This past weekend was the 43rd annual running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and my fourth time participating in the race (here is my race recap from last year). Did you know you could look up your past performances on their results page? I like that I’ve improved with age 🙂
I entered the lottery and received the below email in December. I’ve entered the lottery 4 times (2010, 2011, 2014, and 2015) and accepted 3 times or 75% (there was no lottery in 2007).
I also had a guaranteed entry code for volunteering at the Health and Fitness Expo last year and gave that to my mom. Based on her performance from the 2014 Surf ‘N’ Santa 5 Miler, I knew she would be able to maintain the 14min/mile cutoff time for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.
Packet Pickup / Expo
Like last year, packet pickup was held at the National Building Museum. I took a late lunch break and got in line before 3:00PM on Friday. As you can see the line wrapped along the second floor (eventually outside), but it moved pretty quickly.
I picked up my bib (and my mom’s bib) upstairs and knew the drill to head downstairs for my shirt (a 50-50 cotton tee, I elected not to upgrade to the technical tee..I have so many of them). I liked this year’s design better than last years (did you know you could vote on the shirt design by attending a kick off party in the winter?), but I wish the shirt was softer or long sleeved. Around the corner was the Sparkly Soul booth where I picked up a couple of headbands. I was in/out in about 20 minutes… had to get back to the office and nowadays I breeze through the expo.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
My current PR, 1:51:46, was set during last year’s Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. Heading into the weekend I did not have any particular goals in mind…okay…maybe one… not to walk up that last mini hill before the finish. I was going to run with my friend Rachel again and based on our performance at the Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon, there was a high probability we could PR. We just wanted to run a strong race and this would serve as one of my long runs for St. Michaels training.
Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
On Sunday morning I woke up around 5:30am and ate a piece of bread with almond butter and a banana. I debated what to wear all week and decided on a tank top with arm sleeves and capris. Everytime I thought of putting on my long sleeved shirt, I remembered how hot I got last year + this year called for warmer temperatures. I ended up wearing an old volunteer shirt as a throwaway. My mom arrived at my apartment and we walked the 1.8 miles to the starting line (with a couple of bathroom breaks along the way). Bag drop off was in the tent area in the back (we did not check any bags).
My mom in front of the Washington Monument. Like her Cherry Blossom-esqe pants?
Following the picture we all went to our respective corrals. Earlier in the week Kathryn tweeted that we were both in the green corral – I was happy with the placement, hoping there would be less weaving involved this year (not so much).
I met my friend Rachel in our corral. I heard some corral volunteers checked bib colors and some did not. I think there was more enforcement in the yellow, red and blue corrals. At that time we heard an announcement that the race would be re-routed due to an accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian. It was estimated that the course would be shorten by a half a mile.
Kathryn (my corral twin) and her husband Preston joined us for the start. You can see the corral is much fuller now.
Image: Courtesy of Kathryn
The elite women started at 7:20am, followed by the remaining corrals at 7:30am. Corrals were released every 3-5 minutes. The out and back course started at the National Mall and runners headed west towards the Memorial Bridge and the Kennedy Center (typical DC route).
- Mile 1: 11:20 not bad considering all the weaving
- Mile 2: 11:10 nice split
- Mile 3: 11:18 no stitches yay!
The turnaround was at the Kennedy Center and runners headed towards Ohio Drive before we turned around and went back onto Independence Avenue. The race was re-routed along Independence Avenue (I think we made a right onto West Basin Drive) and we were back on Ohio Drive. The re-route was similar to the St. Pat’s course.
- Mile 4: 10:59 go us!
- Mile 5: 11:33 we hit mile marker six at 5.5… so we knew we were 1/2 mile short
- Mile 6: 11:16 go us
The last portion of the race went through blossom filled Hains Point – it was beautiful! I am in the minority, but I love running in Hains Point (my long runs typically go through here because of the availability of water fountains and bathrooms). I’ve never been here during peak bloom and it was amazing!
As you can see the course was still pretty dense and the sun was out and about.
Since we knew this race would be short of ten miles, we took a bathroom break (I paused my Garmin) shortly before mile marker 7.
Everyone enjoying the blossoms!
- Mile 7: 11:14 feeling good
- Mile 8: 11:25 eeks stitches starting to surface
- Mile 9: 11:27 stitches again – walked for 15-30 seconds, ugh why are those cars parked on the course
We turned right on East Basin Drive and there were signs indicating 1200 feet to go, 800 feet to go, and 400 feet to go. We ran up the hill (yes!! every year I’ve walked up that hill before the finish) and had a nice descent to the finish line. I was surprised with our last half mile split!
- Mile 9.5ish: 5:00 ran up and down that hill!
According to my Garmin we finished with a time of 1:46:43 (this excluded the 4 minute bathroom break). Our official time was 1:50:06. Race directors provided a predicted ten miler finish time in our results after they re-measured the course, which came out to 9.39 miles. Our predicted ten miler finish time was 1:57:18. If the course was ten miles, Rachel and I would have skipped the bathroom and I think we would have finish close to the 1:50-1:52 range. We went through the finishers chute we picked up a bottle of water.
I said goodbye to Rachel and went to the Runner’s Village to pick up my medal (in a tent by bag drop off).
I ran into one of my old elementary/middle/high school classmates, Jessica.
Found my friends Hoa, Chun and Chris!
Post race picture with Kathryn! Even with a different corral placement this year, we both found ourselves weaving through the crowd.
Finisher photo with my mom, who finished with a time of 2:05:11.
Such a pretty medal! One of my favorites this year.
- This was the first time in 7 or 8 years that peak bloom coincided with the race – loved it!
- Since 2002 the race has donated $7 million to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
- Did you know there is a pretty good media guide on the Cherry Blossom website? Ok maybe I nerded out a bit, but they have some stats that were fun to read (ex. number of participants/year).
- Cherry Blossom organizers kept runners well informed through monthly newsletters and social media. Their social runners and bloggers were also great advocates for the race.
- Organizers did send/post etiquette tips prior to the race. Unfortunately when I finished there was only water and bananas.
- There was a mobile app for the race.
- It would have been nice if the expo opened around noon on Friday, just would have been easier for me personally haha.
- Technical tees and medals are add ons – which keeps the price “low”. I would even opt out of a shirt in general (just like PRR races).
- In addition to the 10M, there is also a 5K and Children’s Run (medals were also options for that race). The 5K started at 8:30am, one day I would like to run that race.
- Speaking of medals, they are getting nicer and nicer each year! The 5K had a mini version of the 10M.
- Race organizers did an excellent job of managing the course re-route and announcing the changes prior to the race.
- The water courses were really congested, they definitely could have used more volunteers (especially at the last water stop). Someone threw their discarded water cup in the area and the water spilled on me – he apologized. I wish people threw their cups into the bin.
- There were a few cars parked along the course following mile 9, which forced runners into a single lane.
- I found the race to be crowded the entire time (ex. function of number of people, width of the course, how one seeded themselves). Wish there was a way to alleviate this crowding.
- Always fun to see friends at the race! If you are a runner from the area…chances are you will know someone there.
I had a great time running the Cherry Blossom
10 9.5 Miler under the canopy of pink blossoms this year. Due to some potential scheduling conflicts, I probably will not run the race next year. Hopefully I will be back for the 45th edition of the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in 2017!
Did you run Cherry Blossom this year? Have you run in the past?
What is your favorite spring race?