Race Review: Navy Air Force Half 2017

Long time, no “see”!  I have a little race report for you today….

I ran the NAF last year and almost died.  Okay, that’s melodramatic and not funny, considering that I did see people go down on the course (this year, too, but we’ll get to that).  Still, it was SUPER tough!  It was so bad, I never even wrote about it!  My hip was a mess and I was in a lot of pain around mile 6. Also, the weather was super hot and sunny.  Even with that and a chest cold, I still got a distance PR of 2:15:53, which was 8 minutes faster than my previous one.

This year, I needed a half around the same time and thought, surely the weather gods won’t screw us two years in a row.  WRONG!

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When you can hardly see the top of the Monument due to humidity, it isn’t a good sign

Packet Pick Up

The packet pick up was at the DC Armory this year.  I was surprised because last year it was at the ball field and there were only a handful of vendors.  I didn’t think they would fill the Armory.  They didn’t.  It was outside, under tents.  They had more vendors but I was in and out in ten minutes. It was a nice, low-key pick up and went fine.  The race shirt is a nice, dark blue long sleeve tech.  I’ll post a picture of it later.

Race Logistics

At the last minute, I abandoned my plan to park at my work and walk the two miles to the start and bought a spot in the Reagan Building for $15, as advised by the race.  As did everyone else in the free world.  Even though I left my house at 5:40, I didn’t park until almost an hour later (only a 20 minute drive) because we couldn’t get into the garage due to congestion and security has to inspect all of the cars (life in DC!).  Pro tip: next time, I will go past the main entrance (by staying in the middle lane) and turn right to enter the back entrance.  No line!

After that, I had to find the portajohns.  Which were at the finish festival area, as far from the start as they could get.  There were only three lines and they were long!

Lines
3 lines!!

Per usual, I was in line when the National Anthem was sung.  Luckily, I was able to run to the starting area right before they closed the first yellow wave.  I had to almost trample a ton of red bib runners who were already crowding the start even though the announcer was yelling to let the yellows through.  Bah.

The Race

After that stressful beginning, my heart rate was jack rabbiting all over the place.  I couldn’t get it to come down and I was running in the 8s.  I read that in order to run a 4:15 marathon (my plan for November), you should be able to do a 2 hour half so that was my plan.  That meant keeping a pace around 9:09.  The first 4 miles had me in the very low 9s, high 8s.  I knew I needed to control that!  The good thing about starting way at the end of the wave was it was pretty empty ahead of me.  I had to pass a lot of people but I didn’t feel boxed in for the first couple of miles during the first out and back and then around Hains Point, like I usually do.

I was running with my Hydra Quiver from Orange Mud so I didn’t need to stop at the water stops.  I had one bottle full of Amped Hydrate and the second with “smart” water, both half frozen.  It was so hot, though, that they completely thawed quite quickly.  At mile 6, I used half of a e+ energy shot from Isagenix.

By mile 7, I was HOT.  This was around the Kennedy Center and Watergate.  It was really the only spot with a lot of spectators but most of the families just stood there silently, some holding signs.  I asked a guy next to me if they were watching a funeral.  Pro tip:  It’s okay to cheer for runners other than your own!  They actually like it!

We were now going up Rock Creek Parkway.  It is not really flat. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a dirty liar.  The road is severely canted in some areas so you are fighting gravity in two directions.  We also had to go up a legit hill to the turn around.  Let me tell you, my legs were begging for mercy at that spot.  Luckily, I knew some of my MRTT friends were just ahead so I kept moving.  At this point, was a bit ahead of my needed average pace (but I knew what was coming).

At mile 10, I dropped my half full Amped Fuel packet.  I had just taken some and it flew out of my pouch.  I wasn’t sure if I would need the rest so I trotted back and tried, and tried, and tried to pick it up.  Finally got it up and secured on the 4th try.  Did I mention I was hot?

Mile 11 and 12 were rough.  The sun came out and we had to go on a fully exposed area by Lincoln Memorial and on the Memorial Bridge. I took the rest of my e+shot but my pace still dropped to 9:35 and 9:42.  I could tell from my average that I would not make my 2 hour goal but I didn’t give up and walk, like I usually do!  Instead, when I beeped at 12 I decided to go as hard as I could.  Normally, I have a strong finish kick.  There was no kick this year.  My tank was E-M-P-T-Y. My last mile was 9:00 even and I crossed the finish line at 2:02:58.

Half times
Um, A 13 minute PR?? Oh, and I got a 10K PR, too!
time
I’ll take it!
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I am beet red!

At the finish, I got my snazzy medal and a bottle of water but I was shaking so bad, I could hardly hold the bottle.  I immediately took two Endurolyte caps from Hammer and they kicked in while I was talking to some MRTT friends and I felt better. I then went to the food area and got some pretzels (which I immediately ate), chocolate chip cookies (ditto), a muffin, and two granola bars (neither of which I ate). I almost attacked a sketchy looking guy to find out where he got his banana but, alas, he brought his own (insert raunchy joke here).

After that, I decided to head back to the parking garage because I knew we had to go through security to get into the building and last year it was a nightmare.  Luckily, I ran into two more MRTT friends who told me about the “secret” entrance.  Pro Tip: skip the line at the main doors and go a bit further down the building and take the first right.  No one used that entrance so we were through in a heart beat and the bathroom is right there.  But, if you all crowd it next year so I have to wait in line, I demand the ability to cut the line 😀

Overall

This is not a Marine Corps race (or even Army).  They needed more bathrooms at the start and closer to the start.  They need a better wave system.  They need better communication, overall.  The weather still sucked (but the race couldn’t control that one).  There were hardly any spectators so if you need a crowd to keep you going, this isn’t a good choice.  It would have been nice if there was a HS pep group on Hains Point or something.  That was so boring.  The race shirt is nice.  The medal is fine.

I’d give it a solid B.  I say I won’t do it again but… well, I’ll likely see you next year.

 

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