The GW Parkway Classic

The Parkway Classic, is a 10 mile running event, put on by DC’s local running store, Pacers. ¬†It is scheduled in late April, a couple weeks after the famous and very popular, Cherry Blossom 10 miler. It’s timing is perfect, because the Cherry Blossom 10 miler is now a lottery, so those that registered, but then were rejected from Cherry Blossom, can still have the opportunity to run a 10 mile race in the Spring. ¬†Another benefit to running the Parkway Classic is its capacity. The Parkway Classic is only around 4,000 runners compared to Cherry Blossom that is capped at 15,000. ¬†Less runners mean less crowded on the course, and more freedom to run the fast pace you desire, allowing a new PR.

So three weeks after I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I ran the GW Parkway Classic. This is how it all went down.

FROM THE BEGINNING…

The reason why I ended ¬†up running the Parkway Classic is because my sister Emily, my original running buddy, didn’t register for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, but still wanted to participate in a spring race. ¬†Unlike me, who uses Cherry Blossom 10 miler as a yearly tradition, Em, doesn’t find it exciting to run the same races over again. So I registered us both for the Parkway Classic. Although, we have run plenty of 10 milers before, it would be our first time running this particular race. Lina, my coworker and new running buddy, who ran Cherry Blossom with me this year signed up as well. ¬†Cherry Blossom was her first 10 miler and she loved it so much, that she immediately wanted to run another one.

After running Cherry Blossom, I was feeling pretty good. I hadn’t over trained at all, so I wasn’t feeling burned out. But I didn’t under train either. I was consistently running, and it showed.

LET ME EXPLAIN MORE IN DETAIL…

I have been running for five years, and I have run plenty of 10 milers. I am no longer at the level, where I am running, “just to finish.” And while I am writing this, it seems like I am bragging, but I am actually just reminding myself that. I guess it is time to start thinking about timing.

For the last three years, when running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I have always set my goal to run it in under 1:30:00. So three years ago I ran it in 1:29:25. Last year I ran it in 1:29:33. This year I ran it in 1:29:26. As you can see, very consistent. I guess my body is just comfortable with that pace, or maybe it is a mental game and because I put it in my mind that I want to run it in under 1:30:00, thats what I do. I don’t know which one it is, but I do know that I really wanted to set a new PR for the Parkway Classic. Just get me away from 1:29 please.

THE TRAINING…¬†

Now that I reviewed my past times, and mentally prepared for a faster race, it was time to train a little faster. Unfortunately, I got a little sidetracked when I was introduced to the Newton shoe. If you have read previous posts, you should know, that I went to a running form clinic, and bought a pair of the Newtons, and became obsessed.

The Newton shoe is a light weight running shoe, that promotes Natural Running. Well before a race everyone knows it is a big NO NO to switch your shoes, and it is definitely not a good idea to start changing your running form and stride, but I did.  I was thinking, switching to a lighter shoe, will make you faster. Adjusting your running form, will make you faster and help prevent injury. Or it could totally backfire.

The day after the Running Form Clinic was Easter. My sister really wanted to fit in a 7 mile run that day. She hadn’t run longer than 5 miles in a while and she just wanted to have the peace of mind, that she could run a strong 7. But because of the holiday it was difficult to find the time. So we ended up heading out randomly at 3:30- 4 pm.

Here are some factors to keep in mind…

  • I had already had a mid day Easter dinner with my boyfriend and his parents which included a cocktail. So I was very full and dehydrated.
  • The day was sunny and 80 degrees. I hadn’t run in that type of heat in a while.
  • The Friday before I sprinted a 5k. I am not use to sprinting short distances, and hadn’t done a 5k since November.
  • The day before, I had participated in a Running Form Clinic which included running drills, in a light weight, almost minimalist shoe.
  • I also ran this seven miles in my regular traditional running shoes.

So as you can see, I had been doing a lot of different types of running, totally out of my normal routine. So as you can guessed, my seven mile run didn’t go as well as I had liked. I was still happy I ran, but I will admit, I felt very sluggish, and my legs were really sore. I think it was a combination of everything I said above, including the fact that the day before I was testing out a more light weight shoe, and then during my run I was wearing my Brookes, and they felt extremely heavy.

