2017 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Recap

This past weekend was the 45th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. Known as the “Runner’s Rite of Spring”, it is a widely attended race with national and international competition toeing the line for one of D.C.’s most scenic races. I ended up applying for the lottery and got selected a day after I got in for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve applied for this race in the past and have come up short, so it was a nice change of pace. After being rejected by London and Berlin (and I think something else in there), it’s nice to have a few major races to look forward to!

The weekend started with meeting up with Lauren at the expo on Friday afternoon at the National Building Museum.

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Course map. Only 31 feet of elevation change! Woohoo!
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The race directors have timing down to a T. Literally.

With regard to the itinerary above, one concept stood out in my mind: this race has a legitimate time limit: 2:20:00. When the start line closes at 8AM, runners have until 10:20AM to make it, or they would not be counted as official finishers. This gave me my race goal. Since I was in the Purple corral (last corral), we would launch at 7:53am, and I would be running with runners at a 12 to 13 minute per mile pace. Knowing I would have less than an 8-minute buffer between myself and the pace vehicles, this encouraged me to stay steady and hopefully not dawdle like I typically do during races.

I’m working to fix that last part. Promise. 🙂

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Lauren and I did some pre-race window shopping, and found that Sparkly Soul was going to be at the expo. They are my go-to headband and I have about twenty of them in my collection. We saw my friend and Sparkly Soul ambassador, Caroline, manning the booth!

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I picked up three new headbands and Lauren grabbed one. We poked around the expo a little more before I had to peace out. I then spent Saturday preparing for the race and heading to my cousin’s apartment, which was about a half hour walk from the starting area over by the Washington Monument.

One thing I forgot at home were my Honey Stinger gels. Ever since being introduced to them at the Everglades Half, they’ve been my go-to for fueling. I went to Safeway to see if they carried any, and they didn’t. I bought fruit snacks instead!


Race Day….

 

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Flat Christina!…until I found out how cold it was going to be….

 

I was up at 5:30am and out the door by 6:15am. With my corral launching so much later, I wasn’t in a mad rush to get out the door. This paid off as I read the weather report for the morning and realized it was going to be colder than previously thought: low 40’s with wind. Brrrr. Not having it. I swapped out my shorts for thermal tights and layered a jacket over my shirt, along with throwing on a Marine Corps Marathon end-of-race jacket and a runDisney Mylar blankie.

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Hair game strong, with bows and Sparkly Soul!

I started walking over to the starting area and the sun slowly coming up. I reached the area around 6:45am and walked around for a moment, getting a feel for where everything was at.

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I continued walking about and noticed two very familiar women taking selfies by the cherry blossom trees. I recognized them immediately as Malinda and Leah of Twins Run! I ran over and we all had a big group hug 🙂

 

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And, of course, a selfie! Photo cred: Malinda.

We talked for a bit about our upcoming big races (for them: Boston! YAY!), gave me some great insight on how to prepare for Chicago (build a base!), and they chatted about their experiences with the Cherry Blossom races from years’ past. We departed for our corrals after more hugs and good luck wishes.

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Purple corral!

While hanging out in the last corral, I finally got to meet Heather Mundwiler! We’re both members of Team Shenanigans and have been following each other on social media for awhile. One of my favorite aspects of running is being able to meet those that I have befriended online IRL. Always a great time!

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Right after the anthem was sung (by a gentleman who is studying at Westminster choir College…holy voice, Batman!), 7:18 am rolled around and the elite/seeded women were sent off. We stood around what seemed like forever waiting for our corral to launch. The temps were warming up ever so slightly, so I rather reluctantly ditched my space blanket and jacket. (I have a serious problem with being cold. It seems like if the temp is below 70 degrees, I’m freezing.)

7:53 comes and we were off! Woohoo!

With runners needing to submit a proof of time with their lottery entry, it was a true seeding of time. I was in a pack of runners that were literally my speed of 12-13 minutes per mile. My body wanted to run faster, but I couldn’t find a solid stretch of road to do so. I truly felt stuck where I was, even moreso than I am for runDisney events.

