20 April 2015

2015 Cherry Blossom 10 miler (or 9.4 miler)

The Cherry Blossom 10 miler takes place during the Cherry Blossom festival each year. Sometimes there are Cherry Blossoms, sometimes there are not. We hit the Cherry Blossom and weather jackpot this year. The blossoms were at peak bloom and although it was still in the 40s when the race started, it wasn't too cold and I actually found myself over dressed in my capris.

This was the third time I tried to get into the race and I signed up for the lottery as an after thought, so I was a little surprised when I got the email that I was in.

After the RnR DC Marathon I took a full week off from running. I only ran a few times the next three weeks, with the longest run being around 5 miles. I did manage to run some of those runs faster than during my marathon training. So I decided to aim for a 9 minute mile pace.

Brian and I got up early and took an Uber to close to the starting line. We walked over towards the start and heard an announcement that the race would be shortened due to an accident on the course. They announced it would be close to 9.5 miles instead of 10. The crowd seemed mostly happy that they would only have to run 9.5 miles. I felt fine about it at the time, I had no control so best to accept the distance and move on. I had never ran 10 miles so it was going to be a PR, now I would just have a PR for a even more special distance.

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I was in the second wave and as expected it was a pretty crowded start. I've ran a lot of big races and I felt the other racers were a little less considerate of other runners than I'm used to. I got cut off several times. The run across memorial bridge and then up rock creek has gotten a little too familiar (I think I need to find some races along some new routes) but knowing the course also makes it go smoothly. 

I had heard/read that people thought the run around east potomac park and haines point was boring. I understand that it is kind of like an out and back and those can seem like forever, but I was so distracted by the Cherry Blossoms along this stretch that I didn't really notice how long it took. The trees were absolutely beautiful and practically covering the course in some spots.

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According to my I was running a little under 9 min/mile pace so I was feeling good heading in to the final two miles. Unfortunately the last mile contains a pretty good hill and I was not ready for it. I'm usually very good at know exactly where I am in the city, but I got a little turned around coming towards the Washington Monument. Luckily it wasn't far to go and soon I was cruising down a short downgrade towards the finish. I didn't run the tangents so my finish pace was right at my goal of 9 min/miles! 

Finish time of 1:25:31 and official distance of 9.39 miles.

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The race organizers projected our 9.39 mile times to a 10 mile time. According to them it would of been a 1:31:06 finish, but we all know that I would of kicked it up and finished in 1:30 something. 

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After the race I grabbed some food and water and Brian and I walked around to look at some of the Cherry Blossoms. They were all perfect, but with the race and peak weekend it was getting pretty crowded around the tidal basin.

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I don't think the weather is usually as nice and it seems the Cherry Blossoms rarely perform this well for the race. Since those two aligned the race gods had to sweep in and shorten the distance. Now I have a PR for the 9.39 distance! I probably won't sign up for this race again next year, but maybe again some time in the future.

18 April 2015

2015 Rock 'n Roll DC Marathon

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Mile 13 Wet but still with a little energy- photo credit to Becky
After several half marathons I thought I was ready to run a full marathon. A few weeks into the training I found out that double the distance equaled way more than double the training. The first long run was as long as the longest run I did for many of the half marathons I trained for. Complicating things were my active social life and signing up for a Saturday afternoon flag football league. Oh and also one of the coldest Februarys in recent years. I also only had a 14 week training cycle, because I knew for the half I always started right after the new year and didn't think "oh you might need a few more weeks to run twice the distance".

I worked my way up to 18 miles before my left foot started hurting really bad. After my Valentine's Day run my foot hurt when I walked for the next three days so I made an appointment with a foot doctor. He said he didn't think it was a stress fracture, which was my biggest fear but to take a week off and to take three ibuprofen with breakfast and another three with dinner.

Luckily that worked, but that hick up meant my longest run was 19 miles and an off week right before taper.

Luckily marathons are easy right?

During taper instead of getting more nervous like I hear a lot of people getting. I got more confident, maybe unreasonably so.

