Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Recap

Wow, today was just amazing! We had beautiful weather and peak cherry blossom blooms. It has been 8 years since there were peak blooms on race day. It was stunning.

It doesn't get better than this!
(thanks to Nita for the picture!)

Elite Athlete Dinner

My race adventure actually started last night, with the elite athlete dinner. I'm sure it's quite obvious that I am *not* an elite athlete. One of the perks of being on the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Blog Team is getting an invite to the dinner. It was inspiring to see the elite athletes and hear a bit about them. We saw a cool video with highlights from past races, and we learned that this year the race earned $525,852 for Children's Network Miracle Hospitals! I stood across from Bill Rodgers in the buffet line and he made a quip about the buffet being like a race, you're pacing yourself, watching the folks in front of you, planning your strategy. I imagine he's said that a million times to other people, but it still charmed me.

Three-quarters of the CUCB social media/blog team
(we are missing Natalie & fearless leader Molly in this pic)
photo credit: Elizabeth's hubby Ed

Swag! We received race pens & magnets

Race Director Phil Stewart gave an inspiring talk

OMG!! Lynn & I met Joan Benoit Samuelson! Highlight of the night!
photo credit: Molly

Pre-Race Planning


There was a lot of discussion about the weather in the week before the race as we watched the forecast fluctuate. I had planned on wearing a long-sleeve shirt, but it soon became clear that it was going to be in the 50s and feel even warmer when we were running. I accepted the fact that I was going to wear short sleeves (reluctantly) but clung to my capris. I crowdsourced on facebook to make the capri call, funky blue or safe black:

Funky blue won by a landslide!
I took the arm warmers off after the first mile;
I could have skipped them and been okay.

I considered a sparkle skirt,
(good for hiding side pocket GU bulges)
but it would have meant black capris.
I tried it on with the funky blue ones & it was not a good look.
Funky blue capris > silver sparkle skirt

I had throwaway pants and a jacket since it would be cold before we started running. All throwaway clothes are donated, which is really great. I kept the pants on until "purple corral start minus 10 minutes" and took the jacket off when we started.


I had a Clif bar in the hotel 2 hours before start time, along with an iced coffee/chocolate almond milk I had brought from home and stored in the hotel refrigerator. I sipped on water and ate a honey stinger waffle while we waited in corral. I had GUs during the race at miles 3, ~5.7, and ~8.5 (my original GU plan was 3, 6, and 9 but the course was shortened & I adjusted my plan).

Getting to the Race

We met the CUCB social runners, Lauren & Megan, in the hotel lobby and walked the mile and a half to the race start. It was a nice warm-up and we were surrounded by runners walking to the race. We passed someone who started cheering for us and said "You guys are going to win!" and we all cracked up. Lynn & I went to the Potomac River Running pre-race meet-up area, but most of the PR folks were already gone. Fortunately my sorority big sister Nita and her husband Stan were still there and we got to wish Stan luck and see Nita's awesome sign.

Stan & Nita
"Hurry Up! My Cinnabon is getting cold!"

Megan, Lauren, me, & Lynn - ready to run!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

I am ready for this!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

Race Plan

Lynn & I headed to the purple corral where we met up with the women from Reston Runners BFFs (Best Foot Forward) and many of us planned to start together. We settled on 5:1 run:walk intervals with an agreement that we would stick together while it felt good but we would each run our own races. 

We learned that the course was being shortened (by about half a mile?) because there had been an accident in the morning (a pedestrian was hit by a motorcycle) and part of the race course was closed and being treated as a crime scene. We were basically re-routed so we didn't run all the way along Independence and around the east side of the Tidal Basin. Instead we ran along the west side. I am impressed that they were able to implement this change on the fly and give big kudos to the race committee.

Waiting to run in the purple corral
photo credit: MarathonFoto

The Race

  • Mile 1, 12:26 Congestion on Independence! Camraderie! The whole group was mostly together. I regretted my arm warmers and took them off during the first walk break.
  • Mile 2, 12:28 The Lincoln Memorial & Memorial Bridge! We high-fived Woodrow Wilson. (okay, we didn't. he was busy taking a selfie with someone. but it is my recap and I'm going to pretend it happened)
  • Mile 3, 12:14 Moms Run This Town water stop! The Kennedy Center! Two race photographers at the turnaround; much better positioning than last year's shady spot. Some of our group breaks off to run their own race.

Before the Kennedy Center turnaround...
photo credit: MarathonFoto

...and after the turnaround
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • Mile 4, 12:02 More Kennedy Center & Ohio Drive. Water stop. The group breaks up some more and Lynn & I find ourselves alone.
  • Mile 5, 12:04 The course departs from the planned course. I realize we are going to miss running past the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and around the east side of the Tidal Basin. I feel sad pangs as it sinks in that we are missing one of the most beautiful parts of the course, the locations where I had my most scenic photos in last year's race, and the 5-mile mark where I heard "Eye of the Tiger" last year and knew I had the second half of the race in the bag. I shake off my pity party and mentally prepare for Hains Point.
Rerouted: We followed the red line instead of
continuing east on Independence and around the
east side of the Tidal Basin

