There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head right now and I’m trying to just let everything go. Cherry Blossom wasn’t the dream that I was hoping for….but it was a good race. I was slower than I wanted but I did ok and I kept moving forward….and I crossed the finish line.
We got up early….no, make that super early. The first alarm went off at 4:01 am and the other two quickly followed. Yes, I set three alarms. I did not want to miss this race. For some reason I moved really slowly getting ready. Everything was out but I wanted to double check things and I just could not move. I finally got my stuff together and we got out the door a couple of minutes later than I hoped. It was ok though because at the last minute I made plans to meet people downtown instead of at the metro. We got to the metro in plenty of time but missed the first train ….that’s ok because I was aiming for the second train and we made that one. My poor buddy slept on the train…he was not happy about getting up so early.
It was still dark when we got downtown. We left the station and headed over to the group meeting point.
Of course no one was there and it was chilly. So I suggested we go back to the station and wait there. I exchanged texts with one running buddy and let him know where we were. While waiting for him the group from the Reston PR training arrived at the station so we all ended up together. We head back to the race staging area. 3 of us decided to try to run together so we stayed together and then headed to the corrals. While we were hanging out we heard an announcement about an accident that was causing a change to the course. The course would be shorted by about half a mile. We would all get PRs!
The course adjustment caused some stress for my buddy because we were pretty sure it was going to impact his spectating spot. I told him good luck and that I hoped to see him but in the back of my mind it stressed me out. He headed off because he knew he had to cross the course before the elites got there. I knew he had time but he was worried.
One picture of me before the race in my throwaway fleece. There is a story behind the fleece but you have to ask me in person. Just can’t share it with the world.
I hung out in the corral with two of the men from my training group. We planned to try to run together and to run with a pacer. I dumped my throwaway fleece after the race started and as we started walking to the actual start line. I was super nervous but felt better once we started running. I tried to stick with the pacer. It was tough because she was speeding up and slowing down to find the right pace and fight the crowds.
There were soooooo many people. It was crazy. We were fighting to get around people and it was very hard as a group. The pacer yelled at people to let them know we were coming through but most didn’t care and I can understand. If I was running alone I would have kindly told them to find a way around. We made our way across the Memorial Bridge and I realized I was spending too much time looking at the pacer’s back and not enough time enjoying the course. I tried to look around.
Around mile 4 there was a water stop and I really wanted water. BIG mistake. I got caught in a huge mess, only got a tiny amount of water, and then got stuck behind a wall of people that weren’t moving around a turn around. In my opinion the water stop was way too close to the turn around and the flow was bad.
One of the men from my training group stuck with me and had an eye on the pacer. I looked at him and said “just go. I can’t close that gap.” It was going to be too much weaving and I was already starting to burn up.
I knew I was headed to the altered section of the course and I was hoping my buddy found a way to see me. He was supposed to be on the right but I knew because of the change if he was there he was going to be on the left. Thankfully he had adjusted and I found him. And let me just tell you…that’s amazing! Not that he adjusted but that I was able to see him. There were so many people all around but luckily I could pick him out.
After seeing him I started to really struggle. I was headed into the long Hains Point section. I was hot, tired, and my foot was starting to hurt. I started to alternate walking and running. Eventually I realized that my pace was slowing and that I should try to enjoy the scenery and not kill myself. I knew I had another big race coming up and it might be worth it to save a little bit for that. No point in getting hurt. I was going to PR anyway because of the weird course change.
I took my time and looked around at the people and the cherry blossoms. I finally made the turn at the point and saw the famous Oreo and beer guy but I didn’t stop for either one. I kept fighting my way through the course and getting water whenever I could. As I was making my way towards the end I heard someone call my name and turned around to see one of the women I had been training with. She had started behind us because of issues with meeting in the morning….but she was running fast. I was dying but she was feeling great and she pulled me along. We saw my buddy again and I was so excited to tell him how she had caught me.
We fought out way up the last little hill and then down to the finish line. I was so happy to see her. She really helped me finish strong. And what are the chances…..among 15,000 people….she found me. She recognized my skirt!
We walked through the finishing chute and I was desperate to find water. It took way too long to get some. Too many people and it was too far away. We then fought out way to the “food.” I use the term food loosely because the fast runners had eaten all the food and only left a few bananas for the rest of us. I hate this. It happens too often. I wish the fast people would think about how long the rest of us are running. And how nice we were to stay in the back out of their way so they could run fast. Anyway, enough about it, but it really bothers me.
I went to the medal tent to pick up my beautiful medal and somehow my buddy ended up right behind me….in a crowd of 15 million people he found me…that’s amazing! I’m so glad I saw him two times on the course as planned.
I then headed to the PR meetup spot….to find no one….after exchanging some texts I found out there was a tent and headed there to meet others from my training group.
I saw my favorite coach, Kim! She is an inspiration and I can’t wait to train with her this summer. She is going for the big one – 26.2!!! I’ll be training for “just” another 10 miler ….and most likely another half marathon.
So overall, I learned that I must carry my own water because trying to fight the crowds to get it did not work out well and really slowed me down, but it was fun. I enjoyed parts of the course and I ran a new distance….9.39 miles officially. So it’s a PR….sort of, if you want to look at it that way.
And I learned (again) that I really like smaller races. While it’s fun to run with so many people once in a while it’s much more fun to run with less elbows flying in my face and less people stepping on my toes.