May 10, another Sunday, another half marathon. This time it was the Pacers Running Festival in Arlington. It was a challenging race on a lot of concrete, highlighted by a friend who brought a half dozen donuts and ate them during the race. I don't think I've ever eaten six donuts in my life but I'm not tough like my friend is. In a nutshell, the downhill at the start rocked, running up an incline towards Crystal City twice would have been okay if not for the crosswinds....and the hill to the Air Force Memorial around Mile 8 was a bitch. All things considered, a 1:43:38 time made me quite happy.
The following Sunday I paid my first ever visit to Fredericksburg for the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon. Nice little Old Town District, Basil's Bistro is a great little restaurant on Caroline Street with wonderful service. The race is great too. But, note to Jeff, don't pull onto I-95 for the drive in at 6:15, leave earlier so you don't get stuck in traffic and give yourself not enough time for a proper warmup.
The limited warmup and not having enough time to scope out the expected time corrals contributed to me starting in the 2:30-2:45 corral when I expected to finish around 1:45 or so. I get internally competitive so I spent the first mile or two bobbing in and out of lines to break free of the pack and into a solid, (at least at the beginning sub-8 minute miles) pace. I got under 8s around mile 4 for a bit, which made me happy even though I knew my final pace would be more than 8 per mile.
What I didn't anticipate was jamming my left knee and hip just around the time a good sized rain shower hit while I was near mile 8. That turned evern running on flat ground a challenge. The hill on the backside of the Mary Washington Hospital Grounds later on? For a bit I didn't think I was going to make it. That hill left like a lot more than 250 feet or so that the course measured it as. By the time I reached the top, an 8 minute final pace of 1:44:48 was a pipe dream.
I did suck it up and finish strong, arriving in 1:46:03. Considering my leg was messed up for 5 plus miles, and I started in the wrong corral, this was my second most pleasing half marathon out of the six I've finished so far. It was great to see all the Marines and other military members on the course and handing out the finishing medals. A big thank you goes out to them for sure.
The jammed leg almost sent me to the DL, but luckily three nights in a row of icing it kept me off of it. Even after stretching enough and a session in the hot tub at Gold's Gym, I could barely walk when I got to the Alexandria Gold's to pick up my Diet to Go food after an hour drive. I felt like there was a 40 pound set of pliers pinching and pulling the side of my knee. The desk attendant asked me if I was okay. I was able to get home and do very little the rest of the day. Ice at night, DL trip averted. For at least 8 days until Mount Washington. That's my next entry.