The Casual Runner

Lawyers Have Heart 10K

Event: 2015 Lawyers Have Heart 10K
Event Date: June 13, 2015
Event Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Why I decided to run this race

There is a laundry list of reasons that encouraged me to run this race.  I have run many 5k races and Half Marathons, but I have not run many 10k races despite frequently training at that distance.  DC is also one of my favorite cities in the world, not the least of which is the fact that many of my friends currently live and work there.  The event itself came highly recommended from past entrants, so I figured that the Lawyers Have Heart 10k would allow me to combine all three in one weekend fairly easily—great activity with great company in a great city.

As important, the event supports an excellent cause.  Lawyers Have Heart is affiliated with the American Heart Association as a way for lawyers and their family and friends to raise awareness of and donate to the AHA’s research towards curing and preventing heart disease and stroke.  Risk of heart disease is a health concern of mine, both due to genetic predisposition and the effects of career-related stress (and I thought studying for the Bar exam was bad…).   I am always up for a good race, but it makes the events all the more meaningful when they support a worthwhile cause, especially one that has personal significance.

Getting there/the lead-up to the race

No special training needed for this race, as I had run two half marathons in the past six weeks: the Canton Hall of Fame Half Marathon at the end of April, and the Medina Half Marathon at the end of May.  At a little over six miles (6.2 to be precise), the race itself would not be much longer than the distance I typically shoot for when I head out for a fun/training run.  If anything, the shorter race length provided a refresher for my legs.

Getting there was a little longer than I typically drive for a race, but still pretty easy nonetheless.  I drove to DC after work on a Friday night and pretty much went to bed as soon as I arrived—7:30 in the morning is not terribly early for a start, but at the same time it is not much fun either after a car drive the night before.

The gear

This was an easy race to dress for.  An (approximately) hour-long run in Washington DC in the heart of summer?  Shorts and t shirt it is!  Even with the earlier start time, I figured the time running when it would eventually be warmer would outweigh any—if at all—slight discomfort from standing around when it was a little cooler.

Also, because the forecast showed that it was going to be very sunny, I wore a pair of sunglasses for the race as well.

The race Expo / Swag review

No race Expo, and in any event I would not have been able to attend if it were held the day before because I spent Friday evening driving to DC.

Swag

The “haul” from the Lawyers Have Heart 10K: T shirt, sunscreen, tote bag, and parking pass.

Entry in the race offered some of the most pragmatic swag that I’ve encountered (which I suppose is to be expected for a lawyer’s race).  Bucking the typical draw string back, Lawyers Have Heart delivered the swag in a larger tote bag that could easily be used for groceries.  Included in the bag was a race shirt; the cool thing about the race is that Lawyers Have Heart offered a choice between regular cotton and tech shirts at different prices to suit the entrant’s preference.  The bag also came with a coupon for parking at garages near the Harbor—a nice option for people driving to the race.  The final, non-coupon giveaway was a travel-size sunscreen spray bottle.  Like I said, all very pragmatic inclusions.

The pre-race

The race entrants congregated near Washington Harbor in Georgetown.  There were a few tables set up both for vendors—I suppose an informal race expo—and for pre-race entertainment.  I saw a number of people walking around both before and after the race with sno cones (which, given the temperature, I tragically did not enjoy myself).

As a perk to incentivize fundraising, the race organizers had a “Rainmaker Pavilion” reserved for any entrant who raised $1000 or more for the American Heart Association.  Benefits for being a rainmaker included a catered breakfast, bag check, access to showers and a massage post-race.  It was a clever lawyer tie in to confirm every junior associate’s suspicion: partners have it best.

Harbor

Picture of the pre-race area.

The race organizers called the entrants over to the starting line about 10 minutes before start time.  Although there was one massive start for every event (not only the 5K and the 10K, but the 5K fun walk as well), the start was marked pretty well so that everyone knew where they should stand based on how fast they wanted to run the race.  The entrants seemed to more or less comply with the signs, as I did not notice an exceptionally large count of people passing or being passed on the course’s initial stretch.

