I ran my fourth race of the new year this morning, the JFK 20K, an out and back on the Capitol Crescent Trail (CCT), which starts out underneath the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown and runs to Bethesda. This club race was offered up as an alternative to a 12-mile training run from Gotta Run in Arlington for the Half Program I direct getting runners ready for the Wirefly National Half-Marathon on March 29th.
Overall Director Ed, two coaches and everyone from the Marathon Training Program were there. From the Half Program, Matt, who coaches the fast group, and his two runners showed up. Everyone else in the Program ran 8-10 miles on the Mall with Sasha, Jeannie and NBTR, feeling their mileage base wasn't suitable yet for a 12.4 mile run in the seventh week.
At 9 am we were off. It snowed yesterday but the trail was mostly clear with a few icy spots. There's not much to say about an unvaried out-and-back course. The CCT runs upriver through the woods. I ran 52:47 going out (8:30) and 49:47 coming back (8:00) for an overall time of 1:42:35 (8:15), good for 62nd place out of perhaps 100 runners.
Matt won Program honors, placing, I believe, in the top ten or so (he's modest and won't say). Ed was next, followed I guess by his two coaches, but I don't know their names and really don't know where they placed. Matt's two runners kicked my ass, with Gene turning in a 1:34 and Rita reeling off a 1:40. I beat all the Marathon trainees. (Left: Rita and Gene with me after one of the Program's Wednesday evening track workouts. Their speed work was apparent in their excellent race times.)
I was running alone after the turnaround but four runners overhauled me in the last three miles. I kept ahead of the the guy from Texas at least, and a woman friend of mine who beat me by over a minute at the club 10-miler two weeks ago. My pace was a second per mile faster than that shorter race, so I guess I'm slowly improving. My time was eight minutes slower than the last 20K I did eighteen months ago.
I was exactly three minutes faster on the return than I was going out. I rarely do negative splits. Good race execution, you say? Nah. Ed with his 305 put it in perspective afterwards as we relaxed at the Georgetown Running Company. He reported that his Garmin indicated we'd climbed 265 feet by the turnaround at Bethesda. It was all downhill from there.