May 28, 2014

Race Recap: Alexandria Running Festival 13.1

The Pilot and I woke up at 6am Sunday morning to head to Alexandria for his FIRST half-marathon! He was much calmer than I've ever been before well, any race, and after a quick breakfast, foam rolling and PT exercises on my part, we headed to the race.

The race started 30 minutes late. They didn't make an announcement until 15 minutes after the race should have started as to why...and then no one could hear the announcement because the sound system was down. When the race finally started, we were off. We started off nice and slowly. It was already close to 80 degrees which was annoying since the race started late and they ran out of cups at the aid station at Mile 4. At Mile 6, my knee started twinging. By 7 1/2, I was walking. At Mile 8, I gave up. I wasn't about to cry and suffer my way through another race and risk hurting myself again. I had told The Pilot to go ahead of me at Mile 6 and I hitched a ride to the Finish in an undercover cop car and waited for him to cross.

Since he actually ran the race, and his recap is a lot more exciting than mine, I'll turn it over to him for his recap of his first half-marathon.

From The Pilot:
If you had asked me 3 years ago if I would run a half marathon I would have told you no way!  I'd never run more than 5 miles before I started training for this race and usually stuck around 2 or 3 when I did run, so the thought of 13.1 was crazy to me. After watching my fiancée run multiple half's and full marathons, I started to get curious about running a half. One day I mentioned to my fiancée that I thought I wanted to run a half marathon and was struck with more excitement than if I had told her we got an all paid trip to London for a week. That began months of asking which race I wanted to run and the "we have to run one before we get married" pressuring.  Finally, I caved and said yes to the Alexandra Running Festival Half Marathon. I had a few stipulations about the race I wanted to run. 1) Something small. I hate the start of races and all the people crowded around. It gives me anxiety and I just don't feel comfortable and 2) Something in semi-warm weather. I don't like going to races and freezing while standing around. This race met both and it was local, which was a bonus.

Now for the recap of events.  We went to the expo the day before and I must say it was disappointing. It had about 3 booths of nothing interesting and a station to get a shirt, but I guess what can you expect for a race this small. Maybe a balloon or 2 would have brought more excitement. For race day, we woke up, I slugged down 2 glasses of water,trying to be a good runner and be hydrated for a race, and some banana bread Christy made. 

I threw on my awesome new DC shirt I got from Pacers, my Rutgers shorts because they matched and had pockets, and my bright orange Brooks shoes because they obviously didn't match a thing I was wearing and I'm a runner now and that's how it is done. We arrived about 30 minutes prior to the start and made our way towards the start line, but not before a pit stop at the bathrooms. I guess everyone drinks a gallon of water before a race because the lines are like waiting to be interviewed for American Idol and people don't go just once. Just for the record I used the bathroom before I left the house and again when I returned home from the race. I'm just assuming I had the right amount of water. 

Finally, we get to the start line and begin the anxious wait for the start surrounded by a ton of strangers I don't know, but everyone keeps a safe personal space bubble around me and everything is cool. I try to photo bomb the girls in front of me with no success, see another girl with with a superman shirt saying "it's my birthday" I say happy birthday to her and instantly hear 5 more people chime in the same. I feel good that I could contribute to her special day. 730 rolls around and we we haven't started and and a guy gets on the mic, which no one can hear, and eventually find out the race is going to start 30 minutes late. I started to re think why I did this. Luckily it's 62 degrees and sunny and everyone seemed to have showered in the past 36 hrs so things aren't half bad. 801 rolls around and we are off. The following is the recap of my thoughts through the race.

Mile 1:  See a sign that says Eisenhower, instantly start singing Billy Joel 'We Didn't Start the Fire.' "Eisenhower, vacancies,  Brooklyn's got a winning team!" No one else sings along, am told by Christy no more Billy Joel for the rest of the race. 12 miles and no Billy Joel is tough. Oh sweet! There is a movie theater with IMAX I'll have to remember that.

Mile 3: See the sign for Mile 3, hear everyone's watches going off, seems they measured correctly. Start to take in the scenic industrial park. Say out loud how nice it is, begin convo with 2 nice ladies. They say there is another one up the way that is way better. I bid them good day and continue down the road and thank the cop for playing music from his car. Hit the water station to find 3 guys guzzling down water from pitchers, am a little confused till I find out they ran out of cups. They ask if I want some which I don't understand.  Yes I want to share the pitcher of water with 30 others. Sorry folks but I was in a fraternity and those days of sharing liquids out of a large cup are over, unless I win the Stanley cup, then it is completely acceptable to do so.