Around Mile 2, I got a hello from my old friend Side Stitches. (Seriously, when is this going to end?!) I slowed to a walk on the sidewalk of the Washington Memorial Bridge and stretched out. I kept on going at a more reserved pace for the rest of the race, but damn, it’s frustrating having to deal with those things.

Having started so far back, I was constantly on the lookout for the sweep vehicles. I was coming back up the bridge and saw them coming down in the opposite direction. This put a little pep into my step heading into Mile 3. Around the 5K mark, I noticed that a lot of runners were tripping and falling down; I saw at least three or four bite it around this area. Runners…be mindful of where you’re running and watch for those potholes/each other!

The first half of the race was scenically uneventful, having run the area recently for RnR DC and NAFHALF. I felt no need to take pictures, as the truly scenic parts were coming up during the second half of the race.

My pace around halfway was a 12:30 mile, and I clocked in at 1:02:32. Not too shabby. At least my miles were consistent.

At Mile 5.5 was the Tidal Basin:

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THAT was the scene I was looking for. After the cold snap that D.C. endured a couple weeks prior, there was speculation that the blossoms weren’t going to make it. But here they were!

From Mile 6 to Mile 9, we wrapped around Hains Point.

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There was also abundant entertainment and cheering:

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Go saxophones!

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During the Hains Point portion, I kept a close eye on my Garmin and my phone. I had until 10:20am to cross the finish line to be considered an official finisher. (They’re really strict like that.) I crossed the 9-Mile marker at 1:57:06 (13:01 pace). I knew I had it at this point 🙂

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Last big corner!

What you don’t see is the last hill I had to ascend at Raul Wallenberg Pl. SW to get to the finish line. Way to make you earn your medal!

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I finished in 2:10:05, ten minutes before the cutoff! Woohoo! This medal is absolutely adorable!

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I met up with Patrick and Lauren post-race. Lauren found me a discarded space blanket (she’s honestly the Queen of the Space Blankets, as Chris calls it), and we sat around, took some pictures, then trekked to Shake Shack at Union Station for celebratory burgers and fries.


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

This race was incredibly well-organized…all the way up ’til post-race. After crossing the finish line, I walked through the finisher’s chute, which stretched the length of 15th St. NW. There was nothing in this chute: no one handing out medals, no water, no space blankets, no nothing. You had to cross back over onto Washington Monument grounds and find the appropriate tent for medals. En route, there were tables with water, bananas, and Nature’s Valley crunchy bars. Umm…yay post-race recovery?

I did, however, appreciate that there was a hoarde of volunteers checking and rechecking bibs to ensure those that ordered medals got their medals. Thank you, UnderArmour, for manning the medal tent!

Right after I got my medal and snackies, I found Lauren and Patrick. We started walking away from Runner’s Village and tents were already being taken down and things being put away. Wow. Glad I didn’t finish any later!

All in all, this was a solid race. The weather was great (unlike past years, from what I’ve heard/read about), the course support was decent, and the medal is super cute. The course itself is flat and fast (with the exception of that last hill), and with an elevation change of only 31 feet. I would do this race again, but only after I could secure a faster POT.


Next up: my last race of the winter/spring season: Clyde’s 10K!

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The Weekly Review

Going to try something new here in the form of a Weekly Review. (Named as such until I can think of something cooler. Maybe I’ll bring back the runDisneyBelle Review…better alliteration…)

Thoughts on the Week:

-2017 is flying by way too fast. I cannot believe that TOMORROW IS APRIL 1ST. Just…wow. Where has this year gone?! I feel like I turn around and lo and behold, it’s Friday. (and this is after thinking that every day of the week is Thursday.)

 

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DC is blooming! Caught these tulips in Lafayette Park.

 

-I’m closing in on my one-year anniversary here in Washington D.C. on Monday (woooo). I’ve never been able to say that I’ve been with a company for an entire year, since I’ve spent most of my 20’s in university (that equates to semester assistantships/jobs or something seasonal in the retail/restaurant industry). I’m mentally preparing a more in-depth retrospect of my past year for Monday, so stay tuned.

