Those Were The Days
Wearing a tucked-in cotton shirt, florescent yellow shorts hiked up to my belly button, and cotton crew socks under my Nike Air Pegasus, I lined up with women, from elites to casual runners, to run the Nike Women’s 8K in DC way back on Mother’s Day, May 14, 1989.
It had been nine years since I’d previously run a race and what seemed like a previous lifetime. Since that last race, I’d gotten married, moved out west and back – twice, changed careers – twice, and most importantly, become a mother.
About the Nike Women’s 8K
I first heard of the Nike Women’s 8K from Bernadette, one of the members of the gym where I worked. In fact, you can see her wearing all black and just in front of me in the picture below. She was speedy and from what I remember, finished way ahead of me.
In addition to Nike, the Nike Women’s 8K was sponsored by Lady Foot Locker; with RunHers organizing the race. The combined effort of those three organizations brought excitement to the local DC running scene and elite runners to this rare women’s only race. The standing US record for that distance was crushed by Lynn Jennings by 25 seconds with a time of 25:07, but let me assure you that I was way back in the pack and nowhere near that excitement of the four women finishing faster than the old record.
Packet pickup was race morning – not unusual even for big races downtown back then. According to my race bib, we received shorts as our race swag rather than a race shirt. I have zero recollection of those shorts; however, I’m sure they beat the cotton shirt we otherwise would have received.
Even thought I didn’t realize it at the time, I was probably about two weeks pregnant with Daniel, our second son. The exhaustion of the first trimester hadn’t set in yet, and I felt strong and confident as I started the race. Bill and Joseph, our 1-1/2 year old, were on the sidelines along Ohio Drive cheering me on as we ran out of West Potomac Park and approached the one mile mark.
Looking strong and determined somewhere mid-course…
This race was about ten years before I ran my first marathon and got serious about racing. Speed work as not part of my training; in fact, my training consisted of meeting a neighbor several evenings a week after I put Joseph to bed. Phil and I met on our street and ran several laps on the one-mile circle that made up our neighborhood, mostly at conversation pace. Of course, my conversation pace was much faster back then!
As I ran down Independence Avenue on the final stretch, I remember wondering how much farther I had to go. As I huffed and puffed down down the final stretch, I was happy to finally see Bill and Joseph again, and the finish line just ahead.
I finished the race in 43:39 (8:43 pace) and set a three second PR over my previous 8K nine years earlier.
After crossing the finish line, I tore the bottom tab off of my race bib so my finish time could be recorded. Prior to electronic timing, a button was pushed as each person crossed the finish line and this marked their time on the race clock. Tabs were collected and spooled in the order runners finished and then matched to the clicks on the clock to determine each runner’s finish time. If you started back in the pack and it took three minutes for you to cross the starting line, so be it; your time would be three minutes slower than if you’d started at the front of the pack and run the exact same pace.
After working my way through the finish chute, I easily found Bill and Joseph, and my first race as a mom was celebrated!
Eventually we found our friends Bernadette and Serena from The Health Club of Reston, and just like that, I posed for my first ever group post-race picture .
Playing Tourists In Our City
Before heading home, we took advantage of being in DC and walked around some of the monuments. In the two pictures below, Joseph and I are playing tourist in front of the Washington Monument…
And the Lincoln Memorial.
Back home, Joseph and I admired my Mother’s Day roses. Check out his little Nike shoes!
I’m not sure how many more years they held the Nike Women’s 8K, but I do know that it eventually became a thing of the past (perhaps as early as the next year). Just this year; however, the Nike Women’s Half made its debut in DC, and along with the half, an 8K was offered. Nearly thirty years later, another Nike Women’s 8K is run on the streets of DC, and along a very similar route.
- • What distance was the first road race you ran other than high school or college track or cross country)?
- • Have you run an 8K? That distance doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as 5K’s and 10K’s.
- • Have you run a Mother’s Day race?