Monday, April 12, 2010

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap 4.11.10

I woke up Sunday morning at 557am to the voice of a monotone, groggy John saying "Caitlinnnn...." I had been wearing my earplugs during the night because my mom was snoring in the same bed as me. I could not hear the incessant ringing of the alarm clock, and John wanted me to turn it off!

I jumped out of bed and immediately grabbed my Trader Joe's version of a nutrigrain bar out of my snack bag. I also made up a quick batch of oatmeal, which tasted disgusting and opted to eat a Kid's Clif Bar instead. Once I had all of my gear on and ready, I made my way downstairs to run a couple of extra minutes with Megan at 640am. Soon, the rest of the crew was out ready to warmup to the starting line, which was approximately .88 miles away.

Mike led the group and dropped Megan and I off at the expo, where he continued to warmup with Matt. From there on out, Megan and I were left to figure out the race start logistics on our own. We immediately went on a search for a short line at the porta-johns. Of course, there was not a short line, but we waited anyways. After that, I realized there was actually an elite tent that Megan and I could be utilizing! We ran off, asking every race official if they knew where it was. After three unsuccessful attempts, we finally found a person who pointed us in the right direction.

For what I will be most thankful for in the elite tent: private restrooms! I feel very lucky that I was given this opportunity and I thank the Cherry Blossom Elite Cooridnator for providing both Megan and I with such a privilege. In the tent, Megan and I were the only people who actually brought the plastic bags that were given to us at the Expo. Everyone else had brought their own Nike sports bags because they knew their stuff was going to be secure in the tent. Clearly, we are novices at this game.

With 15 minutes until the start, a man started pushing us out of the tent to go to the starting line. They were going to take all of our sweats for us, so we got to keep our warm clothes on. I shed my pants, but kept my CRC long sleeve for my strides at the start line. Once we were there, I noticed that Joan Benoit was not in the advance start corral with us. I had about 5 seconds of panic because I thought there would be no one for me to run with. I calmed myself down and revised my goal to stay relaxed through the first mile.

Megan and I strategically placed ourselves in row two of the start so that the Ethiopians who were much faster than us would not have to trip over us. The gun went off promptly at 730am, and we were off in a race that included only 20 women in the advance start.

From the get-go, it appeared to me that two main groups formed, and Megan and I situated ourselves comfortably into Group 2. Our group comprised of two women that I had competed against while running at Wake Forest - a runner from NC State and one from Duke. This made me feel more comfortable with the people I was racing against. The group of six or so settled into a nice rhythm and the pace didn't feel out of control fast. In fact, it felt comfortable. We went through the first mile in 551. Perfect!

The second mile I felt Megan at my side and felt safe. It was nice to know that my occasiosonal long run buddy was right there beside me. After a little ways though, I noticed that she was touching her side, and knew that she was not feeling too hot. I sent my feel good vibes her way. We continued to run together and apparently the 2nd mile we slowed up a bit: Mile 2 - 6:00.

Going into the third mile, Megan fell back and I was still catching a break from the wind behind Lucinda Hull (her name might have changed now). I could tell that the pace had quickened because all of the girls had seen the 6:00 2nd mile and panicked. Beyond our small group, there was not a runner in sight, so I knew that I needed to stay with this group as long as possible. Third mile: 545.

During the fourth mile, I could see some of the runners from the big race, and two people cheered my name. I have no idea who they were, but that alone encouraged me to stay with the group for as long as I could. I fell off a little bit, but made a slight surge to catch back up. Mile four: 552.

It was around the 4.5 point that I fell off of my little training group. From here on out, it was going to me, myself, and I. I knew that I needed to focus a ton in the final half of the race in order to reach my goal of sub-60. If I fell off the girls that I was feeding off of, it was going to make that a much harded endeavor. Luckily, my mom was around taking pictures and she screamed her lungs out for me. You can see in the picture me falling off the pack.
Mile five: 555

I really hadn't looked at my splits up for the entire race; I was going mainly off feel. The next five miles could best be described as meditative because it was really a race against myself. I discovered new focus techniques that I had not used before in efforts to keep my pace honest. Since I was in no-man's land, I knew it would be a long day out on the roads of DC with few people to pick people off and use them as prey to catch. Therefore, I kept my eye on the next woman ahead of me (about 15m away), focused on my breathing and sometimes even counted each time I took a breath in. During these key miles, I repeated to myself whatever phrase someone had cheered to me. For instance, one man said “Keep it going Number 56!” and I just turned that phrase over and over in my head for miles six and seven. In fact, at mile six, I forgot to split my watch because I was too busy trying to grab water while running six min pace. It was during mile seven when I hurt the most, and I'm guessing I ran about a 608-612 for this split.
Combined 6/7: 12:14

