Race Report: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
Well hello there, blog. It’s been so long.
To sum up what you missed since I last blogged, it’s been business as usual. I trained through a very cold and snowy winter, with lots of treadmill time. I had a spectacular fall on my last long run, and sprained my thumb, scraped up both palms, bruised one knee so badly it still hurts two weeks later, and scraped the other knee, ripping a hole in my favorite capris in the process. The loss of the capris hurts more than the injuries.
Then I went to Vegas instead of running the C’ville 10 miler, but I had the Cherry Blossom on tap this weekend.
As with the Race Who Shall Not Be Named from last year, I took the train up and stayed with IronMo. She escorted me to an easy packet pickup with a fabulous expo, quite unlike the RWSNBN. We met up with my sister and her family for a quick, kid-friendly dinner, and then snagged some cookies at Whole Foods on the way back for a super early bedtime.
We were on the metro with another Friend of Mo by 6:30am, and had plenty of time for bag check before heading to the corrals. We had the unfortunate luck of being in the porta potties when the National Anthem started, which was an inauspicious start to the morning.
Continuing this (neverending) winter’s trend, it was in the mid-30’s at the start. I was freezing. By the time I was in the corral, my feet were numb.
The race has a wave start, so I started 10 min or so after Mo and FoM. My numb feet made the first mile a bit dodgy, so I kept it slow. I really had no expectations going in, other than finishing. It’s rare that I don’t have solid plan going in. My only plan was to enjoy the sights, and to cross the finish under my own steam. It’s my first long run in years that I haven’t done with a group, so I was a little apprehensive about psyching myself out. I kept my head up, and the self-talk light.
By mile 2, I was much warmer, and slightly regretting keeping my fleece on. Near Arlington National Cemetery, I took off my gloves, and not long afterward, stepped off to the side to wriggle out of my fleece.
Around the 10K mark was when we hit Hains point. I was actually looking forward to this, remembering it as a cool and breezy oasis during the RWSNBN. Most people seem to dislike the monotony, but I was amped up for it! River views! Cherry trees! Breezes! Boats! Airplanes!
I discovered that once around Hains point is quite enough. My second time ever this year was overkill. I was feeling really draggy and even stopped to stretch during mile 8. I also stopped to gratefully take an Oreo from a spectator. I walked through a water stop. That was by far my slowest mile of the race. I really wish I’d brought headphones, just so I could listen to a podcast or an audiobook to keep myself occupied. Oh, and the cherry trees lining Hains? Yeah, not blossoming. Thank you very much, Polar Vortex!! (In all fairness, there was one lovely weeping cherry in full bloom. ONE. In three miles.)
But at mile 9, Hains point was fast becoming a distant, boring memory. There’s some considerable uphill getting off Hains point and up to the Washington Monument, but I welcomed it. I’m a hill runner, and I have come to depend on hills to help me adjust my form. Mile 10 was actually one of my faster miles. I amped myself up chastising spectators for not cheering. Do I need to remind you that I am a Scream Tunnel alum, and I take spectating VERY seriously? These jaded DC politico hipsters were obviously too cool for school. Whatever, nerds, you’re up early on a Sunday, you might as well make yourselves useful. But no, even direct, good-natured confrontation led mostly to blank stares. The spectators were looking past me SO HARD that I probably could have lifted their wallets without their noticing.
I wasn’t sure exactly where the finish was, so it seemed like I was running uphill forever, but finally, after cresting the hill, it came in to view. I didn’t sprint, I just kept on at a steady pace, and crossed without much to do at all. I continued down the hill, cooling off rapidly, and desperate for some water and a heat sheet. I finally found those, and headed to the meet up point, where Mo and her posse had been waiting forever, since one of them had run the 5K and the other two were a couple of waves ahead of me (and much faster).
After we met up, I headed back to bag check and to the snack table where I was confronted with more bananas than you could shake a stick at. AND NOTHING ELSE. Please know that this was a beautifully organized event. Two races, tens of thousands of runners, and it was all so smooth. But damn you, I need something carbier and/or saltier at the end of a race. Apparently, there had been some samples of really healthy chips at one point, but they were gone by the time I finished. Mo generously offered me her baked Sweet Potato chips which I inhaled ferociously. We finally headed for Starbucks, and then hit the metro for brunch.
I was surprised at how good my stomach felt – the best I’ve been after a long run in YEARS. I credit my aggressive hydration strategy. Chugging water the day before, an Endurolyte and glass of water pre-race, 20 ounces of nuun during the race, plus water at two of the water stops. It’s a lot, I know, but I need it! I am super sweaty.
Post race I feel pretty good. My knees are a little creaky, and my left foot hurts. Mostly I’m just tired from the run and the travel involved. It turns out this was my second fastest 10 miler ever, so I’m a)pleasantly surprised at that and b)unpleasantly surprised by the reality of how slow I actually am.
I’m not sure when I’ll be racing next – two kids in baseball on Saturdays has my schedule jam-packed until the middle of June.
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Tags: cherry blossoms, cold, hydration, race