Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

Last Sunday, while Mer was being blown all around the Atlantic City Boardwalk, I was being similarly assaulted by the breeze down in DC. The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, the annual spring time 10 miler in the DC area, the other bookend to the Fall’s Army 10-miler, and the kickoff to what many consider training season for summer and fall races, was a bit of a blustery affair.

Having looked at the forecast the week of the run, I knew going in that it was likely to be a bit chilly. Temps were predicted to be in the low 40s and the weatherpeople kept mentioning that mayyyybe there’d be snow. Or sleet. Definitely cold. I was (mostly) mentally prepared.

Saturday evening, before the race, participants received an email notifying us that due to the weather conditions we would be facing:

  • Elimination of all race signage and overhead structures at the start and finish lines
  • Elimination of all on-course signage including split time clocks
  • Elimination of all tents on the Washington Monument Grounds except for the bag check tent and the main medical tent
  • Elimination of pre-race warm-ups and post-races awards ceremony

Having been feeling mostly “meh, it’ll be cold, but it won’t be too bad” about the race, I was rudely awakened by these changes. I checked the weather again and to my horror surprise, I saw that in addition to a new predicted temperature of 37 degrees, there would be wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

Say what?

Dude. That’s miserable. And cold. And it’s April why is winter back?! I texted my boyfriend and suggested that he would want to dress warm in the morning. Being from Florida, this kid has no winter running anything… so I dug out an extra pair of running/ski pants for him to wear and he found a sweatshirt that was running friendly.

The next morning dawned bright and clear… and effing cold. I had on more layers than I ever run in (I get hot really fast and hatehatehate that feeling, so I usually minimize as much as possible). We planned to arrive at the start with just enough time to drop our bag and get in a corral in order to minimize the amount of time spent standing around. Our metro ride into the city was filled with dread and the ardent desire to turn around and crawl back in a warm bed.


Clay’s face pretty much says it all…

Fortunately, our planning worked well and when we got off the metro at the National Mall, we were able to jet over to the starting area, drop off our stuff and shiver our way into our corral. We only waited about three minutes before our wave started and then we were off. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to run that early in the morning ever – moving helped us warm up pretty quickly.

The first couple of miles were tough, as I was fighting cold muscles and a cold body in general, but our intervals (run a mile, walk a minute) worked well for our pacing and before long we fell into a comfortable stride. The wind was a nuisance a lot of the time, though, threatening to blow off our hats or working against us as we ran up the Potomac near the Kennedy Center.

As we came back around to the Tidal Basin, we crossed the halfway point and were feeling pretty good. Some brave souls came out to cheer and were pretty loud at this area as it’s also where runners return to finish. It was great to have the crowd support and to people watch as we went by.

Hitting mile 6, my knee began to twinge a bit – I’ve been dealing with some Runner’s Knee for the past month or so, which has made training somewhat tricky. Running intervals for this race was really key for me to be able to run strong, as just when my knee would feel really tight, it would be time to walk a bit.

The second half of the race takes runners around Haines Point, which is really pretty, but very windy. Part of it had the wind at our backs, though, and that was just the extra umph we needed to push for the finish line.

As we came back to the Washington Monument, the sprint to the finish was real. I was ready to be done, go home, take a hot shower and brunch hard. We crossed the finish line together and immediately put that plan in to motion.

Victorious. And cold.

Victorious. And cold.

All in all, despite the chill and the wind, it was a beautiful day to run in DC. And I had the best running partner. For not feeling very trained, this race was comfortably paced and a good shakeout for summer marathon training. I’ll be playing with my race strategies this summer, so playing with intervals and speed work will be on the schedule. I’m looking forward to what this race season brings!