Uh, no. But since I completed the race on April Fools’ Day and got a medal…
This was my third Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in a row. Last year, I suggested it might be better to quit while ahead since I beat my previous time by more than five minutes and race day was during peak bloom.
But I vacillate on decisions, so I entered the lottery for the race again this year. It’s a very popular race (“the runner’s rite of spring” don’t you know), and I figured the chances of my getting in three years in a row were….uh, apparently guaranteed.
The first time I ran this race, in 2010, my goal was simply to enjoy coming back from injury, finish, and set myself up for a summer half marathon. Done, done, and done. Last year, I just wanted to beat my time from 2010. Done to the tune of 5:35.
This year…huh. I didn’t really have a goal in mind. I honestly didn’t think I’d get in again. I’ve proven to myself I can run this distance and I’ve proven that I can improve a ridiculously slow time to a marginally less ridiculously slow time.
My training this year was pretty half-assed. There were many weeks I only ran twice. And I could feel myself running much s-l-o-w-e-r. Maybe it was because I was completely on my own this time (I joined a winter running group the past two years), maybe my other hobbies just took up too much time and energy, maybe my eight or so extra pounds were slowing me down, or maybe I just wasn’t feeling it this year.
There was no doubt in my mind I’d finish, but I knew I had no chance of beating last year’s time. So how did it go?
1.) I astonished myself by getting to bed at a reasonable 11pm. But I didn’t fall asleep right away and kept waking up. It must have been nerves, but how silly is that–it’s not like I had any chance of winning!
2.) Given the malaise I’d felt about training, Little Miss Rule-Follower (me) brought her iPod to a race for the first time ever. It’s not “allowed,” but in a race of 15,000 people, who was going to notice my headphones?
3.) Starting with the proper wave is helpful! I started with the last wave before and found dodging people (who are these people who manage to be slower than me? I am slow!) maddening and a little dangerous. But this year, I started right in the middle of the appropriate wave. I actually had a nice little cushion of space around me most of the time. I like my personal space.
4.) I planned on starting my iPod after the crowd at the start spread out but when I saw a woman sitting on the side of the course holding a compress over her left eye with blood all over her and the concrete, I decided to hold off on my music a little longer. I listened to the Wedding Present for the last 6 miles. I’ve been obsessed since seeing their Seamonsters show a couple of weeks ago.
5.) Remember my nemesis…the juggler? If not, here’s a hint: he runs the race while juggling. And he is faster than me. It’s annoying. I caught a glimpse of him (running next to Santa!). I’m directionally challenged and the course winds around itself so much I couldn’t tell if he was ahead of me or behind me. I’m sure he beat me again.
6.) The many volunteers who line the course offering encouragement are fabulous. Except for the guy who decided to say, “just keep thinking about breakfast!” Thanks for reminding me of the waffles Dave’s making me after the race, jackass. I only have seven miles left to crave them.
7.) The spectator sign that stood out most said, “You train longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage.” I struggled with the meaning behind this…was she saying I had trained for a long time or not?
8.) For about two miles, someone (thing?) made really bizarre breathing noises behind me. It sounded like being chased by Darth Vader. I could hear it over my iPod. I was too chicken to turn around. If it had actually been Darth Vader, he would have scared the crap out of me. If not, I didn’t want to see the human capable of making that noise. As you might remember, noises annoy me.
9.) While the traditional Yoshino cherry blossoms (the ones that provide a cloud-like halo around the Tidal Basin) were gone due to our freakishly warm winter, the East Potomac Park section of the course had a number of Kwanzan cherries in full bloom. They have gorgeous clusters of pink double blossoms.
10.) Of course, the key question is: did Dave actually get a picture of me on the course this year? Well, I should say a picture in which I am in focus. You betcha! I am Ninja Runner!
11.) What’s that you say? My time? Well, you get what you train for. Not only did I not beat last year’s time, but I also ran 28 seconds slower than two years ago. Oops.
Next stop: the 5-K training plan from the FIRST Training Programs. I just finished their book, Run Less, Run Faster and am excited to try it, although it won’t be running less for me. I already limit my running to three days a week and their proposed weekly mileages are considerably more than I do now, even for 5-K training. We’ll see.