Countdown to the Cherry Blossom 10-miler
April 1, 2011
Countdown to my first half marathon
May 1, 2011

Set a goal…achieve the goal. Sounds pretty simple, right?

I had no concerns that I would finish today’s Cherry Blossom 10-mile race. I had visualized myself crossing the finish line and I wouldn’t give up. I had a good game plan and a high confidence level. That is until the purple wave starting moving forward towards the start line. Fortunately I had my friend Deanna next to me. We found each other right before the race started. Then out of the blue I hear my name being called by my friend Heather. Heather has been a shining light since I started running giving me advice on everything from shoes and gear to just plain encouragement. This really helped since my friends Melanie, Mindy, and Ryan were in the much faster waves. My friend Jess couldn’t run at the last minute because of a hurt foot.

Off we went and surprisingly I had a good pace, which immediately worried me. Had I gone out too fast? On top of this some people were whipping in and out of other runners like it was rush hour. I almost tripped on someone who didn’t gauge the distance correctly. So I did the smart thing — I got in the right lane. I figured since the slow lane on the highway is the right lane, then running on the right side closest to the curb would afford me some safety. It wasn’t that we were so slow. I think these people missed their wave while waiting in the ginormous lines at the porta-potties and they wanted to catch up.

So we’re running our race and I look over to the left and see people running in the opposite direction. I had memorized the course, so they had to be way past the Kennedy Center turn-around. It was pretty wild to see the folks from the yellow wave (I think they were the first wave) already heading back. They were almost to the 5 mile mark and we had just gotten to mile 1. They probably finished before I finished the first 5k of my race and were probably home by the time I got done. 🙂

Anyway fast forward through the race and I can honestly say it was amazing. The volunteers should be commended because it was cold and windy. They never stopped cheering us on (just at the right moment when motivation was needed), and they did an outstanding job of giving us water and kept people moving. Plus the spectators were fantastic. When I was running around the end of Hains Point several people were shouting encouragement such as "looking good" and "keep it up." When I said that I was running my first 10-miler and at that point had run the farthest I had run in my life, one of the girls stepped into the road and gave me a huge high five. On top of that, it was kind of surreal to watch the tourists stop looking at the Cherry Blossoms and turn around to clap and cheer.

The last 2 miles were the hardest, even using my ChiRunning technique. Since it was cold/windy, my muscles never truly warmed up and they were starting to cramp. I happened to read Dean Karnazes’ new book yesterday, so I had a lot of inspiration to not give up. A DNF (Did Not Finish) was completely out of the question. Would I finish as a giant muscle cramp? Well that seemed pretty likely at the time based on my condition, but since I have an appointment tomorrow with Dr. Cheryl Lee-Pow, I figured she could sort it out later. Since my trainer, Sedric Otuya, works with Dr. Cheryl, he’ll be able to foam roll out all of the kinks while I’m there.

Mile 10 was the only 15+ minute mile out of the entire 10 miles, which shows how tired I was getting. Plus the last 1/4 mile or so was uphill (not nice people!). However, once I got almost to the top of the hill and I knew the finish line was close, I took off running as fast as I could. I even surprised myself given that only moments prior I could barely move my legs. My best pace that mile was 10:08. I was finished within the allotted time, I finished on my own two feet, and I finished with a HUGE smile on my face. I think I’m smiling in all of the race pictures I’m in. I really had a great time!

My next race is Pike’s Peek 10K on April 17. It’s funny how in October this was the longest distance I had run and now my attitude is "6.2 miles? No problem". I then have the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon race in June. There’s only a 5K difference between a 10 miler and a half marathon, but as of now that’s another 40 minutes of running. Based on how I feel I couldn’t have taken another step. I have a lot of work to do on endurance and core strengthening between now and then. But like anything else — set a goal…achieve the goal!

Thanks to my friends and family for all of your support. On to the next race!!

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