Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile recap


Do you believe in Fate? Good fortune? Karma?

I'm not really sure where I stand on any of those, but I do know a lot of things worked in my favor to make my dream of running the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run a reality.

It all started, several years ago, when I first heard of the event. The 10-mile distance is not a very common race distance, but it's one I like. I am also enthralled with the city of Washington, DC (and all the historic sights and memorials that live there). Marry these two and you have a race that speaks to my heart.

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run is so much sought-after that there's a lottery system to gain entry. Usually taking place on the first Saturday in April, though, the timing was never ideal for me. Heck, up until just last year, I've had prom obligations and dance recitals happening every April. Oh, and there have been several years in there with graduations (at the high school and college level, at various planning stages) of my three kids as well.

As luck would have it, though, I was encouraged to enter the lottery this year (my first "free" spring since I can't remember when) and was offered a place to stay in the Washington DC area. So, I registered, and got in. Score!

Fast forward to race day....

The weather was near perfect (had it been sunny, I would have deemed it absolute perfection). The temps were mild (low 60ish) with almost no wind. Rumor has it this was the nicest weather the race has seen in a few years. I'm totally good with that.

We arrived at the staging area, near the Washington monument, with plenty of time to use the porta- pots and take a few pre-race pics. The cherry blossoms were in peak bloom and looked incredible, and they were everywhere.

I was with Deborah (my gracious host), and Linda (another guest/fellow blogger friend) and Sue (a local friend of Deborah's). We made our way to the corrals, but had a good 20-minute wait until it was our turn to cross the start line.


Awaiting the start with Deborah and Linda (above left)
Most of the week, I had been fighting a scratchy throat and had been pounding the Vitamin C, extra fluids, and cold meds. I also had been experiencing sudden coughing fits that had me nearly dry-heaving as I'd gasp for air. My biggest fear, on race morning, was that I'd have one (or several) of those coughing attacks. If that would happen at an inopportune time (like, not near a water stand), I'd be in major trouble. My head also felt foggy, probably from the meds and the general icky-ness going on with my sinuses. But, I was not gonna miss this race for anything.

I'd had my ritual oatmeal for breakfast, as well as a chai latte'. I'd brought along some water (for the ride to the race), and had been hydrating all weekend, but I was feeling quite thirsty as the race began. There was a water stand just past the 1-mile mark, though. I'd also brought along some Honey Stinger chews, with a plan to eat a couple of those near the 3-mile mark and (again) near the 7-mile mark.

I had been warned how crowded the first mile would be. Amazingly, it seemed to thin out fairly soon (maybe within the first 1/4 mile or so). I had no grandiose finish time goals, and with the (speedy) success of  my recent March races (and the compromised state of my health), I doubted my body had any mojo remaining. Besides, this was our nation's beautiful capital city....I just wanted to enjoy the scenery and take in every detail.

Oh, were the blossoming trees beautiful! The first couple miles took us around the north edge of the Tidal Basin and north on Rock Creek Parkway, along the Potomac River. We looped back on Potomac River Parkway, and ran the third mile on Ohio Drive (this time going south along the river) before doing a hairpin turn (just before the 4-mile mark), and heading back north to loop around the Tidal Basin again.

       

The only snag I noticed on the race course was at the water stand stationed near the 10K mark. I don't know if there had been a shortage of cups (or a lot of thirsty runners), but the volunteers were struggling. It was a flurry of water cups being filled (only to have them snatched as quickly as they were set down) and impatient runners. It wasn't a huge deal for me (since I wasn't gunning for a specific finish time), but it did cost me some down time while I walked through and waited.

A short while later, there was a drumming group for our entertainment.

As we approached Hains Point (another hairpin turn), about halfway between the 7th and 8th mile marks, there were people along the course offering free beer and Oreos. A lot of runners were pausing and veering off to take advantage, but I wasn't one of them.

As I was approaching the 9-mile mark, the crowd support suddenly exploded. It was almost overwhelming with all of the excitement and cheering. All those good vibes gave me an intoxicating dose of adrenaline, and my entire body seemed to spring into action as a result. Even though most of that final mile was on a subtle incline (I had been warned of that, too), my legs didn't seem to mind. More often than not, I'm able to "bring it" in the final mile to the finish line, and this race was no exception. I had run the race pretty steady and strong, and I felt great (despite the gunk in my sinuses and the medicinal fog).

