The Navy-Air Force Half Marathon was… fine.
(I kinda just wanted to use that video.)
Anyway! Right. The Navy-Air Force Half. This is another one of those races that would, theoretically, be crazy convenient for me, given its Metro accessibility. Unfortunately due to ongoing track work Metro refused to open early as is usual for the race. Sigh. Oh well. Luckily the organizers were distributing Lyft discount codes, so I scheduled myself a Lyft for between 5 and 5:10am.
My Lyft driver was quite prompt and very nice. Sadly, he wanted to chat. Not in a weird or creepy way; just a friendly guy who likes his job because of all the people he meets. But. Dude. It’s not even 5:30 IN THE MORNING yet. Let’s enjoy a comfortable silence, shall we? Yeesh.
We managed to sneak right up to the mall just before the closed the roads, so I was dropped off right next to the start line with a good hour or so to spare, just as I like it. I spent a leisurely if slightly chilly hour wandering around, eating my pre-race Swedish Fish, and using the bathroom a couple times. I actually managed to be the very first person in one of the porta potties, if you can imagine. I had to break the protective covering on the toilet paper and everything.
The race went off in two waves; I’m not sure if they made the split by time or randomly, but I was in the second wave. 🙁 Ah well; only like five minutes separated us. I took a spot near the front of the corral behind blue fencing, which was walked forward by volunteers when it was our turn, much like runDisney corrals.
I crossed the start line feeling… fine. Okay. Not bad. But – boys, feel free to bow out now if you’re squeamish, but know I’m judging you for not being man enough to understand a woman’s reproductive system, ya pansy – I was enjoying the very end of my period, and my tampon seemed to be irritating me in a way that made it feel vaguely like I might need to pee. Since I had already peed like four times since I got up, I chalked it up to my body lying to me and spent the rest of the race ignoring it.
How can I describe this course? Well, I could tell you about the first half of the race along the Potomac. Or the next third of the race, an out in back in Rock Creek Park that is largely uphill during the out but blessedly more downhill during the back. Or I could tell you about the next mile or so again along the Potomac that gave me major Marine Corps Marathon deja vu; that tunnel is unmistakable. Or the last bit of the race, which ends just about exactly where the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler ends. But I think one word can sum it up: boring.
Sorry. I was bored. The course arguably excised the least exciting portions of the Marine Corps Marathon. Been there, done that. Repeatedly. At least the whole thing is flattish, although not as flat as I expected. I kept thinking “I should take a picture for the blog” but never did because meh. (Although I’m a little mad at myself for not taking a photo of the backside of the Lincoln Memorial just for the Jungle Cruise joke.)
Spectator populations were also down by comparison to MCM, although the ones who did show up were pretty solid. A large section were of course there to cheer on specific people, but there some rock solid cheer squads as well – I think there was a Run DC group or something like that, and at least one other. A couple water stations had some sign holders; “touch here for power” and all that jazz. Favorite sign of the race: “If Trump can run than so can you!” Fair enough.
Post-race was better than Cherry Blossom, at least, with water bottles and snack boxes distributed. Indeed, you needed a tab detached from your bib to collect your snacks, which ensured everyone got there share. Bananas were also available but there were no sports drinks. Or rather there may have been some, in cups, but…
Okay, let’s talk about on-course hydration and fuel. It was provided by some company called Ucan. Their whole thing is providing energy WITHOUT sugar, and they offered two products during the race: a sports drinking and something distressingly referred to as “Superstarch.” Both. Are. DISGUSTING. You can make the healthiest sports fuels in the world but if I can’t choke ’em down on course they are no good to me. In particular the Superstarch reminded me of nothing more than drinking water mixed with sand. LET ME ROT MY INSIDES WITH POWERADE LIKE DISNEY DOES, DAMMIT. I’M RUNNING HERE.
All in all I knocked the whole thing out in 2:11:17. My PR in the half, achieved in the Parks Half last year, is 2:10:21, so you can see I was just so close. It was a little warm and very humid and I probably wasn’t hydrating quite as much as I should, which didn’t help me. Still, a decent showing, I think.
I don’t usually share race photos because they tend to cost a bajillion dollars while making me look like the most unattractive creature ever to roam the earth, but I think this says more about me and running than this blog as over three years:
|You want me. It’s cool. No, don’t be embarrassed.
I get it. We all do.
And then I went home and sat on the couch and binge-watched the entirety of Hellevator for the rest of the day. The end.
Next up: The National Capital 20 Miler on Sunday. C’mon, redemption run!
P.S. Thank you… Florida.
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