 

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Meanwhile, in running land…

 

Welcome to Marine Corps Marathon Lottery Week! This is a pretty suspenseful week as marathon hopefuls put their names into the abyss in hopes that they get picked to run The People’s Marathon (also known as The Marathon of the Monuments). Above is my “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!” face.

So I waited and waited some more. Thursday was MCM Notification Day (aka “Break Your Refresh Key Day)…

And there was celebration! I am SO happy to have been picked for the 42nd MCM, and for good reason: it was my first marathon. And it was also the marathon where I got my first DNF in 2015. It is going to mean SO much to exact revenge on the course that did me in. Must do. Can do. Will do.

 

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It is also Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler weekend!! Also known as the Runner’s Rite of Spring, the CUCB 10M draws runners from national and international fields, with large prize pools and fast times. The CUCB course, which will take place in D.C. around the Tidal Basin, Rock Creek Park, and Hains Point, is super flat with an elevation change of only 31 feet at most, so there will be exciting racing within the elite field. There will also be a 5K run/walk after the 10 Milers have taken off. There will be roughly 16,000 participants (almost like a runDisney race!), and hopefully the remaining blossoms haven’t fallen off the trees yet. Temperatures are projected to be in the low to mid 40’s on race morning with sunshine (which is like a heat wave compared to Rock ‘n’ Roll DC a few weeks ago), so we should be good to go!


 

Congrats to the MCM Class of 2017! Let’s get out there and rock it! And good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Anything notable happen to you this week?

 

‘T’was the Night Before The MCM Lottery…

And here we are. The night before MCM lottery.

If this is your first time attempting this lottery, congrats! You’re one of us crazies!

One of us. One of us…

In all seriousness, the Marine Corps Marathon lottery is a day of epic suspense. Starting at noon, the process will begin. It will go a little something like this:


If you are selected, the above will apply.

1 & 2. A pending race registration transaction WILL APPEAR FIRST. Keep an eye on your bank account.

3. It may take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours for the acceptance email to hit your inbox. Don’t panic. There are a TON of runners that registered for the lottery. I didn’t get my email until almost 6pm in 2014 (my first MCM).

4. Celebrate! You’re gonna run a marathon! 🎉🎉
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this process takes awhile. Pack your patience. If you haven’t gotten notification in the first couple hours, don’t get discouraged. Keep checking back periodically.

Good luck, runners! I hope to be on the course with you! 🖤❤️💛

2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Weekend

Very long story short: I had every intention on completing the RnR DC Marathon on Saturday, and to help Chris to finish his first 26.2. However, due to exceptional logistical ignorance and lack of proper course preparation from race officials, our attempt at the distance was soured and resulted in us finishing the half marathon instead.

But you all know that all my racing adventures have a story to tell, so let us begin this journey starting at the expo on a blustery cold Friday morning…

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Winter mix and temps in the 40’s. Not cool, weather.

Chris and I journeyed to the expo at the DC Armory on Friday morning and stayed about two hours. The weather was projected to be in the mid to upper 20’s with wind on race day. This was colder than the WDW Marathon, by the way!

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The highlight of the day was getting to meet Olympian and NYC/Boston winner Meb Keflezighi!

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll series had a huge banner, which would be one of 21 to line the course at their season finale in San Antonio to celebrate their 20 Years Running campaign. Of course, we had to sign it.

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Keep it in perspective, always.

After the expo, Chris and I walked around the city a little bit, and ended up at Shake Shack at Union Station. So good!!

We ended up in bed around 10pm and readied ourselves for the bitter cold that would accompany our marathon the next day…


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Race day sunrise.

Race morning comes around and we bundle up in layers (I wore three, plus two sets of gloves) and walk the mile or so to the staging area. It was 26 degrees outside with a real feel of 16 degrees. Coldness aside, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise as we gathered into the corrals. I had projected a 4:30 time finish when I signed up last year–which was a tad too ambitious–and I ended up in Corral 5. I had studied the map and saw that there were 26 corrals total. Okay! That’s cool! I thought. With a 2-3 minute launch between corrals, we should have no problem staying ahead of the pacing vehicle.