After that training run, I felt a little insecure, maybe I won’t PR, after all, the course is rolling hills the whole way. ¬†So I continued training, consistently running in my new Newton shoes, working on my form, up to the day of the race.

The Wednesday before the race, Lina and I met up for a training run. I was wearing my Newtons. She was jealous, and tired of feeling pain from heal striking so right after our run, we headed to Pacers to get her a pair as well. On the Friday before the race, we met up again for a training run, then headed to Pacers, to pick up our bib numbers for the race. The Saturday before race, I relaxed and grilled steak and veggies for dinner. ¬†I set up my race clothes, updated my Garmin, and charged my iPod. ¬†I didn’t feel nervous, just really excited. I set my alarm for 5:20 am, and fell asleep to the sound of the rain.

RACE DAY…

I am not a morning person, so when my alarm went off, I felt like I had hardly slept. ¬†I even thought, “Ugh, maybe I shouldn’t even run this race.” It was dark, cold, rainy, and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed, but I didn’t. I got dressed in my race clothes. Packed my bag I was going to check, and met Lina out front of my apartment. We headed to the shuttle buses, met my sister on the bus, and headed over to Mount Vernon, the start.¬†

After the horrible Hot Chocolate 15K, that I had to endure and run in December, I was a little worried about getting people to another Race Start that wasn’t metro accessible. But there is a difference between 20,000 runners and 4,000. Anyway, I had total trust in Pacers, and they did not disappoint.¬†When we arrived to the start, it was still cold and rainy, but they provided us with space blankets. I have used them before, after a marathon, but I never remember them doing anything. This time I was very impressed, they actually really trap your body heat and keep you warm. There was also breakfast, coffee, and coconut water. Over all, I¬†thought Pacers did a fabulous job organizing this race. ¬†It is very important to have a well organized race. It makes a difference when a running company, that is made up of runners, organizes a race. They truly know a runners needs and wants.¬†

Soon enough it was time to check my bag and get in line at the start with all the other runners. So around 7:45 am I stripped down to my shorts and tank top. I almost chickened out, and wore my long sleeve running shirt, that is how cold I was, but I shivered and checked it. Then my sister, Lina and I headed to the start.  We lined up with the 9:00- 9:59 corral. It was fine but now looking back maybe we should have stood with the 8:00-8:59 corral. 

The start line was crowded, but it had an amazing energy. We were all cold, just ready to run and  get warm up.  But soon enough the race began, and we were off.

For the first three miles of the race, my legs felt heavy and sore. I wasn’t sure if it was because of my pace or maybe it was because I was in my heavy shoes, rather than my light weight shoes. Whatever it was, it took the first three miles for me to really warm up. When the fourth mile went by, I was feeling good, fast, and strong. It was funny because I was running side by side of my sister, Emily. But then she started to slow down. At points I was ahead of her. I took advantage of most of the all of the water stations. I pulled of to the side at one of the water stations and then saw my sister go by. I finished my water and ran to catch up to her. I thought she had chosen not to take water at that water stop, but it turns out she missed it, not realizing there was a water station. At mile 7, we saw our friend, Adrian. She came to the cheer us on, with a huge sign. Emily went on running ahead, while I pulled to the side to give Lina’s daughter Kadi a hug. Letting her know that Lina wasn’t far behind. A guy actually stopped me saying the hug I gave Kadi was sweet and totally worth the loss of 30 seconds. I totally agree. Although, I am trying to take my running to the next level, and work on getting a little faster. When people come out to see you, they want to have an enjoyable experience too, and it is rude to run passed them. I wasn’t with Lina during the race, but according to the photos it looks like she ran a very fun, controlled race.

There is Lina, looking focused and relaxed.

In the end, I set a new PR of 1:28:05. I finally broke 1:29. I was really happy with this race. I felt strong and fast. I felt like I could have continued to run 3 more miles or more.  So for the month of April I ran 3 races, two 10 milers, and one 5k.

ALL (but 2 of these photos) were taken by Swim Bike Run Photography.  © 2012