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Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap

3 days late. Not bad compared to 10 days…and you’ll notice there is still not an actual RACE recap, but hey, Sarah may make you wait for her posts, but when they finally do go live, they’re gems.

So, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

I entered the lottery for this race last year, I’m pretty sure I was still on crutches or in a boot at the time and 10 miles is not really a distance I’ve ever cared at all about, so I didn’t think of it as anything more than one of the several B/C/D/F/Anything-less-than-A races that finds its way onto my calendar. But last weekend, when I was in San Diego, I asked a good running friend what my race plan should be for Sunday’s event.

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“Long run miles? A few miles of tempo? I already did sub MGP today at the race and nailed it, so I should probably try something new. Just jog for fun? Progression style?” (and this went on for approximately 10-15 more minutes before he finally interjected.)

“Here’s a thought, Emily: why don’t you race it?”

“Hmm, interesting thought, friend. Race a race. A bit foreign to me, but I like it.”

So, just like that, I decided to hell with these silly workout game plans for races. I’m recovered enough from my broken foot, I’ve done some semi-solid training, why not actually test my legs and adrenaline and see what they can do.

So I totally adjusted my training plan for the week. I celebrated track day on Wednesday, logged 16 miles for a long run on Thursday, and then did easy workouts Friday and Saturday to be rested and ready to rock on Sunday morning.

And then Sunday morning hit. And my rocking was being blocked all over town.

First, I informed my mom to be ready to go to the race super early. I wanted to try my first ever race warmup and get to the start line in plenty of time to get a prime spot in the OMGSOCROWDED corrals.

But then, I was so tired from our carbo loading, that I decided to get nothing ready the night before and just enjoy my beer/pizza haze.

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Word of advice: don’t do that. Race morning was a mad scramble of outfit selecting, bag packing for the post-race brunchnic, bib/safety pin/timing chip finding, playlist downloading, and electronics charging.

By the time we were out the door, we were playing it fast and loose with an on time arrival, let alone an early one that would allow for a two mile warm up.

And then to make the situation even more stellar, we couldn’t find transportation. Because apparently when you say “we need to call a cab ahead of time” on the way home from race eve dinner, it does not magically happen for you.

By some miracle, a cab was actually driving by us, and not the other 15,000 runners trying to get to the start, with his lights on, and ready to pick up passengers. Excellent, cabbie, we <3 you big time.

Until we (and by “we” I mean “I”) left my headphones in his back seat. Talk about a rocking-blocking event.

I NEED my Ke$ha and my Guetta and my mother effing Cal Harris and Rihanna duets to fuel my races.

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I had even toiled for hours (and I do mean toiled, and I do mean for HOURS) to create a special playlist for the race…titled after my stupid goal pace. 

I spent the few precious minutes we did have at the start freaking out, searching the ground for a spare pair of headphones, and scoping rando bags being checked for headphones I could barter for with fellow racers. I was prepared to offer nothing short of my life savings or the two bottles of champagne in my bag in exchange for a pair of headphones.

But, shockingly, no luck on the bartering, and I had to dash to check my bag in the minute before bag check closed. And then, because everything about my race morning had to go wrong, my bag was too big for them, not unrelated to the bottles of champagne packed carefully into my bag of course, and they refused to take it. I now understand why they warn you to not store any valuables in your checked gear.

Cue headphone-losing, late-to-the-start, warm-up-less, champagne-threatened, rage-filled Emily.

I love race volunteers, LOVE them, but oh my goodness, I was ready to blow. Finally, through some serious shoving and squeezing and cursing my bag to be smaller, they begrudgingly accepted it and I ran off to the start, ignoring the texts from my lost mother who probably wanted nothing more than a pre-race photo, hug and good luck wishes.

I got to the start just in time, still pissed about my lack of music, and glaring at anyone and everyone sporting a pair of headphones, game face on, head bobbing to what was surely Carly Rae Jepsen crooning to call her maybe on every single mp3 player I saw.

Some of you, especially those of you who miraculously never run without the aid of music, are probably judging the level I overreacted about the headphones incident. But seriously, it took some serious upping of my mental game to get over the fact that I was going to need to get my adrenaline up without the help of my boy Kanye, and push through some hard miles without Eminem telling me to not collapse.

