On Sunday morning, Fabio and I ran the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for the second time! Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Here’s my recap!
Waking up & Getting there
In years past, the metro has been open for this race, but this year it wasn’t because of Safe Track updates (ugh). I knew requesting an uber was going to be a nightmare, but we had plans for after the race so I didn’t think biking to the start was a good idea either.
In the end, we decided to set the alarm for 5:50 a.m., giving us plenty of time to get ready, walk Jack, and request an uber. Usually when we request an uber or lyft the car arrives within a couple of minutes, and since the race is only about 10 minutes from our house, I thought we had plenty of time to get there by the 7:30 start time.
When I requested the uber at 6:25, the app told me a car was 9 minutes away but was going to cost me $57!! Holy cow!! (Typically this trip would cost about $12.) Luckily I didn’t cancel because the uber wound up taking more than 20 minutes to arrive, and I was a nervous wreck the whole time.
I absolutely hate when things beyond my control go awry, and I was getting really anxious watching the minutes tick by and seeing that the driver was still so far away. In the end, I went back upstairs to make the bed, straighten up, and eat my CLIF bar while Fabio watched for the uber. This wound up being a really good distraction and was a much better alternative to me watching the little car on the app get closer verrrrrrry slowly. Ha!
Finally at like 6:45 our uber driver arrived, and we were on our way to the race start (after spending nearly $60. Sheesh!). Fabio and I put our bibs on in the car so we’d be ready to go as soon as we got there.
We wound up arriving later than we wanted but still with plenty of time to spare. Phew!
When we got out of our uber we could see that it was looking like a gorgeous day, with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the low/mid 40s. Perfect!
People were already starting to line up in their corrals by this point, so Fabio and I quickly joined the masses in the blue corral. We were lucky to spot my friend Kathleen right away!
Kathleen and I were both running as part of the Cabot Fit Team, so we got to wear these fun “cheesy” tanks! Kathleen was brave and wore hers by itself, and though she was freezing at the start I think that was probably the better choice. I wound up being hot in my long sleeves later!
The corral started to fill up quickly, and we had a nice time chatting and stretching while we waited.
Eventually we found Anne and her husband Matt, who had also had uber problems in the morning. I’m glad we all made it on time!
Before long, we started moving forward in the line as the other waves started running. At this point I was focusing on a couple of last-minute goals/reminders for the race: don’t start off too fast, remember to focus on breathing, and aim for a pace between 8:45 and 8:50 if I want to PR, but don’t worry too much if that seems out of reach. I just wanted to enjoy the day!
One last selfie before the race!
And then we were off!
Miles 1 – 4
For any of you who have run this race before, you know that the course takes you from the Washington Monument toward the Lincoln Memorial and across Arlington Memorial Bridge. At this point all of the sites of the monuments are really exciting, and there’s pretty decent crowd support. I remember seeing one of the National’s bobblehead costumes on the bridge last time and high-fiving him, and I did the same this time. 🙂 I snapped a photo on the way back over Arlington Memorial Bridge because I couldn’t get over the gorgeous morning! Can you see the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument below?
Our next leg took us down Rock Creek Parkway under the Kennedy Center and then looped back toward the Washington Monument.
The first two miles included a lot of bobbing and weaving to try to find a good pace with all the people around us, but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. Maybe the fact that I knew I’d have to do that helped as well.
I was feeling really great during this part of the race, and I even remember at one point around the end of mile one, I had a good song playing in my ears (I listened to Hamilton since that worked well during my training) and a big smile on my face, and I reached down to squeeze Fabio’s hand. (He’s a trooper and always runs beside me.) I was just in a happy place!
Despite the congestion, we were able to stick with our pace goals during this section too, even if we did go a little fast for miles two and three. (Like usual.)
- Mile 1: 8:56
- Mile 2: 8:38
- Mile 3: 8:36
- Mile 4: 8:53
Miles 5 – 7
Around mile 5 we passed the Washington Monument again, and I was hoping to spot my dad and sister who I knew were coming to spectate. Sadly I didn’t see them, but there was a ton of crowd support and I was feeling pretty good. I also knew the “boring” part of the race was coming up, so I tried my best to soak up the energy of the moment.
