November 18, 2014
This past weekend I ran the .US National 12K in Alexandria, Virginia. “Open to all runners of all abilities, the .US National 12K…. will unite road racers, and local fitness enthusiasts with some of the best athletes USA Track & Field has to offer.”
Image: .US National 12K
I learned about this race last year after seeing signs at my local Pacers running store. Once I read Running with Perseverance’s recap I knew this would be a good race to add to the bucket list (here is Coco’s recap from this year’s race).
Initially I did not have this 12K on my race schedule. New York was two weeks ago, and the Across the Bay 10K was last week. My friend Emily (you may remember her from my Miami recap) was running the 12K and asked if I was interested in it; it did not take much persuading for me to sign up (last week before the second price increase).
Packet pickup was available at the Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria the Friday and Saturday before the race. Emily picked up my bib and shirt for me and said she had no trouble finding parking outside the hotel on a Friday afternoon. She said that the expo area was a bit small and there was US Track and Field merchandise you could purchase. Even though it was simple, I liked the shirt that came with the registration.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
Luckily my post marathon recovery has been going well and several post marathon plans allow for 60-90 minutes of running at the end of the second week.
- A – Finish under 1:25:22 (last weeks time)
- B – Negative split
- C – Have fun and keep it easy – do not race it
Overall my goal was to run the entire time. If I needed walking breaks, that was okay too.
.US National 12K Race Recap
Because my friend Emily picked up my bib I offered to drive us to the start. I picked her up at 6:00am on Sunday morning and it took about 15-20 minutes to get to Alexandria. At that time there was plenty of free parking in the Canal Center Parking Garage. While we waited we ate, drank water, and decided on what to wear. I ended up going with two layers (tech tee under my J&A Team Ambassador long sleeved shirt), tights, gloves, and a headband. Even though it was colder than last week, I opted out of wearing my vest because how warm I quickly got.
Around 7:00am we made our way to the runner’s village in Oronoco Bay Park. Look familiar? There was bag check (I opted out) and plenty of porta potties.
We were treated with beautiful views of the Potomac and caught the end of the sunrise.
Emily’s pre-race shot.
On our way to the start we saw a television crew, neat right?
The 12K is an out and back course that starts on South Union Street in Old Town and takes runners south along the George Washington Parkway. While it is described as a “flat” course there were a few baby hills and a slight slight gradual incline between miles 2 and 4 (the turnaround point).
The Elite Women started at 7:15am followed by the Elite Men, Masters and Open (the regular running folks) at 7:25am. Because of the small size of the race, we just lined up behind the Elites – pretty cool.
Miles 1-3 felt great. How were those baby hills? Ran right up them, I was feeling good. I saw Molly Huddle (2013 and 2014 champion), Sara Hall, and the other elites make their way back (perk of an out and back course). Joan Benoit Samuelson also ran the race (I was bummed I could not spot her). While the Elite Women were spaced apart (Molly had a commanding lead by the time I saw her) the Elite Men ran in a pack. I knew I had to snag the below photo.
The second half of the 12K flew by. I was warming up, so I took off my headband midway through the race. This section of the course was pretty quiet and scenic. The last mile took us back to South Union Street. It is such a tease when you can see the finish line – but you know you have 10-11 minutes before you finish. My final time – a surprising 1:24:03 and negative splits (what a beauty haha). I was happy I reached my “A” goal.
After crossing the finish line I received my medal and directed to the post race food (bagels, bananas, water, Gatorade, etc). My 11:00-12:00/miles put me at the back of the pack – so I was pleased to see food left at the finish line. Here is a post race shot with Emily.
The pretty medal.
- Amazing experience to run alongside (ha well for me… for a nano second…so more of run behind) the Elites.
- 12K is a unique distance – automatic PRs yayy! I’ve been trying to research why a 12K? Anyone know?
- There were three water stops along the course.
- I enjoyed the flat not flat nature of the race – the views were pretty nice. There is not much crowd support – but I do not mind that.
- I liked the small atmosphere of the event.
- There was also a One Mile run and Kid’s Dash (medals were also awarded for those races).
- Well managed and organized.
- The results were posted almost immediately and there are links to photos and a video finish.
- Plenty of parking in the area.
- I think I prefer running with my Timex vs. Garmin (another post on that).
Overall I had a great time and my legs were feeling good (I felt like I could keep on going). Just like the my 10K last week, I would love to come back and race this course next year. Based on this race, I hope to add a few more 10K-10M distances next year.
When is your next run for fun race?
What is the smallest race you have run?