Monday, October 08, 2007

Sometimes, Things Just Don't Go Your Way

And you just have to suck it up—because it can always be worse.

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

The End!

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.


LBTEPA said...

You had a crack at it, it was a rotten day and you finished. Good. There's a run here I'm never doing again for similar reasons (hot/horrid course/not enough water). It does leave a bad taste in your mouth when you've been looking forward to it :(

I couldn't bring myself to join in the comment storm on the last post; I've had experience lately of how judgemental SOME skinny fast people are.
take care darl

21stCenturyMom said...

And here I've been calling it the Marine 10 miles. It did seem odd that they would have 2 races so close together.

Bad weather.... bad planning by the race directores.

You finished. That's good! And your time wasn't all that far off your PR so double good!

peter said...

OMG, begging water from spectators! What unreal conditions. You finished only a couple of minutes off your PR, that's a real accomplishment on a day like that. Next time, forget the water belt, bring a fare card instead (Blue Line--Pentagon to Smithsonian--then a jaunt over the bridge). Kidding! Way to go on a tough day.

Thomas said...

Begging water from spectators is definitely a bad sign - I'm glad you came through unscathed. A PR was always out of the question under those conditions.

David H. said...

key thing is you finished - alive - and you were very smart about it. There will be other races, hopefully cooler, with more water.

Phoenix said...

You did it. And you didn't die. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog- just came upon it a few days ago and now I'm obsessed running blogs! :)

I'm running my first 1/2 marathon in Columbus Oh in 2 weeks and must admit that I'm glad I've been training with a hydration belt. Yikes! So glad that you were able to get through the 10 miler- you go girl!

It truly amazes me that with the technology to put man on the moon that we haven't figured out the concept of "hot sweaty runners = need lots of water".


Vickie said...

Our local news reporting on the death of the runner at your race called it the "Army 10 Miller." Just shows what they don't know. As for the PR, I think finishing the race still standing was PR enough for that race on that day under those conditions. It would have been a hard physical battle, let alone mental, but you finished! Next time things will go better I'd bet. I, however, chose to sit at the beach rather than run or bike with the club, so you're a better person than me!

Running Jayhawk said...

I hear ya on the begging spectators for water.

Glad you're doing well after that heat!

Bex said...

You did very well despite the very hot and humid weather. So pat yourself on the back! And I can see that you're in better shape now than when you ran Cherry Blossom - b/c if you weren't, you'd have run even slower, given the weather. Hey - I may be out your way soon.

Rae said...

Great job, and esp considering the circumstances!!! Spectators are the best!!!

Just12Finish said...

I'm glad you're still in one piece.

David said...

I sure hope the Army wasn't responsible for the logistics. I will be embarrassed.

Nobody said it would be easy. You made it. Hoo-rah.

WannaBe5Ker said...

WAY TO GO ON THE TEN MILER!!! Yes, I'm yelling! Woo hoo!!!!! Who would ever have thought that a huge race like the Army 10 miler or the Chicago Marathon could actually run out of water?!?!? You are seriously making me think about carrying some sort of fluid, somehow...

WTG, girl!

Anonymous said...

Michael Banner was a brother to me, as my sister is married to Mikes older brother.
On behalf of the Family I would like to thank you for taking a moment for Michael and the family. This is a very hard time for all of us, as Mike was only age.
Again I would like to say thank you for your compassion, and heartfelt thoughts.

peter said...

Michael Banner has been invariably described as a good and decent man. He was out participating with others, doing his best, as seemed to be his wont. We all mourn his passing and extend our condolences to those who will miss him even more than the running community will.