I signed up for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon after passing my six month mark in September for my “half-marathon every six months” resolution. This race was the first race I actually trained for, interval, tempo, long runs, and all! Looking for a local, easy to access race, I signed up about a month before and went online to find a one-month training plan. I got sick in the middle of my training plan and had to take time off work to get better, but luckily I had actually started training a week earlier so my workouts could afford the week off.
The course was beautiful, a scenic route out and back along the tree-lined George Washington Parkway with the last 3 miles out and back long the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. That being said, if you want a race with lots of spectators and energy, this is not the race. Because it ran along a wooded, residential parkway, there were only probably 3-5 groups of spectators along the 10 miles, each group only being 1-4 people. The last 3 miles over the bridge and back were on one pedestrian side of the highway, making for windy temps (already only above freezing), plenty of noise from fast moving cars, little passing room, and no spectators (except for the 2-3 police officers). Since I did all my long runs on a northern section of the Mount Vernon Trail, I had run in identical environments to the first 10 miles (in fact, the Mount Vernon Trail actually runs parallel from the Parkway!). Although the portion over the bridge was tough, it was my first time by foot over it and the views of DC and the Potomac are awesome!
I didn’t use MapMyRun for this race because I activated tracking on the RaceJoy app. I was also lazy and I wanted to get my fingers back into my gloves ASAP! This meant I had no audio reminders of pace or mileage. Fortunately, the course had a marker for each marker. I still listened to music, but I kept one earbud out so I could hear my breathing and take in the event. I felt really in tune with my breathing and body during the course since that’s all I had to gauge my pace, but I was surprised when I crossed the finish line and realized that I had set a 12 minute PR!
Still on my post-runner’s high, I was awaiting my medal (I’m totally into racing for the shirts and the bling). Shortly after finishing, I realized that no one else was adorning medals and I soon learned that they were stuck in New Jersey. Definitely a bummer, but the organizers arranged for medal pick up at a local location a week later and to ship them to those who are not local or who could not make the pick up time.
After doing some post-race research on Yelp, I learned that this race has roused some runners. It recently changed organizers, which could have attributed to the new date from years past, lower registration compared to prior years, and the late medal shipping. The 2017 race weekend was the same as the Richmond Marathon and local Veterans Day races, which I suspect played a roll in the approximately 800 runner participation, compared to in the thousands years prior. Many people seem to think that past versions of this race fared better on multiple criteria. Even though I don’t have previous years to compare this race to, I don’t think I’ll choose to run it next year. The 2018 Woodrow Wilson Half is scheduled on Veterans Day and the day after the Richmond Marathon, so it’ll be interesting to see if the event can compete more successfully than this year.
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