GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler Race Recap

April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014

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Image: Pacers

This past weekend was the 30th Annual George Washington Parkway 10 Miler.  It is smaller than the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (approximately 5K), and often overshadowed by the former.  After running the Wilson Half in November (it shares a similar course for the first 9 miles) and having never run this traditional “DC” race , I knew I wanted to tack on this 10 miler to my spring schedule. 

Packet Pickup / Expo

Like other Pacer’s managed events, you could pick up your bib and t-shirt at one of their stores.  They gave runners about a week to do so (up to the weekend of the race – in which pickup was at their Alexandria store). I thought the logo on the technical tee and bib were really cute. 

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Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

After an amazing Cherry Blossom 10 Miler last week, I had ambitious goals for the Classic.  This course is also net downhill, which means it can be fast. Please note net is important – it is not a flat course (gentle rolling hills).  

  • A – Break 1:47:30 (10:45 min/miles)
  • B – Break 1:50:00 (11:00 min/miles)
  • C – Break 1:51:46 (my Cherry Blossom PR from last week)

GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

I woke up at 5AM and went through my usual pre-race routine (water, banana, Luna bar) and got dressed.  I wore capris, tank top, Zensah sleeves (which I prob could have did without) and a throwaway shirt.  It was almost 60 degrees when I left my apartment for Old Town.

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The point to point race begins in Mount Vernon (Alexandria, VA) and ends in Old Town Alexandria. The event offered several bus options to the start – I chose the Old Town shuttle so I could walk to my car after the finish (otherwise you would take a shuttle back to the other locations). It was beautiful driving up the parkway and watching the sunrise. 

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Hello Mount Vernon!  When I got there, there were plenty of porta potties available (but then again I was one of the earlier arrivals). 

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Pacers also provided heat sheets and coffee/water for the runners.

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Beautiful views before the start – which was delayed almost 10 minutes.  There were some late arrivals by the shuttles and runners began filling into the corrals where the buses dropped off the runners.  A bit chaotic, but worked out in the end. 

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The course is net downhill going north on the GW Parkway and very scenic.

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And we’re off! Due to some technical difficulties my watch did not capture my splits and my heart rate monitor was not working!  I was able to take pics instead. 

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Spectacular views.

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Not all downhill! 

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Entering Old Town.  The finish line was right past the Torpedo Factory. 

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This was definitely not my day.  At the 5 mile mark I was around 54:XX-55:XX, which was similar to my Cherry Blossom midpoint.  After 3 training sessions this week and 3 consecutive weeks of longish runs, my legs felt like lead!  I decided to run-walk (intervals) the remainder of the race when I felt a twinge in my left quad and sensitivity in my ankle. It was not worth getting injured and I know how well Jeff Galloway intervals worked for me in the past. 

I finished with a time of 1:56:XX-1:57:XX (based on my watch Chrono), unfortunately I do not know my official race time as my results were not accurate (it said my gun and net times were the same at 1:59:10 and I started a few minutes after the initial gun.  I emailed the timing group).  This was almost 5-6 minutes off my PR, which I was okay with – I know it’s not possible to PR every race.  It was also a bit hot outside.  After I finished I got my medal, water, and recovery pack (so organized)!

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Finisher’s festival.

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Gorgeous day!

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With Chun and Hoa – fellow running friends (Annapolis, RnR, CB10)

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Cool area tucked away by Canal Road.

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Commemorative 30th anniversary race medal – it also has a spinner.

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Final Thoughts

  • Convenience of packet pickup is a huge PLUS for me, that is one of the reasons I why I love Pacers’ events.
  • There is a 5K that starts in Belle Haven.  For those who believed they could not maintain the 15min/mile pace, they were allowed to start at 7:30AM vs. 8:00AM.  
  • Despite the late start, I think this may have been a one off situation, and I am sure it will be sorted out for next year (the people who were on the bus may think differently).  
  • This course has rolling hills, but is net downhill. I believe the first 3 miles or so were pretty much downhill.  I found the course pretty calming.  
  • Fabulous support by all the residents along the GW Parkway (not very dense, but they made it a point to cheer on the runners). 
  • Plenty of water stops – and for several of them on both sides of the road!
  • Wide course – I did not encounter much congestion.
  • Great pre-race and post-race amenities.  I particularly liked the pre-packaged food, it made it much more organized at the end. 
  • It was a gorgeous day to have the finisher’s festival right by the water.
  • There are plenty of post race food options in Old Town – of course brunch is always on my mind!
  • Nice alternative to the CB10 if you did not get in through the lottery or looking for a smaller race. 

Even though I did not achieve my A, B, or C goals, overall it was a nice day for a run and well managed.  I will definitely participate again in the future – I would love to run the course in tip top form.  This was also a good lesson learn – I need to let my body rest a bit more (funny how the body works – I’ve had weeks in which I’ve done a lot of strength work and it did not impact my running).  

After the race I opted out of brunch.  I stopped by my neighborhood bakery, Bakehouse, for this delicious sandwich.  I also had a cupcake… that I may or may have not scarfed down before I could take a photo. 

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Have you ever run the GW Parkway Classic? 10M or 5K? 

Do you prefer smaller or larger races? 

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