After the monument, we passed the Tidal Basin (the cherry blossoms were still in bloom and looked great!) and then made our long trek down Hains Point. This area is a lot quieter than the rest of the race, and is basically an out and back along a long peninsula, so it takes a while and is just kind of boring.
Of course now looking back at this picture of beautiful cherry blossoms and the Potomac River I feel like such a jerk saying it could be anything but amazing, but it’s just not my favorite section of the race.
At one point I felt a cramp coming on, but I focused on breathing slowly and deeply and I was able to keep it away. Phew!
In between miles six and seven I couldn’t remember if we were on mile six or mile seven, but I started to get pretty tired and the run no longer felt as easy or mindless as it did in the beginning. I was still doing ok, but I remember noticing a difference. I also stopped looking at our pace at this point because I didn’t want to feel disappointed if we were going too slow — I just wanted to keep going.
Despite low crowd support going down Hains Point, there were two notable exceptions: a female DJ complete with a turn table and huge speakers, and a table that was set up with free beer and Oreos. As we got close to the end of Hains Point Fabio asked if we were getting close to where the spot where the free beer/Oreo people were set up last time we ran this race, and I said we were. Once we saw them he asked if I wanted a beer and when I said no, he sprinted over and drank some! Haha! I kept chugging along (pun intended) and he ran back to meet me once he was done. Haha! Typical Fabio.
- Mile 5: 8:39
- Mile 6: 8:46
- Mile 7: 8:46
Miles 8 – 10
I was feeling pretty good for mile eight and just kept telling myself that I only had two miles left to go. Just two! I could do this, and maybe even PR (I still wasn’t looking at my watch, but just tried to keep up a steady and speedy pace).
I sort of hit a wall at mile nine and regretted not ever making it to the full nine miles during my training, but I knew I was so close. I also knew we had a big hill ahead of us for the finish, so I think that was getting in my head a little.
Eventually we rounded the corner and I was so thankful to be done with Hains Point and back among the big crowds — plus I knew my dad and sister were there somewhere! As I looked for them, I knew it was time to sprint up the long hill to the finish. Fabio sprinted a bit ahead of me at the very end, but I still threw in everything that was left in the tank!
- Mile 8: 8:52
- Mile 9: 8:46
- Mile 10: 8:48
We crossed the finish line with big grins on our faces, and when I looked down I saw that my final time was 1:28:28! I knew my last 10 miler PR was also 1:28, so I quickly scrambled to look up my last time. It was 1:28:35! Fabio and I PRed by SEVEN seconds!! (Our average pace was 8:45, which was exactly what I was aiming for.) I was pretty ecstatic at this point, and just remember feeling so happy that a) it went so well and b) it was over. 🙂
After the finish
Sadly my dad and sister didn’t see us cross the finish line – there were just sooo many people – but they met up with us as soon as we were done. It was so nice to have them there supporting us and adding to crowds!
We also met up with a bunch of our friends at this point, including Fabio’s fraternity brother (and groomsman), Jason!
We hung around with Jason’s family for a little while, who also ran the race. Go Team Hershman!
And before long, we also found Anne and Kathleen!
Woohoo! My favorite workout buddies!!
A little while later, all the members of the Cabot Fit Team met up by the monument for a group photo. Everyone did so great during the race!
Meanwhile, I was just happy to have my favorite running buddy by my side. Fabio really is such a trooper for running the race with me (I know running is not his favorite) and for sticking by my side the whole time. I wound up weaving a lot throughout the course to try to stay at our pace in the big crowds, and he never lost me once! Having him there is a big mental boost, even if we didn’t talk during the race. He’s the best!
And of course, I have to thank my awesome dad and sister for coming out to cheer us on!! It sounds like they had a nice time, even though they didn’t see us until after the race.
All in all, this was an awesome first step back into the distance running scene. I hadn’t run a race since December 2014 because of my foot surgery, and this race showed me that I can absolutely still do distance runs and my fitness and endurance levels haven’t changed.
I also noticed a big change in my attitude toward running this time around; I didn’t put as much pressure on myself which allowed me to really just enjoy the moment. Hopefully I can focus on doing this more often!
And now…should I sign up for another race? I’m thinking about the Across the Bay 10K in November since I’ve always wanted to run that one but used to have a conflict with work during that week every year. Now that I’m in a new job I think this might be the year to do it!
Question of the day: If you ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, how did it go for you? Have any of you run the Across the Bay 10K before?