I’m a couple of days late, seeing that I flew to Brazil just hours after running. By the way, don’t ever do that. I’m more sore now than I was after my marathons… I guess sitting down for over 12 hours after running is not a good idea, huh?
This was my third time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Last year, I hated the race and was pretty honest in my review. This year, though there was still some of the same problems as in 2010, it was a much more pleasant experience, and I didn’t hate it. I actually kind of *gasp* liked it.
We picked up our packet on Saturday morning, and though the expo is on the small side, Hugi was able to find some good deals and spent quite a bit of money on very discounted Brooks stuff.
Like in previous years, this year I also paid for the upgraded shirt. It is cute, but not sure how often I’ll wear a black short sleeve shirt…
Race morning, I woke up super early and met up with Gray and Hugi in Crystal City, while we made our way to the metro to meet everyone else from the group in DC. The metro was crowded but not ridiculous, and we found everyone with no problems at our usual meeting spot for this race.
A little while later, one of my readers, Beki, who was in DC for the first time, approached me and joined our group! This was her first time running 10 miles, and her one goal was to not get picked up by the bus. She made it to the finish line with plenty of time! (Congrats, Beki!)
Did I tell you that it was FREEZING? It’s not that it was cold per se, but the wind was kicking, which didn’t help. I knew once we started running we’d be fine, but I was suffering for a bit.
We finally made our way to the porta-potties. I knew where the quieter porta-potties were, but was disappointed to find out that the set up was different this year, so there was no “good” lines for it. It actually looked like there were a lot less porta-potties than last year, since last time they were lined up back to back. The lines were long, but we still made it out with time to get into our corral.
The other reason I think there were less porta-potties? I encountered the most disgusting one EVER. Why? The amount of crap (literally, crap) piled up in it, went past the toilet seat. Like a volcano peaking out. How much must people have crapped in one place there to make it peak out? I did a quick pee and ran out of there, as luckily it was a handicap sized one, so I had plenty of room to maneuver sideways so my butt wouldn’t touch anything (I squat, but yes, it was that bad), but the woman behind me came right out and said there was no way she could use it.
We were finally ready to start! Hugi, Amy and Ben all went to our green corral, and we were moving in no time.
Now the blurry-taken-while-running pictures start. Remember how my biggest complaint about this race is how crowded it is? See it for yourself:
I had no goals of a PR, but I was hoping to maybe finish in 1:55, preferably 1:50. I decided to not pay attention to my pace and just go by feeling.
I was feeling pretty good! I was running with Hugi for the first few miles, and we were keeping less than an 11 minute/mile pace (which nowadays is a pretty good pace for me).
Not that we had much choice to go any faster if we wanted to. It was too packed to even try to weave in and out of people!
The thing I like best about this race is how scenic the course is. We start right by the Washington Monument, then run alongside the Tidal Basin.
Another thing that was a HUGE improvement this year? The cherry blossoms were actually in bloom! Last year we spotted only 3 trees at the entrance of Hains Point that had any blooms. This year we missed the peak by only a couple of days, so there were blossoms everywhere!
About a mile in, we reached the Memorial Bridge, passing by the Lincoln Memorial. You know that’s one of my usual routes for my Saturday long runs and back when I use to run home from work! (Remember that job I used to have? Ha, me neither! Quitting was my favorite part of the year!)
I never get tired of running in front of the Lincoln Memorial!
We ran across the bridge, to the circle at the end of it, ran around the circle and came back to DC.
Can you tell it was a gorgeous day in DC?
From the bridge, we run towards the Kennedy Center, and there’s another turnaround point right in front of it.
Then we run back east on Rock Creek next to the Potomac River…
And cross in front of the Watergate steps.
Before running under the Memorial Bridge (I think it’s the prettiest bridge in DC).
There was yet another out and back on Ohio Dr… (I really hope the construction for the Martin Luther King memorial will be finished soon, so it can go back to the old route, which had one less out and back route.)
Then we go over the Tidal Basin, with the Jefferson Memorial in view.
Hugi had run with me until mile 3, but since I was running with music (a review and giveaway to come soon, yay!), I didn’t mind being on my own as much. I was having a hard time talking and running anyway, and though I was well within my goal of finishing within 1:50, by mile 5 I was getting tired. The pretty view was not helping me today.
