The Perfect Race–Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2014

OK, maybe perfect is an exaggeration, but the 42nd Annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run was pretty darn awesome, and I’m not just saying that because I got a personal record beyond my wildest dreams!

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2014 Expo

The expo for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is held at the National Building Museum, which is a great location once you get there. Since I don’t live or work near a Metro station, I decided to drive by after work on Friday. I wasn’t sure I’d find parking, but I lucked out and snagged a spot less than two blocks away.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run 2014 Tech Tee

I love this shirt design!
The cherry blossom branches mirror the river branches that cut through D.C.

Packet pick-up was painless, and I enjoyed browsing all the booths at the expo. My favorite humorous t-shirt was a Potomac River Running shirt that said:

Who Fartlked?

My favorite saying that seemed too serious for a t-shirt was at One More Mile and said:

Someday I will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2014 VIP Dinner

As a “thank you” for being one of the bloggers for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Blog, I was invited to the VIP dinner Saturday night, held at the race hotel (The Renaissance in downtown Washington, D.C.). It was great to meet the other members of the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run social media team.

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Social Media Team

(Molly, Me, Jenny, Tyler, Elizabeth, Fran, Doug)

I also enjoyed the buffet dinner, and a Sam Adams from the open bar. 😉

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Dinner

After we ate there was a short program reviewing highlights from previous races (including last year’s men’s photo finish), a nod to the elite runners, and the presentation of the “check” to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals–for $487,00! Thank you to everyone who donated through my fundraising page! 

The dinner ended early (as all pre-race dinners should) and after setting out my race gear and changing my mind about my race outfit, I was in bed by 10 pm.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2014 Race Morning

I took the last piece of advice on the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Blog and set two different alarms to make sure I didn’t oversleep. The advice to set two different alarms was brilliant, since my iPhone battery life has sucked since I updated my apps last weekend. I dusted off the alarm on my clock radio and plugged in my phone so it couldn’t die. Of course, I woke up 5 minutes before my first alarm, but at least I got a good night’s sleep!

After a quick shower and 1 mile dog walk, I had my usual pre-race breakfast of a Kashi® whole grain waffle with a bit of peanut butter and real maple syrup.

Pre-Race Breakfast

It is so hard to stop at one cup of coffee!

We left the house around 6:15 and my husband dropped me off at the race site just in time for me to meet up with my Moms Run This Town group for a photo.

After our photo-op we made our way to the Washington Monument grounds for the race kick-off. I had just enough time for a quick stop at the porta-pottys and made it to my corral for the singing of the National Anthem and the elite women’s start.

The Race

The weather was gorgeous. It was in the upper 30s/low 40s and the sky was crystal clear.

Washington Monument

It just doesn’t get much more gorgeous than this!

I was at the front of my corral, so the start was easy without too much crowding. Being near the front also means being with faster runners, so I spent the first mile trying to find my own pace and strike the balance between chasing a personal record and remembering that I had 10 miles to run! I ended up settling in at 7:55 on my Garmin.

Mentally, I had divided the course into four parts:

Miles 0-4: Over the Memorial Bridge, under the Kennedy Center, and back towards the Tidal Basin. This section went well and I was cruising along, mostly trying not to go too fast.

Miles 4-6: Back towards the Washington Monument (with lots of cheering crowds) and over to Hains Point. I felt like my pace plummeted at mile 5. I know I was getting psyched out about Hains Point already. 

Miles 6-9: Hains Point. Hains Point is to the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run as The 14th Street Bridge is to The Army 10 Miler –except this recap is not titled “I Love Hains Point!” (Maybe next year?) This is just a long, tedious part of the course with very few spectators and a head wind for the last half of it. Sue says that she loves Hains Point, so I will have to learn her secrets! I did my best to keep a positive attitude through these three miles, but really felt my pace flagging.

Mile Marker 9. I think I always will send up a prayer at Mile Marker 9 for the runner who didn’t make it past mile 9 during the 2012 race. (One of his family members saw my recap and we exchanged emails, so I know a bit more about him and his love of running.) I said a prayer for him and his family and for Cameron Gallagher and her family. (Cameron died shortly after finishing the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon in March)

Running is a gift.
Life if a gift.
Time with our loved ones is precious.

