I was so shocked to see my friend that I just sort of stood there dumbfounded for a moment. Out of thousands of runners the two of us ended up right next to each other. I usually like to keep my intense focus, but chatting with her and catching up was fantastic and probably loosened me up. She and I go back very far – her parents were my parents’ first friends when we moved from Brooklyn. We’ve known each other for over 20 years and been through many of life’s twists and turns but as does happen when people move away, we fell out of touch. After sharing the good news of our mutual friend’s very recent engagement the line of runners began to move and the race was on.
My friend had told me she had never run 10 miles before and was shooting at an average 9:30 min/mi pace, and we figured we would lose each other pretty quickly in the race, but that girl impressed me; staying at my side until a little after mile 8 and finishing a strong 1:25:00. For her first race, I hope she’s proud of herself because I sure am.
As for myself, I probably went out too strong. I know it’s a “rookie” mistake, but I’ve actually never gone out too strong before. There’s a first time for everything. The day was absolutely gorgeous, the course runs through one of my favorite areas of the city – East Potomac Park (where I would end up spending the rest of my afternoon and evening hanging out with friends at the Haines Point golf course while Pete played 9 holes.)
I didn’t have much of a strategy going in – which bothered me a bit – but it worked out because I ended up playing some competitive games that got me through to the end. I “raced” my friend, and even though it really didn’t matter who crossed the finish line first, in the moment it helps me to create a goal and fixate on it.
I hit a hard patch around 7 miles. Both of my legs were taped up but they started to get tired. It didn’t help much that this was the part of the course where the road narrows and the crowds around you get much tighter and instead of being able to relax your body you instead have to navigate around people. But by the last mile I was ready to push it, and that’s exactly what I did. My last 200 meters I had kicked it up to a little more than a 6:00 min/mi pace and I’m sure that the photo taken of me at the finish line will be anything but flattering. Red faced, out of breath and sweaty. That’s what makes an attractive girl (rolling eyes).
My one complaint – and this is really the only one because I really enjoyed the race – was that there was no water set up directly when you crossed the line and that you instead had to make quite the hike to find some. Volunteers would yell “water! Gatorade!” and point ambiguously, but it took way too long to figure out where we were supposed to be going.
Other than that, the race was fantastic. I’m sort of freaking out that I have to do another one now in 2 weeks and run even further. But I’m sure I’ll be fine. My Garmin clocked me at 10.09 miles with a time of 1:23:32, but my “unofficial” time from the Cherry Blossom website puts me at 1:24:18. I’m happy either way, and this is definitely a race I would like to run again.