Well, my friends: I did it! I finally got my new 10 miler PR!! 10 miles in 1:17:34 – a 7:45 minute mile pace. Woo!!!
Who knew 25 mph wind with up to 50 mph gusts was totally my jam?! 😉 Juuuust kidding – that was really tough but I basically decided I’d get that PR no matter what – wind be damned!
As you guys know, I was lucky enough to be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler this year thanks to my friends at Cabot! Cabot is a race sponsor and reached out to me a few months ago to see if I’d like to put together a team of friends and blog readers to run the race as they get a number of bibs included in their race sponsorship. Um, heck yes I would! In addition to giving us free bibs, they offered to pay for one of my blog readers to come here for the weekend from out of town with a friend. So cool!
We ended up having such a fun crew – a great mix of college friends and running buddies, blogger buddies, and two blog reader winners and one of their guests, too! My friends came in (on their own dime) from all over to join in on the festivities – Philadelphia, Nashville, and NYC!
Here I am with the two blog reader winners – Rose and Lea! Rose was the grand prize winner of my giveaway and was flown here along with a friend and put up in a hotel for the weekend by Cabot. Lea was my local DC area winner – we ended up having an extra bib and I thought it would be fun to get one more blog reader in the mix! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading my blog, ladies – loved meeting both of you!
As part of the race fun, Cabot invited us to join for the official VIP pre-race dinner on Saturday night. Hanging out with elite runners Meb Keflezighi and Joan Benoit Samuelson? NBD. Meb = nicest guy ever. (Remember when I got to meet him at the Beach to Beacon 10k in Maine?)
The whole #CabotFit gang:
The pre-race dinner featured an amazing buffet. I hit up the dessert bar, too, for some unpictured bread pudding and berries! Had to fuel up. 😉
After we ate, some of the race organizers spoke, and Meb went up and said a few words! Given the insane wind weather predictions, Meb ended with the following: “It’s not the time but getting to that finish – you can do it!” He’s so awesome. He paced the 6 minute/mile runners for the race – if I only I could have kept up with them! 😉
And now – on to the race recap! My college BFF Turner came down from Philadelphia and spent the night at our place on Saturday, so we were up ridiculously early to head down to the race start together. We arrived around 6:20 (race started at 7:30) and found it basically deserted. Sweet – no bathroom lines! 🙂 I HATE being late to races – don’t want to waste that much-needed blood sugar and adrenaline by being stressed out before the race, right?!
It was about 35 degrees out but with the windchill it was in the low 20’s – ahhh! We were FREEZING. I planned to wear a light long sleeved shirt with my Cabot tank on top, but after much debate decided to keep my jacket on for the race.
After wishing some of the other team members good luck, Turner and I headed to our corral. We planned to start the race together and see how it went! She’s speedy but this was her first road race back after having a baby 11 months ago so she wasn’t sure how she’d feel. (Spoiler alert: she felt GREAT and ended up finishing only a few seconds after me! So proud of her!)
Will run for cheddar? It’s true. We will!
I was shivering like crazy waiting to start and was glad when the race kicked off and we were on the run! Let’s do this! They actually eliminated the wave start due to the cold (we still started in time-based corrals, but there was no break in between each wave), so once the elites started we all followed behind!
My feet were SO COLD the first mile – it actually kind of hurt to run on them since I think they were a bit numb. Yikes! Luckily they warmed up quickly – and so did I, and promptly wished I wasn’t wearing a jacket. Darnit! Should’ve known better! Oh well. 🙂
The first mile was a bit slower as I tried to warm up my muscles – I hadn’t really stretched out or warmed up at all before the race because I was so frozen, which was probably not the most brilliant thing to do but whatever. I also think we started too far back in our corral because we spent a lot of the race, but especially the first few miles, dodging and passing people!
By mile 2, though, I was able to settle in closer to my PR pace and then kept dialing it down from there. I was determined to crush this race after last year I should have PR-ed but the course was short – and after being SO CLOSE to a PR at the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon last month!
- Mile 1: 8:10
- Mile 2: 7:53
- Mile 3: 7:44
We found my track buddy Diane right after the start of the race which was awesome and ran with her for the first 4 miles or so. She’s right around my pace so we figured if we could find each other we’d try to pace each other until one of us wanted to take off! She ended up finishing shortly after us and setting a new PR, too – awesome!
