Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Army Ten Miler 2015

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Me, Lisa, Kristin, Amanda, Tess, Erin, and Lauren

We had quite a turn out for my 9th consecutive (8 on the books), Army Ten Miler! The ATM in 2007 was my very first race over a 5k distance (and I had only done two of those before!). I went to the expo with Diana, picked up my mom's bib, showed up for the race, and ran with no training. I could barely walk for the next two days, but I was hooked and determined to run the following year and ROCK it, and I did!


The Army sure knows how to throw a race! One of my favorite things about this race is seeing all the military teams from all the bases that come to compete. It really is an Army event that they let civilians participate in!

The Good: Organization, inspiration, and spirit! This race does all of this so well! The Expo is so well organized that it's super easy to get your bibs and t-shirts! They didn't even have a limit on how many bibs you could get, so I ended up picking up 8 in total!! I know people rag on the armed services, but man does the Army put on a good race! And 10 miles is the BEST race distance there is! It's long enough to be a huge accomplishment, but it doesn't take all day. My absolute favorite part of the ATM is the DJ that comes to the expo and is at the finish area.
The Bad: The only bad thing about this race is how crowded and congested the course gets. They do use a wave start, but the waves are so large that the crowd doesn't really thin out. Its much easier if you are running with your same pace, like I have in years past, but this year was tough because we were trying to do around 9:30s and had to weave through the crowd to maintain, even though we were lined up in that pace group. Its possible that they need to go to a provable time system, not an honor system, for waves.
The Ugly: Gatorade. What do I mean? Well, they had PLENTY of water (yay! They ran out of water in 2009 and I have been telling everyone slower than 10 minute miles to carry their own water in the ATM every since), but they only had 2 table of gatorade and they weren't well marked, at each stop. That's not a huge deal, but I missed them. But they also RAN OUT of gatorade later in the race. But, for an ugly, that's a pretty okay one to have.

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After rocking my 20 miler, I wanted to take it easy for the ATM. Usually I race the ATM hard, but with the up and down marathon training season that I have been having, I just didn't want to push anything. It's really been a roller-coaster of feeling invincible and feeling unable to ever run easily again. At this point, I had also decided to try to pace a group to a 4:20 marathon, so practicing an easy 9:30 pace was the plan for the ATM.

We, me, Kristin, Lauren, Amanda, Erin, Tess, and Lisa, all lined up together at the back of the blue wave, right about where a 9:45-9:30 pace should be. Kristin, Amanda, and Tess all stayed together for the most part, while Lauren, Erin, and I ran together.

I paced Erin and Lauren at an easy run speed, running a bit more than usual, and pacing around 9:40 at the start of the race. We did a lot of course based running - running down hills and through flat sections, and taking walks during natural slow downs, like congested areas and up hills. I go back and forth on taking walk breaks from the beginning or starting them a mile into the race. I am leaning towards working on a longer run interval, and hopefully a faster per/mile average as I work on my training for the spring season!

We ran into Cecily at the start of the race and again about 3 miles in. She was running with a friend of hers, but it wasn't going well for him, so we passed them around that point. It stayed congested on the course in a way that was unexpected to me. I had to constantly check behind to make sure that Lauren and Erin were with me. I am sure that it's been as congested in years past, but running alone, I just focused on my intervals and my tangents. It was very different to focus on a group.

Around mile 5 we switched from 90:30 intervals with a lot of course based running to 60:30 intervals with a push every other run. But it was nearly impossible to do the pushed with the crowd along independence. We did, however, run into Cecily again around mile 8 and she ended up finishing the race with us.

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I still love the Army Ten Miler, and while it was fun to run with the girls, I think next year I'll run it as my own race again. 10 miles just seems to be my perfect distance and with the crowd, I think it's just easier to focus on your own race.

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