I am going to be upfront. I am not a huge fan of the big races in DC.
I have done three and after my third, the infamous (Hot Chocolate 15K) I swore off racing in our Nations Capitol. The parking is a nightmare, traffic even worse and I tend to have crowd-o-phobia. However, a few months ago when I saw that the registration lottery for Cherry Blossom 10 miler opened, I could not resist, and much to my surprise, I made it in. It is limited to 15,000 runners each year and the course starts at The Washington Monument and cruises along the Potomac River during cherry blossom season (although it came early this year so most blooms were gone).
Packet pick up was Friday March 30 & Saturday the 31st at The National Building Museum.
What I thought was great, is that they spread out the times when you could pick up your packet according to the first letter of your last name. Although, I am sure this may have caused an inconvienence for some, I think it was necessary to keep the crowds flowing smoothly, and they were successful in achieving that. I walked right up and picked up my bib with no wait. There were so many volunteers helping to guide you to the right place, it was truly impressive. On the other hand, the parking was non existent on Saturday. There was what looked like a kite festival going on the National Mall in addition to spring break and cherry blossoms… the city looked like Disneyland, packed with people. This was, of course, no fault of the Cherry Blossom organizers.
I thought the vendors at the expo where some of the best I had seen. There were more quality brands and less junk. As far as deals, didn’t see anything spectacular. I did pick up this IFitness Hydration belt. The girls behind the booth were great, and assured me this belt would not bounce. I haven’t tried it yet but, perhaps a review will follow.
Sunday morning my friends Alison and Tanya picked me up at the wee hour of 5:30am. We arrived and found parking right away just a few blocks from the starting line at The Washington Monument. There were about 200 port-a-pots which for 15,000 runners doesn’t sound like much, but we had no problems using them (except for the one I used where someone actually missed the hole and pooped on the back of the lid – still trying to figure out how that could happen..revolting!)
The three of us were all in different waves, so said our goodbyes and good lucks and hopped in our corrals. I was in the 8:30 pace wave, a little slower than I am capable, but I was thinking I would get up to the front in a hurry and things would taper out. The gun went off… it was really crowded. I could barely move, the streets are narrow and I had a very tough time getting past people for about four miles. In no way was I finding my pace, I was just weaving through people trying not to fall flat on my face. I just tried to let it go, but was having a tough time not being annoyed. It was so crowded in the beginning that it was very difficult, almost dangerous, getting over to the water/Gatorade tables, of which there were 6 on the course.
Finally, about mile 5 the crowds dwindled and I was able to find some kind of rhythm. I felt a bit off mentally and my legs were still a little heavy from my marathon on March 18. For some reason in this race, things were bothering me that normally would not. Example, “the foot slappers”, “the arm flailers”, “the heavy breathers”,”the guy that won’t let you pass him even though there is no one to his other side”, and last but not least “the foul farters”. I guess I neglected to bring my inner zen on this one but, eventually settled down toward the end.
This was a very flat course with an elevation range of only 31 feet.There was one hill at the end (of course when your tired) but other than that none that I can recall. Plus, right before that hill there was a row of musicians with these tribal drums that were very upbeat and fun. I finished up at 1:14:43 I was 33 out 972 in my age group and 380 out of 9,699 overall women.
The post race food was bananas and muffins… nothing special, I am not one for sweets after a race but am used to having to bring my own Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. You all know how much I love them. It was cold after the race, so was happy to have checked my sweats in Alison’s bag. The bag check pick up was a really long line toward the end of the race.
It was truly a scenic course and I would do it over again for that reason. Very few negatives about this race and for DC it was by far my best experience. The volunteers were amazing and there were plenty of them. Thank you to all the volunteers that gave up their day, these races could not go on without you. Overall, a good time and always fun with good friends. I never regret a race, ever.
mile 1- 7:29
mile 2- 7:16
mile 3- 7:04
mile 4- 7:08
mile 5- 7:23
mile 6- 7:18
mile 7- 7:29
mile 8- 7:29
mile 9- 7:30