I spent this past weekend in our nation’s capital…eating, drinking and running the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race.
|See? Pretty Cherry Blossoms!
|Saturday morning, I met up with some amazing runner/blogger friends: Steph, Beth, Abby and Jen. We loaded ourselves, our many snacks and foam roller(s) into Abby’s car and headed to D.C. After we arrived, we quickly checked into our fabulous hotel room (big thanks to Beth’s dad!) and headed to the expo. The expo was less than a mile from the hotel and not too crowded so we were able to grab our bibs, shop around and get out in no time!
Saturday night, we had an amazing Mediterranean dinner at Zaytinya. Complete with hummus, falafel and the most incredible pita!
(Photo courtesy of Steph)
Kudos to Jen for the great choice of restaurant! When we were finished fueling up on pita, we headed back to the hotel for our 9pm curfew/bedtime. The majority of our crew has recently been injured and/or sick, so even without the 7am race start we weren’t in any shape to be party animals. Those of us who were running got our race day outfits together, Abby (AKA cheerleader extraordinaire) got her cowbells ready, and we fell asleep listening to Beth still debating whether or not to run at all.
I hadn’t really put in much mileage following the NYC Half, so I didn’t have any expectations for this race. I was mostly looking forward to running a race somewhere other than NY and taking in the sights. Relative to most other runners, I’m pretty laid back and don’t like to stress about paces and finish times. I’m still competitive with myself and love seeing improvement, but my ultimate goal is to run injury-free and happy for as long as I can! That being said, my “goal” for this particular race was sub 1:40 (10 min miles).
We arrived at the start around 7:15 and snapped a few pictures!
Beth, Jen and I squeezed through a fence (literally) to line up between the orange and green corrals, while Steph went up ahead to her speedy red corral. Shortly after we started, I told the girls I was going to go ahead, so we split up. The first few miles were pretty crowded (as expected with a race of this size) and it was hard to get into a comfortable pace. I did a lot of weaving and even had to hop up onto the sidewalk a few times. Maybe for this reason, around mile 2 I started feeling twinges in my left knee. Although I’ve never had major issues with it before, I knew it was my IT band. I immediately slowed my pace but that didn’t seem to help. A sharp pain came and went a few times and I started thinking I would be the one of our motley crew who had to DNF! I knew the course looped back in on itself a few times, so I gave it some time to see if the pain got worse. Luckily, it eased up and I decided to keep running. The early parts of the course had a lot of spectators, which was awesome. I somehow missed seeing Abby along the course but just knowing she was there motivated me!
|Thumbs up for not DNFing!
After the 10K point, we ran into an incredible headwind for about a mile and a half. It was beautiful running along the water, but the wind was not my friend. I definitely felt like I was working harder and not keeping my pace. Not to mention I had tears just streaming down my face from the wind. Good thing the Marathon Foto photogs tend to skip over me, because I definitely would’ve looked like I was crying.
At the final turnaround point, the wind was gone and the Washington Monument (aka Finish Line) was in sight. I knew I was going to come in under my 1:40 goal, so I wanted to push it and see just how much under I could get. About a quarter mile from the finish, Abby and Steph (who had an amazing PR and continues to amaze me with her speed) spotted me and gave me that much needed motivation to finish strong. It was a short uphill followed by an easy downhill to the finish line.
5K-10:20 (I missed the 3rd mile marker somehow?)
My official finish time was 1:35:43 (9:34 pace). Since this was my first 10-mile race, that’s an automatic PR! Woo! This is also my pace-PR for a longer distance race, which is awesome.
Also awesome? This RunPix graphic with info on my places based on gender and division and the number of people I passed and who passed me. Love that!
My only real criticism of this race would be how crowded it was. Parts of the course were pretty narrow, so it might be better if there were more corrals or the waves were more spread out.
I was definitely hurting after the race and woke up feeling super sore Monday. I’ve taken a few rest days and have been stretching and foam rolling like crazy to prevent further ITB issues. Overall, I had a great race and an amazing weekend with some awesome runner ladies. I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back next year! Who’s in?