This past Sunday, I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler with the boyfriend and a few friends. This was my second time doing this race, although the first time I did the race was in 2015 when the course had to be cut short due to an accident on part of the course prior to the start of the race. Anyway, here’s my recap of this year’s race experience!
On Friday, the boyfriend and I headed to the National Building Museum where the race expo was being held to pick up our race bibs and wander around the expo. We were lucky and managed to breeze through the packet pick-up process in less than 5 minutes leaving us plenty of time to walk around the expo. I resisted the temptation to buy some new sneakers and compression socks, but I did buy a new headband to wear on race day.
Saturday night we continued our race preparation with a pasta dinner at home. I whipped up a quick meat sauce using ground turkey breast and a jar of pasta sauce we picked up at Trader Joe’s earlier that afternoon. I didn’t add any extra veggies and used regular pasta (not whole wheat like I usually choose) to keep the fiber content lower. On the side we enjoyed a slice of homemade garlic bread. I’ve been having some tummy troubles after my long training runs, and limiting my fiber the night before has seemed to help ease my symptoms. I definitely didn’t want to take any chances on race day!
We spent the rest of the evening checking the weather, deciding on our race day outfits, and getting everything together for the early morning start. We then set our alarms and headed to bed to try to get some rest.
When our alarm went off at 5 AM, we slowly dragged ourselves out of bed to start getting ready. I ate my usual pre-race breakfast which is a sandwich thin topped with peanut butter and banana while checking the weather one last time.
We planned to drive to the race, since due to safe track the metro would not be opening early like in years past. We ended up parking at the Reagan Building which worked out perfectly. They had real bathrooms we could use before the race, plus it was only a short walk to the race start.
We were running a little behind and didn’t make it to bag check until just after 7, which was stressful because the race info originally stated bag check would close at 7. Luckily we were able to check our bags when we got there without any problems. After checking our bags the boyfriend and I met up with some other friends who were also racing and headed towards the starting area.
The starting area was packed and somehow amidst all the crowds we managed to miss getting in to the right corral. We were supposed to start in the blue wave, which was the third wave, but somehow ended up further back with the orange wave, which was the fourth wave. Despite that slight mix-up, once we finally got to the starting line everything went smoothly and we were off!
As expected, the crowds were thick at the start. My legs felt like jello for most of the first mile, but luckily after I tackled the first mile they started to feel better.
- Mile 1 : 9:30 (between the crowds and my sluggish legs my start was slow)
If you’re familiar with this race, you know it starts by the Washington Monument and then you run towards the Lincoln Memorial and across the Memorial Bridge in to Arlington and back. After that the course heads up Rock Creek Parkway under the Kennedy Center and then loops back. From there we headed on towards the Tidal Basin and Hains Point. There are only few spectators at Hains Point, but the beautiful cherry blossoms that were blooming definitely helped get me through this part of the course. During miles 2-7 I was feeling pretty good and was able to hold a pace right around my goal.
- Mile 2 : 9:12
- Mile 3 : 8:57
- Mile 4 : 9:00
- Mile 5 : 9:06
- Mile 6 : 8:57
- Mile 7 : 9:06
By mile 8, I started to feel tired. I kept checking my running watch though, and I was still maintaining a good pace. I kept trying to calculate in my head what pace I would need for the last 2 miles to get a PR.
- Mile 8 : 9:00
Around mile 8.5, my friend Alison, who was also running, came up and tapped me on the shoulder. We had started off at the same time but separated quickly in the crowds at the beginning. It was nice to run in to Alison at this point, as I was definitely starting to feel tired. We ended up running most of the last 1.5 miles close together, which gave me the push I needed to make it to the finish. There is a bit of an uphill towards the very end of the race, but knowing I was so close to the finish helped me conquer the hill.
- Mile 9 : 9:15
- Mile 10 : 9:14
When I crossed the finish line, I quickly glanced at my watch and was excited because according to my watch I had set a new 10 mile PR! My official time for the race was 1:30:58 (a 9:05/mile pace). My pace for the last two miles definitely reflects how tired I was feeling towards the end, but I’m happy I was still able to hold on for a PR.
Once we all finished the race, we met back up to snap some post race photos, celebrate our race finish, and enjoy the beautiful weather. We enjoyed walking around and looking at the cherry blossoms before heading to nearby Old Ebbitt Grill to meet up with a few more friends for a post-race brunch to celebrate.
I opted for a frittata filled with asparagus, onions, and Grana Padano that was topped with a kale salad and a side of breakfast potatoes. The frittata was enormous and I ended up boxing up half to take home.
All in all, I had such a fun day between getting a new PR and spending some quality time with friends. The last few weeks of training I was starting to feel a little burned out, but now I’m starting to search for which race I’m going to do next!
Who else ran the Cherry Blossom race this weekend? How did it go for you? Do you have any upcoming races you are training for?