My third and final race of 2010 was the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. I ran it two weeks after the Rock and Roll VA Beach Half Marathon. The Wilson Bridge Half was my first local race and required no hotels, no travel, and no eating out. The main appeal of this race was that it started at Mount Vernon Estate and finished at the National Harbor in Maryland, meaning we would run over the Wilson Bridge, from Virginia to Maryland.
I was excited for this race because it was smaller, it was brand new, and the course took us along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway. My family and I used to live off of the Parkway. When I first started running I would park at Mount Vernon and run home, then have someone drive me back to my car. When I was able to increase my miles I would just run from my house, to Mount Vernon, and back again. So this race was truly my home turf.
I felt almost no nervousness when preparing for the race. Running the Rock and Roll VA Beach Half just a few days before prepared me enough physically so I just did some small and medium runs during the week to keep my legs loose. It took a lot of pressure off not having to worry about travel and hotels. It was relaxing to go to sleep the day before the race in my own bed.
As usual, my cheerleaders mom and Marcus, dropped me off at the race start. It was still dark at Mount Vernon when we parted ways. It’s always a little awkward when you run a race alone, and have no one to talk to in the time before the race starts. But I made the most of my time by doing my usual stretching, and bathroom breaks.
Mom and Marcus headed over to Maryland before the roads starting closing, so I knew I wouldn’t see them until the end of my race. Had it been any other venue this may have bothered me, but truthfully the course was enough to keep me interested and motivated.
Unlike the Rock and Roll Half, the Wilson Bridge Half did not have any course entertainment. Some residents from nearby came out with their lawn chairs to cheer for the runners. But for the most part, it was just me and sites of the Parkway.
It was pretty awesome to be so familiar with the course; to know exactly where each mile marker was; to be able to remember past training runs. All of my physical triumphs and longest runs were on the George Washington Parkway. It was as if I came full circle. I started out as someone who could barely run a mile at a time on that trail, then turned into someone who could run the whole length of it. It was a great feeling.
As we were approaching mile eight I knew we would be getting off of the Parkway soon and making our way towards the bridge. If you have ever seen the Wilson Bridge in person, let me tell you, it is A LOT longer then it looks! We covered probably close to 1.5 miles crossing the bridge.
One of the coolest experiences of my life was being able to look left and see Washington DC, look down and see the Potomac River, look right and see Virginia, and look ahead and see the National Harbor in Maryland. I will never forget the feeling of running over the Wilson Bridge with so many national landmarks surrounding me.
As we came off the bridge and into Maryland we rounded some streets and just kept going. The finish line was SO close but we still had two miles to go. As we came upon mile 12, my body started to catch up to me and wear out. Mile 12 was one slow hill. I just kept telling myself, “One more mile. One more mile,” like a mantra.
Once we passed the hill of death. We rounded the Gaylord Hotel and came upon the final stretch. One of the women at the final water stop looked at me and said, “You’re so close. You’re almost there!” I skipped the water stop and upped my pace. With views of the monster bridge, the Potomac River, and people cheering from every direction, I plowed through the finish line with a big smile on my face. My cheerleaders were right by the finish line going nuts as usual.
One of the coolest things about the finish line was that The Awakening statue was to our left as we were running in. It is a pretty amzing site to see the giant coming out of the sand, with his big arm stretching into the air.
As I received my third half marathon medal, I looked back over to Virginia and at the Wilson Bridge and could not believe that I just ran that. I quickly met up with mom and Marcus and felt on top of the world. I was starting to feel the fatigue of all the running, but my spirits were soaring.
The Wilson Bridge Half Marathon has been my favorite race, by far. The familiar course, amazing views, and being able to run from one state to another while passing our nation’s capital, made it the most memorable and amazing experience yet.
Now it’s almost five months later. Race season is quickly approaching. I have been training in these frigid temperatures for my first ever Spring race. VA Beach here we come…it’s time for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Here’s to hoping I can “Sham Rock On!” 🙂