The Casual Runner

2016 Lawyers Have Heart 10k

Event: 2016 Lawyers Have Heart 10K
Event Date: June 11, 2016
Event Location: Washington, D.C.

Why I decided to run this race

I ran this race last year, and all of the reasons that I did then (10K as an attractive distance, huge DC fan, good race reputation, and the fact that the race supports a good cause) were still true for this year’s race. My race calendar for the summer was very light, so the Lawyers Have Heart 10K was a convenient insert. Also because I have been more lazy selective with my races so far for 2016, I found the 10K distance more manageable and more appealing than trying to do a full 13.1 miles in peak summer weather and with minimal training.

SMO

The 2015 event SMO.

Getting there/the lead-up to the race

The training leading up to the race was the same as last year, minus all the other races I was running around this one.  (Seriously, I have been very lazy selective with my races this year…).  I was able to keep in shape for this race without any effort to build up miles going into it.

Also, as I did last year, I drove in from Ohio the night before the race.  Although DC is not too bad of a drive from where I live, it was a non-starter to attempt to come down just before the race began.  To make the 7:30 a.m start time, I’d have to leave Ohio by 3:00 a.m., and that’s not even considering the time it would take to navigate local traffic, find adequate parking, and dash over to the starting line.  I’ve woken up early for races before, but that’s a bridge too far even for me.

The gear

It’s no secret that DC summers are notoriously muggy and humid so this race did not require a lot of gear. All I brought with me to the race was a pair of sunglasses a T-shirt and shorts. Although I don’t use a hydration belt usually, this race would have been a good one to do so. And I saw a lot of people doing just that.

My only quibble is with my T-shirt selection. The majority of people that run in this race join a team organized around either their firm or, in the case of the government, their section/unit. My team elected to go with tech gear shirts (great idea) but they selected black as the color (not a great idea).  Granted we had the option to order a tank top, but that was black too. I mean, it’s a DC summer race. Come on!

The race Expo / Swag review

This race does not have an expo, aside from the opportunity to pick up your bib the night before.  I was not able to do that, because I drove in on Friday.

Relatedly, I somehow did not wind up with any swag for this race because I never got anything other than my bib.  I’m not sure if that’s due to the race organizers scaling back, or a mess-up on my end.  I think it’s the latter, because the race website suggests that, in addition to a race t-shirt (if purchased), runners could also pick up their fundraising incentive (if earned).  Not the most exciting swag, but I’m willing to give it a pass because it’s a fundraiser for a good cause.

The pre-race

As is custom for a profession notorious for procrastinating, I played a reckless game of chicken with the 7:30 a.m. start time by arriving a mere seven(!) minutes before the race was set to begin.  This did not leave me with a lot of time to do any wandering among the different tables set up.  As with last year, the starting corral was one collective start, but included signage to show the runners where to stand based on target pace.  From back where I started, this did not seem to affect the field at large.  The pack was moving quickly enough that I could not just walk to keep up with the pace by the time I reached the starting line timer, and the initial part of the race did not see too many people moving at a slower pace than everyone else around them (suggesting they were too ambitious about their average pace, thereby contributing to congestion).

Along the course

The course for this year’s race was easily 90% similar to last year’s course, so very similar in terms of the scenery and course layout.  Since I ran the race last year, I’d encourage you to go read that piece as well, rather than having me repeat here what I wrote about the course.

Starting Line

A view of last year’s start.

The course featured a couple of subtle alterations in layout from last year, both of which I think were for the better.  The first occurred in the first two miles of the race.  Last year, both the 5K and 10K courses ran a mini out and back along K Street, up onto the Whitehurst Freeway and turning around at the M Street intersection near Georgetown’s campus.  This year’s course extended this part of the course by having the runners turn onto Canal Street and run along that road just until hitting a hill, and doing the turn-around there.  The added distance near Georgetown added around three fourths of a mile that was both well shaded and relatively flat—both crucial for surviving the weather.  Plus, there was a water station incorporated along this stretch that wound up being a “two for one” station that runners could hit on their way back (more on this below).  Most importantly, I liked doing the turnaround at the bottom of a hill, rather than the top.  Always a moral victory when you can avoid doing too many hills!

