I've been wanting to run a race longer than a 5K for a while, so I was very excited for this 8K. Additionally, I've never run a race in downtown DC. This one started at Freedom Plaza and much of it was on Pennsylvania Avenue - running toward and away from the US Capitol Building. It is so awesome to run downtown on streets that are usually teeming with cars and pedestrians on a quiet Sunday morning. I tried to get a photo with the Capitol before the race began, but the sun wasn't cooperating. The Capitol is in the bright spot right next to my head.
I woke up early to attend to Lil Buddy and get ready for the race. He wasn't cooperating and just wanted me to play. Thankfully my parents were coming over to babysit in plenty of time and I was able to scramble around and get ready once they got there. I didn't have time to rethink my clothing/layers based on the weather, so I went with what I thought I would need based on the temperature. Short sleeve technical shirt, capris, and arm warmers. I through on a sweatshirt to wear before and after, but I was prepared for 45-50 degree temps. I was NOT prepared for the wind that I encountered when I went outside. Unfortunately (or fortunately it turns out) I didn't have time to go back inside and reconfigure my outfit, so I just went with it.
When I got out of my car downtown a couple of blocks from the race start I was freezing. The wind was whipping through my clothes and I was very worried about being too cold pre-race. But what choice did I have but to jog the couple of blocks to warm up. When I arrived at Freedom Plaza it waas packed with people decked out in their St. Patricks Day finest. It looked like a green four leaf clover bomb had exploded and landed on everyone...but me. What kind of Irish girl forgets to wear green for a St. Patrick's Day run? This girl. Perhaps I'm starting to take myself entirely too seriously. Perhaps I need to invest in a green googly leprechaun headband?
The cold did not subsist and I had a rather difficult time staying warm and getting loose. I weaved my way into the middle of the crowd and tried to use the body heat to buffer the wind. It worked pretty well and I continued to stretch best I could. I was using my new Pearl Izumi arm warmers for the first time. I have gotten into a bad habit of auditioning new gear at a race. One of these days it is going to backfire, but it wasn't this day. They were the perfect amount of warmth on my arms and as I got hot during the race I was able to peel them down as much or as little as I needed to cool off but stay warm in the wind.
Shortly after 9 the crowd moved forward and we were off. As I said before, it was a real treat to run down the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. It was fun to pass my weekday Metro stop and usual Starbucks but in a totally different context than normal. The cool temps kept me very comfortable. I purposely didn't look at my Garmin to check on my pace. I think that when I know how fast I'm running I get nervous that I won't be able to maintain the pace for the whole distance and I slow down. That is not going to make me faster. So I ran on feel.
Turns out this was a great strategy for me. My goal was to run the 8K (4.0 miles) faster than my 5 mile time from the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. My final time in that race was 1:04:03. On a more detailed scale, I wanted to try to run each mile sub 12 minutes. I'm pleased to say that I came damn close to meeting both goals.
Final time was 57:32 and I was 3324 out of 4041 runners. It is kind of hilarious to me to come in 3324th place. My pace for each mile was 11:05, 11:35, 11:47, 12:06, and 10:39. As long as my last mile is my fastest I'm happy. Mile 4 was the only mile over 12 minutes and it included a water stop. I needed the water, but maybe it took 7 seconds? Haha, either way, I'm really happy with my pace. Each race gets a bit faster. And the race just felt good generally. No aches, no pains, no burnout. Just good, steady running. I'm looking forward to my next one and continued faster progress.