Where were we? Ah yes, the Mall. V and I were feeling pretty good but decided to reserve some energy for that silly bridge. We passed a Sport Bean station on the way so I grabbed a pack. Seemed appropriate since I really hadn't consumed anything since random pretzels near the Lincoln.
Normally I think Sport Beans are gross - way too strong of a taste and I think they even taste a little mediciney. However, at this point in the run, they were the best thing EVER. Just the sweetness I needed. I ate them slowly as we ran and felt a second wind coming on!
V and I agreed to pick up the pace a bit once we hit the Castle and we could see the rest of the pack making their turn onto 14th Street...uh oh, here we go!
As usual the gradual hills of the bridge (I think there are 3 inclines over the 2 miles) slowed us down. I think this was when our estimated finish went from 4:54 to 4:56 to 5:03. This was also when I accidentally hit stop on my watch. Oopsie. Good thing I knew we were 9 minutes off the gun time :)
I got another burst of energy just as we said bye to the bridge and entered Crystal City...which was promptly squashed. Why? Um, my foot got stuck to the street at the water stop and I almost fell over! Wtf?!? Spilled Powerade makes the streets sticky! Lots of spilled Powerade makes it extra sticky! Gah! Knee felt weird after that and I tried to shake it off. V and I wound our way through Crystal City looking for our cheering section and passed a bunch of people handing out beers - um, not feeling it at mile 22, thanks.
Crystal City was PACKED with spectators and random flags on both sides of the street.
We ran past Jamie & company at mile 22ish and 23ish and realized we were approaching the home stretch! Only a little over 3 miles left! By the way, no one said it would be a lonely 3 miles! Columbia Pike to 110 felt like the longest run ever!
We ran through the Pentagon parking lot and then had to loop around onto 110, back where we started. MJ was blasting from the speakers (you bet I got a bounce in my stride as Thriller played. psh) when we hit mile 25 and V was getting ready to start her big push for the finish line. I on the other hand, was just starting to feel a not so cool pang inside my left ankle. I knew we still had that monster hill to tackle so I held back a bit - no jogging it in!
Dear monster hill to Iwo Jima, I hate you. You were terribly steep and painful when I ran up you during the 2006 10k and didn't know the finish line was still a bit further. How dare you challenge my 26 mile-tired legs!
I charged up the hill and was almost out of breath at the top, but found enough energy to sprint to the finish, though my sprint must have resembled marching...hi jelly legs.
Final time - 5:10. One minute faster than Chicago. With hills. With an injury. With 4 weeks off. I'll take it!
So I'll aim for under 5 again next year...maybe I'll tackle the streets of Chicago once more, or maybe I'll explore a new city. Any suggestions?
I learned a few new things this time around:
- Next year I'm upping my longest run to 22 miles.
- Cross training is my friend, not the enemy.
- Running with a friend makes everything more fun.
- Having cheerleaders means no bag check ;)
- If I can PR with hills 'taking it easy', I know I can dip below 5 hours.
- I'm allergic to temporary tattoo sticker sheets.
- Tattoo stickers do not hold up with sweat.
- I actually like sport beans late in a run.