My heart goes out to the family of the runner who died in D.C.--25-year-old Michael Banner, according to the Washington Post [LINK UPDATED]. Cause of death: UNKNOWN at the moment. Please take a moment to hold this family in your thoughts and prayers, if you are a praying person.
Thank you for all of your comments. That's all I'll say about the comments, except that I think Peter (who ended up competing in a 26.2 miles "fun run" in Chicago) provided the last word with this thoughtful perspective:
A tragedy, any way you look at it. No runner dies b/c he (she) is "out of shape", he dies b/c events overwhelm his situation (Jim Fixx died after a run due to a congential heart condition). In Chicago a 35 y.o police officer died b/c of the confluence of circumstances, and we all mourn. And running, ultimately, makes all of us continuing participants better (lifestyle hoices) and we have the choice to continue or to retire (no shame in that!). Friends are looking out for us, who can't say that! That's what running can be about for other than the self-posessed, friendship. I have never run a race where there was not an very high high level of care, concern and dedication put out by 99.9% of the administrators. Occasionally bad things happen, as it does in all of life.Friends ARE looking out for us, and that's a very special thing.
So here is my race recap.
Army Ten-Miler, 2007: 2:02:41 .
Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler, 2006: 1:57
I decided not to bring the water belt because I thought there would be water every two miles. This was not a smart decision, given the weather that day. I know better than to put my well-being entirely in someone else's hands. There are always things that can happen that are out of our control. Hopefully, I won't make that mistake again.
I missed meeting up with Old School Runner because everything (bag drop, portapotties, starting line) was miles away from everything else. The Pentagon is a lot bigger than it looks on a map. Next time, OSR! Meanwhile, go read his race report.
Things I liked about this race: They had very cool skydivers beforehand, including several from Canada (see Mark? We LIKE Canadians!). And the volunteers did their very best, as race volunteers always do.
D.C. spectators are the BEST. EVER. The course was LINED with cheering folks, kids who high-fived you, and terrific signs. There were marching bands and jazz bands sprinkled throughout. They were all terrific.
Here's how it went down.
Mile 1: 11:24
Mile 2: 11:17 (first water stop)
Mile 3: 11:33
Mile 4: 11:22 (second water stop, only? no water.)
Mile 5: 11:57
Mile 6: 11:29 (third water stop. no water!)
Mile 6.5: Someone spots a double spigot waterfall-fountain-type thing in front of the U.S. Capitol building, with a long line in front of it. I was afraid to wait 'til mile 8 to find out NO WATER there either, so I found a crumpled cup on the ground, and got in line, then scooped up water from the sink the spigots ran into (you know, the place the PIGEONS get their water from), then handed my cup to the next person...I could feel the PR slipping away...and on Sunday, that seemed to matter. Not so much now.
Mile 7: No idea.
Mile 8: Ditto. Here, there was water as advertised (but apparently not for the folks behind me). Between mile 7 and 8 I saw people leave the course and buy water from street vendors. Between miles 7 & 8 I begged a few spectators for something to drink, and one dear person gave me a 1/2 full bottle of water. D.C. spectators rock!
Mile 8 begins the climb up the 14th street bridge—that miserable bridge that I hate with every fiber of my being. I was about 1 hour 35 minutes in at mile 8. I figured if I could just run 12-min miles I'd be OK.
But alas, my brain turned on me. I had been reciting Tammy's mantra: I AM AN ATHLETE! I AM A RUNNER! and then poof, I was all about the pity party. "No chance for a PR, why bother? I hate this bridge and everyone on it. Could someone PLEASE turn off that SUN?!?!" So I walked. I ran some, but I walked.
Miles 7, 8, 9: 38:55 Mile 9 we were still on the bridge. Probably around 9.5 the course descends the off ramp and you turn a corner and bring it on home.
Mile 10: 13:15
Except, after you cross the mat, it feels like another mile to find water. There's no shade in the Pentagon parking lot. I wandered around trying to find the exit (the exits are monitored, so you can't just come and go). It took me 45 minutes to escape.
I finally found my friends, who had been patiently waiting outside the gates (they finished around 1:20 something—and hung around in the heat, waiting for me. Thanks guys!). But these girls were not happy either. The heat got to everyone.
Things I didn't like about this race: It has a lot of long, endless, never-ending straightaways past scenic federal buildings (not) in which they make the rules that strangle American entrepreneurial...nevermind! Maybe I'm just jaded because I live here, but I don't really think so. I still get choked up when passing monuments. I got choked up when the marching band played "It's a Grand Old Flag" (the song I couldn't get out of my head for the next few miles). The route could have just as easily gone down the National Mall, which is green and pretty. But loads of people disagree with me and like the route just as it is. And since I've never been a race director, what do I know?
So my final ruling? I did my best, I was disappointed, Marines Beat Army, and this is not my favorite race.