Tomorrow morning I’ll line up with some 40,000 other runners and walkers at the Monument Avenue 10k in downtown Richmond. It will be the seventh time I’ve run this race, which has grown by leaps and bounds since its beginning in 2000. Last year more than 33,000 people finished the race, making it the 8th largest running race of any distance in the U.S., and the 15th largest in the world. It was the 4th largest 10k in the country and the 6th worldwide.
Amid the madness of tens of thousands of participants and spectators crowded onto a 3-mile stretch of roadway, I’ll try to keep my focus inside and attempt to run my own race. Perhaps my 10k PR will be nudged a little further down the line, as it has four out of the six times I’ve run this race. But perhaps it won’t, and that’s OK with me.
In my mind, I’ve already won this race. Saturday is my victory lap.
Because of the huge number of entrants, the race uses a wave start. There are 43 waves this year, and, as in years past, the first 11 waves require qualification times. You can’t just say you can run a 42-minute 10k – you have to provide evidence that you’ve done it somewhat recently. Every year I’ve inched closer to the front of the pack, getting as close as the B wave last year. But thanks to a break-out season in 2011, I’ll be right up front this year. I finally got my A bib.
Go ahead and shake your head at my completely misplaced priorities, but I’m pretty stoked that I get to walk around among 40,000 of the region’s most athletic-minded people with the lowest possible wave designation attached to my shirt. (And, yes, I realize that most of the people there won’t be looking at other people’s bib numbers. They’ll be having fun with friends, running a race and chasing their own personal goals, as they should be.)
As for the race itself, I have no major goals going in. I don’t think I’ll be able to beat my standing PR because of that marathon I ran less than two weeks ago. Without that pressure, this will be the first time in recent memory that I’ve approached a race with absolutely no time goal. I’m going to soak up the atmosphere and be happy that I’m even able to participate. And, of course, bask in the glory of my hard-earned A bib!Bike: 0/334.5 miles Run: 9.9/469.1 miles