So much mental game, that I had to think back to the speech Matt Long gave before IMLP where he said over and over and over again to not dwell on things you can’t control. Yes, I was pissed the eff off that I had no music, no warm up and was rushed all morning. But get over it, Em, your legs are here, nothing has changed their fitness, suck it up, and get your game face on, woman.

And I did.

Because I got to the starting line .3 seconds before the race and had to climb through a fence, my position was less than ideal. From the moment the gun went off, it was crowded. With nearly 20,000 runners, even a staggered start can’t help alleviate the massive congestion at the start of the race. I resisted the temptation to waste energy by weaving and tried to settle into a steady pace.

My goal for the race was anything under 70 minutes. I was not at all confident in my ability to hit it. My longest race to date at a sub 7 minute pace is a 10k. Nearly 4 extra miles was a bit daunting to think about, especially coming off of my highest mileage week ever. I was worried, that, like always, I would go out too fast, blow up, and not be able to hang on to such an ambitious pace.

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Mile 1-6:47

Mile 2- 6:47

Mile 3- 6:47

The first few miles felt seriously fantastic. Compared to the leg fatigue hell of national half two weeks ago, I felt fresh, so even though my pace was a little faster than I intended, it was steady and I decided to listen to my body and not be my normal slave self to my garmin.

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Around Mile 4, it was still super crowded and I had to squeeze around a wall of men, while maintaining utmost racing etiquette and not bumping into/cutting them off/elbowing them in the process, to keep my pace up. Well, apparently one of the men I passed was Captain Douche of USS Don’t Get Chicked and was not so pleased that I passed him. He yelled at me and immediately started intentionally stepping on my heels with every stride. Which, PS, is a SUPER safe move when running in a massive crowd of people all maintaining a 6:47 pace.

Obviously, not letting him pass me back became my primary goal for the next mile.

Mile 4-6:40

Operation Drop the Douche=success.

After that pleasant escapade, I settled back into my steady pace.

Mile 5-6:48

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In my head, I was waiting for my body to break down and hit a wall.  I thought the high mileage would kick in, I thought my pace would prove to be overly ambitious, but I kept feeling strong, so I kept focusing on just staying steady.

Mile 6- 6:48

At the 10k mark, I glanced down at my garmin and saw that I was running faster than my 10k PR. It was that moment that I appreciated just how hard I was working to stay on pace but also a little bit began to question myself and my ability to keep holding it.

My legs were starting to feel the fatigue and I decided that thinking about the rest of the race as two miles-just hang on to this pace and two miles-all out survival mode would be the easiest to digest.

Mile 7-6:40

Mile 8-6:47

When I ran past the Mile 8 marker, I did some quick mental math to figure out my finish time potential. Believe me, at Mile 8 of a PR setting 10 miler, this is no easy feat. I have enough trouble doing simple arithmetic in every day life, add nearly an hour of all out running and there is nothing simple about basic calculations.

But, through some impressive addition, I figured out that I could drop to nearly 8 minute miles and still finish at my goal time of 69 minutes OR I could maintain the 6:45 pace and finish in 67.

Which do you think I decided to aim for?

Mile 9-6:43

Holy shit, I have never fought as hard for a mile as I did for my last one. This is when my legs died. You know that sensation when you feel like you’re moving at a 20 minute/mile pace and your legs are battling air with a molasses like thickness? Yeah. That was my final mile. I still kind of think my garmin lied about this last split.

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THIS IS WHAT DEATH BY AIR-MOLASSES/10 MILER/FIGHTING THE CLOCK FOR A STUPID 67 LOOKS LIKE

Mile 10-6:38

(bonus garmin distance of .1-5:56 pace)

Final time: 67:52

I loved this race. I loved the distance. I loved testing my legs. I loved the post race champagne. I loved the sweat (obviously.)

It turns out resting and actually racing is super fun. Crazy concept, I know. I am pumped to do it all again (+3.1 miles) later this month.

