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!