So, to set the stage.
I signed up for the Cherry Blossom Festival Lottery, with great hope of getting in. I thought this would be an AWESOME start to running races in DC. So, with true jubilation – I found out that I was one of the lucky chosen to run through the streets of our nation’s capital, having trained hard and enjoying the fruits of that labor.
So that was the plan. In fact, I even joyously posted on January 28th that I had started my training.
I was totally going to rock this..
And I’m sure I would have.. if I had actually done some training.
So, I climbed into the car yesterday, knowing that I had not done any real training.. In fact, in all of March I ran a maximum of 2.5 miles at a time. What could go wrong with this? (To be fair, I have to mention I did to Insanity for four weeks, and I think that helped quite a bit.)
So with the Race morning beginning, the family and I were up bright and early to head into the city. Being bright enough to plan the night before meant that all of our clothes (not just my race clothes WITH bib) were ready and the bags were packed! We left at 5:45 am, and made it to the metro with no incidents. The metro was surprisingly full – with almost all of the riders showing of their shiny new race bibs. They all looked like they had trained more than I had.. None of them had that slight touch of dread in their eye..I suppose that was neither here nor there – and we got off the metro at the Smithsonian exit.
We were immediately treated to a stunning view of the sunrise next to the US Capital Building. It was a bit chilly, but we had all dressed in layers – so we were fine! I did see some
crazy people walking around in shorts and tank top in the lower 40’s temperature we had. They did have the grace to look nervous.
I have to admit that I was excited about this race, not just because it was my first one in DC, but also because my family was there to root for me.
Everyone was pretty up beat considering the hour! We quickly got the lay of the land, finding the pre-race water, and the starting corrals. Since I hadn’t trained
at all quite as much as I had planned, I decided to drop down one from “Blue” to “Orange.” (I will admit that I felt this tiny bit of hate, when I saw the Gold’s-Gym Pacers get in their corrals.. There was a guy that was not only planning on doing 8 minute miles.. but doing so while he carried a sign.) Then I stood around for 30 minutes. I did this without my warm jacket (as seen on my son in the picture above) or my wind breaker (As seen on my daughter in the picture above.) I was cold. In fact, by the time the race officially began with the “elite” runners, I was shivering!
15,000 runners waiting their turn, broken off into little colored cubicles.. The Announcer thought he was pretty funny (don’t they all?) but the lady who sang the Star Spangled Banner did an amazing job! Finally the “yellow” bibs took off, and then red got to shuffle forward… Off they went, and Blue shuffled forward… Off the went, and we (orange) shuffled forward… Then our horn went. Now we didn’t really move at this point, but it went off… People started shuffling (I could totally keep this pace up for 10 miles).. and when we hit the official starting line (I crossed at 14:02,) we got to break into a crowded jog that started to spread out.
While I was a bit worried about what the future might hold, I was SOOOOOO happy to be running. I knew that running would bring warmth! I was pleased with how it started, there was a gentleman that had laughed at one of my jokes in the corral – it seemed he could find the path through the crowd, so I followed his lead. (I was concerned that he might think I was stalking him.. My bright orange sweat shirt made me easy to spot.) We hit the 1 mile mark at 24:00, we were right on my hoped-for pace of a 10 minute mile. (I say we, because I was still stalking.) There were some points through the first mile or two that I was “Trapped” behind people, but my stalkee found ways through. I lost the person I was stalking at the loop at the Memorial Bridge that went across the Potomac, but was still on target at the 2 mile marker (34:00 ish.) The turn around was tight and really got everyone on top of each other again. I decided at this point to stick to the outside on the turns – and suck up the extra steps it required (it was a good choice.)
The run was gorgeous – the cherry blossoms were amazing. The folks running it weren’t as friendly as some of the upstate NY runs I have done, such as the boilermaker. I went by a couple of people (And 2 wheel chair athletes) and told them they were doing a great job – and got glares in return. In the past this has (usually) garnered a “you too!” in return. Apparently not in DC.
I did see someone in a T-shirt that I MUST own. You can see an alternate version of it to the right. The one I saw had the saying on the back! (I’m a much bigger fan of stuff on the back.)
I was pretty excited around the 5 mile mark. My legs were just starting to let me know they were kind of tired, but I crossed at 46:11 (actually at 60:13 gun-time) which meant I was ahead of my set pace I was able to figure out that I was over a 9 minute split, and under a 9:30 (hey, I was tired – its impressive I could figure THAT out!) so I was REALLY excited.. And concerned on whether or not I was going to be able to keep it up! I also knew that with that step I was closer to the end than I was to the beginning!
My 10k time was 57:47 (71:49) – which I was completely unable to figure out at the time. My math skills had totally left me, I only knew that I was faster than 1 hour and 11 minutes, but thought it might be faster than 1 hour. Time subtraction kicked my butt.
I am going to pause here and mention signs. Ok, I admit that the first time I saw a “Worst Parade Ever” sign I thought it was as funny as could be. Now, by the fourth one (and still in the first half) of this race – It no longer seemed very original. Some of the other common ones (Pain is temporary, can Pride is Forever) still seem a little bit motivational after the 8th or 9th one.. Hell, I had seen at least that many when one of them DID help perk me up a little!
My ABSOLUTE favorite sign was around mile 7. (I know it was around there, as that is when my hip flexors were letting me know that they were no longer amused with my chosen activity of the morning.) In fact, I thought it was so funny, I stopped and took a picture! Unfortunately, you can’t read the sign in the picture, but trust me – it was hilarious.
“You Can’t Quit Now! You’re not the Pope!”
I have to admit, I never read the one next to it, I was way to busy giggling about the pope sign. That got me through the next mile or so with a grin on my face!
Right before mile 8 were some folk at the end of East Potomac Park behind a sign that said “Free Beer and Oreos”
They were out of both. 😦
We continued on to mile 9, and saw a WONDERFUL sign that said “Mile 9” – I thought this was the wittiest thing, and I knew there was less than a mile to go! I had already done nine of these, so one more? PShaw! No Problem!
I heard someone yell “Only a mile to go, time to pick it up!” Really? Pick it up? What did they think we had been doing for NINE MILES? We were picking one leg up, setting it down, and repeating it with the other one. For nine miles. NOW was the time to pick it up?
But I persevered.. My legs were hating – but I kept going, and tried to keep from slowing down. Then I saw the sign…
“1200 to go!”
Really? They were going to give us updates at every quarter-mile? I suppose for the elite runners this let them play their strategy out. For me – I think it turned it in to the longest mile I have ever run! With around 1/2 a mile to go (I know because there was an informative sign), there was another “Free beer” stop.
I took one on general principle.
Finally that finish line approached – I really felt victorious – so I started to raise my hands up for that “Victory at the Finish” picture that so many runners do..
And I Hit the person next to me. I admit I felt bad.. I even apologized!
They didn’t seem to concerned!
Cross the line I did! I never did see my family as I ran, i think for the MCM we will make up signs. Signs are easy to spot.
I stopped for a picture at one of the pre-planned post-finish stations, I will post it once it becomes available (with watermark.)
As I tried to find my family, I saw my second favorite sign of the day. “This is what a supportive girlfriend looks like!”
I was too tired to take a picture!
Before the race, I had set up a meeting spot, and headed over to it and my family was reunited!
(there are some neat statistics for my running the race – in the next blog posting!)