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Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 2015 Race Recap

Hello my friends! As you know, yesterday I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler! This race is one of my absolute favorites, and this year was especially beautiful thanks to blue skies and the cherry blossoms in full bloom!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

This was my third time running this race (here’s my 2010 recap and my 2013 recap), but actually the first time that I’ve run it with the cherry blossoms out in all their glory. How gorgeous is this?!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

I was originally planning to run the race with friends and not worry about pace; I’m doing the GW Parkway Classic 10 miler in 2 weeks, and was planning to try to race that one, instead. But then, unfortunately, my running buddies had to pull out – Ashley got injured last week and Kathleen had to work last minute. Bummer. :( Solo it was!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

When I found out on Saturday that I’d be running alone on Sunday morning, I decided to use it as an opportunity to race. It had been a REALLY long time since I’d actually raced a race – I’ve done a ton of races in the past couple years, but after the Richmond Marathon (fall 2013) and then the LA Marathon (March 2014) I was pretty burned out. As a result, the races I did between then and now (you can see all the races I’ve done and my finish times/PRs over on my running page, fyi) I focused instead on just having a good time! I ran with friends, took in the scenery, and didn’t worry about trying to set a new PR (personal record).

MY OTHER RECIPES
 

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

Full marathon training had also taken a toll on my speed, and I found myself struggling to do races/regular runs anywhere near the PR paces I’d set in the spring of 2013 (7:53 pace at the 2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and 7:54 at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon), even when I tried.

Recently, whenever anyone asked me about my race PRs, I would tell them, but always with the caveat that “that was really fast for me” and “two years ago” and “I wasn’t sure I could do that anymore.” Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe I had just had two really good races, and I wouldn’t be able to get back to that pace anymore. Maybe I didn’t want to try and disappoint myself.

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

As you know, I joined a Potomac River Running track group this spring, but over the past few months a bunch of the practices were snowed/iced out, and I was traveling a lot, too. As a result, the coaches and I still didn’t really have a good idea of what my threshold pace was and where I stood in terms of ability. I’d been feeling good at practice lately, but my longer runs hadn’t been super fast, at least until last weekend’s great 8 miler with Matt.

All that to say, I had no idea what I’d be able to do yesterday, but for the first time in 2 years, I wanted to actually try and find out. Even if I couldn’t PR, at least I’d know where I stood – and even better, I’d know I really gave it a shot. Let’s do this, legs. Bring it on.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is really well organized, but also large, and I’ve learned in the past that the best approach with large DC races is to arrive ridiculously early unless you want to be stressed out/miss your wave start. I was up at 5:30, ate some sprouted grain bread with maple almond butter and sliced banana, and out the door by 6:10. I brought the other half of the (enormous) banana with me to eat at the starting line.

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The race started at 7:30; traffic was light and Matt was extremely nice and won husband of the year by offering me a ride downtown. :) The sunrise was gorgeous – it was going to be a perfect day for running!

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I was there by 6:30 and had the entire place practically to myself. Perfect – no stress and no portapotty lines, either.

cherry blossom 10 miler

cherry blossoms washington monument

I had time to hit the portapotty twice, check my bag, and take a pre-race photo for Instagram (priorities) before heading over to the starting line. I was in my corral, ready to go, by 7:10. I need to get to races absurdly early more often, I think – it was so relaxing!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

I wore a coat in the morning until checking my bag (which was easy/super well organized – thumbs up to the race organizers), then used my favorite trick to keep my arms warm while waiting in the corral before the start – cutting the toes off an old throwaway pair of Matt’s socks.

how to keep arms warm before a race

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

I was in the red wave, which was wave 2, right after the elite wave start. While waiting in the corrals, we heard an announcement that the race was unfortunately going to be shortened last minute by about 0.5 miles due to an incident on the course that required police to block off the area. I found out later that it apparently involved a pedestrian being hit by a car in the early morning. So sad – I hope they are okay! :(

This meant that the race would now be roughly 9.5 miles instead of 10. I was really impressed with how well the race handled it, changing the course last minute. Disappointing that this meant the race was no longer 10 miles, but they had to do what worked!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

Before I knew it, it was time to start! Wave 1 headed off and Wave 2 was advanced to the start line. There were about 3 minutes in between waves.

