This Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10 Miler was my third time running the race, and it proved once again why it is one of my favorite races. Ten miles is a great distance for a race. You need to train for the distance, but you can still run fast too. My enjoyment of the event probably wasn’t hurt by the fact that I scored a new PR either! I finished in 1:15:54 bettering last year’s time of 1:16:41 and a far cry from my first go at it in 2009 when I finished in 1:28:39! It’s really awesome when you can clearly see your hard work paying off! (My apologies in advance…this is going to be a long post.)
I kicked things off Friday afternoon with a lunch at Rosa Mexicana and a trip to the expo with my friend Megan. Having shown up right at the opening of the expo last year and waiting in a line that ran through a hallway, down 2 cases of stairs and out the door, I was a bit nervous we’d face that again. Most people heeded the organizers warning though apparently, and we were able to breeze right in and pick up our bibs and tee shirts with no wait at all.
We explored the expo for a little bit before getting reeled in by the RooSport booth. The ladies there were selling pouches created by their mother that could store anything from gels and keys to your phone or credit cards. It had one larger pouch that closed with a small piece of velcro and one zipper pouch for valuables. The cool things about this pouch is how you keep it on you. You simply slide the pouch into your shorts (or shirt, sports bra, etc.) and let the flap fall down over the front – a very strong magnet does all the work of holding it in place. Megan was kind enough to pick up two so I could give one a try too.
I broke the cardinal sin of never trying anything new on race day (I do this too much) and used it to hold my Gu. I’m an instant believer. This was awesome. I barely felt it there. It didn’t move or bounce. It was easy to get my Gu out of when I needed it. I love it! This will also come in especially handy on days I run home from work and have to carry all my credit cards and keys.
On Saturday I went through all my final pre-race prep, which included some screen printing to add my blog logo and website to one of my Nike tanks. I used a different variation of the logo that includes a D.C. skyline background and not only did it look awesome printed on the shirt, but it was a very appropriate first race to wear it for seeing as we were running by so many D.C. monuments.
My 5:44 a.m. alarm sounded and it felt like I’d barely been asleep. It’d been a late night cheering on my Syracuse Orange in their Final Four loss to Michigan and it would’ve been a lot easier to wake up had I been excited about them winning. Nevertheless, it was a season that exceeded all expectations and I had a race to run, so I hopped out of bed and got moving. I ate a piece of toast, a banana and a yogurt while downing a glass of water and getting ready. Ian and I left for the metro around 6:25. After getting off at the Smithsonian metro stop we headed away from the crowds so I could run to my office quickly and use the bathrooms there instead of waiting in line for the porta-potties. Soon after we made our way for the start. I felt a bit rushed so I was only able to get a few of my active warm-up stretches in before giving Ian my jacket and hopping into the corral to wait for the start.
It was sunny, but chilly so I was almost glad I didn’t have a ton of time to stand around. I wore a tank, arm warmers, gloves, capris and calf sleeves, which proved to be just perfect for the 40-degree temps. I started with the red wave a few minutes after the first wave took off. My mantra was start slow, finish fast so my original plan was to run the first couple miles 10-15 seconds behind my goal pace of 7:30. I got nervous about my ability to control my own pace though and hopped next to the 7:30 pacer at the last second.
Naturally that meant I went out a bit faster than my plan, but it was still much better than I’ve done in the past (last year I ran mile 1 sub 7…oops), and for the first time it didn’t destroy my legs for the final stretch. We headed past the Washington Monument down Independence Ave, past the Lincoln Memorial, out and back over the Memorial Bridge, and out and back past the Kennedy Center for the first three miles. We dodged toward Hains Point on Ohio Drive before coming back and looping past the Jefferson.
Mile 1 – 7:23
Mile 2 – 7:16
Mile 3 – 7:20
Mile 4 – 7:22
I was feeling really strong, but started to tighten up a little for mile five. I passed the mile marker and was a bit down when I saw I slowed to a 7:35 pace, but instantly felt better when I heard Ian call out my name. My look of distress quickly turned into a smile and I powered up one of the few slight hills on the course.
Now that’s a race face even Mark Remy would be proud of.
Smiling after hearing Ian call my name!
Mile six took me into Hains Point and a horrific headwind slowing me down even more through mile 7.5 when we finally hit the turn around and the wind died down. Somehow I found myself running with no one within 10 feet in front of me for a bit here, so I couldn’t tuck in behind anyone and had to battle the wind head on. How does that happen in a 17,000 person race?! I practiced this section so many times, but the wind here got the best of me yet again, slowing me down quite a bit.
Mile 5 – 7:35
Mile 6 – 7:42
Mile 7 – 7:55
Mile 8 – 7:52
Not too much in the way of cherry blossoms, but my allergies are thankful for that.
I was most proud of my last 2.5 miles of this race. I could’ve given up when I realized how much I’d slowed down battling the wind, but instead I picked it up and really pushed it to the finish line. I knew I’d be cutting it pretty close to 1:16 and really, really wanted to finish under that, so I powered my way through a little uphill before the final downhill to the finish. I was so incredibly pumped when I read 1:15:54 on my watch – a new PR!!
Mile 9 – 7:35
Mile 10 – 7:23
Going hard to the finish line!
Post-Finish in front of the obviously under construction Washington Monument
My finish time was good enough to put me in 1,713 place overall, 401 among women and 127 in my age group. I actually finished ahead of 90 percent of the pack! That’s crazy to me and such an improvement over just a couple years ago. I also was a part of the DC RoadRunners team that finished second in the open women’s division! Thanks to the Cherry Blossom organizers for another great race – well organized and fun as always!
Ian and I were able to find someone to take our picture at the finish. I so appreciate him getting up before dawn and trekking all over the place to take pictures and support me and my crazy running habit!
He also got some shots of some pretty great fan signs. The bottom left is a little bit blocked by a runner, but it says, “This is what a supportive girlfriend looks like.” All I have to say about the woman holding the “Who Farted?” sign is she who brings the sign commits the crime. 🙂
From all the tweets and race recaps I’ve seen I know there were a whole bunch of you out running too. How’d it go? What was your favorite sign?