  • Mile 6, 11:51 I'm starting to push the pace because I feel strong and I can hear Lynn's breathing telling me it is too much for her. I hear my husband's voice in my head telling me to run my own race. The coach in me wants to stay with Lynn for the whole race, see it through her eyes, experience her triumph. But the competitor in me wants to see what my under-trained body can do, and I know that Lynn is strong enough to do it on her own. We see a race photographer and take our last race picture together.
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • Mile 7, 11:26 I start the mile with Lynn, but tell her I'm feeling strong and going to go off on my own. I hear the DJ and start running faster. When I round Hains Point I am disappointed that the "Beer and Oreos" guys aren't there. I reach up and touch the white, fluffy cherry blossom trees that are just above my head.
  • Mile 8, 11:14 I'm pushing harder and starting to wonder if I started the push too early. I watch for Coach T from the PR DC training group and feel a lift when I see her. I look at the blossoms. I remind myself to "Inspire and Empower".
  • Mile 9, 11:07 I hear the driving beat of Batala, an all-women percussion band. They are motivating! I get excited for the spectators that I know will be on 15th Street. I ignore the voice in my head saying my legs are tired, slow down. I remind myself that discomfort is temporary and accomplishment is forever. I see Coach Mike who asks how I feel and I tell him "Awesome!" I hear people cheering for me by calling me "PR" and I love it.
The fantastic women of Batala - thank you ladies!!
photo credit: Coach T Rally

Kris in the pink capris is one of the
PR runners who trained with me!
photo credit: MarathonFoto

  • The Last 1/2 Mile, 9:12 I keep pushing the pace, watching for the finish line. When I see it, I start sprinting as hard as I can until I cross it. I feel triumphant and proud. My race pace is 11:44, besting my 10-mile PR pace of 11:52!
Pushing the pace on 15th Street
photo credit: MarathonFoto

I had a strong second half!

Race splits - almost every mile faster than the previous one!

Lynn didn't need my help to cross the finish line!
Congratulations Lynn!
photo credit: MarathonFoto, courtesy of Lynn


I get in line for my finisher photo. I switch lines when I realize the line I'm in has a traffic light obstructing the Washington Monument in the background. Might as well get the best picture I can! I realize later when I see the photo that of course the monument isn't in the photo.

photo credit: MarathonFoto

I walk through the chute and pick up water and a heat sheet. I head for the bananas, remembering how scarce they were last year. I get a banana and it is good. There seem to be far more bananas than last year for the back-of-pack crew. But chips and Larabars are nowhere to be found.

I look around for the medals. I'm not sure where they are since I didn't get one last year. A volunteer notices I'm lost and points me in the right direction. I reflect on how amazing the volunteers are, and how many of them are needed to make a race like this a reality. It is truly mind-boggling. Helpful volunteers give me a medal. The man who puts the medal around my neck looks into my eyes and says "Congratulations" in such a genuine way that I tear up. Volunteers are awesome.

I head over to the PR tent where some of my friends are waiting. Some of the runners I coached begin to trickle in. I hear about their races and it warms my heart and fills me with gratitude. I was successful in my quest. I inspired and empowered. Others, as well as myself. 

Reston Runners BFFs Rocked This Race!
photo credit: Susan

Natalie & Rachel join me in the "crazy pants" club
photo credit: Susan

Coaching people like Susan makes it all worthwhile!
You made my day today, Susan!
photo credit: Susan's buddy
Looking for more recaps from this year's Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run? Look here:


  1. Great job on a PR and running negative splits!

  2. woohoo! awesome job - i loved your recap. thanks for linking up! i love the all female band as well!

    1. Thanks Courtney! I loved your recap, too! Thank you for hosting a linkup party - I added the link to my post :)

  3. Such a fun weekend! Congrats on the negative splits and good choice with the pants :)

    1. Thank you Lauren! It was so fun hanging out with you this weekend. Your pants were pretty awesome, too!

  4. Everything about this is fabulous - from the snazzy dinner; to the cherry blossoms being in full bloom; to your "funky" capris; and of course, to you besting your PR race pace! What an awesome experience! So happy for you!! Congratulations!

    1. Thank you Stephanie! It was pretty fabulous :)

  5. I loved reading your recap, Kim, and congrats on a great race! I felt like I was running right beside you the entire way!

  6. You know if you keep running with your arms in the air, you are:
    1. Going to slow down your times, and
    2. You'll have to rename your blog something really silly.

    giggle Great job girlie!! So proud of you. - doing my Skipphappydance for you. [it's Janine if you cant tell. :) ]

    Can't wait for the next race!

    1. PS - I should clarify, I do know you were done with the race when you raised your arms....and, I should've said that I can't wait for the next race YOU run. 'Cause you know darn well it's not going to be me. heehee

    2. Thank you for being proud of me! Hugs to you :)

  7. Great recap, and congrats on your race! I ran Cherry Blossom too. I'm impressed with how many great shots you got during the race...all of mine look awful, lol!

    1. Thanks Janelle! I loved your recap. Congrats on getting faster throughout the race! I studied how to get good photos in this race last year (priorities, right?). Here are my tips: Hope you come back to run in DC again! Not all of our races are this crowded :)

  8. Great recap (as always)! You were such an enthusiastic member of the Run Blog team and I always felt informed with your posts, tweets and messages :)

    1. Thank you Jennifer! That means so much to me. I try hard to be helpful and it is always heartwarming to hear that I am :)

  9. I loved the Batala drummers! I got chips but never saw Lara bars either.

    1. I think I'm going to add in my course guide for next year a reminder that this is a charity-based race and post-race food is kept to the basics - bananas & gatorade, with limited chips and/or bars. Food does disappear quickly, perhaps because spectators help themselves and some early runners take more than one of each item. Runners may want to include chocolate milk, a bar, etc. in their bag check gear.

  10. Ummmm, so I read this a few days ago, and replied. I don't see it here. I hope Google didn't eat it. :( But suffice to say I'm happy for you!