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I found coffee. I was a happy camper.

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Slightly after 7:00am, we started. Chris and I agreed on a :45/:45 interval pace, which served us well for the majority of the race overall. All we had to be concerned about was making it to the half/full split at 10:40am (according to the website). The first 5k was relatively decent, coming in around a 41:00-ish split. But one thing we noticed very quickly, was…where were all the runners? Were there really 26 corrals for marathoners or were there 26 corrals for the half marathoners? Was our math wrong?

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The second 5K took us through Rock Creek Park. Sticking with our intervals, we suddenly found ourselves in No Man’s Land. Seriously…where was everyone? With all those corrals on that staging map, you’d think there would have been more people in the back.

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#shenanigans

Around mile 5.75, the Wear Blue to Remember mile started, and with it came The Hill. Chris and I agreed to walk this hill, and I’m glad we did. Future runners: It is at a 10% incline for .10 of a mile. Nevertheless, we persisted: it was lined with American flags and the best course support of the whole race (IMO):

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It snaked up like an “S” and all we could do was keep pushing forward. I got many compliments on my Sparkle Athletic skirt, which made me really happy. We got to the top and the 10K split timer was there. Woot!

We were halfway through the first half of this race, and suddenly we found ourselves running through neighborhoods…with hardly anyone lining the streets. This was rather sketchy and kind of scary. We felt like we were in another world…I mean, were we even on the right course? When were the half marathoners going to catch up to us? Where were all the runners?!

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I was getting very frustrated around Mile 11, and contemplated just skipping the full route and finishing with the half. I felt pathetic and slow, and even though we were sticking with our intervals, being lonely at the very back of the field with no direction or little support was mentally draining. I had researched the average finish time of the marathoners from past races, and it averaged around 4:15, 4:30-ish. This race clearly wasn’t made for turtles, and it was beginning to show.

However, after petting some very adorable puppies on the course, I changed my mind and started looking for that half/full split, which should have been coming up at 12.3. There were signs…

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…and we stayed to the right of the road as loads of faster half marathoners breezed on past us (which we were cheering along, of course). We reasoned that there would be arrows or signs or cones or actual course officials directing this split. We ran along and couldn’t find it. Did we pass it? Where was this marked?

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Reached this at 9:58am, according to the timestamp on my camera. That’s 12.4 miles.

We ran over to a couple of police officers who, unfortunately, gave us no answer. (I guess they weren’t briefed on this.) We kept following the course, staying to the right, and saw that the finish line was just over the hill.

What the actual hell. WHERE WAS THE SPLIT? Did we miss it? Did they close it? It was 10am, and the website said that full runners would be diverted at 10:40am:

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See? Says so right there.

We crested the hill, and saw the full/5k finish and the half finish. I pulled myself off the course and started crying out of panic and frustration. I couldn’t believe it. We were going to be forced to finish this on the WRONG DISTANCE that we didn’t sign up for, of no fault of our own because someone somewhere screwed up. No signs, no officials, no nothing. We had a 40-minute advantage, and yet, we were still going to be penalized for logistical ignorance by the race directors.

Chris hugged me and said, “Let’s go finish the half.” (“There could be Hamilton tickets at the finish!”…which I will forever quote him for.) Angrily, I walked back across the course and took off toward the finish line, finishing in 3:02.

This ended up being a PR for me (finally, after three years!) by four minutes, but I was so wrecked with emotion I didn’t even think about that until waaaay after the fact. When we took our medals from the medal ladies, we explained what had happened, that it wasn’t our intent to do the half but we really had no other choice because we had no clue what was going on. They were sweet to give us the full marathon medals in addition to the half medals.

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I walked to the Mylar station and got a blanket from our friend Lauren (whom you may remember from last year running the RnR 5K together), and I started sobbing again, blanketed with confusion and anger and frustration. We walked through the rest of the recovery stations, and rang the PR bell because, after all, we did technically PR the half distance…

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By the way, Chris got a PR of 35 minutes. #ProudGirlfriend

While we were over there, I got my marathon jacket, and then we slowly walked back to the Metro…dejected, upset, and very, very cold.


