Cherry Blossom 10-miler

April 6th, 2008

Bleah. This was an important lesson—when to not run a race. I was still feeling a little cruddy from the National Half Marathon eight days earlier, and when I woke up it was cold and raining on and off. With 20/20 hindsight, I should have just stayed home and scratched the race. But my pride got the better of me, and suddenly I was on the last possible train downtown to get to the start on time. Now, at that point what I should have done was just run the 5K instead, I think I might’ve enjoyed that a lot more. But instead I hopped into my corral right as the one in front of it was starting, and headed off into the crappy weather.

Well, how I felt matched the weather quite nicely. Within a mile I was regretting running. Within two miles I began to seriously wonder why I was there. And at mile three I was trying to remember when the course swung near the start again, so that I could quit. This was the first time I’d ever quit a race and gotten the dreaded DNF (did not finish). And I won’t lie, at the time I was utterly destroyed by it. I felt horrible, and down, and just… yeah, really really bad. Looking back on it now, the fact that I was in fact in the middle of a full-blown cold (and not just allergies like I’d thought) certainly wasn’t helping matters. But it was absolutely the right thing to do. The fact that about five minutes after I quit, it started raining again? A bit of vindication.

So, my first and hopefully last DNF. Next time? If it comes down to that I hope I was smart enough to not even start.

(8:49, 8:44, 8:42, 9:02, 9:34)

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Cherry Blossom 10-Miler

April 1st, 2007

This was the fourth year in a row I’ve run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. This was the first year that we didn’t lose an hour of sleep the night beforehand, which was nice. This was also the first one I didn’t have anyone to really run it with, which was a little sad. (Long story.)

The race itself went well, though. I was feeling the after-effects of the half marathon from eight days ago, so it’s always a little frustrating to know you’re not even close to your best, but I was still really happy with the end result: a 1:26:09, which is an 8:37min/mile average, and slices 6 1/2 minutes off of last year’s time.

My mile splits do a lovely bell curve for the race: 8:23, 8:24, 8:31, 8:31, 8:32, 8:51, 9:02, 8:44, 8:38, 8:28. Clearly miles 6-7 were the tough ones, although I was more than a bit pleased to pass the 10K mark at 53 even and note that if the race had been over there I’d have gotten a new PR for it as well. (It sounds silly but I always play the “What if this race had been X distance instead?” game in my head. The whole could’ve, would’ve, should’ve mentality.) Once again, no walk breaks aside from a 10 second stop during mile 7 to gulp down a cup of Gatorade.

The best thing was seeing a lot people before and after the race. Before the race started I’d run into Ali, Carla, Chris, and Del; Carla and I started together but separated after the first minute. (Sorry Carla!) On the course itself I caught glimpses of Carla, Dave, Julie, Mark, and Randy (gotta love out-and-back stretches of the course!), and I managed to even see Carla, JP, and Randy finish the course. Finally I was too cold to stay any longer and I fled for the metro and the promise of brunch with a couple of the guys at Freddie’s. Mmmmm, mimosas.

Anyway, it was a good time, but I’m glad that I don’t have yet another race next weekend. Oof!

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Cherry Blossom 10-miler

April 2nd, 2006

I must admit that I had my doubts going into this race. Were my muscles really up to speed? Had my lack of sleep the past couple of nights (coupled with the return of Daylight Saving Time) doomed me? What about the dehydration that had happened all through Saturday thanks to something I ate clearly not agreeing with me? And what about Naomi?

Regardless of my doubts, I of course still ran the race. I met up at the Foggy Bottom metro station with Julie, Ali, Alma, Craig, John, Katie, Mark, Marty, and Randy and we all headed down to the race. Despite half of our group needing to use the port-o-potties, we still made into the corrals (and fortunately Ali, John, and Katie were all able to start with us despite being in a different corral; we went towards the back and they went towards the front) and were off before we knew it. Alma and Marty took off and were going to run the whole thing straight through; knowing that I’d poop out partway through I was more than a bit jealous!

Before too long it was just me, Craig, John, Katie, and Randy hoofing it together. The weather was gorgeous, though, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. So rare considering the past two years the race has been sub-Arctic complete with icy cold winds, and the blossoms have long since departed. My watch said 59:01 as I went over the 10K marker, which I was less than thrilled about, since my 10K PR from last May was a minute faster and I figured I’d have a faster pace for this race. It didn’t dissuade me, though, and our run through Rock Creek Park was great since its out-and-back means we can see other people ahead and behind us. I passed my friend Cal right at the turn-around, and we began the trek back towards the finish line.

Somewhere around mile 8.5, Katie took off (and power to her!), even as I was losing speed and John was nowhere to be found. I focused on my final walk break with the knowledge that I had just 1.5 miles to go, and tried to keep up with Randy and Craig. The two of them began to slip away from me around mile 9.5, and it took every ounce of energy I had left to “rubber band” off of Craig even as Randy continued to pull ahead. I barely passed Craig about 100 feet before the finish line, but Randy had already crossed over. My finishing time was a 1:32:38 which gave me a 9:16min/mile, faster than the Half Marathon. That made me super happy. The splits were slightly more erratic this time (9:44, 9:20, 10:00, 9:08, 9:30, 9:23, 9:23, 8:52, 9:16, 7:56) and I have no idea what the heck happened at mile 3, but all in all, a very good race indeed, smashing last year’s time of 1:49:02.

