Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Parkway Classic 10 Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Last Sunday I ran my 8th 10-mile race and my 5th race of 2017: the George Washington Parkway Classic. It was my first time running this race and I was really excited to try something new. I’m happy to say that I had a successful race, but it wasn’t easily earned! Keep reading as I share my recap with you!So happy to share my recap of the @runpacers #parkwayclassic 10 miler! #bibravepro Click To Tweet
It’s always fun to have a race where you don’t feel the pressure of it being your big goal. As you may know, I’ve been steadily training for the Buffalo Half Marathon in May. When I got the opportunity to participate in the Parkway Classic as a BibRave Pro this year, I thought it would be a great training run along the way, especially since it’s a hillier course. It’s a similar strategy that I used last year – the King of Prussia 10 Miler was in preparation for the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon in 2016.
Since the race was on Sunday, I decided to head down to Maryland on Saturday morning to meet with my sister. We had lunch at BurgerFi and hung out a bit before I drove another hour to Alexandria to get my bib and to stay with my brother. It was raining ALL DAY and I thought we were going to have rain for the race, but we lucked out with no rain in the forecast!
I drove to Pacers Running Store in downtown Alexandria to pick up my bib. It was all very straightforward, quick and easy. Unfortunately, I didn’t get there until after 5 pm and the store closed at 6, meaning that all of the discounts offered in the store were moot because most of the merchandise left was either too big, too small, or still too expensive. But do I really need more running clothes?
After going to bib pickup I decided to go to the Sugar Shack (as promised) to get a half dozen donuts. I get it was the end of the day, but the customer service I received left much to be desired. I got a few random flavors, but unfortunately, some of the more popular ones (that feature bacon, for example) were already sold out. I didn’t eat a donut that night for obvious reasons, but my brother enjoyed the apple donut and didn’t even offer a bite, haha! We hung out at his place and talked about race logistics. Fortunately, he would be able to drop me off at the start instead of taking a bus, so we went for a drive to figure out the route in advance, which was a great idea. We ended up getting lost trying to follow the directions provided in the Race Guide since they were pretty vague, but we eventually figured out where I needed to go. Once that was settled, I picked up dinner from Noodles & Company – very simple penne dish. Once I had dinner and laid on the couch, I was exhausted!
The race started at 8 and we decided we would leave at about 6:45. I set my alarm for 5 or 5:30 am. I raided the kitchen and had a bowl of Apple Jacks for breakfast. I was feeling pretty good though I knew I needed to have my morning ritual, lol. I was undecided of whether I should wear a long-sleeved shirt under my BibRave singlet since it was probably in the upper 40’s that morning, but I know how warm I get while running and made the right move to just wear the singlet. It was probably closer to 7:00 when we left and the drive to Mt. Vernon only took about 15 minutes! When we got there I was overwhelmed by seeing so many people. Unfortunately, I never got to see Coco. I didn’t realize this race was so big and the layout was a little bit confusing. I went to find a potty as soon as possible and thankfully the lines weren’t too bad (people always crowd up the ones that are closest – protip – keep looking and you’ll find shorter lines!). Dropping off my bag with bag check was also easy.
There was an announcer saying various things all morning but I thought he was really obnoxious and kind of rude. What happened to Southern Hospitality? There were heat sheets, coffee, and maybe some fruit available for runners. I didn’t grab any food but I did get a heat sheet! After a warmup and brief jog around the Mt. Vernon grounds (still wearing my heat sheet), I headed over to the starting line. There were signs for each pace ranging from sub-6-minute to 13-minute and up. I figured I’d line up with the 9:30-10 minute group. I’m so used to having to wait a long until my wave goes, but for this race…it was really fast. I was still adjusting my music when I realized that people were moving – and we were off, just like that! I think I crossed the start line at 8:01!
The first mile is downhill and it would have been all too easy to start out too fast. It felt a little bit crowded at the beginning, but for the most part, I had plenty of space. I saw so many runners wearing heavy layers – I don’t know how they do it. Within the first mile, I was already very warm and the humidity came along for the ride. Following Coach Laura’s race strategy for me, I felt that I was doing a pretty good job maintaining a consistent pace and running “comfortably hard”. There was a series of long, rolling hills a majority of the course that was actually pretty comforting since you always knew one was coming. The view along the Parkway was beautiful and a great distraction because my knees were hurting pretty badly from the pavement! I even enjoyed watching a few helicopters and airplanes in the sky. One thing for sure – it was nice to not have to bob and weave around city streets like the races I’m used to running!
One problem I was having though was my hair – I have tight curls and was wearing my hair loose in a ponytail. Unfortunately, sometimes I have problems with it getting tangled in my Orange Mud water bottle. Several times during the race I had to adjust and readjust, which was really awkward!
Splits: 9:58, 9:37, 9:46, 9:36, 9:31.