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

*This was the coldest race I’ve ever done. It took me roughly a day to thaw out. I know the weather was a big deterrent of spectators cheering us on along the course (or maybe this just isn’t that popular of a DC race for people to do so?), so it was a lonely run.

*So…no signage right at the half/full split and not adhering to your own time standards? Rock ‘n’ Roll, get your shit together. You would think that a race series that has been established for 20 years they would have these sorts of things down to a T. I have never participated in a race with such a poor execution of direction and communication. I will, unfortunately, never again sign up for the DC version of this race.

*Also, a word of caution for those of you that aren’t pulling BQs with every marathon you run: don’t sign up for this race in DC. It doesn’t cater well to the slower runners. With a 5:30 finish time, that would equate to a 2:15 half split, essentially (12:30-something pace).  I would highly recommend the Marine Corps Marathon series or something similar.

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In the end, I’m glad I got a PR (albeit a small one), and am very very grateful that I had Chris there to maintain the intervals. I am really looking forward to seeing Chris come back in October and crush the Marine Corps Marathon (which he’s wanted to make his first marathon for quite some time now).

I was also relatively okay-ish with my splits, which included a couple potty stops:

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What will I do with the marathon medal and jacket? That remains to be seen.


Did you run RnR DC? Did you experience any types of issues like mine?

Next race: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!

Hot Cider Hustle 10K Recap

Caramel apples. Hot apple cider. Who doesn’t like running for delicious treats?!

In my quest to get into faster-seeded corral for Glass Slipper Challenge weekend and to continue with my Goofy Challenge training, I signed up for this here Hot Cider Hustle 10K a few weeks ago in October. I mentally had a goal of going sub-1:00, or as close to it as possible without destroying my body, as the Everglades Half is my next big race in two weeks.

The night before the race I had a minor body-image freak out as I tried on several different versions of outfits. I felt like everything I was wearing was squishing me in places that weren’t supposed to be squished, and I felt disgusting. To top it off, I was starting my period. #FemaleRunnerproblems  -__________-

I finally settled on my donut Sparkle Skirt, running tights, lots of pink accessories!, Athleti-tec hoodie and VSX sports bra. The hoodie was thin enough so I could just wear that and the bra and be fine. I’m not an advocate of wearing the race clothing ON race day (especially finisher/”I did it!” shirts)…but at this point, I wanted to be comfortable and not die. (Spoiler alert: it was a perfect combination.)

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My stomach was a wreck, as was my mental state. I was frustrated and upset, and the slow Metro on Saturday morning didn’t help, either. I did arrive with plenty of time to spare, which was great since it was at least a half-mile trek to the starting area. The weather was all blue skies and sunshine with a slight chill in the air.

The pre-race area was out in the middle of a huge parking lot adjacent to RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. I could clearly see that this race course was not going to be the most exciting: a loop-to-loop course, all in the parking lot area. Woot.

At least there were puppies near the gear check area, and all over the place 🙂 :

Around 8:50, we started lining up. This race is similar to the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, where it’s an honor system: faster runners are in the front and slower runners/walkers are near the back. I lined up somewheres in the middle (always a safe bet).

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The gun fired at 9:00 and the race began. the weather was chilly but the sun began to peak and it warmed up a bit. I held a steady, even pace for the first little bit, relying on my Hamilton music to keep me in tempo. My first mile was 10:01 (which, I do believe, is the fastest mile I’ve ever had in a race. Woohoo!)

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Up ahead of this was the loop into mile two, and straight into a ton of sunshine with no shade relief. This was a pain as I didn’t have sunglasses and wasn’t expecting to be blinded by the light, literally.

Another huge pain of this race? Runners randomly stopping to walk in the middle of the course without signaling. That’s a surefire way to get hurt, or to hurt someone else. I spent a lot of time dodging people in the first couple of miles and knew I was wasting energy by doing so.

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Around mile 2-ish.
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Here we go loop-de-loop.

