We crossed the start and made a left hand turn pretty quickly. As we turned, I saw my future MIL and SIL cheering me on. After seeing traffic, they parked on the VA side of the bridge and WALKED ACROSS so they could cheer me on. I'm so lucky to have such supportive future in laws!! Around the half mile mark there was a water station, which seemed early/weird, but since I had finished my Gatorade at like 7:30 and it was nearing 9:15 I figured I'd take some. Then a volunteer make a snarky comment about us needing a drink already. Um HI I finished my Gatorade at 7:30. It's 9:15. I'm thirsty. Rude. Anyway, right after the Gatorade we started running down hill... down an on ramp ... onto a highway? Wait, really, I'm about to run on Indian Head Highway? It's three lanes in each direction. So they closed two lanes - one for runners going out, one for runners going back, and left the third lane open. Umm. Strange. Anyway, we were feeling pretty good about our pace - it was challenging but not crazy hard. So I was pretty shocked when my watch read 8:30 at the 1 mile marker. Whoa, am I running that fast? I usually don't run that fast! Later, people with Garmins told me that the mile 1 marker was short. Yes, that makes more sense.
these photos don't necessarily line up to the mile markers.
This entire out and back I basically was thinking, wait, are we seriously just running on a highway? Even if people wanted to spectate, they couldn't. And we were right next to trucks, with awesome smelling exhaust. DC is so scenic and pretty... I do not understand. The only fun part to an out-and-back is seeing people you know that don't run the same pace as you. Susan spotted us as she was running back and called out to us, which was fun.
Somewhere around mile 2.4, we ran over a mat. I thought that seemed weird and then realized that if we had run over it on the way back it would have been at the 5k mark. Apparently the race volunteers had directed us to run out on the wrong lane. Superb planning once again. My first split time was 21:04, which for a 5k would be 6:47 pace. Clearly inaccurate. My actual pace seemed to be somewhere around 9:00 min/miles, although to be honest I wasn't paying close attention - I was just running at what felt good.
We ran back up the on-ramp (boo uphills) and I got to see my future MIL and future SIL again - hooray! I also handed off my cell phone (so annoying to hold), hat, and gloves... it was getting toasty! We got some gatorade, and soon we were running past the start line. This was kind of a huge bummer. The 5k was long over and I think the very first 15k runners were nearing the finish line... and I still had over 5k to go. Boo. We ran down a huge hill, and I realized that I would have to run up said hill at the end of a race. Also a huge bummer.
We passed the 10k split and my watch read 58:04, which is around a 9:20 pace. I wasn't capable of doing math that detailed at the moment, but I knew we were on track to finish in under 90 minutes. I couldn't believe that I was feeling this good at the 10k point - although we were running up a hill that wasn't too fun. Right after the 10k split (maybe at 6.5) M tells me she isn't doing well, and I left her behind. Poor M! I focused on getting up the hill, one step at a time. I was so grateful for the gatorade at the top of the hill and I walked for about 5 seconds while I drank it and prepared for the next few miles.
Now I was on my own, which is always mentally more challenging than running with M. I'm tempted to slow down or walk, and no one is there to yell at me not to! I just kept telling myself to find an easy pace and keep chugging along. We ran down into a gravel area with music playing and I heard some Ke$ha - who happens to be my favorite artist. The Ke$ha cheered me up and I saw M running into the gravel area as I exited it, so I was glad to know she was running again!
Finally we were running along the harbor... the only pretty part of the course! I tried to soak it in and keep chugging along. It felt like a lot of people were passing me and I just wanted to slow down, but I knew I was still on track to finish in under 90 minutes so I told myself to keep going. Until I remembered that crazy hill I was about to climb to the top...
My thought process through the end of this race was: 9.0, only 0.3 to go, time to speed up, oh wait hill. Hill. Hate. Hill. Die. Hill. I can't speed up for the 3ish minutes it will take to go uphill 0.3 miles, I can just barely WALK for 3 more minutes. Okay, don't walk just run slowly, up the hill, wait why are we turning? Wait the finish line is right there? Oh it's flat now? OH I BETTER SPEED UP FOR THE FINISH... but the crowd of people is making it hard to sprint and my legs hurt from that hill...
Then I crossed the finish line which was a mob of people not moving, but I looked down at my watch and saw 1:25:11 and FREAKED OUT. That was so good! How did I finish so quickly?
Official Time: 1:25:11, 9:09 pace
Overall place 3372 out of 10150 (top 34%)
Age group place (F 25-29) 531 out of 1817 (top 30%)
Gender place 1961 out of 7450 (top 27%)
I NEVER thought when I started running that I would ever be in the top third of any race I ran. Or that I could maintain a 9:09 pace for 15k. So this was ridiculously exciting, despite the race antics!