This is a fun and scenic race in the Nation's Capital and I highly recommend it, especially for those who can bundle the race weekend with some sightseeing time! I went with my friend Jeff to do exactly that, and it was a blast! The race was pretty fun too! And what made it really fun was that I got to run it with Beth and Becca!
This race requires you to enter a lottery in November. Then in December, they send you an email if you actually got into the race. Beth and I entered the lottery and were very pleased to find out that we both got in! My reason for wanting to run this race was two-fold: I wanted to run in DC around the monuments, and, I was hoping that my Mom and cousins (who live out there) would get to see me run a race. The fact that the cherry blossoms would hopefully be in bloom was going to be a bonus!
Well, as usual, this race was a "let's see what the running Gods have in store on race day" type of experience. I caught some kind of chest cold the Tuesday before the race, and I was not recovered from it by race day. But I felt well enough to give it a go. Plus, I was running with Beth and wanted to help her reach a sub 2hr finish time. I did not want to let her down.
Then I found out that my Mom had a gallbladder attack on the day before the race. So I was worried about her, even though she said she was home and doing 'all right'. But she would not be able to come down to see the race.
So, with four hours of sleep, sufficiently medicated, and two puffs from the inhaler, Jeff and I headed for the Metro. Of course, I got turned around at least once on the way, but we got to the train and arrived at the Smithsonian stop with plenty of time. Then, after a 20 minute wait for a bathroom, we met up with Beth and Becca at the Gear Check. I was feeling pretty excited and my breathing seemed fine.
The setting for the race was so cool! It was about 40F on a clear morning, and we started right beside the Washington Monument! Just standing in our corral, listening to the National Anthem at that spot was emotional. I never felt more patriotic at a race than at that moment in time. And, I got to share it with friends instead of just standing at race start by myself.
The race got underway and the three of us settled into a good rhythm, running at Beth's intervals. I was just taking in all the sights as we ran by, but kinda bummed that the cherry blossoms were budding but not opened. There were only a few trees that had blossomed. Oh well, it was still a beautiful day for running!
We passed the Jefferson Monument and headed across the Memorial Bridge. That was pretty cool! I have driven across this bridge before but never run across it! We ran across the bridge, ran around a circular drive and then back over the bridge. Then we headed down Rock Creek Parkway and passed the Kennedy Center (a favorite of mine) with Georgetown University visible in the distance towards the left.
At the 5-Mile mark, we were doing pretty well! We made it in under an hour which was perfect timing. My plan was to run the second half at a faster pace (negative split) and come in under 2 hours like Beth wanted. I was doing pretty well with my breathing and was leading the way. I was coughing occasionally but not feeling any chest pain. So we pressed on!
My friend Jeff was really a great cheer squad. He found four different locations on the race route to cheer for the three of us. It was always a real boost to hear and see him at various times during the race. Thanks Jeff!
But at Mile 7, things started to change however. My chest started to feel restricted and my coughing started to increase. And, it started to hurt. This was not entirely unexpected, but I had made the mistake of leaving my inhaler in my gear bag. When I stopped to get some sports drink, I lost sight of Beth. So I started off at a faster pace to catch up with/find her. But because of my restricted breathing, I couldn't keep it up too long. But I knew that Beth was on pace for a good finish, and I knew I had to back off a little.
So I slowed down a bit. I ran into Barb Kennedy and her husband, fellow Marathon Show listeners, and the three of us ran/walked the remainder of the race together. Of course, I had to run the last 1/2 mile to the Finish, where my cousins Robin and Jerry were cheering me on! It was great to have them there, and even better that the race was over so I could get my inhaler.
Beth was there at the Finish so we were able to get a cool photograph together! Then we met up with my cousins and Jeff, and got our medals. I was really pleased that Beth accomplished her timing goal by finishing in 1:58! I feel proud to have been a part of that victory.
Overall, this was an amazing race for me -- the course was awesome, the energy was high, and I got to share it with friends and family. Also, I learned quite a bit about myself, my body's limits, and how it responds to being at less than peak condition. And, I cannot imagine a cooler place to run than the National Mall in Washington DC.