All in all, my Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run was great. Even though I felt thirsty for most of the race, I think that was due to the sinus/throat stuff. I had been hydrating like crazy (before the race and on the course itself) and I think my fueling was spot-on. I did have some shin splint twinges (?) with my left leg early in the race, but after the third mile they weren't noticeable.

Although I didn't have the energy to push my pace, I was pretty happy with those 10 miles considering the loopiness from the cold meds I'd taken. And, to say I was grateful that there was ZERO coughing while running would be the biggest understatement possible. No complaints; no regrets.
Image may contain: 2 people, hat and outdoor

My splits:
Mile 1 - 9:32          Mile 5 - 9:44         Mile 9 - 9:48
Mile 2 - 9:47          Mile 6 - 9:51         Mile 10 - 9:01
Mile 3 - 9:48          Mile 7 - 10:18
Mile 4 - 10:24        Mile 8 - 9:52
(I'm not sure what happened during Mile 4...that may be when I had to stop briefly to get something out of my fuel belt; Mile 7 was the water stand hold-up. And, I gotta love that mile 10 was my fastest!)


My stats: Official time was 1:38:08 (average pace of 9:49)
                **173rd out of 590 (age group)
                **4,404th out of 10,291 (females)
                **9,257th out of 17,439 (overall)


But this medal....isn't it a beauty?

...on a side note, I may be famous some day for my photography skills (LOL)

Overall, this was  a fabulous event! I certainly can see why it's such a popular race. Although the crowd support wasn't continuous, there were numerous spectators at several points along the course. The four water stands offered both water and Gatorade, it's just a bummer the one stand was on the verge of running out when I passed through.

     

   A few notes:
**There also was a 5K option
**I opted for the basic (unisex) cotton shirt (since I knew I'd probably not ever wear it anyways), but there also was an option to upgrade to a (gender-specific) tech fabric
**You do have to pay extra for the medal ($15)

So, that's my Cherry Blossom experience!

Have you ever done the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run? If so, more than once? Ever done a 10-mile race? Would you buy a new pair of flower-print leggings for a flower-themed event?

I'm linking this with Kim and Zenaida for the Tuesday Topics Link-Up

**I'm also linking this with Debbie and Rachel and Marc and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner
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42 comments:

  1. That's a lovely medal and well done esp in your medicinal fog! Great pics give a really good idea of the race. Well done! I like a 10-mile race too although there really aren't many, are there!

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    1. I love the 10-mile distance...kind of like a mini-half marathon ;-)

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  2. I'm so glad you had a great experience! I can vouch for this being the best weather in a long time. I thought it was humid though - maybe that impacted your thirst? You did awesome, glad the coughing subsided!

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    1. I am SOOOO thankful the coughing held off for the race. I was worried about that, but it never was an issue...another thing that went "right" for me LOL

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  3. Well done Kim! I know you've been feeling under the weather so I'm glad that you still had a great race.

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    1. Thanks, Kim!! This is the first I've been sick since...(???). I made it through that nutzo winter with baraely a runny nose. I guess I'm making up for lost time LOL

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  4. Glad you had a good race! It was a beautiful day for a run. Let me know your plans for MCM, so we can meet up again.

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    1. I will indeed keep you posted when I return for MCM ;-)

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  5. Such a fun race! So happy to have had such great weather and a fun weekend with you and Deborah and her friends!

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    1. Didn't we truly get lucky? I'm glad you were a part of it ;-)

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  6. I think that the dayquill made you thirsty as it has that antihistamine in it. Such a fun weekend miss you both already!

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    1. I had not thought of the meds actually causing the thirst...totally makes sense! It was such a great weekend, I'd love to do it allover again (well, without the coughing!).

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  7. Congratulations! You definitely picked one of the best years to run it with fantastic weather and blossoms in bloom! Reading your recap gave me the feels and now I'm thinking I want to run this race again! I'm glad you had a great time, and still had a strong race despite being under the weather!

