(photo by Tom Brennan)
|Nope, no plans to run the PHM this year — leading the 12+ min/mi slowest pace group 2008-2010 was enough public service — but when comrade Kate Abbott survives being Race Director of the VHTRC Women's Trail Half Marathon and itches to reward herself with a hard fun run, I volunteer to go sign us both up. So at the virtual-last-moment, 10am the day before the race, I'm standing in line. Well-intentioned data entry lists me as a one-n "Zimmerman" of "silverpsring". Kate is logged as Male, which would surprise her husband and sons. But no matter; we're in! Cara Marie Manlandro can't make it but is preregistered, so I snag the race packet for her too. The volunteers all seem to know me, an advantage of looking weird, so no need for ID or letter of authorization from Kate or CM.|
Race morning dawns humid but mercifully cool. Hyper-early as usual I snag a fine parking spot at the Rockville Metro. Kate arrives and I deliver her chip, bib, commemorative shirt, etc., plus energy gels to fuel her run. We mug for the photographer and stand in a snaky portajohn line that moves efficiently. Rebecca Rosenberg joins us to start in the 8-9 min/mi wave. Kate and I blast out, enjoying the initial downhill segment on Veirs Mill Rd. At the two mile marker she pulls ahead. I shout "You're 16:01!" and she waves a hand over her shoulder — the last I see of Kate until after the finish line.
When the course enters Rock Creek Park I take my sweat-soaked shirt off and wrap it around an arm. Rebecca catches up and zips away about mile 6, as does "Speed Coach" Evan Carlson. I somehow pass him later on without noticing; he finishes close behind me. At mile 9 the GPS is a few percent off: actual elapsed time at the sign is almost exactly 1:20. It continues to read low through the end, where it records the distance as 13.05 rather than the certified 13.11 miles, about 0.5% short.
Kate and Rebecca meet me at the finish area. Kate improves her recent-memory PR for the distance by a monster ~3 minutes. She lands in the top ten of her age/sex cohort — brava! Rebecca passes her near the end. Official results:
723 41/219 1589 Rebecca Rosenberg F 44 Kensington MD 1:27:30 1:58:38 1:54:57 8:47 733 8/152 2955 Kate Abbott F 45 Fairfax 1:26:37 1:58:56 1:55:16 8:48 850 24/73 2954 Mark Zimmermann M 58 Silver Spring MD 1:29:12 2:01:29 1:57:48 9:00
The GPS trackfile reports mile splits as: 8:07 + 7:56 + 9:02 + 9:21 + 9:05 + 9:02 + 9:41 + 9:24 + 9:07 + 9:05 + 9:14 + 9:26 + 8:52 + a final 22 second fragment. All pleasingly consistent, after a pair of initial meteoric downhill miles.