September 22, 2012

Race Report: Clarendon Day Double (5k & 10K)

One morning. Two races. Three drink tickets.

Another great Pacers event this morning, well run and with a lot of fellow Pacers Ambassadors on hand to celebrate a nice morning with a couple races. The starting line had an incredibly friendly team of volunteers and Ambassadors; check-in was easy, the bag drop was easy, and the portajohns were plentiful and clean. The shirt wasn't really my color, but it's all good because the bib came with three drink tickets. The Clarendon Day festivities included a 5k at 8:20 and a 10k at 9:00, leaving brave runners enough time to race them both; since neither race was a loop course, running both races also required you to jog 1.4 miles back to the 10k starting line and it was almost all uphill.

In a year full of firsts (two races in a weekend, 4 races in 8 days), I figured why not add another first: a double feature with back-to-back races. And since I replaced a marathon pace run last weekend with the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, I figured I may as well replace a pace run this weekend with the combined mileage of a 5k/10k double. It was good to push it hard today, making tomorrow's 20-miler a real test before a lighter recovery week. Although just like last weekend when I got bored and couldn't stay on marathon pace, I let the feet go a bit again today.

The Course

The 5k course started in Clarendon and headed down Wilson Boulevard, with the first 1.5 miles almost completely downhill into Rosslyn. In Rosslyn the course turned right and headed along Jefferson Davis Highway until the turnaround, coming back and ending in Rosslyn.

The 10k course had the same starting line and same general layout, it just continued an additional couple miles up Jefferson Davis Highway and along Arlington National Cemetery. The 10k turnaround was just past the Pentagon at the I-395 overpass.

The highway was familiar territory from the Army Ten Miler and Marine Corps Marathon courses, and I have to admit I had visions of next month's marathon dancing in my head...imagining how good it's going to be to see the exit sign to the Marine Corps Memorial come October.

Race Day

Even though I told myself to run both races around marathon goal pace, I figured the downhill and the course would dictate a little faster effort. So I decided to run the 5k at10k pace and the 10k at half marathon pace. As expected, the initial downhill carried the 5k away pretty quickly, and the right turn onto the highway was there before we knew it. The highway's concrete slabs were definitely jarring on the bones and muscles, but I settled into a decent pace and knocked it out without much difficulty. As soon as I hit the finish line in Rosslyn, I grabbed a water bottle and turned around to head back up Wilson Boulevard to the start of the 10k. I slowly jogged the 1.4 miles back, maintaining a steady effort and a decent cadence to keep the muscles firing. Managed to get back to the starting line with some time to spare, so I kept jogging around the area to avoid cold muscles.

The 10k went off right on time, and once again I was bombing down the hill with a pack of runners. Once again turning onto the highway and heading towards the Pentagon, I started to take in a bit of the scenery and looked over Arlington Cemetery, always an inspiration when running along the eastern edge. The last few miles clicked off with a nice pace, but I was definitely beginning to feel the 'race-jog-race' schedule of the morning. Crossed the finish line (for a second time), and this time I was able to enjoy the water, food, and coconut water.

Actually, the morning weather was so nice, I walked the 1.4 miles back up Wilson to the starting line to retrieve my bag. Give me the outdoors any day over a packed Metro car.

The Verdict

It was a fun race series and a challenge to run back-to-back races. The Pacers team and logistics continue to be the best in the business; the races were well run, the volunteers were great, and the best benefit of Pacers events continues to be Swim Bike Run photography being on hand to take fantastic pictures. Their photos are available for free on their website, with options to purchase as well for a decent price. Photos of their quality is an amazing amenity to receive and share for free.

Add this one to your schedule. And do the double!

Two fingers in the air for the double!