By around mile 4, I was feeling good and started really pushing it – I was doing a pace that felt hard but sustainable and the wind hadn’t been too bad yet, and was even behind us for a tiny bit of the course.
I started working to pick it up a bit, using my usual approach of “if I start to feel comfortable/like this isn’t super hard I need to go faster.” 🙂
I also wanted to bank a little time because I know my watch always tells me I’m running a bit faster than I am during a race (because the distance is always slightly off).
- Mile 4: 7:27
- Mile 5: 7:26
When I saw those splits pop up I knew I totally had this PR in me if I could just hang on for dear life once we hit Hains Point and the crazy wind set in! Hains Point is notorious for being tough when it’s windy because it’s so exposed – this was going to be interesting. Shortly after mile 6, we we started out onto Hains Point, where we’d be for the next 3 miles. Gulp!
The wind was coming more from the side than from the front for the first part of Hains Point – which I knew meant that as we turned the corner, we’d get blasted head on by 25-40 mph winds. Yikes. Since I knew what was coming, I tried my hardest to keep really pushing it on pace – had to bank as much time as I could!
- Mile 6: 7:32
- Mile 7: 7:28
I lost Turner around mile 6 at a water stop and charged on solo. Here it comes – almost time to turn that corner!
As soon as we hit the corner the wind was basically blasting right at us. Miles 8 and 9 were by far the hardest of the course – I was starting to get tired and of course the wind made it even harder than usual to keep pushing, but I told myself that I hadn’t run that fast for 8 miles (and gotten up early for all those track workouts) to fall apart and let the wind show me who was boss. I still had this!
- Mile 8: 7:25
- Mile 9: 7:39
I was pretty proud of myself for hanging on so well in the wind! We finally exited Hains Point at around mile 9.4 or so – let’s finish this!
I was getting so tired by this point but I was NOT about to give up on my PR. I totally forgot there was a bit of uphill before you get to the finish (which is slightly downhill) – rude. That hill was ROUGHHHHH but I did my best to power up it. There were runners going by us the other way who were a few miles behind us in the race, but for a moment I totally thought – oh my gosh, do I have to go up and turn around and then finish back the other way? Is it farther than I think?! I was so happy when I realized that we weren’t turning back and the finish line was close!
- Mile 10: 7:44
By the last quarter mile I dialed it up big time – you can do anything for a quarter mile, right? I just kept telling myself I only had xx amount of laps left on the track. When there was 1 left I really went for it!
- Last 0.16 mile nubbin (according to my watch) pace: 6:49 (!)
Finish line, I am SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!!! Due to the crazy strong wind the race organizers smartly opted to not erect any overhead structures – including starting and finish lines, hence no signage. 🙂 They did the same thing along the course and took down any mile markers and signs, instead having (very amazing) volunteers out there shouting out “mile 8!” or whatever.
When I saw 1:17 on my watch I knew I had it! The pace and distance are always off but the time is correct. 🙂 Hooray!! My previous 10 miler PR was 1:18:46 from the 2013 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and last year’s expected finish time based on my pace had we been able to run the whole course was 1:18:00. Crushed it! 🙂
Also worthy of a shout out: my college friend Kathleen rocked the race with a baby on board!! She’s due in late August. Way to go, Kathleen!! How cute is the sign on her hydration pack? 🙂
We finished out the race adventures by heading over to the finish area to cheer on my blog reader Lea, who was the local winner of my giveaway! This was her first race back post-baby – so proud of you, Lea! 🙂 Great job out there!
And last but certainly not least: post-race brunch! About half of the team had headed out earlier so it was a smaller crew, and we decided to walk over to Le Pain Quotidien in Metro Center since it was only about a half mile away. Perfect! Their omelettes (and enormous lattes) never fail.
Such a fun end to a great morning! Love these ladies. 🙂
As always, thank you guys so much for your encouragement and good luck wishes on social media and here on the blog – knowing you are rooting for me makes it easier to keep moving my legs when I want to quit! A big thank you as well to the race volunteers who were out there in the FREEZING cold supporting us. No small feat!
And lastly, another HUGE thank you to Cabot for providing our group with bibs, giving us the opportunity to hang out with our new bestie Meb at the pre-race dinner, and for flying my blog reader winner and her friend here for the race! Best cheddar ever – you guys rock.
Who else raced or ran this weekend? How did it go?