Official Race Recap: 9/11 Heroes Run Edition

I ran a the 9/11 Heroes Run yesterday morning in Arlington, Virginia. Half of the reason I chose to run this race is that several awesome people I know are involved with the Travis Manion Foundation, for which these races are a fundraiser, and they organized the event. The other half of the reason was because I knew I had a place to stay very close to the start line, though not as close as I originally thought.

I drove down to Arlington on Friday evening to crash at my friend Emily's house. Though I've been there a number of times, I got lost-ish. Tired and a little annoyed when I got to her place, I zipped into a parking spot, went up to her apartment to get the parking pass, and put it in my window.

Emily had just gotten home, so we chatted for a bit, during which time I realized that the race start was not within easy walking distance. Womp womp womp... I would have to drive to the start or go for a three-mile warm up. Ha!

Anyway, I got up the next morning just before 7, donned my running duds, and headed to my car. It wasn't where I left it. I hit my unlock button just to be sure I hadn't missed it, then ever so calmly walked back to Emily's apartment. Moral of the story: because I parked in space A instead of the space just to the left of it, my car was towed and I had to pay $125 to get it back.

Fortunately for everyone, Emily didn't need her car that day even though she had class, so we were able to reserve the pleasure of retrieving my Chevy for the afternoon and I headed off to my race only twenty minutes later than planned.

I got to the race, easily found parking, and got my packet in no time. Everything was well-organized and easily accessible. There wasn't a lot of swag but, honestly, I'd rather have less than get a bunch of junk I'm going to toss. I jogged to my car to drop off the stuff I didn't want to carry and then jogged back to the start line. Then I proceeded to hold my friends' sleeping four-week old daughter until it was time to fasten her into the stroller for her first race. It was adorable. Her parents even bought her a race number.

Just before the start, they announced that the distance was at least .1 miles short of a 5k, so when MK asked me to pace her for her first run post-baby, I decided to give it a go. I usually run alone and MK is sort of a fit beast, but I figured she'd be pushing a stroller, so I'd be able to keep up. :) We trotted along, chatting the whole time, and laid down the first mile in 10:10. I haven't done a 10-minute mile for a couple months(!) and hardly any miles at all have left me with the breath to carry on a conversation. It was such an incredible feeling! Now I know that summer miles bring fall smiles.

The route and elevation profile along with our time and paces. I kicked it at the end!
We ran the first half of the race in the 9:30-10:30 minute/mile range. Then we hit the Arlington Ridge Road hill. It's not very steep but it is almost a mile long. As we went, I let MK decide whether we would walk or run. Despite the fact that she was 4 weeks postpartum and pushing a stroller, I probably would have walked more without her there (more evidence that I should get a running partner/group). Around the middle of the hill, when we were contemplating another walk break, someone was blasting the Rocky theme from their house, so we kept going a little while longer. Our second mile, because of the hill was 12:41.

As we crested the hill and turned our last corner, there was a long, not-too-steep downhill. I looked at MK and said, "I'm gonna let it out now. See you at the finish!" She wished me well as I bounded down the hill.

For the next half mile, I sped along at somewhere around an 8:15 minute/mile. Yay downhill! As the road flattened out and headed back up a little bump, I took a very brief walk break and then started running again, boosted by the sight and sound of several race volunteers who were loudly bellowing every time someone ran past.

As I approached the finish, there was a woman to my left who had run the entire race steadily. As I approached her, she started speeding up but I could tell it was costing her a lot. I checked myself and thought, "I could definitely go faster than this!" and blew past her, sprinting to the finish. Several folks I knew were right across the line so there were plenty of high fives and congratulations. My chip time was 32:24. After quickly grabbing some water, I cheered MK and baby across the line at 33:02. What a great time for someone who just had a baby!

Race buddies squinting into the sun after a good run

I commented to MK's husband, who is quite the long-distance runner/triathlete/all-around-awesome person, that it was nice to be finished running after half an hour instead of just getting started...

I stuck around for the awards because there was a cheap breakfast buffet for all the runners and a raffle you could only win if you were present. There weren't a lot of places to sit, so I sat at a table with a stranger and made a new friend, who just happened to have won her age group! The fun thing about runners is that we always have something to chat about, so I don't feel as intimidated by trying to start conversations.

What a great day for a race and an excellently planned and executed event! If I'm around next year, I would definitely do it again.

I have three more 5k's this fall. They are all hilly but I'm sort of hoping I might be able to get a sub-30 before all is said and done. I definitely had more to give during this event, so I'm thinking if I find someone to pace with, I might be able to do it. If not, maybe I'll get it at a Turkey Trot.

Post a Comment