I kept trying to distract myself by taking pictures, reminding myself that this was my last race in DC, for at least the next two years.
There wasn’t much spectators either, which never helps.
But the blossoms did lift up my spirits a bit. Just not enough…
Finally, we were approaching Hains Point, and we could see those approaching the finish line coming in the other direction. On my end? The course was still as crowded as ever.
To make matters worse, right in front of the Jefferson Memorial, there were a few school bus parked. How is that even allowed in the middle of a race course? If all the bottlenecks from the out and backs weren’t enough, taking a whole lane out certainly didn’t help.
It was around this time that Kristy came and gave me a friendly bump. We chatted for a couple of minutes and I admitted I was having a hard time, for her to go on without me.
And a little while later, we spotted Blair, who was volunteering today! I stopped to give her a hug and take a picture of her.
An she took a picture of me…
I think that was my biggest mistake. I lost about a minute on my time saying hello (I didn’t care about time anymore at this point), but when I started running again my legs just felt heavier. I was having a harder and harder time keeping pace.
I knew Hains Point was going to be boring (heck, I’ve run there 3 times in the last 6 months: Marine Corps Marathon, Veterans Day 10k and now the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler), but I was ready, I’ve had many training runs there last summer (if you’re ever in DC, it is a great place to run, since you can run on the road any day), and it’s not the worst place to run, the scenery is even pretty, it just kind of all looks the same.
It was nice to see all the blooms there, but the course was still crowded despite being around the 7 mile mark. I had hit a wall. Badly. I might be smiling in the picture below, but my eyes show my desperation…
Distracting myself by taking pictures was not helping today… At some point Sarah, who I have run with a few times on our Saturday long runs passed by and said hello. Since I was feeling craptastic, I told her to keep going without me. She was definitely looking strong!
But finally I reached the turnaround point, and I knew there was very little left on this race…
I wish I could say knowing that helped. Funnily enough, mentally I was ok, I just had no energy left (the pictures also stopped here, though mostly because one half of Hains Point looks almost the same as the other half).
I kept telling myself “move faster, move faster” but my legs just couldn’t keep up. Every time I checked my pace, I was slacking off, but being aware of it didn’t make my body move any better.
Miles 7-9 were my slowest ones. I just couldn’t keep up. I kept trying to change songs to see if anything would give me that burst of energy, but no go. Eating a gel didn’t help either.
The course was still very crowded, and I started walking the water stops trying to sip more water, see if that would help, with no luck.
I knew the race ended on an uphill, I thought I was ready for it, but once we hit it, my legs still couldn’t keep up with what my mind was trying to do. I just had no speed left in me.
Finally, the finish line was in full view and I sprinted to it. It was one of my slowest sprints to a finish line ever! I saw Karl waiting on the sidelines and yelled for him 3 times before he noticed me, which definitely didn’t help on that sprint…
On the bright side, once I finished, I was surprised to see this:
YES!!! They MUST have read my recap from last year. Not only they had water for me, but they were definitely stocked up, and had enough water for every finisher too! I HAD to take a picture, of course!
I met up with Karl, went to claim my medal (you have to pay $12 for the medal, and hello, I like displaying mine, so of course I paid up!). I did forget to take a picture of it, however, but it looks very much like the design on the shirt above. Last year’s was much nicer… (I’ve been having a bad streak medal-wise lately, as my friends keep joking about with me!)
We met up with the group at the end, then while everyone went off to brunch, Karl and I went home to finish packing, drop off Lily at my friends and still make it to the airport by 3:30pm.
Oh, and my finish time? I met my “B” goal, crossing the finish line in 1:52:13, which is an 11:14 pace. That’s about 11 minutes slower than my Army Ten Miler time, less than 6 months ago, but I’m happy with it. You probably noticed on the pictures that I’m a lot chunkier now (stupid injuries!), so I’ll take what I can get! It was still slightly better than last year, so yay!
Crossing the finish line was definitely bitter-sweet. No more races to look forward to right now. No more races with my incredible running group… Manila better have some good races in store for me!
We are now officially on the countdown for our time in DC. Yesterday marked exactly 2 weeks from when we will leave the city…