My friend Jamie came up for the weekend, and the poet and I had just heard about a $5 5K being held by the NFL just across the bridge in the National Harbor. Jamie is new to the running world (a sucker is born every minute?) but was happy to walk/run with me. No time goals, no pace goals, just us and the sunshine. The poet is still trying to PR (darn that 24:xx!) but promised to come back and get us afterwards.
We headed over pretty early to sign up, but then realized there was nothing to do but watch the Redskins cheerleaders and bump into people for an hour. The solution? Zip back home, put an Eagles jersey on Graham, and let him walk/run with us.
By the time we got back over there, it was about 10 minutes before race start. The poet headed off into the crowd to try and get to the front of the runners. We hung back and did puppy crowd control. And here's where we started to realize what a mess this race was. Over 6000 people were signed up - not sure how many showed and ran, but I'd guess at least 5K (*snort. I kill me). The race started on a little boardwalk that was about 15 feet wide. The race organizers were obviously thinking ahead, so they let the runners get a FOUR MINUTE head start on the walkers. Not 15 minutes, not 30. FOUR. Jamie and I were about halfway back in the walkers, and our plan was to wait until it thinned out a bit, then jog a little, walk a little, etc.
It took us 10 minutes to get to the start line, and about 15 minutes to get through the first half-mile. Good thing we didn't have any time goals! The course took us along the river on a small trail (8 feet wide?) and then into a little field. It was a gorgeous morning, but even walking wasn't that enjoyable because it was wall-to-wall people, dogs, strollers, and little kids on an unpaved trail covered with tire marks from construction vehicles. And there wasn't any way to run off-trail, because it was either water or piles of dirt, sticks, tree trunks, etc.. At some point Jamie turned to me and said, "Is this a loop or an out-and-back?" and I said, "It MUST be a loop," because it would be even more ridiculous to double up across the trail, right? About 10 seconds later we walked past a volunteer who was yelling, "Stay to the right! Runners coming back!" WHAT.
After another half-mile or so, we decided to just pull over and wait for the poet to show back up, and then run in with him - thinking that since he's moderately fast, it would be clear out on the way back, once we got past the end of the walkers. However, due to some miscommunication at the start, he started at the front of the walkers (the back of the runners) and was running 10- to 11-minute miles, trying to fight through all the runners. He finally showed up and we headed back. I got a tiny bit of running in on the way back, but we were really just glad to be done and get out of the crowd.
G, however, had a blast in a crowd of 6K people, and seemed to really enjoy the little bit of running that we did. He's still a little young to be running with me, but he seemed to love it and I can't wait until the spring when I can start him on his own little couch-to-5K.
We're done! Time for pancakes.