Mile 9-10: One hill to the finish line. One thing I really like about the Cherry Blossom course is that the last mile is marked off at 400 m intervals (1200 to go, 800 to go, 400 to go). Those signs really help me hold my pace and then push on to the finish line. One thing I really don’t like about the Cherry Blossom course is that although it really is “flat and fast” there is a short hill just before the finish line! According to my Garmin, this was my slowest mile at 8:15, but I’m pretty sure I was giving it my all!

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile One Garmin Data

I had to post my Garmin data to bask in the glow of that sub-8:00 pace!
My official race pace is 8:03 min/mile.
(Same finish time over a 10.0 mile M course)

My Garmin says that I did better on Hains Point than I thought, and that my overall pacing was pretty even except for that last mile:

7:52 7:52 7:53 7:54 7:56 7:57 7:57 7:59 8:05 8:13

I called my husband to come pick me up, grabbed a space blanket, banana and other snacks, and made my way to our meeting place. On the way home we stopped at Starbucks and got a few bags of ice so I could start my recovery for the GW Parkway Classic 10 miler next weekend!

Have you experienced a “perfect” race?

Is it possible to write a race recap in less time than it took to run the race? 

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22 Responses to The Perfect Race–Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2014

  1. Congrats on a great race and a new PR! I really want
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…Let’s grab coffee together!My Profile

  2. Amazing so happy for you. I have had one of those perfect races and keep searching for it again.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken QuesadillaMy Profile

  3. Congrats! AWESOME race for you!! It was great to see you at the start. I do love Hains Point. Not sure why, I think it is the sereneness (is that a word?) I just love all of the trees and water and it’s just really beautiful. I wish I could say my race was as perfect, but not so much. It was pretty terrible actually minus the fact that I was running with my hubby 🙂
    Sue @This Mama Runs For Cupcakes recently posted…Foodie Friday–Lasagna cupcakesMy Profile

  4. Carla says:

    THIS MADE ME SHOUT AND SMILE WHEN I SAW IT ON FACEBOOK.
    yep.
    shouting again.
    and smiling.

    xoxox
    Carla recently posted…Don’t compare you to…YOU.My Profile

  5. Congratulations! It does sound like everything came together! I was so happy to see how well it went, I know how much you love this race. I love the shirt, too – so creative with a little insider knowledge, I would never have known that about the branches. Cool.

    How are you feeling today? Does your shiny PR affect your race plan for next weekend?
    Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com recently posted…Ragnar Socal!!!My Profile

  6. rosarior says:

    thanks for recapping! Congrats on your race. I ran it for the first time and although I didn’t PR by about 2 minutes/45 seconds, I know I gave it my all so I am happy with the effort. I am running the Marine Corps 17.75k this Saturday so likewise I am focusing on recovering as quickly as possible to be ready for that race. The only goal for that one is to finish even if I have to crawl, in order to get the guaranteed access to the Marine Corps full marathon in the fall, wish me luck!

  7. Congrats!!! I’m so very happy for you. It does sound like the perfect race. And that race t-shirt? Hilarious.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Ask a Yogini: Why Practice Yoga Inversions?My Profile

  8. Kim says:

    Somehow I missed this yesterday but I’m glad I came back to it – sounds like a pretty perfect race to me!!
    I would take your Garmin’s pace – awesome!!!
    Glad it was a good race!
    Kim recently posted…The Big 13!My Profile

  9. Diana says:

    Whoo! Congrats! Sounds like you had an excellent day! You know, you are the second or third person who’s mentioned Hains Point. I know nothing about DC so even though you say it was miles 6 – 9, I’m having a hard time remembering it. I don’t think there was any stretch that seemed to last too long, though – one of the things that I like about this race is that it feels like we’re constantly changing directions.

    Besides, as fast as you were moving, how could anything last very long? 😉 Congrats again!
    Diana recently posted…Bloomin’ Terrific – Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race ReportMy Profile

  10. Jenny says:

    Awesome job lady!!! So glad we finally got to meet!
    Jenny recently posted…2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run {Race Recap}My Profile

  11. jill conyers says:

    Congrats! I’d say that is about as close to perfect as you can get 🙂
    jill conyers recently posted…Being An Elite Athlete Is Not All GlamourMy Profile

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