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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Army 10 Miler
Date: Sunday, October 7, 2007
Location: Washington DC, DC
Race Type: Run - 10 mile
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:14:30
Overall Place: 1174
Age Group Place: 153
Comment: Running on Feel vs. Heart Rate

Race Report:

The Army 10 Miler was a massive race with over 17,000 finishers. When Karolina and I raced last year, it took us twenty minutes to cross the start line after the cannon went off (thank goodness for chip times). I've always enjoyed the race despite the logistically difficulties. It's rare that I run inside Washington DC and look forward to crossing over Memorial Bridge with the monuments straight ahead.

I went into the race hoping to run a PR and break 75 minutes. I'd been building up my run miles in preparation for the Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) and this was my first 'down' week in a month. I was going in rested and felt that I should test myself one last time before MCM. I'd been training well with Reid and we both went to the line ready to run fast.

The weather was a complete surprise this year. Race conditions were in the 70s with 94% humidity! Given the heat, I paid special attention to my hydration leading up to the race. My pre-race meal was a Boost, Banana, and bowl of Special K cereal. I drank SmartWater all morning and felt sufficiently hydrated leading up to race start. I decided to carry a flask of Hammer Gel for the race with intentions of taking it at the mile 4 aide station. As we went to the start, Karolina and I went into our respective corrals. She was excited like usual and looked ready to run a good race. "Race smart and have fun" I told her. As I moved through the crowd, I bumped into Reid and told him to line up with me. We chatted about the race and were both excited to get the show on the road. A few minutes before the start, I told Reid we should separate so that we run 'our own race'. We'd both been in situations where running with someone can cause you to deviate from your race plan. We wished each other well and prepared for the start.

10 MILE RUN (1:14:30 - 7:27 pace)
I started close to the front of the Yellow wave and crossed the timing mat 45 seconds after the cannon. I started with runners who would likely finish faster then me so I tried to control my efforts and stay relaxed for the first crowded mile. As I passed mile 1 at little fast in 6:53, but I felt great and took in the breathtaking view across Memorial Bridge. This is my favorite spot during the race. It reminds me that this is the Army's race and that I'm running across a bridge that is a memorial to all who've served our country. My patriotic thoughts were boosted even more when I ran passed someone playing a flute (or was it a piccolo). Wow, this guy was playing Army songs while clicking off sub-7 miles! I regained focus and approached the first aide station. As it came into view, I was shocked to see an 18-Wheeler Tanker parked in-between the runners and the aide station. I managed to get a couple cups of water and Gatorade in the chaos. This was SNAFU #1 for the Army on race day. I took advantage of the long downhill leading back to the river and under the Kennedy Center. When I went under the giant concrete slab, my Garmin lost it's signal and auto-stopped. Doh, so much for perfect splits. Around mile 4 I ran into Joe O'Gorman and we chatted for a moment. He looked strong and I ran with him as we approached Independence Avenue. This is another great point in the race because you see runners coming the other way and the crowds are amazing. Up to this point in the race, I'd tried to keep an eye on my HR. It was a little high, but I thought this normal given the heat. I kept telling myself, it seems high, but I feel great. I decided to run more on feel and less on HR. I took full advantage of the gradual downhill leading to the mile 6 aide station. As I approached, I felt that I need an energy boost and decided to take another swig of my Hammer Gel flask. I walked through the aide station to get maximum fluids and start my way back up Independence Ave. Mentally, I convinced myself that I was heading back to the finish at this point and tried to pick up the pace a little, as per my race plan. While my effort and HR increased, my time stayed the same. I realized around mile 7 that the end of the race was going to be much harder then imagined. I hit the last aide station desperate for fluids. I took down everything they gave me and poured a water over my head. The final two miles are my least favourite of the race. You basically run on I-395 across the river and down an exit ramp to the finish. On this day, it was like running on the surface of a broiler. There was no breeze and zero shelter from the sun along an endless streak of concrete. I was completely soaked with sweat by this point. So much so, that my HR strap slid down my chest and was resting around my waist. It didn't matter by this point, the data wasn't going to help me, the final miles were all mental. I was barricaded deep inside my personal pain-cave and the only way out was to get to the finish line. With less then one mile to go, I spotted Reid running along the left side of the highway. I'd mistakenly hugged the right side, forgetting that the exit ramp was on the left. I made my back across the road but could not keep up with Reid. He looked strong and ran a smart race. I didn't have any kick going down the exit ramp to the Pentagon and just tried to keep upright and finish. I crossed the line, walked three steps, and doubled over.

A medic asked if I was OK and I responded with some grunts and groans. They handed us some water that had been baking in the sun with these impossible caps that I could not open (SNAFU #2). I shuffled along the "don't stop, keep moving" line and found Reid sitting on the curb. We recapped the race and were both pleased with our new PRs. We then began the difficult mission of finding our wives. I was lucky and found Karolina a short time later with a huge smile on her face. She'd run a great race, averaging sub-8 min miles. Reid, Karolina and I then spent the next hour trying to find Mary Beth, the PwC tent (my employer) and pick up our bags. It was a complete mess. We couldn't find MB or the tent in the mass of humanity that filled the lot. The information staff weren't too helpful and there were simply too many people in too small a space. The bag-check worked out well, but the only place to change were two paperless port-o-potties that wouldn't pass for war zone latrines. Why couldn't they spread out the bathrooms or create a changing area (SNAFU #3). We left the race area and met up with Reid, MB, Shawn, Julie, and JBurg at Ireland's Four Courts in Arlington for some much needed hydration, food, laughs and Redskins football.

It was a good race all around. Everyone seemed happy with their respective races. I think the organizers (Army) will receive a lot of feedback about this race. As everyone has heard, a number of aide stations ran out of water towards the end of the race (SNAFU #4). Running out of water is inexcusable. The weather was not a surprise, we all knew it was going to be hot a week in advance. The organizers should have anticipated the increased demand for water and adapted to the situation. I think the race has gotten a little too big. I hope the organizers review what happened on Sunday and make some changes for the better. Regardless, I'll probably be back next year.