May 8, 2017

Race Recap: The GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler

Earlier this year I realized that, despite living in DC for over 4 years, I've run an abysmal number of races in the DC area. Until this weekend, I had only ever run 3 local races since living here.
Part of it had to do with the nagging injury I had for the first few years I lived here but I'm not too sure what has kept me from racing locally since.

When one of my friends gave me the opportunity to run the GW Parkway Classic 10-milera few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. Her company is a sponsor for the race and I was excited to run a race I had heard great things about but had never really considered.

Race morning rolled around earlier than I would have liked at 5:15 am and I quickly got ready and had some oatmeal. My friend, Abby picked me up and we made our way to Old Town Alexandria to pick up the VIP bus that had been arranged from Pacers (a local running store).

The GW Parkway Classic starts at George Washington's Mount Vernon and ends in Old Town Alexandria. Since it is a 10 mile race that runs the length of the Parkway, getting to the race is almost impossible without the shuttles that Pacers provides to the start from various locations in the area.
Since we had VIP Access, we started our morning at Pacers who had an array of snacks, water, and coffee for the runners before we boarded the bus. My stomach was a little unsettled so I grabbed some pretzels which definitely helped. The bus we rode to the start had a bathroom on board, which was amazing, and when we got to the start, we were able to sit on the nice, warm bus until the race started, which I appreciated since it was a lot colder than I expected.

Abby and I hopped off the bus at 7:45 to stretch, warm up, and line up at the start. At 8 am, we were off. The first mile is down hill, and flew by.

It was a chilly morning but I was really starting to need some water by the 2nd mile. The first water stop came at Mile 3 and, rather than rush through the station doing a half drink/half run, I took my time through it. Because we were running on the Parkway, we were running on a concrete surface, which was a lot harder on my knees than I'm used to for most road races I've run which are on asphalt. Three miles in and my knees were already achy.

This course is fast though and before I knew it, we were at Mile 5. This isn't a wildly popular spectator course but I appreciated the handful of people out cheering on the course. I was running with Abby so I didn't mind that it was quiet in most places. The course was also beautiful with full, bright green trees and the river along the entire course.

Around the 6th or 7th mile, both of my knees were aching. I knew I would hit that point but I was hoping it would be later in the race. By Mile 8, I had to stop to walk and stretch things out. I know people who have no problem running on different surfaces but concrete has always bugged my knees.
As we made our way into Old Town, the surface switched to asphalt, which gave a little more cushion but at that point, my knees were shot. I took another walking break at Mile 9. There was a "dreaded hill" at Mile 9 that I had been warned about but it was nothing. It looked a lot worse than it actually was so we walked just to the base of the hill and then ran up and toward the finish.

The last stretch of the race was full of spectators, which gave us an awesome push toward the finish. My knees were killing me but we pushed the pace and crossed.

My official time was 1:40:58 (only 1 second off from my watch time!). It was my slowest 10-miler by almost 20 minutes but it was exactly what I needed that day. I hadn't been feeling myself all week and was worried about lining up. I made it through the race with no problems (aside from my knees) and had a lot of fun running. The VIP access definitely helped!

This was only my 3rd 10-miler and I forgot how much I loved the distance but it was a bit of a wake up call and this week, I decided to drop down to the Ottawa Half instead of the Full. I think I rushed into Disney training after Philly and I'm starting to get a little burnt out. I'm leaning toward dropping down, running a fun Half, and then settling into training for Richmond in November, but we'll see.

Right now, I'm just happy to have raced another day and to have added another local race (and a new favorite!) to my resume.

What's your favorite race distance?
Do you have any races coming up?

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