The second change was the omissions to counteract adding Canal Street.  One stretch eliminated was a small there and back on 19th Street off of E Street.  This may not seem like much, but it eliminated a hill because 19th is on a slope.  The 2016 course also eliminated an out and back along K Street in the final mile.  This one was more mental than physical.  The K Street out and back immediately followed the course’s biggest hill on Virginia Avenue.  Rather than running away from the finish line, this year’s course instead took runners down 27th towards the finish line.

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.

Potomac

One major commendation that the race organizers deserve is modification to the on course hydration.  Last year, one of my biggest complaints was that the water stations were too few in number and not spread out in a logical manner.  At the risk of claiming too much influence, I was pleased to see that this year’s race had much better layout for hydration (thanks for reading, Lawyers Have Heart organizers!).  Whereas the first water station in last year’s race was located almost halfway through the race (closer to mile 3 than mile 2), this year the first water station was between mile 1 and mile 2 (probably around approximately mile 1.25), with the added bonus of being located on a there and back portion of the course that allowed the same volunteers to also provide water before the 2 mile mark.  I love the efficiency of doubling water stations this way, such as what organizers did during the C&O Towpath half marathon.

From this point forward, there were two more water stations: one between mile 3 and mile 4, and another just past mile 5.  There was also a station with frozen sponges (soaking wet to wring out the water over your head) that was around mile 5.5.  In total, that’s 4 water stations (if you include the doubled one earlier), with the largest gap between any station being less than two miles, and a much better distribution throughout the race.  This was a very smart change, and my hats off to the organizers.  And I’ll try not too hard to pat myself on the back for suggesting the change!

The SMOpinion

Here is another area where I can claim this blog’s influence as having a positive effect on the race this year due to things that I identified in last year’s review.  One of the things I thought that Lawyers Have Heart could improve was within the SMO department; namely, its size, overall design, and the fact that there was no difference between the 5K and 10K (see last year’s SMO up above).

This year’s metal, while being the same size and again does not distinguish between the race distances, is nonetheless a markedly better design. The front features icons familiar to DC residents: The Washington Monument, the dome for the Capital, and the Francis Scott Key Bridge.  To top it off silhouettes of lawyers run across the bridge—briefcase in toe!  The effect of the change is a much more personalized SMO that symbolizes both the race location (DC) and the entrants (lawyers).  Overall a much better and cooler medal for this year’s race.  Maybe next year will add different designs for the different races? Hey, asking nicely worked before!

IMG_0508

The post-race experience

Like last year, the Washington Harbor area was festive with all the finished runners congregating with their teammates after completion.  I don’t know if I missed it, but last year had a post-race party, at which each entrant got a free drink coupon.  This year, I must have missed it, because the website suggests that they held it again.  In any event, there were plenty of snack and water/Gatorade tables set up both in the finisher’s chute and the Harbor area to allow the runners to refuel.

Playlist Peak

As I was heading out the door for the race, I realized that my iPod was out of battery. D’oh! No music this race. As boneheaded as it may have been not to charge my music the night before, it wound up not being that big of a deal, because I had planned to run a slower race to spend time with my fiancée.  I didn’t need to music, therefore, as much as I would have had I run the race on my own.

In the on course music department, there were one or two spots where speakers were set up, playing the usual suspects mix of 80s music, classic rock, “Jock jams,” and recent pop hits. The distribution along the course was not great though. One speaker was right at the start/finish line and the other was about 1 mile in (though the course ran by again at around mile and a half Mark).  Maybe I’m spoiled from other races.  This would be a good area to bolster Lawyers Have Heart 2017!

Looking back now

Unlike some of my other efforts to revisit past races that ended in misery (Mike will never let me live it down how I finished my second try at the Green Cathedral Half Marathon), the Lawyers Have Heart 10K is a race that I see myself running on a regular basis—if for no reason other than convenience of location.  That doesn’t say a whole lot, however, because this course is a very good 10K option.  Perhaps most importantly, the race is organized by a smart group of individuals.

All kidding aside about my review being the force of change, the changes from 2015 to 2016 reveal that the organizers knew the ways to improve their race, and they hit it out of the park.  A gentle nudge from yours truly surely helped too (humor me), but they’re the ones who made the changes.  I said last year that Lawyers Have Heart would be an excellent option for a summer race if slight modifications were made.  Having seen the improvements, I can confidently say that prediction came true—many times over.  Can’t wait to see what the 2017 iteration looks like!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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