Well this is a bit late, and there’s already about 10,000 race reports out there already but we’ll go ahead and throw mine in there too.
My friend Meredith moved to DC at the end of last summer and we wanted to make plans for me to come visit – especially because I’d never been to DC before. Sidenote:Everyone says they went in middle school or whatever; my middle school normally did 8th grade trips, but guess which year I was in 8th grade? 2001. Yea that trip did not happen. Anyways, we figured I could plan to make the trip that weekend, but we entered the lottery for the Cherry Blossom race as a fun thing to do with our weekend. We were definitely excited to get in!
Onto race weekend. Saturday morning I had a 3 mile “taper run” on my schedule and there was this Run with a Ranger event that Meredith wanted to do so that worked out pretty perfectly. The run started at the Washington Monument at 8 and there were already about a bazillion people there to see the trees. We did a 3 mile loop around a few monuments and through the cherry trees and made stops every half mile or so for the rangers leading the group to give us some history about the trees. It was pretty interesting, but by the end of the run, there were so many people around, it was kind of impossible to run so it was good to be finished.
Afterwards, we went to the expo to pick up our packets. It was not crowded at all, so apparently the trick is to not go right when the expo opens (I think we were there around 10:30?). We picked up a pretty good pile of free samples, and I ended up buying this Flip Belt as well. I’ve seen it before when all the bloggers got it for free a while back, but I never pay attention to those sponsored posts. I tried it on at the expo and really liked it. I wore it the next day at the race as well and was really pleased – I carried my phone and nutrition and it didn’t budge.
Onto race day! We rode the metro into the city with everybody else and their mom and timed our arrival just perfectly with just enough time to hit the port-a-potties and get into the corral just after the elite women’s start. The only bad part about this was that we were towards the back of the corral it ended up being way too far back for us.
By now, everybody knows that the course had to be shortened due to an accident on the race course earlier that morning. We kind of heard the announcer say something to that effect, but we couldn’t hear the details way back in our corral, so I just hoped that the change would be evident with the thousands of other runners in front of us.
My race plan from the coach was to do the first two miles nice and easy, then do 9:40 pace for 1 mile with a 1 minute walk for the rest of the way – with a big focus on proper form. This was fine for the first two miles since we started behind the 11:30 pace group – everybody else was going relatively slower too. But at mile 3 when we tried to speed up, we found it pretty challenging since there were just so many people everywhere and aid stations were at a dead stop. So we ran fast where we could, walked when we had no choice and stopped at the aid stations to get water. The crowds didn’t let up for the entire race. I guess when you try to cram that many people into narrow streets that’s just they way it will be!
I finished in 1:40:39 for the official race distance of 9.39 miles – not a PR pace by any stretch but not a bad race for me these days. I feel like this race could be PR friendly since it’s so flat (someone said there was a hill at the end…what hill???) IF you start in the right corral. But if you start in the back you’re going to be stuck back there so it’s a good idea to give a good time estimate when registering.
My hips and glues were SO SORE the next two days which is good, because it means I might actually be starting to run properly instead of shuffling around. Hopefully this will make me faster eventually? I’ll keep trying…
So, we definitely had a good time at this race. The weather was great and it was awesome to have the peak bloom days be on race day. While I wouldn’t want to do this race all the time it’s definitely worth making the trip to DC for at least once.