Phew! I’m glad I’ve got no more short races in April, though. (Just two more in May—a 5K and a 10K—and that’s it for the spring season!)

Oh, and my statistics for the Cherry Blossom (and its ludicrous “20-39” age group):

2004: 2235/2242 (99th percentile)
2005: 2132/2290 (93rd percentile)
2006: 1955/2873 (68th percentile)

It’s always nice to see such an improvement!

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Cherry Blossom 10-miler

April 3rd, 2005

Considering that I haven’t run since March 22nd, I’m awfully thrilled with this result! But OH GOOD GOD WAS IT WINDY OUT!

I’m not kidding here, we’re talking the weatherman warning people about killer gusts of wind. With pointy teeth. Well, maybe not with pointy teeth but you get the idea. What I’d underestimated this morning was the effect of the wind blowing off the water, so while a jacket and t-shirt would have been fine if I’d been running on the W&OD Trail, waiting for the race to start in West Potomac Park was nothing short of nightmarish. *shiver* At least I’d had the good sense to put on running tights instead of shorts, unlike poor Chris, who made me colder just looking at him. It was ultimately cold enough in the waiting zone that I took my number off my shirt and pinned it to my leg because I wasn’t sure the jacket was ever coming unzipped. And of course, with Daylight Savings Time, that’s one hour less sleep. Ugh. I felt like a popsicle zombie.

Once we got moving, though, things were much better. There were just five of us from my group this year (a combination of sicknesses and personal tragedies kept the others away) and we stuck together for the first two miles before one of the runners dropped behind. By the time we cleared Memorial Bridge and were heading into Rock Creek Park, a combination of protection from the wind, a little bit of sun peeking out, and being moving even meant it was safe to unzip the jacket for a while. When the wind did show up, it seemed to almost push us forward on the course throughout Rock Creek Park. I like that.

Around mile 5 it was just me and Randy, and the two of us picked the pace up a little once we hit the turnaround point at mile 6.5; up until then our times were ranging throughout the mid-11s, but we pushed it up to 10-minute miles for the last few. With about half a mile to go, Randy took off and I remembered the times when I used to be able to do the same sort of thing. I think this is a clear sign that I’m now running more to the extent of my abilities; I just don’t have so much unused energy that I can blast through the last half-mile of a race. Last year’s finishing time for me was 2:13:53, so I was pretty happy to nail a new finishing time of 1:49:02, which comes out to a 10:54min/mile average.

Then came waiting for the rest of our group (cold! so cold!) and standing around for 20 minutes as the wind started picking back up—big time—may have been a mistake. By the time the last of our group showed up and we started walking back to the Metro, my legs were beginning to cramp up (which disconcertingly made my toes curl up, something I’d never have happen before but talking to others apparently is not that uncommon). Finally it was back home to a warm shower and then a soak in the tub… the latter of which I managed to fall asleep in. Whoops. Oh well, that’s one for the books. At least the water hadn’t gotten down to freezing temperatures before I woke up; the last thing I need is to catch pneumonia from falling asleep in the bath!

Oh, and for my records (and other people’s curiousity), my mile splits, in order from mile 1 to 10: 11:52, 11:17, 11:54, 11:14, 11:13, 11:24, 11:10, 9:56, 9:54, 9:04.

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Cherry Blossom 10-miler

April 4th, 2004

How dumb am I? Apparently, very.

On Thursday, my younger sister Suzanne came home so on Friday, she, my parents, and I could all head up to Cape May Court House, NJ to see my awesome cousin Jim get married. Suzanne brought home a cold with her. By Saturday, I had it too. The whole trip home my throat was sore and raspy, and by the time I went to bed my nose had decided to start running as well. (Ah, the joys of waking up utterly disoriented that NyQuil brings.) So this morning, what did I do? Sleep in, despite "losing" an hour of sleep because of Daylight Savings Time? Hell no, I went and ran in a 10-mile race. In 40 degree weather, with overcast skies and at one point a light sprinking of rain for about a mile and a half.

I am an idiot. What can I say? I will be shocked if I’m not even sicker by tomorrow morning. I swear, it’s like there’s a big vat marked "biohazard" and I’m sticking hands full of paper cuts right into it.

But on the bright side, I did pretty good. Pam kicked my ass—she zoomed off around the halfway point and was just an adorable pink dot on the horizon from that point on. (It’s the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, so she wore pink. She’s crafty like that.) Julie, Scott, and I stuck together for the whole course, and while our second half was a little slower than our first (we were zooming), we had a very respectable finishing time based on our past performances. Only worrisome thing was about 100 feet from the finish line, my left calf had a very strange twinge. It wasn’t a pain or anything, it just sort of… twinged. Twice. I sort of banked to one side when it happened and gave out a startled little, "Ahh!" which made it sound much worse than it really was. I really need to get back into the habit of stretched out my achilles tendons every day, I think.

(Ironically, if this had been a 5K or a 10K I’d have gotten new personal best times. But of course, it wasn’t. Ah well, I’m still quite pleased.)

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