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28 Responses to Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Recap

  1. You are a beast! Congrats and I hope Captain Douche had a much less stellar race-that’s just unacceptable.

  2. I loved this recap. After re-reading my own about 230489203948 times, it was so nice to get another (albeit MUCH speedier) perspective on this amazing, amazing race. One person’s 67 minute triumph is another person’s, um, 95 minute triumph. Tomato, tomahto. Loved your photos…they are entirely more attractive than mine. I kind of look pained in mine, even though I recall the race being awesome from start to finish. Also, just so you know, my heart sank when I read about leaving your headphones in the cab. That morning was too cold for disappointment.

    Congratulations! Great write-up and great race.

  3. Cheesy Pete, you are fast.

  4. Super fast!!!

  5. You killed it. Congrats to you, Emily!

  6. Wow, congrats on a great race! Do you think you’ll be running again without music, after this success??

  7. Know what *I* love? That old man next to you at the finish line. Rock the F on, speedy oldster!

    • I have to agree. Your race was mad awesome. The old guy next to you casually checking his watch? Just slightly more awesome.

  8. Congrats – that some amazing pacing/PRing

  9. Brilliant race recap, so inspiring to hear how hard you pushed it!! I want to be that fast too someday :D!!

  10. “Captain Douche of USS Don’t Get Chicked”

    HA!

    It never fails to amaze me how RUDE people can be. Glad you chicked him.

  11. I wanted to let you know that I totally heard you when you yelled for me during the race but I was so into my sweet David Guetta jams that it didn’t register someone was actually saying my name until you were already gone. At least without music you were more dialed into the race…?

    But, I give you total props for powering through the race without your music and then absolutely dominating your goal. If anything, that shows your mental strength is certainly ready for 3:20.

    P.S., I’m emailing you soon so we can get that run social on the calendar. I can’t wait until our indecisive natures combine to an unprecedented level and we royally piss off some poor, unsuspecting D.C. wait staff. (It took me almost an hour to decide what I wanted to eat when I went out last Friday. Oops?)

  12. Tapering works! Who knew?

    You are an animal, girl. Glad Operation Drop the Douche was successful :)

  13. You forgot the part when you saw me on the course and that made you really, really happy. Great job.

  14. holy balls that was an amazing race! congrats :)

  15. Congrats on a great race! Based on these super entertaining race results (http://www.runpix.info/arace5/00/chy12/ge.php?ln=), you beat 92% of the male runners. I’m going to assume that includes the obnoxious guy who doesn’t like getting chicked.

  16. Awesome race! That’s an impressive PR to set when you weren’t even originally planning on racing! But even more importantly, nice job beating the obnoxious dude! Passing guys who think they’re all that = winning.

  17. SO awesome! I LOVE 10 milers, I only have gotten to actually race one and it was a few years ago, but my next one is in a few weeks. I think it is such a fantastic distance! Way to dominate, and honestly I was hoping you turned around and jacked that douche in the f-in face. Way to be the bigger person and leave him in your dust. So excited to see how you do in your marathons coming up!

  18. I love your badassness, but more, I appreciate your dedication to the post race champagne. Races should be celebrated!

  19. Great job Em!

  20. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that you lost your headphones??

    Great job! You inspire me to run faster :)

  21. Awesome race and inspirational race report! I love the flat, fast, Cherry Blossom course. Wish I were as fast as you!

  22. Congrats on that awesome time, I am so jealous!

  23. […] plan for the last two miles was stolen from Emily’s Cherry Blossom 10 mile race recap, where the last two miles were all about survival. I just had to keep running dammit. I tried doing […]

  24. Great recap, congrats!

  25. I love your site. Can’t believe how your rocked that race!! That’s awesome!! I’m putting together a giveaway in conjunction with a novel about a runner. I’d love your blog to be involved. The prizes are pretty much all running gear so I know your followers would love it and setting it up to hopefully promote your blog as well as our book. I tried to find a email address to send you more info but didn’t have much luck. Please email me in you are interested. Thanks, Abbie Anderson, bubcoats@hotmail.com

  26. That is such a fast pace! I can empathize with all of those things going wrong…maybe that stress was good in the end…

  27. […] A 10 miler […]