Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2012

Sunday was the 40th running of D.C.’s Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. It was my first time running this race and only my second 10-Miler – I ran the Parkway Classic a few weeks after my half-marathon last year. My race time was 1:44:52, which I thought was pretty great considering my legs were still pretty tired from running the half.

I had higher hopes for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, though I wasn’t stressing it too much. I was treating the race as a tune-up for the Indy Mini – just getting back into racing is pretty huge, since I haven’t raced at all since Philly. I enjoyed getting back up to the start line and hanging out with a bunch of other runners.

I got up at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday so I could catch the Metro and make sure I got to the race start on time. The race directors are really strict – no one can start after 8 a.m. and everyone has to be off the course by 10:30 a.m. – because it’s all on National Parks land and everything needs to be cleaned up and cleared out ASAP.

Breakfast was a bagel thin with smoked salmon and cream cheese and a cup of green tea to get me moving.

Around 6:15, I drove down to Pentagon City, where I parked and caught the Yellow Line to L’Enfant Plaza. The line wasn’t too crowded, though I was worried about Metro slowness and wanted to make sure I got to the race start in time. Taking the Blue Line to Smithsonian would be more crowded and, because it’s quite a few more stops, more likely to encounter problems. I knew I could just walk to the Washington Monument from L’Enfant, avoiding crowds on the escalators as well.

This ended up being a really good idea, as I could see the crowds emerging from the Smithsonian Metro stop from several blocks away. As I got closer, I realized where they were coming from and was pleased with my choice. The walk took a bit longer, but it was only about 6:45, so I had the time. I got to the start right before 7 and decided to hit the P0rta-Potties and then check my bag, which worked out really well.

I was in my green corral by 7:15 and ready to run! Of course, the green corral was next-to-last, scheduled to start at 7:47, and I’m pretty sure it was later than that when we finally crossed the line. I remembered to start my watch (for once) and put my iPhone Garmin App on (in my Bra*Kette) and hoped to get an accurate time and distance. Then I crossed the start line, sans headphones for the first time in ages.

The lack of headphones was a good idea, because this race was PACKED. Even as far back as I was, I felt pretty boxed in until about mile two. It cleared out a bit after that, though it was never really what I would call clear. There are clearly a lot of new racers in this one, and they would just stop in the middle of the road or all crowd around the first person at the water stop. I was so glad I brought my own handheld water bottle – I only stopped for Gatorade at the last two water stops because they were too crowded before that.

I felt really good during the race and really pushed myself in the later half. Wish I could tell you my splits, but my Garmin app was way, way off – said I was much faster than I was. While I don’t believe the actual numbers it put up, I do believe I had negative splits, which is what really matters. I felt like I could really push it through another 5K – this bodes very well for my half next month!

There were no cherry blossoms left, really, but there were some lovely dogwoods and tulips. It was a pretty run even without the blossoms, though going around Hains Point got a little boring. I’d do it again, but I would definitely not have any time goals in mind because of the crowds.