The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run – a race I have been looking forward to since April 2011 when I first heard of the event! Knowing I was moving to Baltimore this past Summer, I set my sights high. Determined to get in via the lottery. Determined to get my running up to 10 miles by the time it came (I was a 5k NEWB at this point, only having run one 5k event!) December came & I entered within moments of the lottery opening up. After a few weeks of agony, waiting for lottery results – I got the e-mail I WAS IN!
Fast Forward to this morning: The 3am alarm came way too quickly. I looked at the clock, looked at googlemaps on how long it would take us to drive to the Metro station – and set that sucker for an hour later. 4am came even quicker….
My race nerves were really low all week. I kept waiting for them to hit me in the face, full force. Sure enough, the second the Metro pulled away from New Carrollton- there they were. WHAM. The reality of my injury really sunk in. I was convinced that my knee was going to blow out and I would DNF. I asked Zack more than once if I could drop to the 5k… Thankfully A) He kept saying “hell no” and B) I had no idea where the 5k start was in the first place.
We got to the start area around 6:50/7. Giving me just enough time to run over to the port-a-johns, waiting line FOR.EVER. Seriously, this was the most annoying thing of the entire race. There is 15 minutes to the start and THIS IS WHEN YOU DECIDE TO TAKE YOUR GRAND OL’ TIME IN THE RESTROOM? ugh, people! All was well though, because I got out of the potty just as the gun went off for the first wave. Awesome! Now I didn’t have to stand in my corral impatiently getting more nervous. Win!
The waves moved incredibly fast. Before I knew it, the Purple wave was moving up and then I heard the gun. We were off. The start/finish of the Cherry Blossom course is at the Washington Monument. It was absolutely gorgeous.
There was SO much excitement in the air. Everyone was cheering, with huge signs. In a lot of past races I have let the excitement take its toll on me and speed out of the gate, today – today I ran smart. I was moving “slow” and steady. At first this was because of congestion but VERY quickly it spread out and I was keeping with the pace feeling awesome. The first 2 miles of the race brought us over Memorial Bridge passing the Lincoln Memorial – which I was channeling some inner Carly (poor girl wasn’t able to race, woke up ill she mentioned this morning the bridge was one of her favorite parts of the course!) This part of the race was HANDS DOWN my favorite. I sort of wish the course was designed the complete opposite direction. Seeing those incredible historic land marks would help make for a strong finish!!!
Anyways, Then we went along my least favorite part of the entire course to the 3 mile marker and first turn around point.
These 3 miles are kind of a blurr. Practically right at the 5k marker my knee really started barkin’….. Boy oh boy was it suddenly super inflamed. Almost every step the weight would make my knee go out and my step would be way off. I kept repeating in my head “i knew this was a bad idea. The further I keep going the MORE I have to walk if I DNF” – I came to a hult. I peeled off to the curb and stretched out my knee for a minute or two. Honestly, I felt SO much better. Just needed to be worked out a bit.
I was off again and feeling good as new. Mile 5 was a breath of fresh air. tons of HALF WAY THERE signs and a huge crowd support telling us we were kicking booty & we were half way done! I had a huge “oh my lawd. Wooo I’m 5 miles in” Then immediately followed by a “oh my lawd. I HAVE TO RUN 5 MORE MILES! SHIT!” Lesson of the day – distance running makes me curse a lot. ;) The course then ran around the Tidal Basin down and looped around Potomac Park.
the 10k marker lit a fire in me. Not to take the Saucony line – but I FOUND MY STRONG AT THE 10K MARKER! I seriously felt amazing. I don’t know what it was – the crowd support at this point had died down. But maybe it was the fact that I had never raced more than that. Whatever it was, I decided I was ready to pick up my pace…. This is where I met my new friend. I sadly, never caught his name – even though I was staring at his bib on his back for most of the race. I kept spotting him here and there passing me, and I would go “oh heck no” and speed up by him. Finally on mile 7 he looked at me and said “Hey Texas, I have been chasing your tattoo for 7 miles. What the heck is it?” From there we started chatting a bit and because of it mile 7 flew by. At mile 8 I wished him a strong finish and sped up. I was officially running further than I ever have before. I was also officially feeling it. Around 8.5 I slowed to a near walk. By mile 9 I WAS walk/run/walking. Potomac Park was the longest & most boring part of the entire course. If I make it in the 2013 lottery I am definitely going to make at least one trip down to DC to do a training run there. It’s a super flat loop but it’s a mental challenge because compared to the rest of DC its a snooze fest. Though Haines Point was cool. I had never been by there before.
Thank god for the guy during that last mile. He scared the bajeezus out of me, but he pulled my ear bud out and said “come on I know you can run faster than that” I smiled bright gave him a thumbs up and I was running again. I COULD run faster than that. :)
800m sign came up. Alright, I thought of it like a track. Okay, two laps. Lets go!
STRONG. AWESOME. FINISH! Official Time – 2 hours 8 minutes.
Over all, it was an AWESOME race. From start to finish, in every way possible. The expo was flawless. I was in, got my bib, went down and looked at all the goodies, stopped to buy a couple things and was out within 30 minutes. (traffic to & from is an entirely different story) The course was beyond gorgeous, slightly bummed that the Cherry Blossoms have mostly already come and gone. & admittedly I didn’t get to enjoy the course as much as I would have liked to – I was in my head way too much (in both good and bad ways). The volunteers were loud & cheerful & SUPER supportive. They deserver a round of applause themselves for standing out there for 3 hours waiting for everybody to finish or get picked up, and cleaning up the roads. The medical staff was on POINT, there almost immediately when a poor guy was found down around mile 8/9.
Will be entering the lottery ASAP again for next year as soon as it opens!
Fun Fact: I didn’t use any fuel during the race. Both of my GUs are still in my Hand Held. However with that being said I think I’ll fuel around mile 8 for my half marathon. I’m not sure I could have done much more than I did, today.