This loop course was a first for me. By the above pictures, you can see it’s not the most fun course in the world. BUT…it was flat, with little to no elevation change. There was one water stop (slightly out of view on the above picture to the right), with Gatorade on the first lap and water on the second lap. I had to pee desperately on my second loop around, and saw three portapotties off in the distance around this area. SO grateful!

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Speaking of second loops around, it got really quiet really fast. 1500 runners had signed up for the 5K, 700 for the 10K, and 300 for the 15K. My first 5K split hovered around 34:00 (which is a split PR for me!).  It was nice to take my time on the second loop, to slow down when needed, and to experiment with pacing. I had several Hamilton songs ready to go, such as “Washington on Your Side” and “The Election of 1800“…all Nightcore versions. (Nightcore music is sped up and sounds like chipmunks singing.) Running in tempo with these really set me up for an even pace. (For example, I found that in WOYS, which is 2:12, I could cover a quarter of a mile and not feel winded.)

Despite a boring course and fighting cramps and peeing, I still wound up with an official 1:16:58 PR,  which is a seven-minute improvement from February’s Enchanted 10K! Woohoo!

No medals for this race (boooo), but a brand new mug for my collection! (Yaaaay!)

I submitted the POT update for GSC weekend. Here’s to hoping for a higher-seeded corral!


This race was full of firsts for me, including this…

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This caused so many headaches…

Since this course operated on a loop, the finisher’s chute offered instructions on how to navigate. If one was running the 5K, great! Go straight. Those on longer distances, step on the first timing mat for your split, and follow the cones on the left to get back on the course. For some reason,  many runners didn’t adhere to these instructions and found themselves either shortening their distances or lengthening them, intentionally or unintentionally. This caused such a snafu at the end, that the awards ceremony didn’t happen for those in the 10K and 15K distances. The results had to be tabulated by hand (since some 10K/15Kers would have had blazing fast splits), and other than the overall and 5K winners, awards weren’t handed out right then. I also didn’t get my results until later on in the evening when they were posted online (hence the one-second change between -my Garmin and the official time.)

If you’re going to run a looped course, know what distance you’re going to run and stick with it. It’ll cause a lot less stress with the timing and scoring department later on, and be honest if you want to go up or down with distances! It’s almost like banditing a race if you’re intentionally racing a shorter or longer distance than what you’re registered for.


Next up: Everglades Half Marathon racecation!

Spectator Thoughts: Marine Corps Marathon 2016

I’ve been at this running thing for awhile, and not once have I stood along the race course and cheered for my fellow runners.

That all changed today at the 41st Marine Corps Marathon.

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Brought the magic of Hamilton to the race!

Going from runner-mode to spectator-mode was a relatively easy transition. Having run in the MCM before, the empathy I felt towards the 30,000 runners slugging it out on a very warm course was unwavering. (The temperatures for the past two MCMs have started out chilly, then skyrocketed to the upper 70’s and low 80’s by race end, with plentiful sunshine. Barf.) I felt like it was my turn to give back to the running community in this role, and I had my right-hand woman, Lauren, beside me the entire time. We woke up obnoxiously early and took the Metro into the city. We set up camp at mile 15.5, which was right at the entrance to the Gauntlet portion of the course. At this point, we had a clear view of the athletes coming up and turning the corner to enter the slight downhill section leading to the National Mall portion. We stayed out there from about 8AM to 12:30PM or so, then headed over to Arlington National Cemetery for the finisher’s area.

The foliage is beginning to turn in Washington D.C….finally!

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During the many hours we were out there, I took note of several things that could be of importance for anyone thinking about being a spectator for a race. In no particular order, here we go…