All smiles in the early miles!
Miles 4-6: Things going well. Guy says to get up on side walk, figure because it's because the road is now closed but nope we make a sharp turn into a park. Dust flying up everywhere, people tightly packed, running through people's back yards, pretty sure I saw a guy in his underwear watering the grass. Finally make it to the other industrial park, meet a nice man and his wife. Tell him I'm drafting off of him. Make the turn around bid him good day and continue back to the backyards of Alexandria. Oh yeah Christy yells at some dude for stopping in the middle of the course and does some stretches for her knee. (Christy: Seriously, he just stopped dead on in the middle of the path so the photographer could get a picture of him.)

Someone had a lot of energy
Miles 7 and 8: See some friends, they have a great sign, pass me a frost blue gatorade. I cradle it like a football and keep a cruising. The water station is decorated like Hawaii. I'd rather be there. Christy's knee gives out and I lose my running buddy and biggest supporter, but the race must go on.

Miles 9-11: Continue running through the park and over the bridges. Have no idea how far along I am because I have no watch but hear a lady's watch go off ahead, I believe it's Mile 9, feeling pretty great, picked up the pace a bit. Still cradling the gatorade, keeping it high and tight like I learned in football. See a photographer, I'm all alone decide to make a Heisman pose, should end up being the photo for next year's race. Keep moving thinking this isn't so bad.

I think this is his Heisman pose...
Miles 12 and 13.1: Over the hill and through the woods to a closed street I go. Some guy yells, 'You're looking good' and I feel good. Notice everyone is still running on the side walk with the street closed, decide they are crazy and hop on the yellow line to show my dominance of the road. Here is where I start picking people off one by one, everyone is huffing and puffing and some are walking. I realize at this point I haven't stopped this whole race and still feel great. Pick up the pace and see a girl in a sparkly skirt way ahead of me. I've seen her all race and finally I caught up, blow past her and think the skirt probably created a lot of drag and slowed her down. Sorry I'm a pilot I think of aerodynamics time from time. Come up on a big bridge, I remember the finish is just past it, look up to notice a 757 (my favorite plane) on approach to Runway 1 at DCA and am reminded of my long term career goal along with my short term goal of finishing this race. Come over the bridge, start really picking it up. See 2 guys walking, one has a spartan race shirt on and I think I can catch up and beat the spartan. They start running again, I start sprinting towards the finish see my fiancée pop out of the crowd cross through the finish line. Look up to see 2:16 and think awesome, just crushed the goal of 230-235. Some little kid hands me me a medal in a zip lock bag and think how nice of them to keep my medal clean. Grab a victory banana and bagel and tried to get my face painted at the festival unsuccessfully. The least they could have done was give me a balloon.

I jumped in to cross with him, of course. 
So there you have it, my first half marathon and my first race recap. I must thank my wonderful fiancée for pushing me to this and to my great friends who came and gave me a gatorade. It helped. 

Just a side note I decided I like my gatorade shaken not stirred.

A few things about this race (from me, Christy, again). I wouldn't recommend it at all. On an 85 degree day, starting a race 30 minutes late is just unacceptable, especially when you don't make the announcement until 15 minutes after the race should have started. Running out of cups at the Mile 4 aid station was unacceptable, and the fact that we were literally running through people's backyards on an unmarked road made this a race that I definitely wouldn't run again. 

All that being said, I'm so proud of my fiance for running his FIRST half-marathon and crushing his goal in 2:16:47. (Notice how many times he said FIRST? Doesn't that imply that there will be a SECOND?) I hope that one day, I'll be back to running again and that we can tackle 13.1 together. But until then, this was his race and I hope you all enjoyed his recap as much as I did!


  1. Hahaha, your fiance's recap might be one of the best I've read in a while. Congrats to him! And sorry to hear your knee's flaring up again. :(

  2. Oh my gosh, your knee! I can't imagine how hard it must have been. So awesome that you tried though.

    Side note - love your fiance wearing the Rutgers shorts - I'm an 07 alum! RU-rah-rah! And his race recap was spot on!

    Hope the knee gets better!

  3. So sorry to hear about your knee. You felt so good furing your last long run, ahh it sucks. Congrats to your fiancée!! Fun race report, love it!

  4. Congrats! Love the humor in this recap. Great job crushing your goal!
    i'm so sorry your knee gave out again :(

  5. This might just be the best recap I've ever read--I laughed so much, and I think he needs to run more just so he can recap them!!! Also....that picture....he wins at race pictures. Forever.

    I'm really sorry your knee gave out though :( That's so disappointing and frustrating!!! And it just sounds like this race wasn't well put together, so that's a bummer. But I'm so happy for him that he crushed it!!!


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