Mile 8 was when the Kenyan males (who had started ten minutes later) began to pass me. Of course, I knew they were coming when the lead police motorcycle passed by me. However, I was not prepared for the speed in which the number one male passed me with. In fact, I found out later that he was running about 415-420 pace so it makes sense why I sped up a bit on this mile. I didn't want to completely look like a turtle compared to these guys.
Mile 8: 554

For the 9th mile, I was really ready to have the finish nearby. I saw the Washington Memorial in the distance and knew it was almost time to finish. Unforunately, the mile marker was completely in the wrong spot, and my watch told me I ran 630 pace. Slightly disheartening, if you ask me.
Mile 9: 630 (however it was probably more like 613 or something)

For the tenth mile, more men continued to pass me and I just didn't want any white guy to pass me, especially not Bert. I ended up accomplishing that goal and in the final 800m stretch, there was a hill strategically placed - the one and only hill on the entire course - and I was mad at that hill. I thought of the Twin Cities marathon and how miles 22-25 are all uphill, and told myself I was just preparing for that in a mini way. After the hill, I could see the finish and began to really push it in. Unfortunately a woman with a stroller decided to run in front of me with two children in tow. Luckily, an official yelled at her and she stopped just before I would have plummeled into her.
Mile 10: 543 (however, since mile 9 was off, this was probably more like 6 minute pace)

Overall time: 59:48! Woohoo! In the finish chute, I congratulated Phoebe and thanked a girl named Caroline for helping me out during the race. I saw Megan come in and we shared a half-hug and made our way to the tent to get some food and drink real quick. I hijacked my camera from my mom and we ran to cheer the guys in as they came in to the finish. That was pretty exciting to get to see the guys finish for once.

Once John, Dan, Jordan, Ben, Chad, Matt all came in, we said our congratulations and went our separate ways to get our cool down gear on. Megan and I never found Jocelyn or Kelly, but we found Danielle, so we cooled down with her and Chad around the WWII Memorial and other monuments. It was an absolutely beautiful cooldown on a sunny cool day in DC.

On the cooldown, I was able to reflect on a couple of things. First, I feel very honored and appreciative of having the opportunity to run with the advance start. On the other hand, running by myself helped me appreciate the company of others on all the training runs I’ve enjoyed with the Charlotte Running Club. I realized that I truly benefit from the camaraderie and energy in a large field of runners. I find running with others keeps my energy focused and pace on target for the duration of the race. There’s something unique about latching onto a runner, who ends up being your racing buddy throughout the rest of the race. At the finish line, there’s a shared moment because you both helped the other accomplish their goals. I didn't really get this with the advance start, so next time I will opt to start with everyone else.

After the cool down, Megan and I rushed back to the hotel to shower because we thought we would be getting an award. We were wrong. They just announced our names. On the website, however, it says the top 25 females will receive an award, so that was definitely false advertising.

We walked back to the hotel to get ready to enjoy some lunch! On the way back, my Uncle Joe took Megan, my mom and I through the Smithsonian Gardens!

In the end, all of the various CRC members and cars made their way back to Charlotte. However, the caravan of Caitlin, Matt, John, and my mom wanted to enjoy the weather in DC and we headed to Adam's Morgan to eat a delicious brunch/lunch and walk around. I got a double serving of Mochi in my frozen yogurt, so Matt and I were in Mochi heaven. We also hit up Dupont Circle and departed DC around 3pm.

To top it all off, our women's team won the Running Club, Open Female Team Division by over 12 minutes!!

1. Charlotte Running Club Feline Fatale

59:48 1:00:48 1:01:52 (1:01:55) (1:03:28) = 3:02:28

Caitlin Chrisman, Megan Hovis, Kelly Fillnow, Danielle Walther, Jocelyn Sikora

Our men's team placed third!

3. Charlotte Running Club

53:29 53:33 53:58 ( 56:19) ( 59:09) = 2:41:00

John Compton, Jordan Kinley, Ben Hovis, Mike Beigay M, Chad Crockford


Mark Hadley said...

Caitlin, great recap. It felt like being there (without the pain and sweat). Congrats a great race and a great spring of performances. All your hard work and consistency is paying off!

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