I have not written too much about my training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler because I was so worried I would get hurt again and not be able to run it. The last 2 years I had to drop out due to injury (stress fracture and plantar fasciitus). The Cherry Blossom has been one of my favorite races since I first ran in back in 2008 when it was my first 10 miler ever. My goal this year was to get to the finish line injury free.
I trained as smartly and as conservatively as I knew how and I really believe that paid off for me this year. I was diligent about sticking to my race plan, not adding on extra miles and recognizing when I need a day off. I have the tendency to think I need to kick it into high gear with every workout, everyday which makes my legs tired for running.
This year’s race was very mentally and physically challenging for me for a number of reasons.
-My running buddy had to drop out 2 days before and I realized that I had never really run a long race by myself with having someone to pace with and chat to.
-The weather! Mother nature decided to pretend it was January and bring freezing temps coupled with 40 mph winds for race morning. I had trained all winter in very cold temps but the winds scared me. I could hear the wind blowing our patio furniture around all night before the race and did not sleep very much.
-There was lots of hysteria in our running group and in social media about the weather and I probably let it get me more anxious than I should have.
-The race organizers announced there would be no signage during the race, no mile signs or mile split clocks. There would be no big stage or tents to gather in before or after the race. Basically they wanted you to come, run and leave. Ok!
Living in the DC area, it is so easy to take for granted the amazing history and architecture. Hearing the National Anthem sung that morning while standing in front of the Washington Monument gave me (even more) goose bumps than usual. I forget how lucky I am to live here.
As we made our way to the start area, the corrals were not marked at all and I had no idea which pace group I was herded into. The wind was just howling and I think my feet were numb the whole first mile. As we headed over the Memorial Bridge it was pretty brutal and I certainly had a few, “What the **** am I doing?” moments. It got a little better after the bridge and by mile 6 I was starting to warm up a bit.
I caught up to a few MRTT friends and chatted a bit. It was mentally challenging not to have any signs or mile markers throughout the race. The water stops were rather chaotic with cups blowing everywhere around my feet. I saw one set of porta potties knocked down by wind. (Would not want to clean that up!) There were no cherry blossoms left to look at.
I knew the last few miles would be the toughest with the wind whipping off the Potomac River at Hains Point. My legs felt really good but the cold air was making my chest hurt a little. I hunkered down and gave it all I had that morning. As I neared the finish line, I could hear the cheers of the crowd and thought I might actually break out in tears. One of the hardest races I have ever done. I am really proud of my effort that day and ended up finishing a few minutes ahead of where I expected.
For me, this race was not about finish times but instead finish lines.