The middle of the race was the toughest part for me. I really didn’t know if I could hold on to pace, and then run beyond that limit for the last few miles. But it was very helpful to have so many runners around me that were at my pace and helped keep me honest. It was another nice distraction. After mile 5, we got a really, really long downhill. It was amazing! And when things flattened out, my body for the first time felt GOOD and I was in the zone. If only I had that feeling a little bit longer! My feet hurt from hitting the pavement, I had a brief side stitch that I thankfully conquered, and my right calf was “trying” to talk me out of this race but I was glad to shut it up. My fueling was the same as always, about every 3 miles, but I definitely felt dehydrated. I knew I was making my body work hard.
When I finally got to mile 7 I was VERY nervous. I started picking up the pace and I honestly had no idea how I could give a hard effort so late in the game! I wasn’t necessarily tired but I felt beat up! Somehow I was able to find some juice though and we finally entered civilization – downtown Alexandria. And of course, there were still a couple of hills to go! I could see the finish up ahead but it was still so far! About 0.5 miles away, I saw my sister cheer me on but I had my super intense face on as I pumped my fist in acknowledgment. I pushed as hard as I could because I knew I was THISCLOSE to a PR (it’s nice when your mile markers are actually accurate!) and then it was over!
Splits: 9:13, 9:26, 9:07, 8:54, 8:25.
It took a little bit of time to get the official results, but I can now say that I finished the race in 1:33:49 – my new PR! Due to the confusion at the start of the race, my Nike+ watch had 10.06 miles in 1:33:57. I’ve earned a new PR and I couldn’t be more proud! I was hopeful that it would happen, but you just never know with the unpredictability of a race!
After the race, I got an official photo (they also took one with my phone which I thought was really nice!) and connected with my siblings. They congratulated me and we took some pictures before I grabbed my bag with my (inconspicuous) BibRave hoodie and headed to the beer tent. I was able to meet and chat with Tedrick and Brenda, my fellow BibRave Pros – I guess wearing orange is a good idea since you’re easy to spot in a crowd! They both ran races the day before the Parkway Classic…I don’t know how they did it!
Once I got in the beer tent I met up with Jo, my mentor, and her husband Ray, who happens to be my senior VP. We chatted for a good while and they both had pretty good races. I encouraged them to sign up so I’m glad they liked the race, especially considering those rolling hills! I got the opportunity to introduce them to my brother and sister, though due to brain fog, I don’t think I made it clear to my siblings exactly who they were meeting so I had to explain later!
Soon we said our goodbyes and to celebrate, my bro, sis, and I went to brunch at Mason Social in Alexandria. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to know a race was happening that day and were wholly unprepared to serve anyone. Service was slow, tables around us were piled with partially empty dishes and glasses, and in the meantime, I was starving! We all ended up getting French toast and I’m sorry, but it was awful. I did get a cocktail that was very good, but it didn’t make up for the lackluster meal. No pictures of my post-race feast this time! Our server was apologetic but I’m guessing it’s more of a place for happy hour than a quality meal.
Before I knew it I was heading back on the road and driving to Philadelphia. By 6 pm, after dealing with crazy traffic and a desperate hunt for a gas station in the boonies, I was finally home and ready to crash!
The Parkway Classic is a great race and apparently a hidden gem in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area – a lot of people I know have never heard of the race, but there were thousands(?) in attendance. I’m glad that I got the experience to run it and we were lucky to have great running weather! While I might not be back for a while, this is definitely a race I would consider doing again! I highly recommend checking it out!
Thank you to BibRave for giving me the opportunity to promote and represent the brand at this race! It was my first experience and I had a wonderful time. I’m so glad I got to meet Brenda and Tedrick and I look forward to meeting more of my fellow BibRave Pros since I have SEVERAL more BibRave races to go in 2017!
Next, I have to thank my wonderful brother and sister who were both there for me. While my brother somehow missed me heading to the finish, I really appreciate that he could be there for me because he’s always so busy. And he always gives me a place to stay which I am so thankful for! It’s always great when the three of us can be together in the same place. We had some good laughs at that restaurant! It doesn’t happen as often as I like, but I’m glad they were able to hang around even though I probably took too long in the beer tent socializing!
I appreciate everyone’s well wishes on Instagram, Facebook, everywhere! This has been a wonderful racing season so far. I can’t believe that I’ve been able to make these leaps in my progress and I have to thank the wonderful coaching of Laura for that! I’ve often felt burnt out while training and it just hasn’t been the case for me this year. I’m feeling strong and I know I have more to give!
Now, I’m finally getting a “break” from racing until the Buffalo Half Marathon at the end of the May – I really look forward to having my normal weekends back, even if they usually start out with a long run! The hard work is paying off and I’m so grateful!
How has your spring racing been going? What do you have coming up next?