My sister signed up to run and Kristen and my niece got in to town the Wednesday before the race. They did some touristing around while I worked and we all went to the expo together on Thursday. The expo moved to the convention center, which was super convenient but the set up was basically the same as the last two years.

The 10 day, then the 5 day, then the 3 day, then the 1 day forecast all called for rain. The temperature jumped around a bit, but the rain stayed constant. When we woke up at 5:30 that morning we heard rain.

I decided to wear a hat to keep the water out of my eyes and a rain resistant jacket with shorts. I think my outfit was the right call, but I was soaked by the time the race started.

Kristen and I got to the start line with about twenty minutes till gun time, but we had to walk about a half mile to the end of the alphabet for our bag check then I did a final porta potty stop. I got into my corral a little after the race started, but since I was 10 corrals back I still had plenty of time.

The first few miles felt fine, at first I was trying to avoid the biggest puddles, but soon it was obvious that my feet would be soaked and going straight through them was probably the least exhausting.

Running up rock creek felt pretty automatic, I've run the first half of the route so many times, but as we approached the Calvert hill I first started feeling a little tired. I've never been able to run very strongly up the hill, but this year was a little easier. They people holding American flags all the way up and the crowd support was great like always.

Next we ran cross town, this is one of my favorite parts of the race. People are on their balconies having mini parties and offering beer to the runners. Then there is the run down North Capitol. I saw several runners get splashed by cars going the opposite direction and felt good about my decision to run on the west side of the street.

Soon we were at the point where the half and full split apart. The past two years when I ran the half marathon I always felt really happy I wasn't running another 13 miles at this point. Well I could tell the half runners were feeling this way too. A few of them wished me luck and I got a boost of adrenaline thinking about how I was going to run the full this time.

The Rock 'n Roll DC is definitely a half marathon focused race. After we split off I felt pretty alone on the course, which was a downer. But then I saw my boyfriend Brian and one of my friends Becky, who had run the 5K, were cheering for me! That gave me a big boost, I didn't know they were going to be there, but as I was running off Becky yelled something like "you are halfway there" and the reality of it hit again.

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Mile 13- I kept having to wring my gloves out- photo credit to Becky

My first half was almost where I wanted it to be. I was planning on around 2 hours, but ended up at 2:10.

The second half of the race was colder, wetter, lonelier, and less scenic. At one point we ran three miles around an industrial area where they store the salt for DC streets. Then we ran across this terrible bridge that had huge grates on it, that I was certain I would fall over. The run in Anacostia would probably of been nice on a beautiful day. But in cold rain it was pretty miserable. I started walking through the water stations here, which was around mile 18. There was also serious flooding on the course here and we had to go off course in one area and through about six inches in another area.

Once we headed to Ft. Dupont park the rain started letting up a little. For the last 30 minutes of the race it pretty much stopped raining, but I was still soaking wet and was feeling pretty sore. My feet hurt the most and whenever I walked through a water station it hurt my bottom to start running again.

But soon there was only a mile left. But that mile seemed so hard. We crossed back over the Anacostia river towards the RFK stadium. The wind was blowing hard over the bridge. They had a nice loop away from the finish line, but soon I saw the finish and was able to kick it a tiny bit to the finish.

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Dead in the eyes, but happy to be finishing
My finish time was 4:39. My biggest goal was to finish, but I also had a goal for under 4:40, and a goal for some other things that were apparently way too ambitious.

So I was really happy to be done, but there was a lot more walking to do before getting home.
Kristen, Brian and Becky were at the finish to help me celebrate and help me function. Kristen had a much faster race, but was also miserably wet and cold.

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Kristen and me at the finish. Even though it stopped raining it was pretty cold and miserable still

I spent most of the rest of the day on the couch, eating, hydrating, and relaxing.

Throughout training and running the race I thought I never wanted to run another marathon. But now I feel like I could have a better race. I know what to expect now and would hopefully have a better weather day! So maybe....

For now I'm going to focus on some 5Ks...