This past Sunday was the annual Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, DC. It’s a race that truly welcomes the beginning of spring. And yet, one never really knows whether the blossoms will be blooming on race day.
The last time, and only other time, I ran the race was in 2008. It was my first 10-miler and I think the start to my runner’s bug. That day was overcast, blossoms were mostly fallen, and it began raining mid-run. Sunday, on the other hand, was a glorious (40 some degrees morning that got up in to the 60s) day. Despite the blossoms barely budding, it was a great morning for a race. And the icing on the cake was that I have a new personal best 10-mile time (I think previously it was from the 2008 race) at 1:25:19. Of the 10,321 female finishers I came in 1,553 with the fastest 10K split I’ve ever done at 54:33. I was psyched!
The day began like any other race day, I got up and ate my pre-race tradition of two waffles with peanut butter. Got my gear ready to go and headed out the door. I was a bit anxious for the run because my legs were so stiff from a Friday afternoon spin class and I was not super happy with my performance at the March Georgetown 10-miler. I was hoping that my legs would hold up and that I wouldn’t get a side ache early on as I did at that race.
I was running a little behind schedule but luckily with nearly 18,000 runners, being “late” to a race really does not matter. After a little stretch and checking out the race ambience, I jumped into line. Now the one thing about being late is that you might miss your starting wave. These are the runners who should be in your general speed range making the race a much better experience so that you aren’t dealt with the annoyance of zipping in and out of slower runners. That did not happen for me, but I think being faster in my group kept me chugging along. I did my best to run along the edges (for easier passing) and where the ground was softer (for my knees).
The elite men were rounding the finish line about a half mile in for me and I heard that the elite women were just passing the four mile mark before I even crossed the start line! The course took a different route than what I remembered and I was glad that we were crossing Memorial Bridge earlier rather than towards the end. Haines Point area did not seem so bad to me as I had remembered. It must be because I have run there so much more since my early running days.
Amazingly my knees were not hurting me in the least. My legs–still a bit stiff from the spinning class–felt remarkably light. The morning had just the right amount of chill in the air. My breathing was perfect and I could hear folks around me huffing and puffing around mile 7. A slight cramp came on but dissipated after about a half mile or so. I felt happy and free out there. The last mile or so was a bit of a blur as I think I must have run the best mile of my life then. I was in the negative splits zone (running faster the second half than the first). It was awesome!
I met up with some friends from SealTeam PT after the race and heard about their awesome times and for one, his experience at his first race ever. We celebrated and recharged with mimosas and a delicious breakfast. It was a great start to spring running!
Up next–Nike Women’s Half in just a few weeks! I’m pumped.