The ACLI Capital Challenge 3-Mile Race in Anacostia was scheduled for Wednesday morning, May 20, 2015. I had assembled our team with four fast male runners, all of whom could throw down an 18 or 19 minute 3-miler, including one who had actually won the race a few years earlier, and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, who was new to the team and an unknown factor since she doesn't race much and was very humble about her athletic ability and competitive fire.
I used to run the race myself for the team, but my time was always around 22 minutes and I had deferred to younger, faster runners after my chronic ankle injury set in at the turn of the decade, and limited myself to forming the team each year and doing coaching as necessary. In the past, two of our commissioners had won awards and the team had come in second one year in its division, which is super competitive since it includes all of the military service teams.
Leading up to the race, once it became apparent that the commissioner, who was a novice to training for a race but did run for conditioning, was faster than me for short runs I turned her over to a faster team member, Greg, for her tempo runs while I ran with her once a week for her LSD of around 5 miles. I really enjoyed those runs because she is an interesting person with whom I otherwise would have a very limited opportunity to speak with and I always enjoy introducing newer runners to hills, as we did Capital Hill and then the Washington Monument Hill whenever we could.
Greg and I were thinking this might be a very good year because although sworn to secrecy by the commissioner about her progress, we could see that she was a strong runner and a good finisher who could probably run the race several minutes faster than any other commissioner had done in the past. Greg wistfully said to me, "If only you could run the first mile with her and pace her to a fast but not overly so start, Peter, she would have a super run I am sure." (The course is controlled because there are many politicians who run this race, so there is security along its length and no bandits are allowed!)