  1. Be Weather Savvy: Never trust the forecast the day of the race. The MCM in particular has a nasty habit of being ultra cold in the morning and transitioning to super warm in the afternoon hours. After spending two years in those starting corrals freezing my butt off, I made sure I was prepared for spectating by dressing in layers. By the afternoon I was in my tech shirt and shorts. Remember sunglasses and sunscreen, and BUG SPRAY if it’s still optimal weather for bugs. (En route to Arlington we walked through a wall of gnats that just clung everywhere. Not pleasant.) If it’s going to be rainy, bring jackets and umbrellas. And so on.
  2. Spectator Training: It’s a Workout! To be blunt, I felt like I ran a marathon after I got home. Standing up for hours on end, jumping around trying to stay warm, cheering loudly, getting beaten down my the sun, general walking around in said sun, climbing hills, dealing with people…it all adds up! Spectating can be a huge energy suck if you’re not prepared. Get plenty of rest the night before, bring water and snacks, and don’t forget to stretch out every now and again during the race.
  3. Be Prepared With Extra Everything: water, money, phone charger, food, beer, pocket radio…whatever you need to get through the many hours you’ll be outside, bring it.
  4. Use Common Sense: We saw SO many people cross in front of athletes today. Unless you are legitimately paying attention and have a gap to sprint across a road, YOU NEED TO WAIT…AND DON’T CROSS WHEN THERE’S A HUGE PACK OF RUNNERS COMING RIGHT AT YOU. It’s a great way to get everyone hurt and/or very pissed off, and you will certainly be made fun of for being ignorant.
  5. Keep Up the Fun: It is SO much fun being able to interact with runners. I had many call out that they were listening to Hamilton, got to see it/are eventually seeing it on Broadway, said that I had the best sign on the course (and got a hug!), had pictures taken of said sign, yelled to runners, “DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR SHOT!” (Or, “You’re non-stop!”) One gentleman looked at it and said, “This is the passion I’m smashin’!” Get creative with your signs, as it will certainly keep the runners’ minds occupied during the later miles when the going starts getting tough.
  6. Not every runner you encounter will be pleasant…or even semi-pleasant. I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a gentleman that was running near the very front of the field. He peeled off the course and went over to his family/girlfriend/people area, and immediately started complaining that he was having a tough time. Not due to injury or exhaustion…but the fact that he was ten minutes behind his goal time, wasn’t going to “hit his time that he got at nationals” (whatever that meant), and just wanted to take his bib off and quit. I tried my very hardest to encourage him to keep going and he spat back, “Have you done any of these races before?” I snapped back, “Yes, in fact I have. It doesn’t matter what your time is. Go finish.” We had a back and forth on this (and him complaining about “just getting a participation award”) and I just left it with, “Honey, go finish.” Trust me, his snotty, elitist attitude was getting him nowhere fast. Eventually he left the area, and I personally hope he’s festering in the thoughts that will keep him awake at night. 

Christina’s Real Talk:

Trust me, I’m rather disappointed that this guy just threw in the towel on this race and his subsequent attitude towards me. (I even looked up his bib number in the results just to maaaaaybe see if he changed his mind. Nope. Nothing was listed.) Truth be told, everyone has bad races from time to time. I haven’t hit my sub-3 hour half yet and I’ve been trying for two years! But I keep trying and trying again. I was swept at MCM last year, so I signed up for WDW this January and killed it. The second things go downhill, you need to tough it out the best you can and keep going. You cannot wait around for the absolute perfect conditions to accomplish anything; you’ll get absolutely nowhere in life. Also, throwing a tantrum because you didn’t get the last cookie in the cookie jar (as a grown adult, mind you) will leave a lasting impression on your character.


Now on the flip side, there can be some runners that are surprisingly pleasant and motivational to be around. I went to the expo on Saturday just for shits and giggles. I wore my 2016 WDW Marathon shirt (a trend I have started recently: any time there is a major marathon happening, the marathon gear comes out!). I was walking around near the entrance, and a BOSTON MARATHON finisher (wearing her blue and yellow Adidas shirt that I have recently come to covet along with anything else Boston-related) congratulated me for finishing and told me to have fun during Goofy Challenge in January! My heart totally exploded into confetti and happiness 🙂

      WDW Half, Marathon, and Goofy Challenge medals


Overall, I had a very pleasant and exciting day of cheering on the MCM runners. Congrats to everyone who finished!

