What a difference 2 weeks make! The Cherry Blossom 10 miler was a complete 180 from my RnR experience – all for the positive. After a successful week including a handful of short/fast runs, really good sleep (I’m talking 9-10 hours a night!), a good diet and lots of time with friends and family, I was in prime condition for the race. I felt (pretty) great all 10 miles, clocked a PR and never even considered walking during the run.
Starting with the expo, the Cherry Blossom 10 was one of the best organized large races I’ve run. With 15,000+ runners in the 10 miler and thousands more in the 5k, the CUCB team has their work cut out for them. Despite some negative press I heard from runners in prior years, I didn’t experience anything other than stellar service and fantastic race organization.
Also on their game this weekend was my beloved WMATA. The metro opened super early for the race (5am) and trains were running pretty frequently (train every 15 minutes). To top it off, there was NO SCHEDULED TRACK MAINTENANCE! That was seriously the best news I heard all week.
With a race start of 7:30am, we had an early morning. My mom and I woke up from fitful sleep at 5:30am and stumbled around my apartment finding coffee, camera and warm clothes (mom) and tea, english muffin/pb/banana, race gear and metro card (me). We made it out of the apartment and to the metro by 6:20am. The walk up the hill was dark and chilly! I was glad to have an extra layer and my gloves for pre-race warmth.
Once at the metro, we ran into friends also running the race and jumped on the next train. While I did have to stand, people weren’t packed into the train like sardines and I could actually breathe. We ran into more friends and talking with them helped me ignore my queasy race day stomach. We opted to hop off at McPherson Sq and walk the 8 blocks to the Washington Monument. CLUTCH MOVE. This avoided the crowds of runners getting off at Smithsonian and another potential crowd-induced panic attack for me.
After a short walk to the race start, we picked a meet up point for after the finish and quickly got in line for our corral start. We ended up in the blue corral, 2 ahead of what I’d originally been assigned to. I’d already “upgraded” by bib to orange at the expo, but it just worked out to get into blue and start near the 9:00 pace group. Again CLUTCH MOVE. I typically start out with the 10 mile pace, since I’ve always been afraid of starting out too fast and dying before the finish.
Starting a little earlier and with a faster group helped to avoid some of the bob and weave maneuvers around slower folks and, even more importantly (since I stayed up with the “fast” crowd for most of the race) not too many people in my area stopped to walk. So thankful for that, since watching someone else walk is a total mind game — I see you walking and you look so comfortable and pain free! I want to walk too! — well for the first race in a long time, I never had that thought!
I started fast, running alongside my super fast bride-to-be friend Meg, and even when we split off at mile 4, I kept up a good pace and ended the race in 1:36:32 and a 10 miler personal best mile average of 9:40. This is my “holy crap I’m running fast” face! btw “fast” is all relative 🙂
Big thanks to my mom for being my race support/photographer/water bottle & jacket holder and most importantly for sharing a big ass pitcher of mimosas at post-race brunch with me! Mike – we missed you so much we ordered enough mimosas for three!
Now, all my half marathon training feels worth it. I’m hyped up for the rest of my 2012 race calendar, which you may notice has grown a bit. Thanks Cherry Blossom 10 for getting me out of my running/race funk from RnR!! Already looking forward to next year!