The conditions were perfect for a great run at the 2012 Cherry Blossom 10 miler: it was cool (upper 40s), cloudy, and the course was flat.
After deciding that my husband would drop me off at the race area, I set my alarm for 5:00 (instead of 4:45). That turned out to be plenty of time to get ready. I took a quick shower, took my dog for a short walk to assess the weather conditions, ate half of my PB + honey sandwich and drank one cup of coffee (how I wanted more!).
Look who else is ready to go!
We were out the door by 6:15 and arrived at our pre-planned drop-off spot by 6:25. I decided to sit in the car for a few more minutes, during which time we figured out that my husband could get me closer to the race area and then get home without having to make an illegal left turn.
After my husband dropped me off, I headed to the race area, but stopped to take a few pictures.
That construction zone should be the Reflecting Pool.
The announcer was right–there was a huge bank of porta-pottys with virtually no lines. After taking care of that, I joined the Gold’s Gym warm-up for a few minutes, and then jogged around the Washington Monument for my own warm-up.
They opened the corrals at about 7:00, and I lined up near the front of my blue corral. People around me were talking about hoping to run a 9:00 min/mile pace and I saw the 8:30 pacer (my goal) in the red corral ahead of me. I weighed the benefits of being at the front of a slower corral against the benefits of being with a pacer, and decided to see if I could move up one corral. I saw others with blue bibs in the red corral, and learned that they had figured out that the corrals didn’t match up with the expected finish time they had put on their entry forms (1:25, like me), and had gotten red dot stickers at the expo to get official “permission” to be in the red corral. That made me feel better about moving up, since I wasn’t being dishonest about the pace I expected to run.
The race started on time at 7:30. It was a crowded start with some tight turns, but it thinned out once we got onto Independence Avenue, and I wasn’t held back by the person in front of me for very long. I saw my favorite sign at mile 1. It looked like a computer progress bar:
Mile 1-2 was over the Memorial Bridge and back (I did run this one for you, Carly!), mile 2-3 was along the Rock Creek Parkway towards my office, and miles 3-5 were back towards Independence Avenue and then back up Independence Avenue towards the start/finish area. There was lots of crowd support at mile 5, and I’m glad nobody tried to tell us that we were almost done!
From mile 5, we ran around the Tidal Basin and then down around East Potomac Park to Hain’s Point. This would have been gorgeous if the cherry blossoms hadn’t come and gone already, but I did see a few pink trees. Although I’m a D.C. area native, I can’t remember ever having gone down to Hain’s Point before (although I can’t rule out a visit as a child), and certainly not on foot. I was wishing that I had included this loop in one of my training runs because it seemed to go on forever. Part of that was not knowing when it would end (the loop stretched from before mile 6 to after mile 9. and part was the complete lack of crowd support. My Garmin was telling me that my pace was flagging, but I still felt good about my overall time, and I knew it was too soon to start pushing harder.
I don’t know how to write about mile 9, but I know I have to, both to help me process it and because it is a tragic part of running and racing.
Right at mile marker 9, I saw a man on the sidelines being given CPR.
I could see his face.
I always will see his face.
I offered up prayers.
I choked back tears.
I offered up more prayers.
I told myself that my stopping wouldn’t help him–he already was receiving first aid and the volunteers indicated that an ambulance was on the way–but it was hard to keep running.
It was hard to imagine celebrating a finish when this man–and his family–would be lucky if he finishes out the day. I am still thinking about him and praying for him and his family, as I look for news about what happened.
I got my head back in the race when I saw the sign that marked 1200M to go. I told myself that was just 3 laps around the track, and I tried to pick up my pace again. Of course, there was a small hill before the finish line (do race organizers do that on purpose?), but the finish itself had a downhill approach. I tried to look up for the photographers and show them my Jazz Hands before I stopped my Garmin.
I was thrilled to see 1:22:25! My first thought is that it was a PR, but then I remembered my first running of the GW Parkway Classic, when my finish time also was in the 1:22 range (officially 1:22:38). As soon as they post the official results for today, I’ll let you know if it was a PR.
I walked through the finish area and got a bottle of water, a banana, and a muffin. As soon as I saw the medals I wished I’d ordered one. They are gorgeous!
(Thanks to @Sammiterp for sharing her picture!)
I called my husband who was surprised that I was finished so early, and headed over to our designated pick-up spot. He got there pretty quickly, and I was enjoying a grande bold from my neighborhood Starbucks by 9:30!
After my shower, I fixed myself a bagel and fried egg to refuel. And then the GI rebellion started. I am jealous of my friends who can enjoy a post-race brunch, but my body just can’t take too much food after I race. If anyone has any tricks for post-race tummy troubles, please help! It’s almost enough to make me want to stop racing.
Garmin Data: 10.12 miles, 1:22:26
Splits: 8:21, 8:07, 8:05, 7:58, 8:12, 8:14, 8:12, 8:17, 7:58, 8:08
Offiical Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Finish Time: 1:22:22!