Today I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in DC! I was excited for this race for a few reasons. First, this race is very well known in the DC area, and today was actually its 40th anniversary! Second, I’ve only ever done one other 10 miler race back in 2010, The Broad Street Run in Philly, so the distance is pretty new to me. And last but not least, it would be my second race with baby! This time at 14.5 weeks pregnant 🙂
We woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready and headed to Springfield around 6 to catch the metro. I had heard there were 15,000 people running and a lot of road closures, so we thought metro would be our best bet. We caught a train that was just about to leave right at 6:30 and made our way into the city. The trip took about 30 minutes, and we were had only about a quarter mile walk once we exited the metro station. We followed the runners down the mall to the start line.
On the way to the start area we looked for porta-potties but couldn’t find any. We arrived at the main staging area and saw all the corrals, tons of runners, and tents but still no porta-potties. I started getting frustrated because I really had to pee, and the race was supposed to start in 20 minutes. We finally found them way down at the opposite side, with super long lines that were not moving. This did not make me happy!
Kevin took that picture after we had already waited about 25 minutes in line and still had a ways to go. By this point the race had started and I missed the start of my wave. This wasn’t a huge deal because we were being chip-timed, but I knew that they were cutting off the start line at 8 a.m. and I was starting to get nervous. Finally we made it to the front of the line about 15 minutes later and I was all smiles again… for now 🙂
By now it was 7:50 and had warmed up a little bit. I gave Kevin my jacket and said goodbye! I was proud to sport my “Running for Two” shirt. I was a little cold at first, but this outfit ended up being perfect once I started running.
I had to hurry to get to the front where the runners in the last wave were lined up. They were just about to release them so I made it just in time.
Within 60 seconds we were off and running… well sort of. Let me first put a little disclaimer out there that this will be a little bit of a rant. There were SO MANY PEOPLE everywhere that it was difficult to move faster than a slow jog, or even a fast walk at some points. In addition to that, most of the people around me were walking or running very slowly. Each wave was supposed to have 2,500 runners, and I tried my best to get around people but it was almost impossible. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will support any runner no matter how fast or slow they are. I think all kinds of running/walking is great and anyone that completes a race has something to be proud of. But it was really frustrating for me to be in the last wave because I wasn’t supposed to be there, and I hadn’t been able to get to the corral I was supposed to be in. And I couldn’t escape! Everywhere I went I was confronted with another wall of people that I couldn’t squeeze past. So I resorted to running on grass, sidewalks, and medians some of the time and just did the best I could. But the crowd literally NEVER thinned out over the entire 10 miles. I was passing a lot of people and just kept catching up to the previous waves. It took so much energy to dodge people who were cutting one another off, avoid people who stopped to walk suddenly, and just not crash into people that it was very stressful. I was irritated and I think it made me run faster just because I wanted to get away from everyone and be done.
Those two pictures are so deceiving! It doesn’t even look crowded at all, but I promise you it was. In addition to the volume of people, the course was very narrow at some points which made it worse. I also didn’t like the course in general. It was just a bunch of out-and-backs which was not very exciting. The last stretch down the Hains Point and back was looooong and gave me flashbacks to the Marine Corps Marathon where I struggled a lot at that point in the race.
Here were my splits:
- Mile 1 – 9:27
- Mile 2 – 9:20
- Mile 3 – 8:39
- Mile 4 – 8:35
- Mile 5 – 8:49
- Mile 6 – 8:45
- Mile 7 – 8:47
- Mile 8 – 8:47
- Mile 9 – 8:37
- Mile 10 – 8:10
- Mile 10.17 – 1:22 (7:51 pace) –> course was long and extra distance probably due to me weaving through so many people.
Kevin was at the finish line waiting and caught some shots of the super fast elite runners finishing their races…
And a while later I came through finishing mine, so happy to be done!
My official time was 1:28:57, which is an average pace of 8:54 per mile! Best of all, I actually PRed from my last and only 10 miler, which I ran in 1:32:07. To be fair, it was the Broad Street Run which is another super crowded race, and that day it was literally 90 degrees. The city of Philadelphia actually had all the fire hydrants spraying to cool us down. So really I was glad to just survive that race! But still, I definitely didn’t expect a PR to happen today. But I honestly never felt like I was pushing myself too hard. I was just in the zone and feeling good. Plus I was trying to run away from all the people!!! I know I don’t have many fast races in my future for the next year or so, so it felt great to get one more good one in the books!
After I finished we grabbed some bananas, water, and muffins and walked back to the metro to go home. We caught another train that was just about to leave and the ride was quick and painless.
Once I got home I took a wonderful nap. Then I refueled with some delicious Mexican food for dinner … the perfect post-race food in my opinion. I convince myself that I need to eat salty chips to replace the salt I lost in my sweat during the race. Good logic, right? When we got back I checked out the results online and discovered that they compiled some really awesome stats about the runners. I think this was the best part of the whole race! I love this kind of stuff. Check it out…
And this is my favorite part…
How’s THAT for accomplishment? 🙂 I actually saw this shirt online that said “You’ve just been passed by a pregnant woman” on the back… I so wish I had bought it! LOL.
Overall, The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was a good experience and I’m glad I did it, however I don’t think I would do it again. I did know going into the race that it would be crowded, but it still annoyed me. Maybe it would have been better if I had actually started in my correct corral, but I don’t really think it would be. It just took some of the fun out of it when I was constantly worrying about not crashing into people. I also didn’t love the course, and thought the organization could’ve been better in regards to the number and accessibility of the porta-potties, the wave starts, and the post-race area that was kind of a hot mess. I realize that this post was pretty negative, but I was really happy with how I did despite these challenges and despite being pregnant! Most people don’t PR while pregnant, so I’m a happy girl at the end of the day 🙂