I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler today, finishing in a time
of 69:22. This beat my goal of 70, and
is also exactly 4 minutes faster than my previous PR of 1:13:22 (set at last
year’s Cherry Blossom). So I’m pretty
happy. But oh what fun I had on my way
to the finish line....
Allergies have been hitting me pretty hard all week – the
hazards of living in DC. Fatigue, sniffles, headache, itchy eyes – you got
it. I thus went into the race with a
bit of trepidation, but decided that I needed to just get out there and see
what I could do.
Since walking to the race start (about 2 miles) last year
had worked well for me, I did the same thing this year – carrying my racing
shoes with me and changing to them when I arrived. I checked my bag, and then ran a little over a mile, shifting up
to goal 10 mile pace and back down.
In light of the 50 degree temperatures, I wore shorts, a
tank top, thin gloves, and then socks over my hands and a long sleeve
t-shirt. With 2 minutes before the
start, I tossed the t-shirt; (I kept the socks on my hand until mile 3). I probably could have done without the
gloves, but I don’t think they affected my performance that much.
This race is very well managed, and I had placed myself at
the front of the corral, so I had no traffic issues. My plan was to go out in about 7:05, and then up it to 7:00 pace
or a bit faster, and hold that as long as I could. I pretty much stuck to that plan, hitting a rhythm and holding
it. I worked the uphills, and glided the
downhills, allowing for individual miles to be a bit fast or slow depending on
the terrain, but keeping an even rhythm to my running.
The first 5 miles felt harder than they should have, and I
was a bit concerned. However, I didn’t
feel like I was in trouble, so I just tried to relax a bit more into the
flow. Around mile 5, I popped a
shot-blok to see if that would perk me up.
Miles 6-7 took us around the tidal basin and then into Hains
Point, where the cherry blossoms were in full, glorious, bloom on each side of
the roadway. Yep. I started feeling worse and worse, but just focused
on the rhythm. I had gone so far, and
wasn’t in that much trouble yet.
At some point after the 7 mile marker, I noted an older guy,
likely about 60, running in a dogged, workman like way. I did a double take, and realized – hey,
Rodgers! A bunch of us
cheered for him. In response, he asked
us (selfishly, I like to think it was me, since I was running right next to
him) what mile we were at. I told him
(between wheezes) that we were about a quarter-mile from the 8 mile mark. Then we both continued with our work.
After mile 8, I started hurting. By mile 9, I knew that I was going to the mat for this race, with
each breathe ragged and strained, but I thought I could do it. I looked at my
watch, and saw that I only needed to run about 7:45 to hit my goal of
sub-70. I knew I could do better than
We hit the one real hill of the course during the last
quarter mile, and I attacked it, thinking that I only had about 90 seconds
left, and could tough it out. With
about 200 meters to go, my body started to lock up, and not respond. Everything stiffened, and I fought hard. I rapidly focused on part after part of my
form that was going to hell, and tried to fix it, barking out mental orders to
keep my shoulders straight, to keep my cadence up, to keep my feet pointed
forward. But it was just plugging holes
in a dam that was about to fail.
I started to pump my arms, thinking that that at least might
carry me across the finish line that was so very close. But with about 10 feet to go, my legs
buckled, and I hit the asphalt hard.
Members of the medical staff ran up, and I gasped and waved at them not
to touch me until I crossed the finish.
I started crawling and rolling, finally forcing both feet onto the
mat. As I lay on top of the finish mat,
the medical staff grabbed me, telling me that they had to get me out of the way
of the other runners. I agreed, but
couldn’t tell them – I was in the midst of what I now think was some sort of
allergy-triggered asthma attack and couldn’t get enough air.
Two of them cradled me, and maneuvered me over to the
side. Someone pulled a wheelchair over,
and they seated me in it before rolling me to the medical tent. At some point after I got in the wheelchair,
I remembered to hit my Garmin – total time was 1:10:35. I thought it took me at least 35 seconds to
get pulled off the mat and placed in the wheelchair – I had to hope that was
By the time I got to the med tent, I was already catching my
breath and able to talk. I shifted (on
my own power :D) to the cot, and lay there, giving them my information while
they took my vitals (my HR had already dropped down to near-normal). Within another 2 minutes, I felt fine and
ready to go, but they made me stay in the tent for another 30 minutes so that
they could keep an eye on me. No
problem here. Finally, they OKed me to
go, and I exited the tent, grabbed my checked bag, and walked about a mile
before I was able to flag a cab the rest of the way home.
Mile 1: 7:03
Mile 2: 7:00
Mile 3: 6:53
Mile 4: 6:52
Mile 5: 7:00
Mile 6: 6:53
Mile 7: 7:18 (mile marker too long)
Mile 8: 6:13 (mile marker too short – these two averaged out
to 6:45 pace - a bit of a tail wind)
Mile 9: 7:04 (a bit of a head wind)
Mile 10: 7:06 (calculated via extrapolation from posted
results – no, I do not have a pace calculation for how fast I crawled).
Total time: 69:22
23rd out of 1674 women aged 30-34 (top 1.4%)
122nd out of 8299 women overall (top 1.5%)
702nd out of 14883 runners total (top 4.7%)
AND…. My team won the women’s open club team competition,
with my time being one of those that counted!
(they count the top 3 times for each team – our times were 1:01:24;
1:06:01; 1:09:22; (1:12:31) (1:15:51) = 3:16:47). We only won by 9 seconds total over the second placed team, so
had I not crawled as fast, the results might have been different. I’ll remember that, next time I consider
wimping out of a finish.
I can’t wait to see the pictures from this one :D