Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2017: Call It Love and Devotion

 I pinned my race bib to my leg thinking I might need to tie my 1/4 zip around my waist if it got too hot and sunny during the race. It turned out I was fine while I was running but pretty chilled at the medals tent at the finish.

I pinned my race bib to my leg thinking I might need to tie my 1/4 zip around my waist if it got too hot and sunny during the race. It turned out I was fine while I was running but pretty chilled at the medals tent at the finish.

"We need to head home early so this one can get into bed," Bob gestured at me as he told our friends at a Vassar event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture last Saturday night that we'd need to duck out.

"She's got an early race tomorrow."

It was true, I did need to be up by 4:30 am Sunday morning, but it's not like I'm a professional or even competitive athlete. I've been running and doing these races for 3 years, and this idea always crosses my mind.

But still.

There are times when it seems the effort you expend to do something might actually be the point. 

You could say this about preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for 12, for example. For me it's always more about planning and cooking the dinner than actually eating it. Sure I love that part, too, but it's the organizing and the shopping and cooking that make me happiest and offer the greatest sense of achievement.

I would put Sunday's Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in that category for two reasons. 1. The race followed D.C. Rock 'n' Roll by only 2 weeks, which required me to pay closer attention to my overall training with particular (obsessive) emphasis on getting rest and recovery and on my nutrition. And 2. because of the early race start, large crowds, and no Metro. Runners got lots of emails warning us to make alternative plans to get down to the Monument grounds by 6:30 am since the Metro would not be opening on Sunday until 7 am.

In addition, Bob had volunteered to support the race and he needed to arrive no later than 5:45 a.m. 

So the plan was for me to drop Bob off at 5:45 and then park the car and walk back to the start on the grounds of the Washington Monument. It was cold and dark (but not windy, thankfully), so I threw lots of gear options in my car in order to think through how I wanted to layer and where I wanted to pin my race bib. Lately if I think I'm gonna remove my outer layer, I've been pinning the bib on my leg.

I decided to wear my lighter Lululemon Wunder Under Crop III Full On Luxtreme 21 leggings without side pockets, so I used an armband for my phone, which was ok. I packed fuel (dates, Swedish fish, Sport Beans) in the pouch of my waistband, but by mile 8, I pitched anything leftover so I could finish less encumbered. I carried a portable battery charger for my phone in the back pocket of my UA Tech 1/4 zip and although not ideal, it came in handy at the finish when I needed to be texting Bob in order for us to connect.

You get the idea.

It would have been so easy for both of us to sleep through our alarms at 4:30 am on a Sunday morning and say, just kidding, we're sleeping in. But we didn't.

And that's the point.

Here's my race report.

The weather

I did not get a spot in last year's lottery, but I remember hearing from friends that it was so cold that the race organizers were begging spectators to stay home because it just wasn't safe. They still put on the race but without all the entertainment and support.

This year the weather could not have been more perfect. The air was crisp and cool and stayed that way from beginning to end. The sun was bright and at times there was the potential for it to beat down on us but then as soon as we hit some shade the air would cool off.

This race has 15,000 runners, and we were grouped in waves of 2,500 runners. A few of us at the back of the pack were joking about how they should call it the "Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Menopause Run" because one minute we were boiling hot and the next shivering cold. I never took off my 1/4 zip, but I saw plenty of women stripping down and then putting it all back on.

As it turned out I chose the perfect gear for this one. I might have been able to wear shorts for the race, but we had a long walk from the finish to the car, and by then I was chilled to the bone.

Nutrition and hydration

Because I've had less than ideal experiences managing my electrolyte balance, I'm super focused on ensuring I've got myself hydrated appropriately. I know there are plenty of people who don't eat or drink anything during a 10 mile race, but I'm not one of them.

Pre-race meal: Since I had to get up 3 hours before the start I used the opportunity to drink 8 ounces of water mixed with a Nuun Active tab with breakfast. At home I had a cinnamon raisin mini bagel with a little peanut butter and half a grapefruit. I packed a banana with me and ate it while I was walking from my car to the start.

I started hydrating every 2 miles with a combination of water and Gatorade. After 45 minutes, I had 2 dates and then every 30 minutes I had a few Swedish fish and a few Sport Beans.

The race course

The course was completely flat with only the slightest incline at the very, very end. We passed under canopies of cherry blossom trees frequently throughout the route and several runners around me were holding their iPhones above their heads filming as they were running.

The whole thing was just gorgeous, and I have to admit there were moments during the race, especially in the beginning, when my thoughts were going to the unlucky children and families living in Syria. I know, not good stuff while you're running, but the thoughts were there, and I turned my attention to feeling so privileged and grateful to be living in such a beautiful country and city and running for fun and not for my life.

Bob was a volunteer at Hains Point, at mile 8, so his great big smile and big hug were nice pick-me-ups. Soon I realized I had no idea where we were and in fact the closer we got to 10 miles I could not picture how we were planning to head back onto the Monument grounds. I have never been to that part of Washington, but as we turned a corner and headed uphill, I saw the finish and sprinted as fast as I could. This always makes me laugh because when I see photos and videos of myself coming across the finish line it always looks like I'm running in slow motion.

What I did well

  • I finished. My time: 2:13:29,I did not make a pit stop, but I did walk through all of the water stops, and stopped maybe once or twice for a few seconds to stretch my piriformis muscle.
  • My nutrition and hydration were perfect. My energy level was high throughout the race.

What I could improve

  • Even though the weather was perfect and the course was flat and I was hydrating and fueling well, this race was hard.As I'm thinking about training for my second marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22, 2017, I need to completely conquer 10 miles. That's job 1.


Would I do this one again?

See you next time!