Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Race Re-Cap: Cherry Blossom 10-miler

This race was on April 7th, 2013...still catching up :)
Many of my running club friends signed up for the lottery to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  Unfortunately, I did not make the original lottery.  However, I was lucky to have a great friend, Jeremy, who was able to stalk the Cherry Blossom page and found a transfer for me.  I was so excited to run this race knowing so many of my fellow Red Felt runners would be participating.  The transfer process was actually pretty easy, although I don't know the process of finding a person to transfer because that step was done for me so it could have been more complicated.  I'm not sure.

Thankfully, I had a weekend off in between the Reston half marathon and the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  I was so happy to sleep in the weekend before.  After doing two halfs back to back and then the following week running an 11-miler and another half back to back I was ready for some rest!  The Cherry Blossom race was on Sunday, April 7th and would kick off a busy race month.  I did a race every weekend in April.  I love racing, but this year I packed my race schedule.  I think it's been a great learning experience.  Next year I will try to plan a little better and not do so many races, at least not on top of each other.  It's expensive and exhausting...but oh so fun!  Anyway, here is my race re-cap.

Packet pickup and expo:
I ended up going to my friend Elizabeth's house in Alexandria on Saturday before the race and we went to the packet pick up together.  We rode the metro in and had no issues getting there.  The packet pick up process was fairly quick, but the room where you get your bibs was pretty tiny and there were a lot of people in there.  I'm not a huge fan of crowds so that squished environment wasn't super pleasant.  Other than that, the process was pretty smooth.

After we each got our numbers we went walked around the expo.  It was pretty big considering the race was only 10 miles.  It does have about 15,000 runners though.  It was set up similar to a marathon expo in the sense that there were similar vendors.  It was just a little smaller than a marathon expo.  We did find this wonderful sign to the right.  I'm not sure who that person's math teacher was, but I'm sure they would be very disappointed. My favorite vendor, One More Mile, was there.  It's been the same guy running the store each time.  I think I need to learn his name.  He's probably told me, but I don't remember.  I'm sure he won't remember me, but it would be fun to say hi to him by name next time.  I'm fairly confident I'll run into him at another expo.  Elizabeth and I bought car magnets from OMM.  Mine says, "Toenails are for sissies."  The gross truth about distance running is that you sometimes lose toenails.  I have lost two now, well actually the same one twice.  It took a year to grow back and now it's gone again.  Thank goodness for nail polish!  I also bought a visor that says, "This isn't sweat, it's liquid awesome."  They have great products for a great price and they are usually fun slogans.  I love OMM!

After the expo Elizabeth, Henry (her son) and I walked to the restaurant Paul for a light snack.  It is a french bakery/sandwich style place.  I had never been there before and enjoyed it.  The line was pretty long, but I was able to get a delicious macaroon.  It happened to be a really nice day out so we sat outside to eat and chat.  It was a nice afternoon overall.  I'm happy I went to the expo with Elizabeth and Henry.  It was a lot more fun than if I went on my own.

Pre-race dinner
Any time there are a significant number of Red Felters doing a race, particularly one that people travel to, we try to meet up for a pre-race dinner.  We had a good little crowd of about 15 at our dinner.  I don't remember where we ate, but I do remember it was a good time.  I always enjoy seeing my fellow club members.  Our club is mainly a Facebook support group, but it's been great to meet so many like-minded people and get to know them outside of running.  Non-runners just don't quite comprehend how awesome running is and what it means to me, but my RFRC peeps get it.

After dinner I went to Elizabeth's house and slept there.  It was much easier to leave from her house and go to the race than from my house.  It was also really awesome that she let me stay with her and spend the day with her.  She is becoming a great friend and not just a running buddy :)

Race day:
I slept fairly well considering it was a pre-race night.  I got up around 5ish and started to get ready.  I went through my usual routine and ate the same thing I always do, a bagel with jelly.  I also drank a bottle of Gatorade as is my usual routine.  I've mentioned this before and learned the hard way, never do anything new on race day.  Routines are what save you in distance running.  The race started at 7:30am and we had a 6:30am pre-race meetup with our club for photos and to wish each other good luck so we left at 6am.  Elizabeth's fiance drove us to the metro, which was right down the road and we were off.

