Today I ran in the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in Washington, DC. I didn't know much about the race when I decided to enter the lottery. I simply saw an announcement on line that the lottery was open and it was free to enter, so I did. I didn't think anything of it until the day I received a confirmation email telling me that I was selected to run! Crazy...
So today was the day! The night before, I casually skimmed some of the information I picked up at the expo and saw something about bag check closing at 7:05 a.m. The race was scheduled to start at 7:30. So, the morning of the race, I left home at 6 a.m. with no real plan of action other than to get to the metro station as fast as possible. It took about 45 minutes to get to the metro station and I kind of knew that between the ride and the walk to bag check that I simply wouldn't have enough time to make the cut off (which I later learned was not strictly enforced), so I adjusted my plan and packed as many must-have items on me as possible.
I hopped on the metro and arrived to the race site at around 7:20 a.m. and proceeded to do whatever was necessary, outside of body surfing, to get through the MASSIVE crowd to the 11:00 min/mi pace group. I only got as far as the 10:30 min/mi pace group. Since things went so well for me at the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, I figured I would try running with a pace group again. So we started and I stayed calm the entire time. I felt good...never really developed a strategy. I just ran by feel and tried to keep it consistent. I didn't expect anything better than 11:30 min/mi pace given the fact that I haven't been running and "training" the way I used to with tempo runs, speed work, long runs, etc. But I surprisingly warmed up at a 10:45 min/mi pace and eased into a 10:30 min/mi pace while only taking a couple of walk breaks.
The weather was perfect! Overcast, consistently cool and in the mid 40s with little to no wind. The course was flat with the exception of some minor inclines and some bumpy roads where I had to watch my step so I didn't roll my ankle. I started to slow around mile 6 and took a couple of walk breaks to give myself some time to recover. I promised myself that I would listen to my body first and foremost and that's what I did. It was for the best because then I was able to pick up the pace and maintain it until the end. I finished strong and felt fine afterwards...like I could keep running. I didn't feel any pain and I wasn't overly hungry or thirsty.
The race was organized well. Volunteers were AWESOME and so were the crowds. I didn't take pictures on this one but a couple of my favorite signs read "Even though there are no cherry blossoms, you runners are still awesome!" "Keep going, don't stop!" "<--That's What She Said" lol I even had the opportunity to meet up with some great Dailymilers and we all went out to breakfast afterwards. It was a great day! In the end, I walked away with an awesome medal to add to the collection.