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Another Army 10 Miler

The Army Ten Miler took place this past weekend. I don't know how I keep ending up at the starting line here, but I'm glad I do.

It was the perfect October day for a race: The sun shone, the breeze was brisk, the government had opened at long last.

Huddling in the chilly breeze at the Army 10 Miler start
Selfie: Huddling for warmth in the security line
Somehow, amongst the crowd of 35,000, Hubz and I bumped into our friends Kris and Kyle and the two Yonases.

Kris and I had each run a hilly marathon the previous weekend so we had no goals for this race. I'd run eight miles the day before and had struggled with low energy. We decided to run together and simply enjoy the day.

We started off at a leisurely pace, chatting away and working through the sluggishness in our legs. Yet we remarked on how easily we ran the small inclines on the course. Hills, they do a body good!

Running across Memorial Bridge toward the Lincoln Memorial early in the race
Running across Memorial Bridge early in the race

Near the four mile mark I ducked in the bushes to answer the call of nature, then hurried to catch up with Kris. Somehow I ran past without seeing her. Soon I caught up to Kyle. The sluggishness in my legs had dissipated. The faster pace seemed to suit me and after a mile or so Kyle sent me on my way.

My stomach had started growling just as the race began. My breakfast of a single hard-boiled egg, a slice of prosciutto and a mug of espresso with coconut milk was a little on the skimpy side considering I'd eaten it two hours before the race started.

I always forget about the waiting game at road races. I hadn't brought any gels or other fuel, since I hadn't planned to "race" this. Besides, I'm fat-adapted. My body has all the fuel it needs for a couple of hours of running, right?

I continued to pick up the pace as the miles ticked by.

Luckily, being fat-adapted really works. I had all the energy stores I needed, despite my hunger. Let's just say it's good I didn't run by some spectator holding a bunless burger. I'd have cut a bitch for one of those.

I kept running, passing the many who had begun to fade. The effort was beginning to feel harder, but there were a few more inclines, and a lot more weaving through the crowd. One of these years I am going to start in the proper corral!

Two miles from the finish I calculated my time. My PR wasn't quite within reach, but I gave it all I had. I finished strong, less than 2 minutes over my best time here. Not bad for lollygagging the first four miles and my utter lack of tapering.

ATM splits 2013

After the race Hubz and I wandered around, enjoying a little post-race barbecue, searching in vain for his buddies. We walked from the Pentagon across Memorial Bridge and into DC to avoid the metro madness. It was a beautiful, crisp Fall day and those extra miles on foot helped us work out the kinks.

I enjoyed running hard and soaking in the energy that is unique to big road races. I won't be trading my trail runs for them too often, though.

On Witnessing Greatness

This weekend I had the privilege of pacing a legend-in-the-making.

My good friend Katie did what has been done by only a few other mortals: She finished the rugged 108 mile, four loop, 32,000 feet of climb TWOT 100.

To put that in perspective, that's more climbing than any of the 100 milers that comprise the Grand Slam. Hard Rock 100 has just slightly more climbing -- 33,000 feet.

KK's Grand Slam elevation profiles
Elevation charts by Keith Knipling


Steady, strong, upbeat, relaxed, consistent, happy, focused. She was all of these. She never wavered in her resolve and she never faltered, though she did have a few choice words for Hankey Mountain as she began climbing it for the third time.

As we marched around that rocky, punishing course, I was struck anew by the beauty of this trail. The hours of blackness in the night, steady drizzle, fogged-in views, blood-drawing briars, ethereal mist, stunning fall colors against dark, rain-soaked trees ... I felt truly alive and ever-so-grateful to be out there.

And was I ever-so-grateful that I only had to complete one loop!

Katie Keier, it was an honor to share in your momentous accomplishment! I haven’t been this inspired, or felt this full of possibilities in a long time. My heart thanks you from its depths.

As for my quads, they have a few choice words for those long descents ...