Well, Cherry Blossom race weekend was one I was looking forward to for awhile. And why not? A nice long weekend away from the city (and with perfect weather for the most part!) with a Flyer friend (and most likely running into other NYC runners-no pun intended) on a festive weekend in DC. Did have high hopes for the race too, as it had good reviews.
So on Friday, me and Flyer GW headed down to DC (he drove)…with the exception of heavy rain showers in patches, the ride down was pretty smooth and we arrived to gorgeous weather. Perfect timing for us to run a few miles at the end of the course to scope things out!! GW took note of an uphill at the end, which I didn’t think would be any big deal-I mean, you’re pushing hard at the end anyway, right? Remember that…
Saturday involved hitting up the expo (where I ran into Uptown Girl and a few of her TRD teammates!) and spending my share of money…this running top was one of my purchases, some sightseeing and picture-taking, and some carbo-loading via pasta and red wine-would you expect anything less of me? 🙂 Watched a little NCAA basketball and rested up…
Race day!! The usual routine, and really gotta love that Starbucks was in the hotel lobby, very convenient!! Me and GW had prepped the race day attire the night before, so it didn’t take too long to get ready and out the door…ran a little bit to the start to warm up. Was nice and chilly-perfect race weather!-though the sun was very strong. Got to the race start around 7:10-7:15ish…was time for me to check the bag and get to my corral and not risk getting stuck on a long line. I was in the 2nd/red corral (is it me or am I always red? LOL)-meaning I’d be starting 3 minutes after the first wave. So not too bad, except the corrals really weren’t being policed, no one was really checking numbers. Saw a coupla Reservoir Dogs while I was waiting in the corral and we eagerly anticipated the start. Finally the elite women were off, then the first wave of the mass start, and then so were us!!
The story, splits-style:
I did think I got off to a decent start. Yeah, there were people passing me in the first mile, but I just kept saying to myself “run within yourself, run your own race”-plus I did want to take in the cherry blossoms which were everywhere!! 🙂 Knowing how I pace long races (mile 1 is usually slower due to the legs needing to get in gear), I felt I was on track for a good race. Miles 2 and 3 included some turnaround and out-and-back action, so I got to see lotsa people in the other direction…saw GW, Uptown Girl, other Reservoir Dogs, other NYC running teams (NY Harriers, CPTC)…yeah, NYC always represents!!
Mile 4 and 5, the going got tough. Remember how I said the sun was strong before? I sure felt it now. Mile 5’s split was just over 8 minutes and I felt “uh-oh”…but still hoped to hold on and even negative split. Hey, I’ve done that before, right? Took my gel in mile 6 and hoped for the best. Oh, but it was EVIL to see the 800 meters to go sign during that mile…that sign being for the finishers. Mile 6 not too bad, mile 7…didn’t know what was up with that, I hoped it was long!! Thankfully the short mile 8 split put those worries to rest 🙂
Only 2 miles to go!! A few days earlier, JS told me to “have confidence that I could hammer” the last 2-3 miles. Of course, both he and I know that I have been capable of that in previous long races and have perfectly executed that plan. Not today, but not due to lack of trying. My legs just seemed stuck in that one gear. Not sure what was up with mile 9, if it was long or what, but was ready to be done. I saw the Washington Monument in the distance, which was where the finish was, but I tried to not notice it…because all I would think was “arrrgghhh can’t I just get there!” But I could tell when I was getting close, and thankfully I saw the 800 meters to go sign, and tried to pick it up a little more…
…and remember that uphill I mentioned earlier? Yeah that helped make this feel like the longest 800 meters ever, and I couldn’t even see the finish when I hit the 400 meters to go point. Damn, that robbed me of a finishing kick more than the Tavern on the Green hill!! But finally I made it, in 1:19:04 (7:54 pace) …was glad to have still made it under 1:20, there was a while where I thought that was touch and go. Little disappointed, however there’s nothing like a margarita with salt to help numb that…
Decent race effort? Yeah, I guess. Especially since earlier this year, wasn’t sure if 1:20 would have been possible. But I guess I just can’t get that nagging voice out of my head saying that I’m capable of better, I had a 1:18 10-mile split in a half last year, this course was “flat and fast”…I guess everyone has their off days, just sucked that mine was on the day of an “A” race. nevertheless, was still a beautiful day for running and a fun weekend (and was nice to see some of the places I will be running by in October!!)
And for now…not sure what’s up next. Get redemption on the 10-mile distance at Broad Street? Race something shorter and sweeter (e.g., 5k, 10k)? Or something else?
Oh, and between this race and Cherry Tree, I have decided I will avoid all races with “cherry” in the race name in the future…hehe.