Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cherry Blossom (almost) 10 miler RR

The Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington DC has been around since 1973. I remember reading about it in RW back in high school when Bill Rodgers won it 4 years in a row. I always thought it would be a fun race, running around all the monuments while the Cherry Blossoms bloomed. Well, I finally got my chance.

DW and I made a little vacation out of it, and I coaxed Loopsters to join in, so we had a little Loopfest action going on. It started at the expo, where I met SJB, Running_Eng and Pearl Girl.

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We got to see Joan Benoit Samuelson talk a bit, and I got a pic with Jen Rhines, but then it was time for happy hour, where we were joined by HotPinkSneakers and aschmid3. A couple drinks and a big dinner were just the ticket to prep for the next day's race.

Race day was beautiful. Sunny and chilly - perfect for racing. We had a brief Loop meetup before the race where I got to meet our elite loopette, RunnerTeal, on here way to a sub 6:00 pace race. Also saw Jessica D and Ed and Eliz83. We tried a jumping pic...

I had to get my own in front of the coolest monument.

By then, we were late to the corrals, and SJB and I could barely squeeze in to the 2nd corral. We were further back then we should have been, but that was OK, because I had a conservative race plan.

I was 4 weeks out from the LA marathon. I took 3 weeks off trying to heal my foot pain, and did a couple short runs in week 4. So my original goal of sub 72 was discarded. I planned to start easy, and race by feel. Shoot for sub 7:30 pace and see how much faster I could go.

Just before the race, a course change was announced. A vehicle/pedestrian accident on the course forced them to close that street to investigate, so they had to revise the course, which shortened it from 10 miles to 9.39. So, whatever. I would just run my same race and extrapolate. Unfortunately it meant not running right past the Jefferson Memorial.

The first few miles were pretty crowded. There was a lot of weaving and passing, but I tried not to work too much, and stayed relaxed. SJB and I stayed close for a few miles, but I lost him in the crowd after 2 miles. First two were 7:33 and 7:27 and felt good. Had lots of fun running in the big crowd, running down the Mall and by the Lincoln Memorial. Along the Potomac and past the Watergate building.

Mile 3 was 7:14 and in mile 4 I saw I was close to 7:00 pace! I didn't feel like I was pushing any harder, but I was getting into my race groove I guess. The crowds were not as bad now too. So I kept it there and just ran. Miles 4-8 were 7:03, 7:11, 7:06, 7:04, 7:11.

Tons of cherry blossoms were all along the road, and they were peaking at just the right time. It was really beautiful and I was having a blast. Since I started further back, I was passing people the whole race. And you know how fun that is! Yet I wasn't really racing too hard. Just a good honest effort.

By mile 8 it was feeling more like a race. I was working hard to keep passing people. Then I decided to push a little harder since it WAS a race after all - might as well suffer. Mile 9 was 6:56, and the last 1/2 mile was at 6:50 pace.


Finished in 1:08:01. The race sent us projected ten mile times, and mine was 1:12:27, although I bet I would have been closer to 1:12 since I was accelerating. So I ended up very close to my original goal! So I was very happy with that. The last 6.5 were at 7:04 pace! That's pretty close to 10K PR pace. And I left some on the table too.

Eventually I met up with the Loopsters in front of one of the museums on the Mall. That was fun just hanging out there waiting, since it was such a nice sunny morning, and I was full of endorphins and happy with my race! Shooting the bull with runners, hearing race stories, good times.
Then we all went to brunch before saying adios. Loopmeets are always fun.

The next day was another beauty, and DW and I hit 4 museums and ALL the monuments. I probably walked another ten miles on sore feet, but it was worth it. Check out our vacation slides.

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Then we spent some time with DW's family in Kentucky before I got to jet over to Boston.

Life is good.

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