The 30th GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

Sometimes I wonder if one reason I love running so much is because of where I get to run. When I started running I mostly ran on the Mount Vernon Trail, along the Potomac River between Mount Vernon and Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia. My first race was the 5K of the George Washington Parkway Classic which now follows the same route, but on the road. It deserves its accolades as the “Prettiest run this side of the Potomac!” (And I want to know, what race is prettier on the other side?!)


It’s also one of most well-organized races I’ve run, which is another reason I keep signing up year after year, even when it means back-to-back race weekends with the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. This year Pacers offered packet pick-up on several days at any of their stores, which made it easy for me to get my race shirt and bib despite my hectic schedule.

2014 GWPC Race Shirt

Clearly this is a unisex shirt design in contrast to my blossom-colored CUCB shirt!

2014 GWPC Bib

Do you see that Port City beer tent ticket? Yum!

Race morning was very similar to last weekend, before the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, except we didn’t have to leave the house until about 7:00 am. I was having a hard time resisting a second cup of coffee, so we let early, and my husband dropped me off at the race start area at about 7:20. On the way, I checked my Race Recaps page on this blog to figure out some sort of goal pace, and settled on 8:15, which would beat my previous two years’ 1:24-ish finish times.

After my husband left, I got in the porta-potty line “just in case,” but when I saw the time getting closer to the MRTT group photo time without me getting much closer to the front of the line, I decided to skip it. After the group photo, I headed towards the corrals and lined up. After the National Anthem we waited a few more minutes to start, and then we were off.

The first mile of this race is downhill and fast. I tried to keep my pace closer to an 8:00 min mile, but I hit mile 1 at 7:41 on my Garmin. The next few miles have rolling hills, but it was still relatively cool and shady. 7:56–7:58–8:11 I was looking forward to mile 5 and the long down hill stretch that would come after that, but I kept encountering “one more hill.” 8:25

During mile 6 I tried to recover from the hills and pick up my pace–I knew the rest of the course was going to be mostly flat, but also sunny. 8:13 The race had a 5K that the 10 mile course overlaps with, so I was looking forward to getting to that point, where I would only have 3 miles to go. 8:25–8:26  The last mile into Old Town was sunny, and I could feel my energy flagging. I remembered past years where my calves seized up at this point, and was grateful that I was just tired. 8:40 Um, yeah.

Mile marker 9 comes 3/4 the way up the last short but steep hill. I had contemplated walking the hill, but since I’ve never done that I decided to run it slowly. I chugged along and then tried to pick up the pace again for the last mile. At this point, I was near a very enthusiastic runner who was high-fiving and thanking everyone who lined the course. I told him he was awesome and wondered how he still had so much energy.

I’ve run this race enough times (this was my 8th!) to know how to pace myself for the finish. I knew the Starbucks was about 1/2 mile from the end, so I used that landmark to start pushing myself even harder. 8:36 That’s all the strong I had left!

When I crossed the finish line I was pretty sure I had beat my 1:24 finsih times, but I didn’t expect to be dead on my 8:15 pace goal!

2014 GW Parkway Classic

I got my special 30th anniversary edition finisher medal, and headed to the beer garden to enjoy a Port City Monumental IPA.

2014 GW Parkway Classic Beer Garden

Since I’ve never had a post-race beer before, I was a bit cautious at first, but it went down quite nicely! Between that and the fresh bagel, both me and my stomach were very happy. 😉

So, my pacing was pretty uneven, but I might be OK with that. The first part of the course is easier, the rolling hills do take their toll, and the last few miles were hot and sunny. I’m not sure that if I’d started out slower I would have been able to finish stronger. If you are a running guru and have any insight on that, I’d love your feedback! Anyway, it’s hard to be too critical when I’m pretty sure this is a PR for this race, beating the best time I can find (from 8 years ago) by 1 min, 20 sec.

Have you ever enjoyed a post-race beer?

Do you think you should aim for even split times in races?

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26 Responses to The 30th GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

  1. Vicki B says:

    Wow.. never a post-race beer?! Shocking! I truly think a light beer is the perfect post race hydration! On pacing.. negative splits are best.. and more fun to run, but it really depends on the course! Hill (and downhills) must be taken into consideration! But I think all my PR’s are negative splits, including the marathon (slightly).

  2. Kim says:

    Back in my racing hey-day I loved the races that were a huge party after!! (So, yes, many post-race beers!)
    Great job on back to back 10 mile races!!
    Kim recently posted…Planks, Planks and more Planks (4/6-4/12)My Profile

  3. I try to be pretty even, but it does not always happen that way.
    And no post race beer for me… I always want water, water, and more water.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…A Day in the LifeMy Profile

  4. Carla says:

    I’m so in awe of you and your running.
    I’d say WE CAN RUN TOGETHER WHEN IM IN DC–but I’d rather have coffee 🙂
    Carla recently posted…Getting (Eggland’s) FRESH with the Husband.My Profile

  5. Congrats! I’m not a big drinker (and in the morning – gasp!), but I’ve always found the beer after a warm race is soooooooo good!
    Jennifer Fisher recently posted…Southwestern Roasted Veggie Wraps, Veggie Snacks & WorkoutsMy Profile

  6. Way to go on an awesome race time!!

  7. Nice race! I’ve never done that one but it’s on my list for next year. Post race beer is not my thing I often feel a little nauseous after a long run. Super impressed that you did the killer spin class after this. Nice to meet you there and hope we “run” into each other again maybe at an MRTT event.
    Deborah Brooks @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…It was Hot, it was Sweaty, it was Hard…The Revovle DC Blogger RideMy Profile

  8. Congrats on a great race time! And on back-to-back 10 milers too! Awesome!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…Training Check-in Week 6My Profile

  9. steena says:

    It only took me like several hours to read this because I’m at work, and keep getting interruptions. Derp. So.. your last question.. Good one.. I generally always make a point to start out too fast, that way the pace that I actually want to run in feels more comfortable than the too-fast one. It’s probably not the best strategy, but it’s worked for me more often than not. That’s pretty awesome that it ws your 8th time doing that race! I don’t have any races that I can say I’ve done that many times! Even my favorite Crazy Legs I ended up skipping it in 2012, breaking my streak.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Congrats on the PR! Ive never had the post race beer (I know my stomach is sensitive after a run), but Port City is delicious.
    Jennifer recently posted…Weekly Workout/Training in Review 4/6-4/12My Profile

  11. Congrats on a fantastic race! I’ve never had a post race beer. It’s the furthest thing that sounds appealing to me. Although I have run a few humid summer races when a margarita sounds amazing!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…St. Mary’s Academy 5k RecapMy Profile

  12. Divorced Kat says:

    The most delicious beer I’ve ever had was after my first half marathon last fall!
    Divorced Kat recently posted…GUEST POST: 8 Reasons to Work with Your Spouse During DivorceMy Profile

  13. Yum Yucky says:

    Nope. Never had a post-race beer. But a post-dessert dessert would go down nicely.
    I love that gray shirt!
    Yum Yucky recently posted…Connie Is Feeling StabbyMy Profile

  14. jill conyers says:

    I have always run negative splits. It’s not intentional. Post race beer? No way. I always give my beer ticket away. It’s the last thing I want after a race. That and pizza. No thanks 🙂
    jill conyers recently posted…Hawthorn Half Day Relay. Team of 2 or Ultra?My Profile

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