Well my first race of the year took me out to Washington D.C. It was really a trip to see the kiddos (and my sister and BIL for that matter). As long as I'm traveling I like to squeeze in races to experience something new. The weekend was filled with the wee ones' sports but I managed to weasel my way in via a lottery to the annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in D.C. It was a great scenic run and the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom so I felt very fortunate to be running such a race.
The day began early. Up at 5 to eat. Out the door at 5:30 to the race site. Thankfully my
sister agreed to head in with me so she drove us to the metro and we
rode in with the other thousands of runners. It was nice not having to
worry about navigating my way in to the city or bag check that morning.
She was an excellent sherpa. Thanks! We got to washington monument
with plenty of time for me to hit up the bathroom, take a few pics and
make to the corral with plenty of time to spare.
To say I was jazzed for the first race of the year was a bit of an
understatement. I was coming off another off season injury so there was
a little bit of uncertainty involved, but I was really just excited to
run and see where I was at from a fitness perspective. This would be a
pretty good indicator of where I was and how much work needed to be done
before kicking off marathon training. Plus this was a pretty kick ass
run around DC in great weather. How could you not be excited for this?
Because of the injury I wasn't real sure how to approach pacing this. I
had only done a couple of runs over 10 miles up to this point and very
little speed work. I figured heading out at half marathon pace for the
first half and adjusting the pace based on how I felt after that would
be a safe bet. No need to kill myself early on.
Thankfully it being such a large race keeping myself in check early on
wasn't too much of a problem. There was a crowd for the first couple of
miles. Across memorial bridge and around the roundabout things were
tight. I held back until the way back across memorial where things
started to spread out and I decided to stretch the legs a bit. Hit the
first out and back and back along the tidal basin and we were already
halfway done. My garmin had decided not to turn on before the race start
so I was over a mile in before I got it up and running. I had to go
off clocks at the mile markers to get a semblance of pace. Not knowing
may have been a blessing in disguise. I went off feel and made sure I
was staying within my means. Comfortably hard was probably an adequate
description. Hit the halfway mark at 33:49 and then the 10k at 42:06
and was happy with the splits.
Heading south along Potomac park was a little windy. I tried to tuck
behind other runners to minimize the impact, but at that point my legs
were feeling good and I was starting to pass quite a few people. Once
we got around the point the wind was at our backs and I was thankful for
that. A little over two miles to go and I decided to open it up even
more. I was surprised how good I felt and decided the weather had a lot
to do with it. Time to just put the foot on the gas and bring it in.
That stretch back up Potomac park I was just cruising past people,
making it a game to see how many people I could catch and pass. I was
so focused I missed my sister cheering at about mile nine. I heard my
name called out but wasn't sure if it was her or a random stranger since
we had names on our bibs. With a mile to go I really cut loose. The
legs were sore, but I knew I was on pace for a decent time so I fought
to see how fast I could finish things off. There was a little climb
before the finish, really the only incline of the day, and it sucked
hard, but I was kind of in the zone and just kept on pushing.
Eventually the finish line showed up and I crossed, crazy happy about
the time. Some guy next to me blew chunks after finishing and I
wondered if I could have pushed a little harder. I've never puked after
a race, but maybe not from lack of trying. I think this was a first
long race I have ever pulled off a negative split. I was at a 6:47 pace
after 10k, but finished at a 6:44 pace for the entire race. Actually
kind of fun finishing things off with a little something something in
AG place: 106/1455
The race site had some interesting stats post race. I finished ahead of
99% of the women, meaning I only got chicked by a small percentage of
the field. I also passed 83 people in the second half of the race and
was only passed by 8. Thanks you very much Mr. Negative Split. The pace
also translated to an 8.9 mph pace. They also showed where I was on the
course when the men's and women's winners finished. That is still
humbling. I think the winner ran a 46:XX. Craziness!
After I walked down and picked up food. Waited for my sister and some warm
clothes. Then we walked to the Jefferson memorial and watched the back
of packers finish up. For being injured in the offseason and my tubby butt still needing to lose about 10 pounds to lose to get down to a reasonable race weight I was happy. I was super stoked with
how things went. I am in much better shape than I anticipated I would
be at this time of year. Things are looking up for marathon training
and setting more PRs this summer if I stay healthy. This was a great
course and quite scenic when I remembered to take a look around. I feel
fortunate to get in through the lottery and to have my sister there to
cheer me on.