Pacers First Down 5k & Combine Race Report

Superbowl?  The only things I know about the Superbowl would be what I hear on WTOP to and from choreography jobs.  You all should be impressed I can tell you who was playing, the Seahawks & the Patriots, and no I didn’t google it.

So what does one do on Superbowl Sunday if they have no vested interest in anything having to do with sports?  Run a 5k of course!

And this was not any 5k.  Pacers had this little cross training challenge at the end which was optional for all runners: 20 push-ups, 20 jump squats, 20 sit-ups, and 20 yd walking lunges, hence the name First Down 5k & Combine.

Based on the ease I had picking up my packet the day of the Fairfax Four Miler also run by Pacers I decided to try my luck again and do packet pick-up right before the race.

This would be my first race in DC proper and since metro didn’t quite open early enough to trust it for a 8am start I decided to drive in.  Luck for me I live just across the river and within 15 minutes of leaving my building I had found free parking on a side street about half a mile from the start line.

After two easy pre-race packet pick-ups in a row I refuse to chalk it up to luck and fully credit Pacers with awesome organization and efficiency combined with spectacular volunteers!

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The only thing I didn’t plan for was what to do with my nifty race tech shirt that I got.  Well the cold temperature solved that for me and I put it on over the 4 layers I was already wearing.  I am cold my nature so my outfit for the day included two pairs of socks, running tights with windbreaker pants over, sports bra coved by tank top covered by long sleeve cold weather tech shirt covered by long sleeve Wine & Dine tech shirt covered by running jacket, gloves and hat.  You may start laughing when you hear it was 32 degrees but I was only slightly warm for the race.  (Next time I will skip one of the shirts.)

My cold self was thrilled to see they had hot apple cider available at the start & finish!  I also enjoyed watching a man juggling three full size footballs.  I would later see him running the whole race juggling them! I also saw one of the Nats presidents ready to run, I guess he is in training for when baseball season starts.

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The race was a beautiful flat out & back course with a water stop about half way through. I even saw my apartment while running along the river!

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I stuck to the 5 minute run/1 min walk intervals I had set on my Garmin and ran a pretty even 10:10 pace.  Considering I had basically taken a week and a half off any training due to life I was amazed every time I looked down.  I felt good but figured I must be going slower than usual because there were times I was basically alone on the course.  It never occurred to me it was just a small race field, for this area at least.

I crossed in 32:41 and after waffling the whole run on whether to do the combine or not made a “game time” decision to give it a try.  I am so glad I did, it was fun!

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I completed each station and got a mark on my bib from the referees to prove it and then headed across the last finish line.

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Little did I know they would be throwing me a miniature football as I ran across.  Then something amazing happened: I CAUGHT IT! I have the worst hand eye coordination ever but I caught it.

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I did have trouble finding water after the race, but I am chalking that up to me being so short I couldn’t see what was probably right in front of me.  No hard feelings though because I wanted some more of that apple cider! They also had bananas and Nature Valley bars available.

I was feeling good and decided to take a stroll around the reflection pool before heading back to my car.

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It’s easy to forget how cool DC is sometimes.

I got home to lounge around a bit and discovered results were already posted and I had a new 5k PR!!! Talk about a shock!

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Thanks to Pacers Running for another awesome race experience!  Next year I will need some kind of football jersey to sport during the race.

Keep it fast & fierce!

-Little Red

Have you ever had a surprise PR? What was your favorite part of Superbowl Sunday?

Fairfax Four Miler Race Recap

In a somewhat last minute move I signed up to run the Pacers Fairfax Four Miler on New Year’s Eve.  I had been thinking about it for a while, but not knowing what my plans were for the evening and knowing it was a little ways away from home I held off.

Finally about a week out I decided I really wanted to end my year with a race.  Ok, so not exactly, I ended the year dancing with friends in DC, but close enough.

I have done a few of Pacers races in the past: George Washington Parkway Classic and their Crystal City 5k Fridays.  They are always well organized and on point, not to mention the awesome swag.  The Fairfax Four Miler was no different.

I decided to do packet pick-up right before the event since it was about a 30 minute drive from my house. This was the easiest packet pick-up of my life I’m sure.  Less than 5 minutes in and out which gave me plenty of time to make my way back to my car to store my amazing race swag:

My new favorite sweatshirt! It is so soft & comfy.

My new favorite sweatshirt! It is so soft & comfy.

I was amazed at how many people came out for this race.  They mentioned it was a record, I want to say over 1500 but I might be remembering wrong!  Regardless it got a little crowded at the start.

Before it got packed!

Before it got packed!

It's hard to tell from behind but the guy was wearing a tux and the lady an evening dress!

It’s hard to tell from behind but the guy was wearing a tux and the lady an evening dress!

The course was also super crowded in the beginning, not to mention a bit dark. I thought Pacers did a great job of having lights out where they could and as soon as you get to the George Mason University part the course really opens up nicely.  I did have one mishap in a  construction zone where I stepped on some gravel wrong and rolled my ankle (yep I have been wearing a brace for it since).  What cracked me up was less than 500 feet ahead there was an industrial light after the construction zone. (whoops!)

It was super fun to hear all of the race support staff and runners shouting “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and encouraging each other.  I especially loved the families that were out running together.  One particular boy who couldn’t have been older than six kept correcting his dad’s running form “Dad, your shoulders are by your ears” “ok” “Dad, I’m just saying you aren’t supposed to run like that”.  It was adorable and hilarious, maybe not for the dad but for me!  Needless to say I was glad I ran without music or headphones for this one.

Just after I rolled my ankle.  That's my "uh oh" face.

Just after I rolled my ankle. That’s my “uh oh” face.           

I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt, and how fun it was to be out doing a night race again!  I haven’t done one since the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2013.  After finishing in 45:17 which is speedy for me I got some water and headed into line for the pizza!  I’m telling you between the awesome sweatshirt, the well staffed and managed logistics, the fun atmosphere, and the pizza this race was well worth the entry fee.  Not to mention one of my favorite things about a new distance: guaranteed PR!

So kudos to Pacers, all the runners, volunteers, and spectators for an awesome and fun last run of 2014!

Keep it fun & fierce!

-Little Red

Did you run on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day?  What’s your favorite piece of race swag?