Like most people, I can remember exactly where I was 10 years ago when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember sitting in my sophomore year homeroom, when the vice principal came running in and told our teacher to turn on the TV. The first tower had already been hit and we watched as as the second plane crashed into the second tower.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the attacks.
Until I moved to D.C., I always felt closer to the attacks in New York. I had friends whose parents worked in the towers. I had stood on the roof of the towers and felt on top of the world. And I had been to NYC countless times and seen the skyline with those two soaring buildings.
To me, the Pentagon sort of felt like it was a world away.
That feeling has changed a lot since I’ve lived down here.
Now D.C. is home, and the Pentagon is only a few miles away.
I know everyone has their own way of reflecting on what happened that day, of honoring the victims and thanking first responders for the sacrifices they make to keep us all safe.
Personally, I couldn’t think of a better way to do that than by running a 9/11 memorial race.
My friend Ryan was able to get me a last-minute entry into the sold-out 5K that starts in Arlington and loops around the Pentagon. Ryan’s mom was running with some friends from the PG County police department and at the last minute a few people who were supposed to run got called in to work, so there were extra bibs.
It was a night race, kicking off at 6 p.m. and it had to be one of the most patriotic races I’ve ever attended.
There were members of the military every where.
People ran with flags and in a variety of red, white and blue outfits and the DJ was cranking some patriotic tunes.
I had no intention of racing this race. It was a run for fun with friends in memory of those who lost their lives 10 years ago. (Plus I had already done a nearly 10 mile long run that morning and my legs were toast.)
I ran the race with Ryan, since running with friends is more fun than running alone.
The course started on a downhill and we started took off at a good clip. My legs were feeling surprisingly loose, but I knew we were going way too fast.
When we hit the mile two marker Ryan looked and me and and said, “Only mile 2?!”
As we continued to loop around the Pentagon, we passed a band playing Taps and Ryan thought maybe he was dying. Our pace had definitely dropped off. I was trying to get us to pick up it just a little bit towards the end so we could break 30 minutes. But it was hot and really humid and Ryan’s stomach was bothering him.
We eventually made the final turn away from the Pentagon, ran under a giant American flag and crossed the finish line in 30:41.
Service members were handing out medals after the race.
I’ve never gotten a medal for a 5K before, but this is hands down one of my favorite medals ever.
After we finished we met up with Ryan’s mom and several of the other people who ran the race. I stuffed my face with two pieces of pizza and Ryan downed some beers. Best post-race spread ever!
Running this race was a really small act, but it was my way to say thanks to first responders and service men and women everywhere for the work they do and to remember and honor the victims and the families who lost loved ones in the attacks.
*Major thanks to Ryan for letting me use his iPhone to take all the pictures in this post since my camera battery died!*