The Mission assigned to me by the Chairman's representative in 2006: Assemble a team of five for the ACLI Capital Challenge 3-Mile Race, in which teams from the Senate, Congress, Executive Branch, Judiciary and the Media race each other. Each team in our Executive Division had to be captained by a Commissioner, be comprised of agency staffers and contain a female. There were similar team requirements for all the Branches.
The Challenge: Find a Captain. The oldest Commissioner stepped forward. He trained hard and won third in his category of Captains over 59. I already knew a fast woman runner in my agency, A, and our rock star, G, agreed to run.
In 2006, we finished 7/28 in the Executive Division, 15/113 overall. Our individual finishes in the field of 642 were 43, 122, 162, 165 and 424. Our times were G 19:14 (6:25), M 21:22 (7:07), A 22:04 (7:21), me 22:09 (7:23), Commissioner 26:59 (9:00). (Right: The Commissioner accepts his age group medal in 2006.)
We were ebullient over our good showing. For me it was a PR by six seconds of 22:09 (7:23) at the 3-mile distance. But my PR in the longer 5K distance, 21:58 (7:05) set in 2001, was still lower and I really wanted to break 22 minutes in a 3-Miler race, which are few and far between.
In the 2007 race, I had to replace M and his 21:22. The Commissioner was injured but gamely ran anyway because no other Commissioner could or would run (no Captain, no team, no race).
G improved by a full minute in the first slot, and A stepped up into the number two slot and more than replaced M's time. We lost time in the three through five slots, however. I wilted in the heat and felt like I let the team down when I ran 21 seconds slower than the prior year, losing almost half a minute in the third spot. Newcomer C did an excellent job, running sub-8 minute miles, although we lost over a minute in the fourth slot. The Commissioner couldn't overcome his injury, which prevented him from training, and we lost a few minutes in the fifth slot. (Left: The 2007 team, A, G, the Commissioner, me and C.)
In 2007, we finished 14/33 in the Executive Division, 36/124 overall. Our individual finishes in the field of 670 were 29, 145, 217, 280 and 615. Our times were G 18:14 (6:05), A 21:09 (7:03), me 22:30 (7:30), C 23:34 (7:51), Commissioner 32:35 (10:52).
The team slipped by 6:14 last year. C'est la guerre.
In this year's race, I had to find a woman to replace A and her 21:09. The Commissioner was still injured but gamely ran anyway when another Commissioner who stepped forward to run became injured (no Captain, no team, no race).
G improved by seven seconds in the first slot, M came back in the number two slot and we improved there by over a minute and a half, while I took over a minute off the third slot's time. We lost time in the four and five slots, however. Newcomer K did an excellent job, running sub-9 minute miles, although we lost over two minutes in the fourth slot. The Commissioner couldn't overcome his injury, which prevented him from training, and we lost a few seconds in the fifth slot.
In 2008, we finished 12/29 in the Executive Division, 35/108 overall. Our individual finishes in the field of 606 were 21, 58, 145, 354 and 557. Our times were G 18:07 (6:02), M 19:25 (6:28), me 21:25 (7:08), K 25:40 (8:33), Commissioner 32:40 (10:53).
The team improved by 45 seconds this year. We all felt triumphant. Team races, where everyone pulls hard for everyone else, are a blast. This race in Anacostia Park, SE, is a scenic, flat out-and-back along the Anacostia River. It runs under three bridges.
Personally, my splits for the 3 miles were 6:49, 7:19 and 7:15, for a PR by 44 seconds of 21:25 (7:08). I went out fast and held on, even finding a tiny bit of reserve at the end. I nailed the distance. It was just one of those races.