Apr 10, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Recap

Wow. So I feel like I just have to start with this...
Now, that in now way means I won my age group, got a special award or threw down a course record. Frankly, it means I barely made the course time limit, but that was a major improvement and victory for me.

The Cold Wait

Early morning Washington Monument
Early morning monument.
The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is held in D.C., starting right next to the Washington Monument. So, this meant one thing, an early date with the metro. At 5:30 am, I drove past a Dunkin' Donuts not even open and several blinking red lights. It was too damn early. It was also a blistering 38 degrees. I was dressed in my running gear: tech shirt, shorts, calf sleeves and a long sleeve t-shirt to shed at the start. I have some warmth padding, but not that much. I made probably the second train going in and was not alone. I'm sure the later trains were busier, so I was glad to be there early to avoid and crowd. I had the ability to stretch out and have a seat to myself.

Arriving at the Smithsonian stop, I ventured out into the chill to the start area. I had brought a bag check for the first time, so made my way there first. The guy at bag check told me the early you get back the quicker you get your bag because the lines are shorter. My reply was "well I guess I'll be waiting." I informed them I'm a completer not a competer, so I would be at the tail end. I just hoped I wouldn't be last and make them have to wait for me. After that, the waiting began. Towards the middle was a stage with a Gold's Gym warm up. Looked more like a workout, and I had to run 10 miles. Were they crazy? I'm not jumping around like that. Finally came time to load the corrals. The corrals were nothing really more then people holding a divider with colored flags on the side of the road. I was in the final corral, purple, but I made sure to be towards the front. As my previous post mentioned, I was worried, so I wanted every little bit I could get. It was chilly, but I made friends and chatted with some runners around me, including a nice runner from NYC who came down for the race (she used to live down here). She was humorous, talking about some friends that own a tattoo parlor in Georgetown and keep moving farther down the street as it gets "too posh". But I digress. As we waited, the announcers were on the mic talking about the elites at the front running in the 10 mile championships and calling the race as they started first. I must admit that was kind of interesting to me.

The Race

I had placed myself at the front of the corral to try and get a good start. And also to put as much room between me and the last people to start, and therefore the sweepers. I had a pretty good start, running for a good bit, before falling into my 30 / 30 split. I usually try and do that at the very beginning because it's easier with all the crowd and it makes for a good start. I'm careful to not overdo it, but it helps. The course was really nice. Starting at the monument, we headed out Independence Ave. During mile 2, we went out and back on the Arlington Memorial Bridge. This part was really cool because you got to see your other runners heading back the other direction (who were encouraging) and there were a ton of volunteers down the center of the road with cow bells and clackers (who were VERY encouraging). The course headed up and back under the Kennedy Center (love that place) and back around by the Washington Monument by mile 5. We looped the Tidal Basin, which was pretty then headed for the longest feeling portion of the course, down and back the peninsula with East Potomac Park. It was neat running down the Potomac and being across of Regan National Airport, but it just kept feeling like we were going so far away from the monument, and I knew we'd have to go back. But after turning the point we'd hit mile 8 and just be a short morning run back home to the finish.

Here's a little of my thought process during the run.
Mile 1: Feeling good. Nice start.
Arlington Bridge: Wait, is that Santa running?
Mile 2: Wow, really good start.
More Arlington Bridge: Go away sweeper trucks. It's too early to see you. Take your time getting across the bridge.
Mile 3: Nice time padding... wait, is she dressed like a pirate?
Under the Kennedy Center: Yes, it is Santa running!
Mile 4: I may actually do this. Feeling great.
Mile 5: Half way there. I dropped a little slower, but feeling good.
Tidal Basin: Tom. *head nod*
Mile 6: Water ahead. Thank God. Run strong to the water.
Mile 7: Ok, we need to turn around. The farther we run, the farther back I have to run.
Mile 8: I've got this. Just to Braddock Road and back. Just a Tuesday morning now!
Guy with a Van: Wait, is that an acoustical version of "Forget You"? Yep, that's some Cee Lo Green.
Mile 9: I'm doing this!
Mile 9.5: Seriously?! A hill NOW?!
Mile 10: Wooooooooooooo!
I stopped my phone and it said 2:18! That meant I made it! I beat the time. Not only did I finish without being swept, I managed it without any padding over the time limit. I was on cloud nine, not seven or eight, all the way to nine. Then my phone alerted me my official time with a pace of 13:47 minutes per mile. I couldn't even comprehend how I managed that. I felt like I hadn't trained hard enough but still pulled it out. I had an extra push helping me, which I was very grateful for and did not overlook.

Official time: 2:17:50
Unofficial Tracking: Nike+

Post Race

After the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run
Back where I started.
After the race, I grabbed my hard earned bling and went to bag check. I wasn't their final bag either. Small victories. On the way back over, they were giving away stuff at the stage for showing energy: a Gatorade t-shirt, a towel, a poster, Cherry Blossom shirts. As I went by they had a Potomac River Running gift certificate. So I jumped up in the back and did some jumping jack and boom, picked me, and I scored a $50 gift certificate. Not a bad bonus prize. Makes up for the fact that just after that, I found out there was no food left at the food tables, just some Gatorade. I would say that was my only complaint about the race.

I was talking over lunch with a coworker about running the other day and talked how in running, for 95% of the people, you're really just competing with you. We're not all elites, we don't run 5 minute miles (the winner of my age group ran a 4:45). But we run. And we enjoy it (most of the time). And we keep getting back out there. That's what I did. I bested me and felt great doing it. So in that way, I crushed it.

Cherry Blossom medal and bib.
Finishing with obligatory bib and bling.


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