Earlier today, I finished my third Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run. Let's start with the numbers first.
Current 10-Mile PR: 1:33:10, Army 10-Miler (2011) Current Cherry Blossom Personal Course Record: 1:33:39 (2012) 2013 Net Time: 1:34:14
D:1074, G:3609, O:8186
I didn't PR or set a new personal course record (whomp, whomp), but let's talk about the smaller victories here. This was the first time that I ran negative splits in a race: 9:31 (average) at the five mile, 9:30 at the 10K, and 9:18 at the finish.
And, I have to say, at least I'm consistent!
I've run this race three times now, so I think I've got enough experience to offer a decent review of the course and the overall race experience. To be honest, my experience hasn't changed much, and I still think that this race is too crowded if you're a middle-of-the-pack runner. I would not be sad if the organizer's announced they were going to reduce the field for future races.
I imagine that if you're in either the Yellow or Red corrals, the seeding makes it easier to find room to run. I started with the Orange (I thought I'd successfully climbed into the Blue group -- which is one faster -- but I apparently fail at "sneaking" into corrals). As in past years, I spent the first mile zig-zagging around other runners. There were also enough people on the course by the time that I started that there was a slight bottleneck one mile in. Boo.
At this point, I think all of the major races include a stretch across the Memorial Bridge. It's fine, and, on nice days, it's actually quite beautiful. I just don't think it works well as an out-and-back.
Miles 3-4: Ohio Drive and Kennedy Center
By this point in the race, the pack starts to thin a little. There are a few weird, sharp turns but it's flat and much easier to settle into your pace here. West-bound Ohio Drive (another out-and-back) is really narrow and there is an ill-placed water stop that leads to more bottle-necking on the course.
Miles 5-6: Independence Avenue to Hains Point
The crowd support is best along these miles. There's a slight incline once you're closer to 15th Street, but it's nothing terrible.
Miles 7-8: Hains Point
Other than it being flat, Hains Point has very little going for it -- especially when there aren't any blossoms. It's boring. There, I said it. It's also mentally challenging because it seems like it takes forever to get to the tip of the peninsula. This is where I usually try to settle into my 5K pace. Again, with the crowding, that didn't come easy.
Miles 9-10: To the Washington Monument and Finish
The 10-Miler is one of the most flat races in the city, but there's one "hill" with about 800 meters to go. Luckily, there is where most of the spectators are so there's lots of encouragement to finish strong.
All told, I had a really good race, and I feel very good about running consistent splits. Will I do this next year? Maybe, if the lottery works out. (I wish I had such luck with the New York City Marathon.)
I'm set to run the Vampire 5K on the 26th (what, you thought I was kidding?) and the Color Run on May 19th. Both of those are more about having fun than trying to run fast, so I want to find a longer June race to make sure that I'm in top shape for summer training and fall races. Any ideas?