Along the course

The start of the race was a mini out and back along K Street, taking both the 5 and 10K up onto the Whitehurst Freeway.  The course ran west back towards M Street near Georgetown, then doubled back again east, passing above the starting area.  From here, the distances split off: the 5K again ran down K Street (this time past Washington Circle Park), while the 10K ran along the Potomac River Freeway.  The 10K continued “out” along the Freeway and the E Street Expressway, then returned “back” towards the starting line (generally) uphill along Virginia Avenue.  For the last mile or so, the 10K reunited with the 5K for one more turn-around along K Street.

Starting Line

View from the starting line underneath the Whitehurst Freeway

The course had a nice combination of urban and natural scenery, as a large portion of the course running along the Potomac blended nicely with the stretches through the Foggy Bottom area.  Although there were not a lot of good views of “traditional” monuments, the Whitehurst Freeway offered a nice view down towards the Kennedy Center. Race Icon. And the course ran by enough government buildings to pique the interest of a West Wing aficionado (Watergate Hotel! The Department of Interior!  The Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina!).

One major downside of this race, however, was the water.  Although the course had water stations located on both sides of the street with a large number of volunteers, there were not that many stops during the 10K.  The first one was located almost halfway through the race—closer to mile 3 than mile 2—and the second one was just past the marker for mile 5.

True, the second one was located on a “there and back” portion of the course, so runners running on the right side of the street could avail themselves of the second station again if they saw it coming.  But honestly, putting two water stations in the final mile of a course is almost wasted.

I think it would have been better to have an additional station, and spread them out along the course in 1.5-1.6 mile increments.  This is especially true considering how hot the race was that day (and frankly, a muggy summer race in DC should not exactly be a surprise).  And, anecdotally, I noticed that a large number of the runners walked for at least a part of the course (author included).  Hopefully, future course layouts will add an additional water station and make the probable heat more manageable.

The SMOpinion

The SMO is a simple design: a red and silver rendition of the AHA’s logo, with the event name listed in the trim along the front of the medal with the date along the back.

SMO

SMO for the 10K and the 5K

A couple things I noticed about the SMO is that the 5K and 10K entrants received the same medal.  In fact, you can see along the trim that it says “Lawyers Have Heart XXV 10K & 5K.”  Also not pictured: the date of the race (although it does appear on the back).  Ultimately not the biggest deal in the world however, as the race is designed to be a fundraiser.

The post-race experience

After I caught my breath, I made my way over to the Washington Harbor plaza, where the race entrants congregated for post-race refreshments.  Everyone 21 and older got one free drink ticket at the post-race party.  Another well-thought-out detail by the race organizers: the ticket was affixed to the wrist band used to gain entry to the area.  This was an appreciated convenience; I’ve received drink tickets before, but they were included in the swag bag.  It was nice not to worry bringing it with you after running, especially on such a hot day.

Playlist Peak

Initially, I had planned to forgo a playlist because I had a running buddy for the race.  My running buddy had a different idea, however, as she does not like to talk when running.  So I used the same playlist as I had in my previous race; big letdown that I did not have the foresight to make a DC-specific playlist.

Potomac

View of the Potomac River. The Kennedy Center is seen off in the distance, to the left and behind Roosevelt Island.

The two notable selections from my iPod were more situationally funny than peaks.  The first occurred within two minutes of the race starting, when “The Final Countdown” came on.  I suppose I was counting down the race’s 5.9 mile homestretch?

The other was when Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana’s Smooth came on.  I am not sure exactly how far along I was in the race when the song came on—it was some place mid-way through—but the duo definitely drove home my feelings on the weather (“Man it’s a hot one//Like seven inches from the mid-day sun”).

Looking back now

It turned out that I enjoyed the Lawyers Have Heart 10k for the exact reasons that I thought I would like it.  It was an excuse to travel to DC for the weekend.  Moreover, it was neat to participate in an event specifically geared towards my chosen profession.

At the same time, the event has a lot of room to improve for future years.  Most important to address would be to add an additional water station for the 10K distance, because a June DC race is likely to be as hot as this day was (if not more).  That single change is easy to make, though, and I expect that making that adjustment, built on top of all the other things that Lawyers Have Heart does right, would allow this race to be an excellent option for a summer race.

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