So, I knocked out my second race of the new year. First, good news is that it was managed properly and we only ran 10 miles (as opposed to the debacle at the Rotary Resolution in Leesburg). I had to get an early start, getting up at 5:30AM to clean up and grab my stuff before heading for the Metro. Race start was at 8AM, but I didn't have much time to spare. I stopped to get gas, had to wait for the Orange line from Dunn Loring, switched at Rosslyn to the Blue line, got off at Arlington Cemetery, and then walked the 1.5 miles to the race area. Oh, and I spent 20 minutes in line to pee before the race as well.
The weather was perfect. I took my new IllumiNite vest, which I picked up at the race expo the day before, and it worked out pretty well. I didn't overheat, wasn't constricted, and I had plenty of pockets and storage space. Although, I was a little concerned that I might have fried my cellphone until I tried it out. When I fished it from the back pocket on the vest, it was pretty wet.
I was slated for the green corral, which seemed to be the category for low-end intermediate skills, although there were some fast dudes in my group. Basically, to move up to orange, you needed to be able to run the race in about an hour (way out of my league). Beyond that, the most elite group was filled with professionals only. The colored grouping was intended to help them do a wave start, but the corral area for green was completely overcrowded. I didn't even get onto the road and in the corral until after the gun went off. I just followed the throng of people who had pushed down part of the barricades to create their own entryway into the corral. It didn't keep me from getting into the race line well in advance of the ChampionChip mat, which I crossed a few minutes after 8AM.
Most of the race was uneventful. I felt good and could tell I was running a good pace. I wasn't sure what it was exactly since I forgot to start my stopwatch. I actually grabbed a water along the way, something I never do. I need more practice with trying to drink from a cup and run at the same time. All I ended up doing was swallowing air, burping, and spilling water all over myself. Now I know why people bring those belts with water bottles on them. I couldn't help but check out people's shoes as I ran. The overwhelming favorite was Asics, all models, then New Balance. There were a fair amount of Nikes, some Saucony, some Brooks, and a few Mizuno. I saw some stupid slogans on t-shirts too, the dumbest one being "It is my destiny to kick ass". This wasn't printed or professionally done. Some 20-something slowpoke decided to scrawl it on her t-shirt with a black marker. Other highlights included shirts that extolled the virtues of drinking heavily and dorky law firm and consultancy running team logos.
I could feel myself running out of gas around mile 7. Good news was we were running slightly downhill and I held on until mile 9, at which point I poured it back on, but by pouring I really mean running hard and panting heavily. Halfway through the race, I had noticed a woman in all black with her hair up in ponytails. I noticed her because her hair was very similar to Audrey's hair and I focused on her as a target. I ran up and past her, but came upon her again a few miles later. In any case, the fact that I had past her, or thought I had passed her meant that she was now my competition for the end of the race. So, when she was only a few steps ahead of me in that last mile, she became my primary motivation. I wanted to catch up and pass her and I ran like hell to do it...but she won. I had picked a tall, dorky looking guy earlier, but it didn't take long to realize I had no chance of keeping up with him.
It's hard to tell how many people ran. I don't know how many actually registered, but the results say that over 10,000 people ran the race. In any event, this was a much bigger race than I've ever participated in before. And that was the first big difference from previous race experiences. I never got very far from a crowd and the first few miles were almost claustrophobic. Even at mile 8 and beyond, I was still squeezing by people, looking over my shoulder to see if there was someone near me, and jumping to one side or another to keep speed and not run into someone's back. There were so many people that I was distracted from the surroundings, one of the principal things that attracted me to this race. I didn't really notice the cherry blossoms at all, nor did I pay much attention to the monuments or "nature" as we ran up and back on Rock Creek Parkway. It was kind of fun to run down the middle of a road that I've used as a commuter so often in the past and to run over Memorial Bridge as well.
In the end, I beat my goal of 1:30 and a 9:00/mi pace. Official time of the race is gun time, which I think is a cheesy move. My net time, the time from the moment I crossed the starting line to the moment I crossed the finish line, was 1:23:04, which breaks out to an 8:18/mi pace. That is better than I thought I would do and close to matching my 5K race pace from last October. I am psyched about my half-marathon and have started thinking about the next race I will run after that. Maybe the YMCA Loudoun County 20K, which runs part of the W&OD trail.
I did accomplish two other things in running this race. I made myself sick. I think I got badly dehydrated. I was tired, but okay until I got home around noon. I spent the rest of the day with diarrhea and stomach cramps, even vomiting at one point. I was able to eat a good dinner, but I cramped up afterwards. I have been drinking lots of water and I think I'll be fine with a good night's sleep. The other thing I did is injure my left ankle in some way. I felt it during the second half of the race, but I ignored the pain. I wasn't going to walk it in just because I had some discomfort. I was limping a bit when I got home and the inside of my ankle is a bit tender, but it not swollen. I think it is probably irritated soft tissue, maybe due to a ligament rubbing against bone or something like that. I can walk on it just fine, but I need to take it easy. I wish I had iced it today, but I never got around to it. Dumb. It just needs to hold up for another month or so.
Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Bib # 5220
April 2, 2006, 8:00 am
Overall Place: 2852/10662
Gender Place: 1176/2873
Link to Official Race Results
Jon, I hope you don't mind that I copied your race data format. I think it is a good idea. Thanks!