When my alarm went off at 4:45 on Sunday morning, I'm not sure I knew where I was. I dragged myself into the shower in an effort to shake off the last vestiges of sleep, and ran through a mental list of what needed to be done before I toed the line at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in DC.
- Get dressed
- Find watch and Road ID
- Eat something
- Walk the dog
- Figure out what metro stop I needed
- Find cash for the metro
- Tape up my shin
- Question my sanity
Once most of those got done (I didn't manage to walk the dog - she's old and sometimes just doesn't want to cooperate!), I got in my car and headed to the Metro station. I still wasn't really thinking about the race. I was just kind of on auto pilot. Some part of my brain knew that I wasn't ready for this. I hadn't been running as much or as often as I should have been, and hadn't run more than 7 miles at a time since October. My calves were tight, my shin hurt. I was running (literally!) on no sleep. Blah, blah, blah. But all that stayed in the back of my mind and mostly I was just calm.
Then I got to the Metro, which opened early on Sunday just for the race, and I saw other runners getting out of their cars, talking, laughing, pinning on their bibs, and I started to get excited. "These are my tribe," I thought. We all got on the train and it was just us. I think I counted two people who were not headed to the race, but the other couple of hundred that I could see when the doors opened were all going to the same place. This is my tribe.
Arriving at the race after a short walk from the metro, I immediately hopped into one of the super long lines for the porta potties. I'd had an entire bottle of water on the train and knew I'd be hating life if I didn't take care of business before hand. The line was so long that I was still waiting when the first runners started the race. Sometimes it pays to be in the last corral!
Once I was finished I popped over into the purple corral to wait for our turn to start the race. Everyone around me was in great spirits, and I was starting to get more excited. I turned on my watch and set it for 2/1 run/walk intervals since I knew I wouldn't get through the race just running, given how craptastic my training had been. (Plus, I did this race last year doing 2/1 intervals, and it went pretty well.)
We slowly started to move forward towards the start line and the announcer was doing his bit and then he said something along the lines of "Give it up for the party wave - these runners really like to maximize their racing time, it's the PURPLE WAVE!" We all cheered and laughed, though technically not all of the runners in the purple corral are slower runners. If you don't have a previous 10 miler time to give at registration, I think they automatically put you with purple. But nevertheless, we did all seem like a fairly happy crowd. And then... we were off.
The first bit of the race is really crowded, so I didn't get into my run/walking until almost the first mile mark. My pace for that first bit was relatively slow, though, so everything felt fine and my legs were cooperating. At one point, there was a trio of young guys behind me singing "Do you want to build a snowman" from the movie Frozen. I spun around and said "Please, oh please tell me you're going to do the whole movie!" They laughed and began a conversation about how they should bring a boom box next year. Soon they passed me and I never saw them again, but the definitely put me in good spirits for the first part of the race.
|(Walking and taking pictures at the same time is not as easy as you might think!)|
Along the way I was a little disappointed that the Cherry Blossoms weren't actually in full bloom (or much of any kind of bloom), but it's still a fairly pretty course (for DC). It was the perfect temperature, and things just felt good. I was tired, sure, but didn't really struggle at all until about mile 6. Mile 6 felt really, really hard. I didn't know why until later in the day (more on that later).
One of the great things about this race is the spectators. Funny signs, people with dogs, little kids, etc. Plenty of people out there cheering, giving high fives, etc. Another great thing is that this race puts your name on your bib, so I got six (yes, I kept count) personalized shout-outs. One of them made me really happy, actually, because it was towards the end of the race and I was really tired by that point and this little boy, maybe 8 or 9, said "Whoo! Diana! You can do it!" and gave me a fist bump. Tears, people.
My time for this race last year was 1:59:32, and my original plan (way back in the fall when I signed up) was to beat that time. Race morning, I was pretty sure that wasn't going to happen, but somewhere around mile 8 I realized that it could happen. Unfortunately, by mile 10 I was so tired that I let my walk breaks go longer than they were supposed to. I ended up finishing in (an unoficial) 2:00:22. Looking back, I'm a little peeved that I gave up on myself and didn't fight for a PR. On the other hand, considering my lack of training, my painful shin, and the fact that I hadn't had a decent night sleep in a week, I am incredibly pleased with my time.
|(Man, I get red-faced when I run!)|
When I got home from the race, I uploaded my Garmin data and I realized that I ran crazy inconsistent splits. Not only that, but I realized why mile 6 felt so hard. Check it:
Uh, yeah. Sub-11? For me? That's darn fast. No wonder it felt hard. Also, it slowed me way down in the subsequent miles, but oh well. I do find it kind of cool that I can bust out a 10:59 mile in the middle of a 10-miler, though. =)
After going over my splits I got cleaned up and headed out to meet friends for Bingo. Not just any Bingo, mind you, but Bingo where you win Coach and Micheal Kors purses. And they serve booze! Really, what more could you want after running a 10 mile race? (Well, I would have liked to actually WIN something, but whatever.)
|(Both Cokes were mine, but only one of them had rum in in, I swear!)|
When I got home from Bingo I pretty much collapsed. I was so tired that my husband says I was talking to him when he came up to bed, but he could tell I was asleep, and I made no sense. I have no memory of that at all!
Today I'm a bit sore, but mostly I feel good - and I am anxious to sign up for this race again. Entry is based on a lottery system so I'm not guaranteed to get in, but I'll try. Hopefully I'll actually manage to train next year. Either way, I'm hoping that I'll be back in the fray, surrounded by 17,000 other people out to enjoy the day. My tribe.