Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10-miler in DC

The first weekend in April, Christopher and I ventured to Washington DC for the weekend so that I could run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  I had been interested in this race for a couple of years, but hadn't managed to get into the lottery.  I didn't get in this year either, but was offered a bib from one of Christopher's long time college pals that decided not to run the race after all.

We barely made our too early for us bus to DC on Saturday morning, but once we arrived we grabbed some lunch and headed over to the expo.  Though it involved a lot of volunteer direction, I liked the packet pick up.  Everyone was ushered upstairs to pick up and then back down to get t-shirts.  The flow was steady, but not bad at all considering the time frame we were picking up.  I decided to make a t-shirt switch at the end and that process was very smooth and easy as well.  We looked around the expo for a bit, but I didn't see anything spectacular there.

That evening we grabbed dinner at Good Stuff Eatery before heading back to Larri and Ro's place.  They were gracious to host us for the night since they were also running the race.  Dinner was tasty, but I wish I had ordered mine well done because it was far too pink for my taste.

After dinner, Chris and I met up with a friend to watch Kentucky play in the NCAA tournament.  My brother and dad were at the game so I was really cheering for the Cats to win.  It made for a late night, but it was worth it for the crazy finish! 

The morning of a race is never great for me.  I slept well, but woke up a couple times throughout the night fearing I had overslept.  I had never been away from home for a race before so it was a different experience for me.  I ate my banana and got myself sorted out and ready to go without too much issue.  We had decided to drive which proved interesting, but worked out in the end since we were able to use the bathroom inside the building where we parked before we headed over to the start.

Ro and I missed our assigned corrals, but managed to jump in with the 11 minute per mile pace group.   My goal was to finish the race between 2:00 and 2:05.   That put me at 12 minute miles, but with all my anxious energy I started out much faster.  The first couple of miles Ro and I ran closer to 10 minute miles.  I had worn myself down too early and we separated around mile 3. 

I was wearing my new watch for the first time and I really liked being able to keep track of my pace.  I had exhausted myself too early, but pushed to get to mile 5 where Chris was waiting for me.  Officially, I hit the 5 mile split at 1:00:26 pretty much right on pace.  I very briefly stopped there to say hello.  Then, I devoured my chews and kept pushing.

Toward mile 7-8, I was worn out.  The course was three out and backs surrounding the Mall area of DC.  I am not a fan of the out and back structure.  The first two were manageable, but the last one was difficult for me.  Mentally, I was not happy to know that the path I was taking would be repeated on the way to the finish.  I walked a little here and started to feel defeated.

Once I hit mile 9, I knew I just had to suck it up and go.  I wasn't certain on where I would fall timewise, but I just wanted to make the final mile a good one.  There is a bit of a hill just before the finish and I couldn't have been happier when I hit the peak of it.  I sprinted to the finish and figured I was somewhere around 2:03.  Officially, I clocked 2:03:01 with a 12:18 pace per mile.  While I would have loved to be closer to 2:00 (or just under), I was happy with my time.  It wasn't terrible, but just a tad off the mark I was anticipating I could hit.

The post-race experience was not pleasant at all.  There was no one there to provide water or fruit or a bagel.  There was nothing.  I had signed up to recieve a medal so I ventured toward that tent to pick it up and never once saw anything resembling post-race drink or food.  I eventually found bananas, but still never managed to find any water.  This was by far the most unorganized portion of the race.  I was surprised it wasn't more structured since everything else had been.

After getting showered and packed up for our trip back to NYC, we spent the afternoon with friends at brunch and sightseeing a bit in the Mall area.  Chris and I hadn't been to the MLK, Jr. Memorial so we wanted to check it out before we headed home.

The bus back to NYC proved to be a horrific nightmare, but we eventually (at 2am) made it back to the city.  The trip was a lot of fun, but we'll most certainly be taking the train next time we make the trek!

Andrea :)

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