I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite race. We’ve run it the past three years (2014 recap, 2015 recap), even driving up to DC from NC this year and last! It’s worth it. This year, William joined us!
What’s so great about it? Besides being very well-run and organized from start to finish, the race takes place on one of Dulles Airport’s runways! It’s a fast, flat course with just one turn and you run right next to a parked 747! Just getting to the start line area is pretty cool. You walk through the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum in a hangar with aircraft above and all around you – the coolest race “entrance” I’ve experienced.
And the t-shirts are my, Mike and Matt’s favorite race t-shirts. I know.. strong statement. The design which had just a subtle change between 2014 and 2015 could be better but the fit and softness are perfect. It’s nice to get a non-tech tee once in awhile and this shirt, which comes in men’s and women’s fits, gets even softer after washings. This year, we added a navy one to our collection!
So onto the race recap! I don’t have much free time for blogging now (Baby William keeps me busy!) but would like to continue with my race recaps, at least!
I had been a little nervous about race day morning. One thing I’ve learned with having a baby is that plans have to be fluid. I usually plan my race day mornings down to the minute, so not having a definite plan for the morning made me a little uneasy. It all depended on when William would want to eat. Our alarm went off at 5:15 am before William woke up to eat (he’s not eating at the same time every day yet), so Mike and I got ready with the goal to leave Matt’s apartment at 5:45 am. It’s about a half hour drive to Dulles and we wanted to arrive around 6:15 am so I could have time to feed him there. We got a later start and ended up arriving at Udvar-Hazy at 6:40.
Still, we had no problem getting a parking spot fairly close to the main entrance. This year, security was beefed up. I learned that taking a diaper bag through security takes forever – there are about 74 pockets the security guard needs to go through!
We still needed to pick up our packets, so I fed William while Matt and Mike picked up our race bibs and t-shirts (!), which only took them about 8 minutes. My mom burped William while I hurried over to the portapotty line. I’ve always been impressed with how fast the portapotty line moves for this race – and they are surprisingly clean – a benefit of a smallish race!
I just had enough time to get William in his carseat in the BOB Ironman stroller and head over to the 5K start line. The past two years I have run the 10K. Although I’d registered for the 10K, I decided to drop down to the 5K. I was confident I could be pretty fast for the 5K and hadn’t yet run 6 miles. Plus, I really wanted to run with William and wasn’t sure he’d make it for a 10K. Nice to have options!
The start time was delayed maybe 10 minutes due to some security reasons (5K begins about 5 minutes before the 10K). The staff did a good job communicating the delay to the runners. The 5K start line is farther up the runway than the 10K and there were so many more runners doing the 5K than the 10K. Registration is capped at 2,500 total and the race typically sells out early. One downside – the signs for various paces in the line-up area were low down, small and hard to see.
I followed the lead of another runner with a BOB stroller and ran on the edge/outside of the cones for the first 0.5 mile so I wouldn’t run over anyone’s ankles. It took the 5K runners about that long to thin out, right about when we entered the main runway area, off the access road.
I had expected others running the 5K to stop and get photos with the commercial airliner parked along the course; however, I was the only one who stopped for a photo – a failed selfie. I didn’t want to take too long because William and I were making good time! William fell asleep right as we started running. If he had been awake, my plan was to take him out of his carseat.
I also spotted a couple of photographers in their usual spots so the 747 would be in the background of the photos. Though there aren’t many photographers on the course, the photos are uploaded to Flickr that same day and are free to download (just kind of a pain to find photos of yourself in the mass of photos!).
The course had significantly thinned out at this point. I continued to run on the edge of the course to avoid getting close to any other runners with the giant running stroller. And although there was just one turn, it was a little tricky to take with the stroller (wheel is locked to go straight). I tried hard not to take out any other runners as I made the wide turn.
The run back was directly into the wind and tough! I tried to keep up my pace – it felt great to run on a flat surface after having been running in hilly Raleigh. One guy gave me a thumbs-up but another said, as I passed him, “you have to be kidding me.” Such a strange thing to say! That actually gave me a boost of energy to push hard to the end. The last 0.5 mile is slightly uphill which felt challenging especially going straight into the wind.
I absolutely love finish chutes with the crowds cheering along the side. I try to give it all I have for the final push. It felt SO good to race again and to do it with my baby boy! I felt like myself again, actually a stronger version of myself. It was empowering!
William woke up right as we crossed the finish line and stopped running. He likes to keep moving. I found Mom and Lucy, and we watched for our 10K runners – Matt and Mike – to cross the finish line! (I stopped my watch when we stopped twice to get photos so this isn’t my actual finish time. I finished in 26:00 chip time).
The food spread included bananas and a couple types of granola and protein bars. I like being able to grab a bar for later as I’m usually not hungry right after running.
Mike finished in my exact 10K time from last year – 44:14! And Matt wasn’t far behind him!
We had perfect weather for the race so hung out for awhile after as we waited for the results to be posted. I was shocked to have come in 3rd place in my age group (females 30-35)! Awards are only given to the top two in each age category. It was so much fun to run with William, my co-pilot, and I can’t wait for our next race together!
We took a bunch of photos in Udvar Hazy on our way out, hurrying as William was getting pretty tired and cranky from all his playing after the race.
Also, to note, there’s a McDonald’s in the Air & Space so we got breakfast (limited menu) before heading back to our car.