The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile course is probably one of the best places to PR because despite the masses of people running, it is pancake flat except for a small hill at the end.
Matt and I woke up plenty early to Metro into the city for the race. You can never be too careful with Metro because it pretty much fails constantly. But we got lucky and had a smooth ride, only waiting a few minutes for the connecting train.
Of course that meant we also got to the start line insanely early.
But minutes after we got there we found our friends Chris and Michelle who were also running the race. We hung out and tried not to freeze, while we waited for the race to start.
Chris, Michelle and me
Me and Matt in front of the Washington Monument
Unfortunately, lines at the porta-potties were out of control and I missed the start of the race while standing in line.
I knew I was in the third corral and had a little bit of extra time, but there were still at least 40 people in front of me in line.
Smile on the outside, panic on the inside
This is my "I'm trying not to panic, but seriously I need to go run" face.
I eventually got in and out of a porta-potty and sprinted to the start line just in time for the last corral to be lining up to start.
I was so frazzled I started off way too fast. My well structured race plan just went completely out the window as I tried to dodge around slower runners and find my groove.
I flew through the first two miles fueled purely off adrendaline from almost missing the start of the race.
By mile 3, my panic had subsided a little bit and I was starting to settle into my groove. The sun had also come out and warmed things up so I was able to shed one of my layers. (Unfortunately this meant Matt missed me at the finish line because he was looking for a gray shirt and I was now wearing blue.)
Miles 4 and 5 were uneventful. I was still running much faster than I expected to, but I was feeling pretty good so I decided to see how long I could hold on to my pace.
Miles 6 through 9 were out on Haines Point, the most boring part of the course because there is no crowd support. It's just you, your fellow runners and a bunch of cherry blossom trees.
The only remotely exciting thing that happened during these miles is that I almost got wacked in the face by a tree branch when I jumped up into the grass to pass someone. I was looking at the ground making sure I didn't roll an ankle and look up just in time to duck my head and narrowly avoid getting cherry blossoms to the face.
I started running out of steam around mile 7.5 so I sucked down another Gu and then waited in line at the next fluid station to grab some Gatorade. I lost a ton of time at the water stations because there were so many people and the tables water tables were only on one side of the road. Major, major bottlenecking.
Despite losing tons of time at the aid stations, I was still making good time and I was pretty sure a PR was in my reach.
I pushed hard up the final hill and scanned the crowd for Matt and my friends who had come to watch the race. I didn't see anyone, but I heard someone yell my name (turns out it was Chris) as I cruised down the hill and through the finish line.
My final time was 1:32:02, an average of 9:13 per mile, and nearly four-minute PR.
Thumbs up for a great race!
There was a good group of people that came out to watch, so it was nice to catch up with everyone.
Emily, me and Emily
And everyone who ran kicked butt:
Chris and Michelle finished in 1:18 and 1:19, and Jason, who you may remember from my Marine Corp Marathon spectating, finished in 1:31:43.
Jason and me at the finish
All in all it was a great race, with great people and a really fun way to spend a Sunday morning.