Thursday, May 21, 2009

Race Report: Capitol Hill Classic 10K

Sunday morning we woke up to pouring rain, darkened skies, and the crackling of distant thunder. Not exactly the conditions one would hope for on a race day in May. Undaunted, my friends Kate & Ben and I piled into their Mazda along with Murphy the dog and made the quick trip from Arlington, Virginia to Capitol Hill.

As Kate and I warmed up and looked for the starting line, Ben and Murphy went to park the car and find a spot to cheer. We were beyond happy to find the weather had cleared up and conditions were now perfect for a road race.

About 15 minutes before gun time we queued up in front of the starting line with about 2000 other athletes and I got my Garmin 405 all synched up so I could keep track of our pace. I'd vowed to help Kate get in between 1:00 and 1:05. We were inspired by the promise of a milkshake and Obama burger at "Good Stuff" as a "Very Special Bonus" for making it in under an hour. This would be no mean feat. Kate admits a disdain for running and had not been training for the 10K distance. She had set her previous P.R. of 1:06:30 a mere 6 weeks prior at the "Cooper River Bridge Run" in Charleston, South Carolina. Her goal time would require a 6 minute improvement!
(Kate getting her number at package pick-up on Saturday)
I decided to try to keep our pace a bit under 9:30 and to allow for walk breaks at all the water stations. I knew about "THE HILL" around mile 5 (that would be Capitol Hill, and yes, its a doozy) - so I hoped we'd feel fresh when we arrived there and have a little bit left for a strong finish.
(Kate humours me by posing with her bib, yes that's a smirk)
The race took us through old, established residential neighbourhoods with leafy green canopies, around Robert F. Kennedy Stadium (which did involve a small uphill) and past the Capitol Building (which I paused to photograph).
(Me with my race T-shirt, and past T-shirt designs behind me)
Around mile 4 we got a glimpse of The Hill and were forced to run down it, while avoiding eye contact with the poor souls running up. Their eyes seemed to say "Don't go that way". But we did anyway. We were passed by the two leaders, neck and neck, striding up the street like nobody's business.
(Kate attaches her "D-tag", which replaced the traditional chip at this race, a first for me)
Kate did better than I could have hoped. She easily maintained the pace I set, slowing down when necessary and speeding up when I gave her the go ahead. Not until about 3/4 of the way up The Hill did I notice any sort of fatigue set in, and even then Kate dug deep and kept on running.
(Apparently there's no martini drinking allowed in DC parks)
About 500m from the finish I gently suggested we speed up as much as possible and Kate mumbled something like "I can't do this", thinking only I could hear her. But the lady in front of us half turned around at that and yelled "YES you can". Something about that phrase seemed fitting considering our location. And moments later our spirits were buoyed with the sight and sound of Ben cheering and, as it turned out later, fumbling with the camera to get a GREAT shot of us both smiling and giving the "Thumbs up". We only found out later there were no batteries in the camera.
(Runners waiting for the starting gun)
Moments later we crossed the line together with a chip time of 1:00:33. Kate started to feel better after taking a gel and eventually the feeling in her extremities came back.
(Well deserved post-race nosh, that's the Obama burger BTW)
I would highly recommend this race and would love to do it again in the future. I found it well organized and the participants were enthusiastic and friendly. For the most part it's a fast course with lots of gentle downhills.

(Me and Chef Spike at the "Good Stuff Eatery")

My only complaints are that the race course might have been a bit long (according to my Garmin we were finished about 300 m before the finish line) AND the event photographer failed to catch us. Be sure to treat yourself at the "Good Stuff Eatery" afterwards. It's worth the effort.


Kristin said...

Looks fun! I love DC, one of my best friends lives there and I love running there!

Also will be running my next marathon there in October!

Adam said...

Good job Nicole...looks like you two had a great time.....keep smiling...


yumke said...

Great race and nice pictures! I have to find that burger joint next time i'm in DC.

kara said...

I like the shirt!
I've never used the reward technique to finish a race faster : )

triitagain said...

How fun to race with a friend! Enjoyed hearing about Team.2 on Runner's Round Table. Keep up the great training.


I Run for Fun said...

Great race! LOL...the Yes you can comment does sounds very appropriate!

John at Hella Sound said...

Spike! Yeah! (Although to be honest, he wasn't my favorite Top Chef that season...)