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

And we’re off!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

When I race a race, I always aim to start out as close to my goal pace as possible, then hold that the whole time, and do the last mile a little faster if I have any gas left. If I start out too fast, I’ll crash and burn, and I don’t like trying to start out slower than my goal pace and try to speed up to make up time later. I was aiming for around 7:50ish minute/miles, so I tried to settle in there. It was crowded, but I seemed to have started in the right area of the corral because I felt like everyone around me was right around the same pace.

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

Right away, I felt strong. The pace felt hard but not unmanageable, and I was breathing heavy but I felt like I could maintain it, so long as I stayed in the game mentally.

  • Mile 1: 7:46
  • Mile 2: 7:50

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

This race is a great PR course because it’s nice and flat, and the weather was perfect for racing – cool but sunny, which always cheers me up. Anytime I felt myself wanting to slow down a little, I reminded myself that it’s not supposed to feel easy. It’s okay to feel a little uncomfortable – just keep it up. I could do this!

  • Mile 3: 7:44
  • Mile 4: 7:58

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

I knew that around mile 6 we would head into Hains Point. This is normally kind of a boring part of DC races – it’s quite long and goes on longer than you think it will – but I don’t mind it because it’s right by the water and so pretty. And this time, we had the cherry blossoms guiding our way!

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

By this point I still felt strong and couldn’t believe that I was actually on track to do a race at a sub-8 minute mile again, for the first time in 2 years. Perhaps I had just needed to believe in myself a little – and really push myself. Just keep it up, Anne, just keep it up!

  • Mile 5: 7:58
  • Mile 6: 7:51

I have splits set up on my watch (I have the Gamin 910XT and love it) so that each mile it makes a sound and pops up with my pace for the previous mile. So helpful during races to make sure I’m staying on track! (Here’s how to set mile splits on a Garmin watch.) As for hydration, I had my Nathan Intensity vest on so I took constant sips from that during the race and stayed out of the way/avoided the water stops. I also slowly ate about 3/4 of a Clif Shot gel (mocha, with caffeine) from miles 4 to 8 before deciding I was done with it. I don’t like eating it all at once because it is a little bit much for my stomach.

cherry blossom 10 miler water stops

cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

I couldn’t get over how pretty the cherry blossoms were! Spring in DC is the best.. so happy winter is over! I continued to take in the sunshine and views and push myself to hold my pace anytime I felt myself slowing down a little. I would not give up!

  • Mile 7: 7:47
  • Mile 8: 7:53
  • cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

    Around mile 8 or 9, my favorite drum band was there to cheer us on! Love these guys – always so motivating. They were apparently out on the course at Rock ‘n’ Roll DC this year but only on the full marathon course, so I missed them! I always look forward to seeing them in DC races. :)

    cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

    By the time we were nearing the end of Hains Point, I was feeling tired but strong, and I knew I could dial things up a little bit. Only a little longer to go – I could do this for only 15 more minutes, right?

    • Mile 9: 7:38

    cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

    I knew that with the course being short, we’d finish at about mile 9.5 on my watch. There was some slight uphill at the end that was tough but I really worked to make the last half mile an awesome one. Only a little while longer! I love saying to myself things like “only 2 more laps around the track” to make it sound more manageable. I also think this is where my speed sessions paid off – I focused on my form and on the tips my coaches have given me throughout the race, but especially on that uphill at the end. I shortened my stride, made sure to keep my hands down, and powered up it.

    • Last 0.5 mile nubbin pace: 7:32

    Woohoo – the finish line!!

    cherry blossom 10 miler finish line

    According to my watch, the course ended up being 9.47 miles and my average pace/mile was 7:49, which would have been a new PR for me, so I’m going to count it! We’re still waiting on the official results – they are going to give us projected 10 mile finish times, as well as our exact distance/pace for what we ran. Either way, I was so proud of myself – I hadn’t seen a 7:xx average pace on my watch after a race in a LONG time!

