What an AWESOME race yesterday! I took a whopping TEN minutes off my time from the same race 3 years ago . So proud of how far I’ve come!
As you know, yesterday morning I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler here in DC! I first ran this race back in 2010 and was very excited to do it again. It’s a DC favorite with a beautiful, flat course and usually beautiful weather, too! I was very lucky this year and was offered a free bib for the race in exchange for sharing my race experience here on the blog. A big thank you to the Cherry Blossom PR team for the awesome opportunity! I was so happy and excited to be out there.
Yesterday morning began how all other race days begin – with a very early alarm clock and a question of my own sanity for thinking this was a fun idea. Funny how during and after the race I always quickly forget all about that.
The last time I ran Cherry Blossom I was stuck in the porta potty line for ages and missed my wave start, so this year I planned to get there insanely early just so I wouldn’t be stressed and rushed. The race started at 7:30, but I was on the metro by 6:15 and down on the mall shortly after 6:30. A beautiful sunrise greeted me from behind the Capitol.
From there, I followed the masses on a quarter mile walk to the race start.
How pretty is the morning sky in this picture below?
My college BFF Turner and I planned to run the race together, so we found each other as soon as I arrived, hit the porta potties with no problem, checked bags, and were in our corral and ready to go by 7:10. Sweet! I don’t know if it was just because we got there really early or because the race was really well organized, but either way, no problems whatsoever.
Turner and I were in the red corral, which was wave 2, for anyone expected to finish in under 1:24. Our friends Sarah and Sokphal were in the same corral, so we all hung out together waiting for the race to start.
It was FREEZING but after wearing way too much clothing and getting hot a month ago during the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half marathon , I decided it would be worth being really cold at the start to not overheat during the race! It ended up being a really good call.
Before we knew it, it was time to start!
Turner is a faster runner than me but wasn’t gunning for a new PR, so she decided to run with me to help support me on my way to a speedy finish. Thanks for the company, Turner! You rock.
The first mile especially was really crowded but we were able to settle in to a good pace. Since I did an 8:15 minute/mile pace for my recent half, we decided to aim for around 8 minute miles for this race. Before the Rock ‘n’ Roll race I never would have believe I could do 8 minutes flat for 10 miles straight, but I felt so good during that race that it boosted my confidence for this one. I could do this, I knew it! I just had to keep my head in the game.
The first part of the race took us past some of the monuments.
And then over Memorial Bridge…
Mile 1: 8:02
Mile 2: 7:47
Mile 3: 7:59
We kept checking our watches and were right on track for 8 minute miles. Feeling good!
We then headed down along the river towards Georgetown, past the Kennedy Center, then back.
It was such a beautiful morning for a run. Cold but sunny! We had our first glimpse of the Tidal Basin around mile 5. Sadly, the cherry blossoms were not quite out yet. I also ate my fuel (a mocha Clif Shot gel ) around mile 5.
Mile 4: 7:29 (!)
Mile 5: 7:52
Mile 6: 7:49
From there, we headed down to Hains Point. This part of the run was hard – we had a pretty strong headwind to run into and of course by this point my legs were feeling a little tired, too! But overall, still feeling great and staying positive, which is half the battle with running.
Turner and I chatted occasionally and soaked up the scenery, checking our watches to make sure we were staying on pace. So far, so good! Below is the view from about mile 7, rounding Hains Point. Once we turned the wind was at our backs – hooray!
Mile 7: 7:59
Mile 8: 7:51
This section of the course was really pretty – the cherry blossoms reeeeeally wanted to come out to play, but they weren’t quite there. Still pretty, though!
By the second to last mile of the race, I realized that we were on track to break 1 hour 20 minutes, which would be exactly 8 minute miles. I still felt pretty good and I decided I wanted to leave it all out there on the course. I turned to Turner and said, “I think we can break 1:20 – let’s dial it up a notch!” And dial it up we did. I still can’t believe how far my running has come even in just the past year – I never would have dreamed I’d be able to run the last two miles of a 10 miler this quickly!
Mile 9: 7:40
Mile 10: 7:23 (!)
The race seriously flew by and before we knew it, we were approaching the finish! We laid it all out there and sprinted our hearts out. Sub 1:20 was mine!
My official results:
Our average pace per mile was 7:53 – talk about blowing my old PR (1:28:27) on this course out of the water! And in my age group (F 30-34), I came in 177 out of 2,306 people! Woohoo! What an awesome race.
Here I am post-race with my partner in crime, Turner, having a laughter-filled photo shoot by the porta potties (so classy). We’re going to run together again at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in a few weeks, too!
I want to end by saying a big thank you to everyone who came out and volunteered on the course and at the start/finish line areas! I had my CamelBak on so I didn’t stop at the water stops, but Turner stopped at a few of them and as far as I could tell, they were well staffed and well organized.
And with that, another PR is in the books. Now, I’m eyeing a sub-8 minute mile half marathon…