When we arrived to the mall, where the race started, we went to the bag check tent area, which is where everyone was.  We took a couple pre-race pictures and kept each other company and warm!.  It was pretty cold that morning and I was happy to have an extra layer.  I had to use the bathroom before the race so I left early to get in the long porta potty line.  Ugh, I always have to wait in those lines.  I wonder if there will ever be a race where I don't get the nervous energy and have to pee all the time before the start (or during the race for that matter).  In hindsight I wish I would have waited because I was in a starting corral at the end and could have hung out with the felters longer.  When I was finally out of the line everyone had dispersed to their starting corrals.  I made my way to mine and had to wait a while before I started.  I think I crossed the starting line about 30 minutes after the first corral started.  Even though I don't like waiting that long to start, I liked how they organized the corrals because it was not as congested in the beginning as other races I've ran.

The race went as well as it could.  I was on track to finish about 10 minutes faster than the Reston 10-miler I'd done the month before.  However, nature calls and I had to make a pit stop.  Most races I've done over 8 miles I've had to stop to pee, but when I run on my own I don't have that issue.  This race really made me think about my pre-race hydration, particularly race morning.  I think I'll have to try to not drink a whole bottle of Gatorade before hand.  Even though I was quick, I still had to wait in line for about 6 minutes.  I made that stop around mile 6 and felt SO much better after I did.  I had been feeling good and had run with no walk breaks up to that point.  After that stop I did end up running even faster so I was able to make up a little time.  I really wonder how I would have done if I never had to stop.  Oh well, live and learn.

The course was very pretty, although I didn't see a lot of trees with Cherry Blossoms.  The cold weather leading up to that point had slowed the blossoms so there were many trees that were still waiting to bloom.  The course followed a similar route to other races I've run in DC.  We started at the mall and then went past the Lincoln memorial, across the memorial bridge, past the Kennedy Center for a turn around, out to Hains Point and back and then back toward the mall to finish up.

When I ran by the Kennedy Center I saw Will and his wife Debbie, two other felters. I was happy Will had on his RFRC shirt so I could spot them.  I sprinted up to them to say hello and then hung back again.  They were slightly faster than me.  I also saw Chris and Lance (Felters) cheering on the side around mile 4ish.  It's always fun to see a friendly face.  It gives me a little extra pep in my step to keep going.

At the very end of the race it was a little congested.  Some runners didn't have much courtesy and were stopping left and right with no warning or walking all over the course.  If I stop to walk, I always raise my hand to give warning and then move to the right.  It's kind of like rules of driving.  Slower traffic/runners should keep right.  It was a little frustrating.  The Cherry Blossom 10-miler has a lot of beginner runners and sometimes they just don't know those things.  It's also a race where you can do with minimal training.  It's always better to train, but it's a beginner friendly distance so there are a lot of run-walkers.  I have nothing against walking, because obviously I do it too, but I understand why faster runners get annoyed with walkers.  They're annoyed because they're in the way!  If you're walking, move to the side.  Anyway, I did make a sprint to the finish and managed to knock off 6 minutes from my Reston 10-miler time.  I was happy with that.

After I finished I walked around like a chicken with my head cut off.  I got some water and post-race snacks as well.  I didn't feel like there were good signs posted for where to pick up your medal.  For this race, the medal was an additional purchase, and yes, I wanted it!  Duh, I run for race bling!  I wandered and asked around and was told that the people passing out medals were just casually floating around.  I didn't care for that too much because in my opinion I think the medals should be available at the finish.  I don't think participants should have to aimlessly wander around looking for their medal.  Anyway, I finally found it and also found some of my friends!  We got a post race shot and then left to warm up.  It was colder so I'm not surprised there weren't more of us hanging around.  Overall it was a fun race.  I got a new PR (always fun) and got to spend some good times with my running family.  I rode back with Elizabeth on the metro and then headed home.  I would like to do this race again next year if I can.

After I got home and showered I made my way to the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut near my house and bought myself a PH3, aka cheese pizza!  Pizza has become one of my new post race foods.  They had it at the Caesar Rodney half marathon and the Reston half marathon.  It is starting to become a tradition, although probably not a healthy one.  I do try to eat fairly well in general and now that I don't eat meat my weight hasn't fluctuated as much so I feel like after a longer race (well, it's long for non-distance runners, I feel like 10 is short now) I deserve a little treat.  I proceeded to take a nice nap after eating.  I love post race naps.  They are the best!!

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