, but I was glad for the breeze in the few sections that weren’t shady. Today I was reminded why this is my all-time favorite race, and why I have no doubts that I want to run it again next year.
Do you have a favorite race?
Is there a race you know you will never run again?