Solo run in D.C.’s parks nets first major race win for Sheedy

Thousands of runners make the trip around the Mall, along the Potomac and around Hains Point during the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Photo: Dustin Renwick
Thousands of runners make the trip around the Mall, along the Potomac and around Hains Point during the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Photo: Dustin Renwick

Kaitie Sheedy has run along Rock Creek Parkway alone before. She’s done solo loops of Hains Point. Now she’s done it leading a half marathon.

The D.C. resident won her first major event at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in 1:20:53.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“It was really nice to race in a place where I’ve trained the last several years,” she said. “It’s always nice when you can jog to the starting line from your house.”

Sheedy said the win served as a perfect tune-up for next month’s race in another capital: Canada’s Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. She took the lead on Hains Point and found herself alone in front.

“I’ve never really been on my own before in a race. It was a good experience to get used to that, listen to my body, and just go with how I was feeling. I’ve been training really hard, so I was like, don’t freak out. Be relaxed. Trust your training, which is always kind of scary.”

Third-place finisher Ann Mazur (1:22:58), of Charlottesville, brought a different training background to the race. Although she ran low mileage in college track and cross country at Notre Dame, she’s dipped even further in recent months while working on a doctorate in English at the University of Virginia. Mazur teaches yoga and swims, but she said she hasn’t run much more than an hour since December, and her weekly mileage has stayed around 30.

“I had no idea how today was going to go,” she said. “Stay in the top three. Don’t die. That was the goal once I hit mile eight or so.”

Mazur says despite the reduced mileage, running has helped her through the days of earning a doctorate.

“You do a lot of sitting down, and frankly I have a really hard time sitting down and getting my work done if I haven’t moved around a whole bunch first.”

To add to her Sunday podium finish, she successfully defended her dissertation on Friday.

“It’s been a really insane past three days.”

New York City resident Leigh Gerson (1:21:59) took second.

For the most part, the race catered to women new to the sport or new to the distance. The 13.1 miles were a first for almost one-third of the runners.

Wearing a tiara and cape, D.C. resident Paige Fetzer completed her first half marathon on the cool, sunny morning. The racing world isn’t foreign to Fetzer, but the former triathlete’s work overseas hindered her swimming, biking and running routine.

“It was hard to maintain training since I was in places like Colombia and Iraq,” she said. “Since I moved here, I started getting back into training. I love the atmosphere of races. Everybody’s encouraging you. There’s so much solidarity and motivation. It gives you the runner’s high you can’t just get on your own.”

Race officials estimated that approximately 15,000 participants raced, and that huge group included Maj. Nancy Harris, based in Fort Dix, New Jersey, with the 174th Infantry Brigade.

Harris had never entered a race before.

“I was like, this is a lot of people, oh my gosh,” she said. “I was so nervous. I started out too fast. I don’t care. I’ll do it again. I’m in the Army, so I run because they make me run, not because I like to. Now, I like to run. I’ve already signed up for two more races.”

Harris joined Team in Training, the race partner whose team members raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its blood cancer research.

Among the purple-clad Team In Training runners was Reston’s Liz Badley. Her  team, Out For Blood, collected more than $13,000 for the charity.

Her first race in a tutu scored her a 10k PR and an overall PR.

“My goal was a tutu PR,” she said with a laugh. “I was in a boot last week because I hurt my ankle. I told my doctor I was going to run, doesn’t matter.”

Badley said she wanted to run negative splits starting at 9-minute miles, but she cruised through mile one in 7:32.

“I was like, OK, guess my plan’s out the window.”

The motivations for entering the half marathon varied from picking a race with coworkers, like Sarah Casarella, New York, to finally running an event in Washington after having lived here for a few years, like Kelly Langhans, Arlington.

For some, the race was about family. Jessica Kloppenburg, a junior at Georgetown University, said she and her sister Alex, New York, signed up for the inaugural Nike race in DC last year, but neither were able to run it. They brought their mom Lauriann, who lives in Boston, along this year. She and her husband started running to stay in shape and allow themselves an excuse to eat good food.

“It’s turned out to be a family activity,” she said.

Food also motivated Lynne Still, of Radford, Va., who said she planned to eat a pile of pancakes after avoiding them for several months. Yet Still expressed the most common reason for selecting the Nike race over other races in late April.

“I wanted to get this necklace,” she said.

Men in suits presented finishers with a coveted Tiffany & Co. necklace in the recognizable blue box.

The Run Nike Women race series has also hosted events in San Francisco for a decade, where Kathleen Malone, of Connecticut, has run the full and half.

Malone has completed a dozen marathons, but the training has taken it’s toll. She wants to focus on the half distance, and she ran the 2013 Nike DC race.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “it’s the little blue box. I have a lot of medals from marathons, but the necklaces are a whole lot more practical.”

Photo: Dustin Renwick
Photo: Dustin Renwick

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