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    1. I'm really glad the weather was so nice. This time of year is really a crap shoot on what Momma N is dishing out LOL

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  8. Sounds like a wonderful race! I'm so sorry I missed it--especially with the perfect weather. Someday...

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    1. We really were blessed with great weather. I almost didn't know how to act ;-)

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  9. Congrats again Kim! I wish you felt better but it sounds like you made the most of a wonderful experience. That's so interesting that the regulation shirt is cotton. I haven't seen one for a race over 5k in some time. Also interesting the medal was optional. I've heard of people who don't want them but clearly I'm not one of them! Ha!

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    1. Yes, when I registered, one of the questions was if I wanted the medal...ummm, YES! The tech shirts were a nice shade of light blue, but the cotton shirt was kind of a light burgundy. It was nice, but not really a color I'd have chosen. Oh well, everything else was awesome, so I'm good ;-)

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  10. First of all, I love that medal. Secondly congratulations! How nice that life worked out in a way for you to run this year. i too love the ten mile distance. It's kind of perfect, right?!

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    1. Yes, 10 miles is a nice distance to switch things up once in awhile.

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  11. I love the medal! How do they know if you paid for it or not when you cross the finish line? I am intrigued!

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    1. There's actually a tab on the bib (at bottom) indicating if you're getting a medal or not. They give you the medal in a tent, away from the finish line so there's no confusion and not much congestion.

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  12. Oooh, I'd pay extra for that medal too!

    I lived down in ND for a year after college, and while I went into DC a lot, somehow never during Cherry Blossom season. So I've never seen them (although I also went a few times as a kid). I've also never run a 10 mile race!

    I can only imagine how fantastic the whole weekend was. Glad you weren't too sick & able to enjoy it all.

    I like to carry my own water, because I have seen water snafus at many races. Often for BOTPers like me, but even for the fast runners. And I need my own water!

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    1. I had thought of carrying some water (as a precaution), but I don't usually do so. I took a chance on things going alright, and ((thankfully)) everything played out well. WHEW!

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  13. That is a really cool medal, and you got some great photos! I volunteered at the race one year at the medal area and you wouldn't believe how many people didn't realize that they hadn't paid the extra for the medal and were disappointed :(

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  14. This race is on my bucket list!! I do LOVE the medal and that is a great picture of it! sounds like you ladies all had a fun weekend too :-) Congratulations!!!

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  15. Great job Kim! I love reading everyone's recap of this race. Glad you had some nice weather this year. I will admit I was a bit annoyed that you had to pay extra for the medal. Really?

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    1. Yeah, the medal was extra...but the race itself was reasonable ($40-$45, I think, plus the online registration fees LOL). It was well worth it, though ;-)

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  16. Love, love, love, love!

    I think I'm putting in for the 2020 lottery. What's the worst that can happen? I am desperate to run this and am so jealous of the gorgeous blossoms. I have yet to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in DC.

    I'm sorry you weren't feeling 100% but you did a great job anyway! Congratulations!

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  17. So glad I got to meet you. Absolutely love your summary of the race, you nailed it!

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    1. I am SOOO glad I got to meet YOU! It was fun hanging out and chatting at Deborah's and on race day ;-)

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  18. What a gorgeous course to run! Great race!!

    Jen@Jpabstfitness.com

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    1. It was a lot of fun, and the cherry blossoms were beautiful!

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  19. Despite feeling under the weather, you ran a great race! Congrats on crossing this one off your bucket list! Your recap has made me want to run this one all the more!

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    1. You should do it, Michelle! We missed not having you with us !!

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  20. I loved reading your recap! I am so glad you were able to run with no coughing spells!
    Congrats on a well run race despite your health issues.
    I ran the 5k a few years back! It was COLD, but a gorgeous race! I always happen to miss the most cherry blossoms when I am in DC! Your pics are beautiful!

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    1. I heard about the cold conditions in the past few years, so I'm really thankful Momma N was in a good mood ;-)

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  21. great job on your race! I had a runner running and she had such a good experience as well.

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    1. It really was a great event. I'm thankful the weather was so nice!

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