Cherry Blossom Race Report

In December I entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. I figured there was no way I’d get in two years in a row, but random selection is funny in its randomness. So I spent another winter training for a long distance race (10 miles is long distance for me anyway).

I think I felt more pressure this time. Last year my goal was to finish. This year I had to beat last year’s time, I wanted to be at least five minutes faster. The pre-game was a mix of excitement and anxiety.

The excitement: last year I was in the slowest of the six starting corrals, with a purple bib number. This year, my corral assignment based on my previous time was the fifth instead of the sixth, which meant my bib number would be green, my favorite color.

The anxiety: Besides the anxiety I have about getting up way earlier than I want to on a Sunday and getting to the race on time, and then, you know, having to run 10 miles, there was also this…I awoke at 4:30 Saturday morning with phantom right shoulder pain. No idea what the hell caused it, but the internet said it could be a heart attack. Couldn’t wait to run 10 miles in that condition!

So I don’t keep you in suspense, I’ll tell you that I didn’t suffer a heart attack during the race and I did finish. Here is my race report.

1.) I don’t think there’s going to be a next time (although I always say that in the days immediately following a race). Last year, the weather was perfect but the blossoms were gone. This year was a little chilly, but the cherry blossoms were at peak bloom. Running around East Potomac Park surrounded by puffy cherry blossoms on both sides was lovely. So I think I’ve lived it. If I keep pushing my luck, I think I’ll be sorry (the weather the day before the race this year was HAIL).

2.) I had to frantically rush to the start again this year. I seem to underestimate the length of the walk from my favored parking area–almost a mile. I made it to the starting line with only a couple of minutes to spare (they close the start at 8am). So much for being in a faster starting corral this year!

3.) Last year, my nemesis was the juggler. He passed me at one of the last water stops and I made it my goal to beat him, but I failed. Can I just tell you how demoralizing it is to get beat by someone who juggled while running? Pretty demoralizing. This year, in a race of over 15,000 people, I managed to start at the same time as the fucking juggler. After the fifth call of “yea, juggler!” from the crowd, I ran faster because there was no way I was listening to that for 10 miles.

4.) The panic of the start and the juggler turned out to be useful, because I’d gone at least a couple of miles or so before I started thinking about what I was doing.

5.) While running across the Memorial Bridge, I got to listen to a woman talking smack to her friend behind me about how the course had been changed from last year. She kept insisting that the course went over the bridge twice last year. Her friend kept arguing (correctly) that she was mistaken, but she kept insisting she was right, using such compelling arguments as “no, we were here last year, remember?”

6.) I believe that I was at mile 3 when I started daydreaming about the sour cream pancakes Dave promised to make me when we got home. I pictured myself lounging on the chaise with my feet up eating pancakes and watching Butler beat VCU (which I’d DVR’ed the night before). But I had 7 miles left.

7.) Around the 4 mile point, an ambulance had to get through the crowd of runners. I saw the woman on the stretcher and she was conscious, so hopefully she was OK.

8.) Around the 4.5 mile point, my right shoulder started to hurt a little, reminding me that I’d forgotten to pack an Advil for this possibility.

9.) I got through the next couple of miles by focusing on the blossoms around the Tidal Basin, and eating my energy chews without choking to death. When I got past the Tidal Basin area, I felt like it was almost done.

10.) It was not almost done. I was starting to feel some despair creep in when I realized I was about to reach the turnaround at the tip of Hains Point. Praise Jesus, now it was almost over.

11.) While the very last bit leading to the finish is flat, there is an annoying hill within the last 1000 meters. It was on this hill that super annoying spectators, let’s call them morons, decided to run across the course to get to the other side. Most of the morons had the good sense to stay the hell away from me, but one moron darted right into my path. Let me remind you that I was less than 1000 meters from the damn finish…and running up a hill. I really didn’t want to break-a my stride, but if I hadn’t I would have smashed right into this moron. She is lucky I didn’t have a weapon, because I would have killed her on the spot. My suggestion to the race organizers for next year–sharpshooters to take out the morons on this part of the course.

12.) At this point I started looking for Dave and making sure that I was on the right side so he could get my picture. I finally found him and he looked befuddled, as if he didn’t realize that I was running in this thing. I smiled, said “Hi!,” and waved as I passed by. “Shit,” he muttered.

13.) On to the finish. Last year, the professional photographers didn’t get a picture of me crossing the finish. This year I think I was foiled again. I came in right behind two people who turned out to be a couple (I hope) who felt the need to cross the finish line holding hands. Once I realized this I tried to get around them, but it was too late. Oh well, hopefully some of Dave’s pictures turned out OK.

14.) I met my time goal, finishing 5:35 faster this year.

15.) I beat the juggler!

We’ve come to the time in a race report for the photos. I would like to say first of all that Dave is a very generous and supportive husband. Both years, he went with me to the race, which means he had to get up as early as me. He stays the whole time and waits for me to finish, even though it takes me almost two hours to run this thing and it was cold this year. I am very grateful for the love and support.

Dave wasn’t happy with the pictures he took of me last year (although he got some great shots of the juggler and also brightly said to me after the race “did you know that a juggler beat you?”), so this year he was serious. Last year we hadn’t coordinated and I ran to the finish on the left, while he was perched on the right. This year I would run to the finish on the right side. Dave also took a lot of practice shots while he waited for me to approach. He got some great shots of the talented runners* who finished before me (about 3/4 of the field actually, reality check!).

Check out this great close up shot!

And how about this great wider-angle, multi-runner action shot, complete with cute costumed people?!

More great multi-runner action!

Dave took two pictures of me. Here is the first (I am the one in yellow).

And there’s this one, my favorite of the two.

That’s it! I guess there’s always next time…oh shit, I said I wasn’t doing this again.


* I’m sharing some of the good shots Dave took because I think it adds to the post content. I obviously don’t know who any of these people are so I can’t get their permission to publish these photos first. I tried to use only those pictures that I thought wouldn’t embarrass the subject. If by some miracle you have stumbled onto my little blog, and are in one of these shots and would rather not have your photo here, please email me and I will remove the photo).

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4 Responses to “Cherry Blossom Race Report”

  1. curlygeek04
    Monday, April 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Congratulations!!! I am very impressed and glad you got your pancakes. Dave is a good guy. Love the photos, especially the Liberty people. Of course I can’t run ten miles, but how does anyone run in that? I really want to see last year’s juggler photos.

  2. amy
    Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Yay, I’m glad you mentioned your race report so I could come read it! (And add you to my google reader so I can catch future ones.)

    I don’t think I’d heard of this Cherry Blossom 10 miler before, but this year I’ve already read 5 or 6 race reports from it, which makes me think I need to do it. Except that’s a TON of people for a 10 miler! We don’t get those kinds of crowds for 10 milers down here. We also don’t get any cherry blossoms, and I’d sure like to be one of those annoying tourists who gawk at them.

    Anyway, great job! 5+ minutes is a huge improvement on a 10 miler, and sweet juggler vengeance is .. well, sweet. I do think you have to go back next year, so Dave can get another chance to do it right. Maybe you should run extra fast to give yourself a few seconds cushion, to stop and pose for him. Maybe do a handstand.


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