Saturday I had a horrible day volunteering for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler expo for my guaranteed registration for next year. I’ll spare you from the details, but to sum up each organizer was telling me to go to a different spot, the security guard started yelling at me to leave the building, causing a scene — when I was just following orders from one of the organizers of the volunteers and not one came up to handle the situation!
It was a horrible experience, and don’t think I will be volunteering for this race ever again, the guaranteed spot is not worth it. I brought over 12 people to volunteer with me, and I’m treated like crap (I’m definitely sending a letter to them about this). When I finally was sent in the right direction, the organizer of the information booth, where I was assigned to, was such a sweetheart and such a contrast from the other people I encountered that morning, that I broke down in tears. Wish I was kidding. The rest of the day was not bad though, most runners were incredibly nice to us folks in the info booth.
But anyway, this is a recap of race day!
We woke up way too early, and made our way into DC to meet the rest of the running group, I was even sporting our running group t-shirt! We were tight in time before bag check closed (seriously, why does bag check closes 25 minutes before the very first wave?), and then we made our way into the porta-potty line, but having learned from last year, we knew where the empty ones were at, and spent less than 5 minutes in line, and then Lindsay (who would be running my pace) and I even took some time for pictures…
Posing in front of the Washington Monument before the race
Loading up on energy gel before while waiting for the race to start
Last year the race was overcrowded, but this year they added another 3,000 people to it, so with 15,000 registered runners, it got even worse. The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is a DC tradition, but unfortunately, it lacks organization. The way the whole race was run, you would think it’s an inaugural race where they still haven’t figured out the glitches, but this race has been going around for 38 years!!!
The race was crowded throughout THE WHOLE FREAKING TIME. Adding to the crowds, there was bottlenecks, after bottlenecks. I got elbowed, tripped on and bumped more times than I can count (not once while taking pictures, so don’t blame my camera posing on that).
The course, however, is beautiful, so I took a bunch of pictures throughout the run:
Approaching the Lincoln Memorial at around mile 1
Near the Watergate Steps right after passing the 5k mark, Memorial Bridge on the back
Lindsay by the Watergate Steps
Going under the Memorial Bridge
I had a great run, and I was having a blast, even with all the pushing! Lindsay wasn’t doing as good — it was definitely a bad day for her running-wise, but I kept by her side (even after she persisted that I drop her and go a faster pace). I knew that if I did try to go faster (and I totally had it in me that day), she would immediately stop and walk, maybe even give up, so I didn’t give her the chance to do it. Plus, if I went faster, I might get bored with the lack of company and someone to talk to, so I might not have had the best race for me either (not that Lindsay was doing much talking, but I was blabbing on the whole freaking time).
About 5 miles in, next to the Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial in the back
At the Tidal Basin, Washington Monument in the back
Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument (and a few people running towards porta-potties in the distance)
This year it got too hot too soon in DC, so the Cherry Blossoms were nowhere to be seen. Tons of people were disappointed, but I already knew they were gone. Last year, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was my first ever long-distance race, so I was just putting one foot in front of the other, and don’t remember a thing from the race course — I didn’t notice ONE cherry blossom even though they were abundant. This year, I was having a great run (really!) and was able to spot the only blossoms still out there (seriously, those three trees were it):
I had such a good run, and could definitely had pushed myself, but I don’t regret one bit sticking next to Lindsay. My knee started bugging me around mile 5, but I didn’t let it bother me, and I was still smiling and laughing the whole time, chitchatting with people who passed by and commented on my skirt (review of runningskirts.com to come soon), and making jokes.
The funniest part of the run was this discussion, around mile 8:
Runner: “I LOVE your skirt!”
Me: “Thanks! The shorts keep riding up though, so if you see me with my hand up my crotch, it’s because I’m trying to pull it down!”
Runner: “And here I thought you were having a good run!”
Last year, the water stop at mile 7 ran out of water (and a volunteer had the nerve to tell me “next time run faster”), luckily this year, all the water stops had plenty of water.
Lindsay continued to have a hard time on this run, and with half a mile to go, she claimed she was going to walk. I yelled at her (and was later thanked after she was done) “No, you have 5 minutes to go, you’re not walking now, just keep up with me!”
When I finally saw the finish line, I took off. I had a lot more left in me, even after sprinting towards the finish line. Karl even mentioned that he doesn’t usually see me smile when I’m sprinting towards the finish, but I wasn’t even tired yet!
The finish line, however, was a disappointment. There was a big sign with “Post Race Water” but the water was long gone. Last year I was having such a hard time with the heat, and needed water right away (actually, in most races, I’m desperate for water at the finish line). How can you have 15,000 runners and NOT have enough water for them at the finish line? I’m slow, but there were still thousands of runners behind me!
Lindsay and I are thirsty, but super happy to have finished it!
We went on our search for water, and I waited at the long line to receive my medal — I had to pay $12 for the race medal when I registered, but it was worth it, it was a pretty medal. I was not happy to see the 5k runners claiming their medals too — they really should have limited the “Ten Mile Run finisher” medals to only people who actually ran 10 miles. But on this race, not only the 5k runners also get a Ten Mile Run t-shirt, they could pay for the medal too and there was no separate medal for the 5k runners.
Lindsay went off on the search for her parents, Karl finally found me with some water and a muffin (they ran out of bananas too. WTF, really) and we went to find the rest of the running group, posing for pictures before going back home.
Everyone’s complaint was the same — the course was overcrowded the whole time. Karl was running for time but stuck behind much slower runners early on the course (why do slower runners do that? Don’t lie on your time when you sign up and mess up for everyone else!). He still got a PR, finishing at 1:15:32 (7:34 min/mile pace), but his first few miles were much slower than he would have liked, since he was dodging people, and at times forced to run on the grassy parts of next to the sidewalks.
If we are still in DC next year, I will run it again (might as well take advantage of my guaranteed registration), but I have a feeling it’ll be my last one…
I didn’t PR, since I was slightly faster at the Army Ten Miler, but at least I beat last year’s time by a couple of minutes.
Net Time: 1:55:15
Pace: 11:32 min/mile