The Parkway Classic is a road race run on the George Washington Parkway, starting at Historic Mount Vernon and finishing up in the heart of Old Towne Alexandria.The Parkway Classic is happens the end of April, allowing you to enjoy spring breezes and bright foliage from the tree-lined roadway bordering the Potomac River.
All along the route, families come out from the neighborhoods to cheer on all the runners. We were encouraged not just by our friends and family but even young local musicians who played their hearts out so we would keep going. One family traditionally plays the Rocky theme song at a slow point along the road just to make sure you aren’t ready to quit. For me, the best part is running past my neighborhood with over 40 people out there cheering for you there is no way you are stopping.
I am a novice runner and the thought of running 10 miles was daunting. I am not a natural runner. I started running because someone asked me to train with them to run a 5K. Once I got up off the couch and started moving toward the 5K goal, I found that I may not ‘enjoy’ the first mile I was always happy when I finished. The overall distance did not matter. Training for a 10-miler can be challenging for a novice runner because most of the training guides are for a 5K or a half marathon. But armed with a bit of training time and some nice spring weather, I knew that consistency in my training would be the key.
I was further pushed along by a friend who had lived here. She had cheered on the runners for years but had never run the Parkway Classic. As a matter of fact, she had never run more than a 5K. The two of us set up a training schedule. We paced ourselves for eight weeks of running three times a week at least, hoping for a longer fourth run over the weekend. My running partner was concerned that not running a training run that would match the 10-mile race would be our downfall but I knew that endorphins and motivation from the race itself would get us to the finish line on race day. Our longest training run was 8 miles on a very warm spring day.
On race day we were both filled with nerves and jitters but again I reminded my friend that slow and steady would win this race. We were moving at a good steady pace. We cheered for every flag marking a mile. We made friends along the way that were encouraged by our chatter of how great we were doing and our cheering for ourselves. We were pushed on by our friends and family who all came out to see us. We saw the 7 mile marker and knew that we could make it up the last hill and see that finish line. We crossed the finished line together, celebrated by the race announcer and the folks donning our medals. We even made it to the post race party to find other friends and neighbors who toasted to all of our accomplishments.
I still don’t enjoy that first mile. I don’t know if I ever will. But I do enjoy the feeling of overall accomplishment. I did something that I never thought I would be able to do and I have the medal to prove it