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.
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.
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.
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?