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    cherry blossom 10 miler 2015

    This race got me really excited about getting back on the racing bandwagon this spring, and boosted my confidence to try to go for a new half marathon PR at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon I’m running in June with my friends from Brooks. It’s also nice to have a good benchmark for my coaches for where my ability level is right now!

    Here’s to pushing yourself even though it’s easier not to. You’re stronger than you think, my friends!

    Before I go:

    1. A huge thank you to the Cherry Blossom 10 miler press team for giving me a complementary bib for this race – I was lucky to be out there!
    2. Hi to the blog readers who I met at the race yesterday – thank you for reading and for saying hello! :) Loved meeting you!
    3. Thank you, as always, to all the volunteers who were out supporting us on the course yesterday – and to those out cheering us on!

    Who else raced this weekend? How did it go?

    Comments

    1. 1

      You have MANY more sub-8s in those legs, girlfriend. Track work and races like this will teach you a lot about potential, as will the attitude that limits are arbitrary and what you think you can do is everything. :) Congrats!

    2. 3

      Congrats on the race! I was out there running yesterday, and it was absolutely gorgeous! I typically hate running Hains Point, but it was hard to feel anything but energized and encouraged with all the gorgeous blossoms in bloom along the way.

    3. 5

      She’s baaaaack! Wahoooo!

    4. 9

      Congrats on a GREAT race! What a great place to start the season.

      Did you take these with your snap camera or your phone? Such great running pics especially at that pace!

      • 10

        These were taken with my point and shoot! I can’t take action shots with my phone – it’s too slippery/awkward to turn on and off. The point and shoot is quick and easy!

    5. 11

      speedy run. great job, anne!

    6. 12

      Well done! Seriously the best race recaps with such awesome photos! Don’t know how you manage it!

    7. 14

      It looks like it was a beautiful course with the cherry blossoms. Gorgeous!

    8. 15
      Rob Runs says:

      Congrats on a great race!

      I really want to like Cherry Blossom, but both times I’ve done it I’ve been disappointed (at least this year the trees were in bloom, unlike 2011). I’ve been in the second-to-last wave and both times by the time we’d finished, they were out of food. It also seems unusually crowded in the back and I can never get a good groove going so I tend to stress myself out. Hains Point was the prettiest I’ve EVER seen it though and it’a hard to be cranky while running that, and the women’s drum group was the best part of the entire course.

      • 16

        Thank you for sharing this, Rob! Hopefully the race directors will see it and address the issue – running out of food isn’t cool, and neither is crazy crowds. I somehow completely missed the food after the race – not sure if I walked the wrong way, or what, but I just got water! I saw a ton of people with bananas, though, so I think I walked the wrong way!

        • 17
          Rob Runs says:

          All I wanted was water too, and they had plenty of that – thank goodness, because it was about 20 degrees too warm for me! I only knew from a handful of friends who came over saying there was nothing left but a few bananas, they complained to the volunteers but obviously it’s not their fault (they were all great). The directors addressed the crowding after complaints from the 2011 race but I didn’t notice much change on course, I think in the back you just have such a variety of paces it’s hard to avoid on the narrower streets. I like reading race recaps and reports from runners of different paces because sometimes it seems like we all run TOTALLY different races!

      • 18

        I also found it really crowded towards the back of the pack (aiming for a 9:30). I was passing people the whole time, even at the end, and never got into a good groove. Especially when people would just stop and walk in the middle of the course. ( What happened to the etiquette to put hands up and yell “stopping”/move over to the side?)

        Do they really need to give out complimentary bibs to bloggers? With the whole lottery system, it seems like they have more demand than supply for this race and don’t need any more publicity. Glad you enjoyed the race though.

        I agree it was very well organized and Hains Point is amazing in full bloom. Enjoyed the recap and pictures!

    9. 19

      I still don’t get how you take such great pictures while running… and at a sub 8 pace at that!! Yay you :) So happy it was such a great race (even with the *ahem* incident at mile 10. Sad.) Congrats!!

