2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap

April 8, 2014

This past weekend I ran my 3rd Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (as did several of my friends) in Washington, DC.

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Logo: Credit Union Cherry Blossom

My first time running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler was in 2007.  Back then there was no lottery (my friend Jenn B. and I signed up on a whim ) and the course started/finished at West Potomac Park (majority through Rock Creek Park and no Hains Point). They also gave out (free) key chains to finishers (sorry no pic, packed in a box somewhere)

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Image: Wayback Machine

I ran the 10 Miler for a second time in 2011, but it was not very memorable.  I believe the 2011 course was the same as Sunday’s course (or at least very similar).  When I was accepted via the lottery, I was excited for this year’s race because I was in better shape this time around.

Packet Pickup / Expo

Packet pickup was held at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC on Friday and Saturday.  After work I headed to the expo around 5:00PM – luckily I work in DC so I did not have any rush hour horror stories.  I picked up my bib and t-shirt in about 10 minutes. 

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Afterwards I headed to the t-shirt distribution area for my volunteer assignment from 5:30-9:00PM.  As a volunteer you received guaranteed entry to next years 10 Miler.  I gave out the upgraded technical tee (ladies either loved it or hated it).  Overall it was a pretty easy night and glad to give back to the running community.

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Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

My 10 miler PR was 2:11:32 (from 2006)!  Based on my recent half splits, I knew I would definitely break this time (pending no injuries or illnesses).  Because I was running the GW Parkway 10 Miler as my “A” race next weekend, I decided to treat the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler as a maintenance run – but still made some realistic race day goals:

  • A – Break 1:50:00 (~11:00 min/miles)
  • B – Break 1:55:00 (~11:30 min/miles)
  • C – Break 2:00:00 (~12:00 min/miles)

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

Knowing this was not an “A” race, I was a little more lax with my pre-race rituals.  I love running, but I make sure my life does not revolve around it 24/7. I woke up at 6:15AM and it was a brisk morning.  I wore my capris, tank top, oiselle flyte longsleeve shirt, and headband.  I ate half a Luna bar and a banana.  I walked 20 minutes to the start and got to pass this goodie by the Department of Treasury.

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Headed to my corral.

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Waiting for the race to start.

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Met Kathryn at the corral – yay for technology!  Topic of choice until our corral started? Running, of course!

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The run started at the National Mall, towards the Memorial Bridge, and passed by the Kennedy Center.  Sound familiar? (cough RnR USA). Runners then headed back towards the Tidal Basin and around Hains Point before finishing at the mall.  Unfortunately the blossoms were not yet at peak bloom.  The purple corral started ~20 minutes after the first corral.

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Because it was pretty much congested the entire course, I did not want to take photos due to safety reasons (I am also a klutz).  It is a beautiful course though.

  • Mile 1 – 11:15 spot on Jen, spot on!
  • Mile 2 – 11:20 Memorial Bridge, long time no see
  • Mile 3 – 11:21 sweet split, staying consistent, hi Kennedy Center
  • Mile 4 – 10:24 wow! did that just happen?!?
  • Mile 5 – 11:17 back to where I should be
  • Mile 6 – 11:01 entering Hains Point, wow negative splits?
  • Mile 7 – 11:12 where is the turnaround?
  • Mile 8 – 11:03 nice pace Jen!
  • Mile 9 11:44 almost there, ugh what happened there?
  • Mile 10 – 11:14 yayyy!

I finished with a time of 1:51:46 or 11:10 minutes per mile!  This was a 20 minute PR and I was nearly 15 seconds faster per mile than last week. I must say I was very happy with the results. 

While I headed towards the runner’s village I saw Courtney walking by (what were the chances)?!

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This was the entrance to the runners village (where you  pick up food, bag, heat sheets, and medals).  Sooooo crowded!!!

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This year’s medal (an upgrade).

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At the finish area!

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Race organizer’s also utilize Runpix for some cool stats and data visualization charts. Here were mine:

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Back of the pack – I don’t mind.

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The above stats are telling (particularly the first half), there was alot of weaving in/out throughout the race.

Final Thoughts

  • Beautiful course, fast, and flat (a baby hill before a slight downhill finish).  Great on course support by volunteers and spectators.
  • I may be in the minority, but I love running through Hains Point.  Yes, there are less spectators, but I love the water.
  • I like that it benefits the Children’s Miracle Network.
  • For those who like to run (and pay) for no frills, the tech tee and medals are considered “upgrades”.  But vice versa, I wish there was a bundle price.
  • The event also has a 5K and a 1/2M kid’s run.
  • Their twitter handle @CUCB was pretty active and I liked their blogging component.
  • The expo was in a great location and lively. Volunteering was fun.
  • In term of logistics and order of operations (as a volunteer), I think it would have been better to distribute the clear check bags while runners picked up their shirts (right now they are given when the bib is handed out, which means runners have to take it out of the bag to get his/her shirt).
  • The t-shirt and medal were pretty nice this year, the tech tees as well (I did not upgrade).
  • Mile 6 had my favorite Brazilian drum band – never gets old for me.
  • The corral assignments were a bit confusing, but c’est la vie.  It seemed that there was not much enforcement (I still went into my assigned corral).
  • I was hoping to catch up/run with the 11:00 or 11:30 pace group, but I could not find them after the race started (I spotted them in the corral ahead of me).  Did they not carry the signs?
  • The course is a bit congested throughout the entire race.  I had to do a lot of dodging and shifting, particularly the first 5K and even through the finish. This was inevitable I suppose.
  • Water stops, while plentify, were super crowded. I could carry my own hydration belt.. but still. I think alot of it is runner education – move to the left after you get your drink vs. walking.
  • The runner’s village while spacious, I thought it was a mess. It was so crowded (you had both runners and spectators in the same area), I would not be able to find friends.
  • I did not see any signage pointing towards the food, gear check, or medals (maybe there were, but I did not see them).  I ended up asking people along the way.  Thank goodness for the runner with who gave me her extra water.  I bypassed the food line (uh where was it?) and I did not check a bag.

Overall the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is a fun, traditional event. I would participate in it again (especially since I have a guaranteed bib), but I hope some of the congestion/logistic concerns can be sorted out/refined. 

I forgot to take a picture of my post run brunch, but overall it was good (hard to mess up an omelet) and I had great company.

Did you / have you ever run the Cherry Blossom 10M/5K?

Is this race on your bucket list?

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