When you take Metro to the CUCB 10 Miler, you trudge half asleep to the train. It’s dark, cold, and then you get your station you see other runners who are sharing your underground journey in the darkness.
But something wonderful happens on the other end of the train ride. You emerge from the dingy underground station to the initial rays of dawn slowly rising over the horizon. Those rays of sunlight illuminate the Washington monument, the Capitol and the rest of DC. Like the winter that never seems to end, the sunlight reminds us that spring is here and the cherry blossoms are blooming. I took in this beautiful scene and thought to myself: Man, I need to pee.
The Friday before the race, I went to the Building Museum in DC to packet pick-up. By a stroke of luck I went in the side door which the volunteers directed me to the mezzanine for packet pick up. This kept me from the block long line that those who went in the front entrance had to endure. While I was in line I looked at the building models they had on exhibit (the expo is in the background).
Not sure who would live in this building. Expo is in the background which is all most of you care about. The building kind of looks like a Garmin representation of hill repeats.
DC residents are required by law to post pictures like this. I live in NOVA, but go along anyway.
After picking up my packet (and one for @stephaniechivis of Crazy Ultra Mother Runner (I’m a full service blogger)). I went to listen to a talk by Bill Rodgers, the 4 time Boston Marathon winner (and 4 time Cherry Blossom winner). After the talk I got my bib autographed by him figuring it might spur me to a better time. OK, it was more likely that I will just end up with ink all over my legs from the sweat over the signature, but let’s be honest, when you carry a pig around, a little ink doesn’t really make you more of a freak. I also got to say hi to tai_fung who was providing “security” and directing people. In the name of security we took a selfie.
Yes, I am too lazy to edit this pic and my jacket collar has a mind of its own.
Saturday was a picture perfect day and it was hard not to go for a run. My better instincts (OK, this is me maybe plural is pushing it) kicked in and I put appreciated the stunningly gorgeous day from the porch.
Not the view from my porch, but the view in the parking lot where I get my massages.
So my alarm went off at o-dark-hundred on Sunday morning. I jumped out of the bed in the excitement and…OK that is total BS, I was half asleep and thought about going back to sleep but I knew today was going to be a great day to run so I stumbled out of bed and asked the Pig to make some coffee while I got dressed.
I did some light dynamic stretching and foam rolling and after some coffee and a PB&J sandwich the Pig and I were off to Metro to ride to the start.
There are few feelings that match showing up to a race site.
I met Stephanie after she phoned me by the porta potties (remind me to wipe down my phone later) and gave her race bib. Of course for her the highlight was meeting the Pig. She is training for the ATR 24 hour race and was going to use the race as a training run. We wished each other good luck and I went off the gear check.
After gear check and another pit stop, I did some more dynamic stretching and did some light strides to warm up. As I was walking toward the corrals, they announced that there was “An emergency”. When you like in the DC area and they announce “An emergency” you first thought is that an inch of snow fell. After that is eliminated, your thoughts go much darker. They then said that there was an “accident” on the course and that there was a police criminal investigation going on so the race organizers were going to have to reroute the course (after the race I heard it was a shooting but later learned that a motorcycle hit a pedestrian on closed Independence Ave). On top of the course being rerouted it would be shortened to something like 9.5 miles. Some people cheered that they wouldn’t have to run as far. I was looking forward to breaking my 10 miler PR, but did take some comfort that I would be setting a 9.5 mile race record for myself (for my European and Canadian audience, a PB. Man, I want peanut butter again, why do I keep doing that to myself?)
Then it was time to get in my corral (blue this year which matches my eyes). I was able to get a spot at the front of the corral so I hoped that would help not be in traffic so much (spoiler alert-HA!).
The gun went off and I went nowhere. First the yellow corral went off, then the red and it was time to the blue corral to go. When the blue was allowed to go, I tore off and with open space I was going to the pace I wanted. It lasted about 0.1 miles before we ran into the back of the red corral and I started having to weave in and out of traffic. The first mile came in at 8:38 which I felt decent about considering I wasn’t able to get a good rhythm going. The 2nd mile was much like the first with there being a lot of people to weave in and out of as we crossed the Memorial Bridge (for my non DC readers this is the bridge that connects the Arlington cemetery area with the Lincoln Memorial (OK, nobody cared about that aside, but I’m leaving it in any way, so there)). Mile 2 clocked in at 8:35 so I had avoided the slow start that I had at 1775K.
During mile 3 there was a slight downhill and I got a bit carried away and that mile was 8:26. Mile 4 and 5 were back to normal pace wise as we weaved along the tidal basin. After mile 4 was the race course was modified and that was where we lost around .5 miles (only in DC can someone lose a half a mile). Then we hit the highlight of the run–Hains Point.
This year the peak of Cherry Blossom blooms was during the race and Hains Point was alive with an explosion of blossoms. It was like Christmas in April. Even though there were 15,000 runners it was probably one of the less crowded times in Hains Point. For once Hains Point was actually enjoyable. The wind was light, the trees were blooming and I was running at a good pace. Both miles 6 and 7 came in at 8:35. Mile 9 clocked in at 8:32 with about 800 yards to go. I had opened it up a bit at Mile 9 but decided against sprinting to the finish so I could better gauge a half marathon pace. That being said I did feel obligated to pass one bozo that cut me off with a quarter of a mile to go. Final time was 1:21:13. What pace was that? God only knows. My Garmin had it at 8:33. I typically add 10 seconds a mile to account for me running longer than the course and that would make it an 8:43 pace. 8:43 is a solid effort for me.
I have to admit I will be interested to see the mental gymnastics bloggers will perform to determine their time and pace. The people I have talked to have had the course range from 9.45 to 9.8 miles (I had 9.5). My guess at what they will have when they measure it is 9.4136423 (who knows if they will round).
I would like to thank the course organizers for their quick replan and for all the volunteers for their efforts. Without volunteers there would have been 15,000+ runners out there looking pretty dumb without a race.
After the race I went up to the Hamilton Hotel and met @midpackbiped for a beer. We did what two old runners do when they get together (well other than bitch about injuries) we talked running war stories. But just because we are older doesn’t mean that we can’t take a selfie.
Two guys and the Pig go into a bar…
And of course he wanted one with the Pig.
Midpackbiped and the Pig.
After my beer I walked through the mobs of people looking at the Cherry Blossoms and once I hit the Jefferson Memorial I ran home because I wanted to sound badass. My pace was less than badass, but you probably have noticed I didn’t post those split times.
I wish the blossoms lasted longer. Much like the race in that respect.
1. I ran (for me) a fairly even pace. This gives me confidence that in three weeks I can put in a good result in the Frederick Half.
2. The end result is better than last year, and although I would have like a bright shiny 10 miler PR, I can be not unhappy (happy is pushing it with me) with knocking 50+ seconds per mile off my time from last year. Plus I have a 9.X mile PR where X will be determined at a later time.
3. 10 years from now everyone who ran this race will not mention it wasn’t 10 miles when they show off how well they did at this race.