    10. 21

      That’s awesome, congrats! I was in D.C. this weekend visiting a friend and leaving town my GPS put me right in the middle of all the race madness, which was a total fail on my part. The cherry blossoms were so pretty though!

    11. 22

      Way to go! I love that race and was volunteering at the expo. It was a beautiful day and you got some great photos!

    12. 23

      Congrats on your new PR!! It looks like you had some beautiful scenery.

    13. 24

      Congratulations! That is absolutely amazing. Now you can’t beat caveat whenever someone asks you about your PR – obviously you know you can run that no matter how your training has gone in the past few weeks. There’s something about a race atmosphere that completely changes how quickly you can run and I love it.

    14. 26

      Um, you killed it. Seriously, seeing 9 splits start with the number 7 is beyond comprehension for me right now, haha. Awesome work :)

    15. 27

      Wow awesome race!!! Congrats on the new PR- the views were definitely beautiful, I’ve always wanted to do the Cherry Blossoms race, maybe next year :)

    16. 28

      awesome blog and great run, thanks.

    17. 29

      Great recap! It was my first time running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler and was fairly impressed by the organization, all the training emails they sent (I’m a total newbie to this distance!), etc. I’m nervous to ever run it again after a perfect weather day WITH the trees all in bloom – apparently this is the first year they’ve been in bloom for the race since 2007!

    18. 31

      Great race Anne! It’s awesome that you got your speed back. That’s such a great time for a 10 miler! You go girl :) Love all the pics!

    19. 32

      I was in the DC last week and I MISSED the Cherry Blossms blooming by ONE week!! UGH!! That race looks fun!!
      Question…how do you like your Garmin 910XT. Thinking of investing in one but I hear mixed reviews ( some examples: those that have Apple computers..trouble syncing, etc. and swimming splits for triathletes.). I am interested in your thoughts..

      Thanks as always!!

      • 33

        Oh man, bummer!! Regarding the watch, I absolutely love it! I don’t have an Apple, though, so not sure about that. I have used it in the pool though and didn’t have any problems!

    20. 34

      Congrats on your new PR! You go girl! Love your posts – I learn a lot from you and you inspire me to keep going! On different note, do you know Justin, creator of Justin’s Nut Butter, is a ’00 Dickinson grad. Yummy stuff!

      • 35

        Thank you – and thank you for reading! And yes, I just found that out the other day from a friend who is an ’01 grad! That’s so awesome – love his nut butter. Go Red Devils!

    21. 36

      Woohoo!!! Way to go!!! What a BEAUTIFUL day, too!!!

    22. 37
      Roadrunner says:

      Awesome race, Anne. Very, very impressively done! (And a great post. Thanks!)

    23. 38

      Great race! Awesome day for it, I also PRed! We must live very close to each other as I often see you running. Next time I will stop to say hi!

    24. 40

      Great work! Good to see you back with the running bug!

    25. 41

      Awesome job!! I know how you feel about racing races, I don’t do it nearly as much as I should! This was a great race!

    26. 42

      BRAVO!!! :D Well done!

    27. 43
      Whitney H says:

      Congratulations! Question for you–I am a first time marathoner and training right now for one in October. I want to get a hydration pack, and you seem to love yours. Is it easy to get to the gels, and are you able to wear a tank top without chafing?

      Thanks!

      • 44

        Yes, absolutely love mine! It’s really easy to get to the gels – I just put them in one of the front pockets. And no chafing problems at all!

    Trackbacks

    1. […] friends! I know I already shared my biggest weekend adventure – running the Cherry Blossom 10(ish) Miler for the third time and setting a new PR (kind of – check out the post!), but wanted to share some […]

    2. […] bright lemon zest flavor in the pasta dish. This was actually my pre-race meal the night before the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler – clearly it fueled me up […]

    3. […] involve the iconic DC monuments; perhaps the other part is that it gets overshadowed by the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler which is usually right around the same […]

    4. […] race the half marathon/try to PR or just use it as a faster but not crazy fast training run for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. I think it’ll be a game time decision based on how I feel – we’ll see! My track workouts […]

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