Yesterday was the expo and since this is one of the largest races on the East Coast it is a big expo. I still think Baltimore has a better expo. We went mid-day and they had all kinds of Army stuff outside. There were Army horses, helicopter for kids to sit in, practice guns for kids to play with, yup grab them early, a real family affair. Military recruiting feelings aside it was cool stuff to look at. Since this event is organized by the Army it is well organized. The expo was nice, nothing standout outside of the Army stuff outside the building.
Despite feeling craptastic all week I was determined to try and have a good run. We met up with Mo and another friend. Mo was still in good shape from her marathon so she went in the faster waves. We decided to start with the 10min pace group. It seemed like a good spot as we could always speed up or fall back. The pacer, named Jeff, had a little sign so that helped me have something to focus on for speeding up or slowing down. This was my first try at staying with a pace group. The first four miles were good and we were right on our mark. Being that this race is ginormous, staying with the pacer guy was actually tricky. One second you are right behind, then you blink and he's 25yds ahead (yes 25yds like a pool, that is how I view distances). The first water stop was at mile 2. This time I brought water with me, attempting to learn from last week and have it at the ready, so I ran until they called out Gatorade. I drank and walked then it was time to play catch up with Jeff because he ran right through the water stop...grrrr.....We evenutally did catch back up and things were good until mile 4 water stop. Again I ran waiting for the Gatorade station but it wasn't there! Ack! I just lost my walk break! So I slowed to walk and drink some of my water but the pacer just kept on going, I had slowed to find the Gatorade and slowed to walk and well now I just wasn't going to catch Jeff. My hubby saw I was walking and I explained why. I asked that this time he please leave me so I could enjoy my last race of the season and not feel guilty about wanting to walk. Success! He left and now I could focus on just me and practice pushing those negative thoughts away and try to enjoy my last race of the season. I used my water to try and prevent my mouth from getting too dry and hope that would help maintain my energy with tiny sips so I wouldn't get cramp. It sort of worked I suppose. I still walked through the rest stops and drank my gatorade. The fabulous part about an Army planned event is there is plenty of water and gatorade to go around! The rest stops are long! I tried to enjoy the nice day. In the last couple of miles I saw several leg amputee soldiers running. That was awesome! They looked like they were working so hard and they were just awesome to watch. They each had a little gang of folks running with them, supporters I would imagine and friends making sure they didn't trip and people got out of their way I would guess. I really kind of wanted to join one of their groups, it would be at a slower pace but would have given more meaning to the run. I was afraid it would be viewed as too creepy so I trudged along. I like the finish to the race you go swirling down an exit ramp then straight on to the finish. At the end there were snacks and plenty of water and a finisher coin instead of the medal. Very well organized. Jeff met me at the end instead of our meet up point with the other two. We walked through the Hoorah tent area where the various Army forts from around the US each had a tent for their runners and really anyone that wanted to join! They were just handing out food. It was really nice! There were live Army bands and all. What a great finish environment of camaraderie. We met up with our friends. Mo had stayed with her fast pace group and our other friend was able to stay with Jeff the pacer.
Next we headed to Chop't. This is my absolute favorite salad place ever! Basically they have a bunch of vegetables and you tell them what you want in your salad then they use a mezzaluna and chop it into similarly sized pieces. They have their own homemade dressings that are delicious as well. They also have a menu of preselected toppings if you wanted that. Additionally their soda is made from sugar as opposed to HFCL so it is better for you and delicious too.
So my take on the pace group thing. I love the concept and I think had it not been so crowded it would have been easier to follow pacer Jeff. Many times the road narrowed and we ended up way behind him and had to play catch up. I would have liked if he had walked through the water. Some pacers walk through the water some run through. It was a bit stressful when he got ahead, I wasn't sure if I was gonna catch up after mile 2 but felt good when I did. I definitely want to use this in future races. I need to learn how to run at a consistent pace in general. Not quite sure how to go about doing that. Anyone have any ideas?
And so another race season closes. Next post will focus on the lessons learned from this year, celebrations, and previewing 2011.