Monday, April 2, 2012

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap

10 Mile Race in 59:00

3 miles warmup
58:38, 11th place, half splits in 29:19/29:19, mile splits: (5:51, 5:58, 5:41, 5:54, 5:54, 5:51, 5:52, 5:52, 5:50, 5:50)
2 mile cool down

Welp, this race went greatly better than I had anticipated. Apparently the disappointed tone from my last blog triggered the ultimate worried response from my mother, as she emailed both my sister and Garrett to check in on me to make sure I was okay. Well, I can now assure her that since I raced pretty well in DC, things are pretty much back to normal. It's somewhat pathetic how much stock we put into our races and our running fitness, and how much that can affect well being and overall happiness. Regardless, my mom doesn't need to fret any longer! DC treated me right.

Before going into the details of the race, it should be noted that Dalena, Michelle, Anna and I all embarked on our road trip to DC on Friday night, stayed in a ghetto hotel on Friday in Butner, NC, and then arrived in DC around 1PM on Saturday. Like any person would expect, over the course of 14 hours in the car together, and countless additional hours together in a hotel room and throughout the streets of DC, we all learned a lot about each other. I even made dinner for the four of us to enjoy in the luxurious room of the Residence Inn, completely furnished with an urban kitchen. All of us came to DC with hopes of PRing and having as much fun as possible, and I know we achieved just that before, during, and after the race.

The alarm went off at 5:30am and the other girls, except Jocelyn and I, started getting ready. We stayed in bed for another 15 minutes, seemingly unmotivated to get the race prep activities started. Once out of bed, I began my mental preparations, which are far more important to me than my physical preparations (such as getting dressed). This activity was especially important this morning because of my poor mentality in the days leading up to the race. Now that it was race morning, I had decided that there were no excuses. I was going to run fast.

Soon, I rounded all the ladies up to meet Mike Beigay in the lobby for our warmup across the Washington Mall as the sun rose above the layer of clouds, blocking the heat from ruining our expectations for a PR. After a hasty removal of warmup clothing, a bathroom stop or three in a secret location, and a stride with some drills, it was time for the women’s advance start of the 40th Annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. In the start corral, we high-fived Pezz, and situated ourselves behind the real elites and waited for the signal. The National Anthem played, which allowed all of us to stare at one girl’s panties sticking out the top of her buns. Finally, we wished each other good luck and in the final 30 seconds before the sound of the gun, we were the loudest--as always--by screaming “GO CHARLOTTE!” and other stuff that probably annoyed legends such as Colleen De Reuck who stood beside me.

The race finally did start, and I comfortably situated myself behind Colleen and a couple other girls. The lead pack of record-chasing Ethiopians, followed by lead-pack chasing Americans, quickly pulled away from a string of girls that included me, Dalena, Colleen, and two others. Unfortunately, none of the women listed were running in a pack together besides Dalena and I. The other three were ahead of us and we just stared at their butts for the next couple of miles. Fortunately, I got to run with Dalena for the first two miles. I tried to tell Dalena to back it off some because she was pushing the pace even though I could tell we were fast through 800 meters. She must have felt me slowing up, so she pulled up alongside me. After two miles, Dalena wished me good luck and tucked behind. I pressed forward, eying the girl 30 meters ahead. I pushed a little too hard here, and dropped my fastest split of the day, but I passed one girl. I also was able to count what place I was in--13th! Two girls were a reasonable distance away from me, and Colleen was a little too far ahead. I determined to place 11th and only 10th if Colleen massively died.

By mile 4, I had passed another girl, and was left to stare at the 11th place girl, who was now only 20 meters ahead of me. Sadly enough, she was too far ahead at that point, but we were both running the exact same pace because she didn’t get any further ahead, nor any closer to me. For the next four miles, it was just me against myself, forcing myself to keep my eyes glued to the black sports bra of the unknown woman ahead of me. At mile 7.25, the first place male (who later broke the course record) passed me in a blazing 4:2x pace. Back in 2010 at this race, I was passed by the lead male around the 8 mile mark, and ran almost 90 seconds slower, so I knew that this year’s winner was going super fast.

This year, instead of getting passed by a guy at mile 8.25, I passed the girl that had evaded me for the last four miles. I told her, “come with me, we only have 10 more minutes of running,” but she just breathed heavily in response and fell back. Now, I only had Colleen to focus on, but she was too far ahead for me to beat her, which provided little to no motivation to run faster. Had I been given the pleasure of competing against more runners, I truly believe I could have run at least 10-20 seconds faster. For the last ten minutes of the race, I willed my legs to maintain the pace they had been running all day, and did some quick mental calculations of my estimated finish time. I knew I would be close to my old PR, but by the time I rounded the turn for 400 meters to go and saw the one and only hill of the race, I lost all motivation to sprint. I knew I had nothing left in the tank to switch to a different gear.

I crossed the finish line in 11th place, just one place out from receiving price money. My uncle Joe spotted me and congratulated me, before being interrupted by an official who told me that I was randomly selected to be drug tested. By that time, Pezz had showed up and literally laughed in my face when she realized I had been selected. After all, she was the first American and fifth overall and she hadn’t been selected. In my mind, I too was laughing at the absurdity of it all because I hadn’t even won any prize money! After getting permission from the drug tester to wait for Dalena to finish so I could tell her not to wait for me, I watched Dalena cross the finish line just before the clock ticked over 1:00. After a quick chat and congratulatory high five with Dalena, I told the lady I was ready. Then, another lady came up, and quietly whispered (but not quietly enough), that I was NOT the 10th placer finisher. I smiled wide at the news. And off they went, in search of Colleen who had already disappeared to the Elite tent.

Then, the slew of Charlotte girls crossed the finish line. Michelle in 1:01:52 (PR), Anna in 1:02:2x (PR), Jocelyn in 1:03:3x…We all congratulated each other and then went off in a mad dash to get our gear check bag and to cool down. I had to meet my uncle for lunch, so I parted ways with the ladies to embark on my run back to the hotel with Mike, who had surpassed his own expectations for the race.

Coming out of this race, I realized that even when I think running isn’t going well, as long as I keep the mileage and workouts going, I can still race above and beyond what I may believe is possible. I’m not going to lose fitness. I’m not going to be out of shape. It’s best not to read too much into the workouts and to just trust in your training and your ability and power of mind to put everything on the line. Most importantly, a positive outlook on running can serve as the catalyst to create positivity in other aspects of life.


Post a Comment