 

Navy/Air Force Half Marathon Recap

The opening percussion beats and bagpipes of Gaelic Storm’s “Blind Monkey” served as my 4AM alarm this race morning. No matter what race it is…whether it’s runDisney or RnR or this…early wakeup times suck. You wander around bleary-eyed and sleepy while trying not to spill your pre-race coffee while asking yourself, “Why did I make this wonderful decision?”

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These are just a few of my favorite things that enable me to survive on race day: Nuun provides the electrolytes, EnergyBits for protein/healthy algae goodness, and sunscreen to not turn into a lobster.

Now, I am a huge advocate of “nothing new on race day”, but I had been eyeing the forecast since two weeks out up until right before I left. The original forecast projected not just heat and humidity, but thunderstorms, as well. I turned to my Team Shenanigans members for rainy race day advice (just in case), as I have been fortunate to not have run in the rain at all in my running tenure. Jennifer Hall suggested coating my feet in Vaseline to prevent blisters. I located this here Vaseline (with cocoa butter) and applied it liberally to my feet.

Spoiler alert: no blisters!!


I started driving towards DC around 5AM, and I was super happy that there was very little traffic. Navigating traffic on race day is a surefire way to get the anxiety levels up. I always allot substantial time to arrive. I arrived around 5:30AM at the parking garage about two blocks from the staging area. I saw some other runners in a vehicle near mine and made it a point to make friends…DC is still pretty sketchy in the wee hours of the morning, and as always, safety in numbers.450fcb8c-e08f-4e73-92ae-a179e5400054

The staging area for NAFHALF and the Navy 5 Miler was on the National Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. The field, in comparison to other races that I have run, was miniscule: 9,000 half runners compared to 25,000 or 30,000-deep fields. It was pleasant knowing that I could move around and not feel like I was being herded.

Race started slightly after 7:00. I was in wave #2. With the ding of the Navy Bell, we were off around 7:13 AM. The course was flat and in reverse of the MCM course, heading towards Haines Point (which is typically Miles 12-14 of MCM). The first 5K was overcast/not too hot, steady, and I think I clocked in somewhere around the 37:00 minute mark, according to the Garmin.

However…there was no 5K split timer. I didn’t get a split until mile four.

Weird.


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The second 5K ran concurrent with the Potomac River on Ohio Drive and past the Lincoln Memorial. The course split before the 5 mile mark of the Navy 5 Miler, with half marathoners heading left and 5 Milers to the right. The sun was juuuuuuust beginning to peek from behind the overcast skies, but stayed behind for the majority of this section.

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*looks around for 10K timing mat. Sees none. Grrrrr.*

I was also taking notice of my Garmin in these middle miles. It seemed as though the course measurements were off by at least .20 of a mile; when I reached an actual mile marker, my Garmin would show .20 over that. I’m not sure if the race coordinators noticed this, but I feel like I ran more (distance-wise, as in more than 13.1) than I intended to in this race.


Miles 7-11 wound up and around Rock Creek Park, which was nice, especially for the shady areas. Once I rounded the corner to descend a small hill near mile 9, the sun was making itself known. The heat rose rapidly and I started slowing down a little. I had also been fighting side stitches for the duration of the race, as well, so that didn’t help at all.

Rounding around the Arlington Memorial Bridge (and getting the perfect opportunity to do a flying jump at the camera), the final water stop was at mile 12 (with “The Final Countdown” playing). During that last mile, I ran into Jenny and Topher (short for Christopher), whom I had run into during the Rock Creek Park section. With Jenny’s encouragement, we all made a strong effort to run to the finish line together.

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Half marathon #6 conquered! (Chip time: 3:10:49….Garmin time: 3:10:54)img_0461-1


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

  1. Splits: I have NO idea why the only splits we received were at the 4 mile and 10 mile markers. Traditionally, you receive them every 5K, plus halfway. I’m aggravated by this, as I feel like I cannot assess my performance accurately, except from what my Garmin could tell me:
  2. Lack of on-course support: Usually during military-based races, the service men and women are out in full force cheering and encouraging runners on. Today’s race was not the case. Even the spectators were few and far between. Not sure if it had to do with the fact that NAFHALF has less pomp and circumstance than its sister race, the Marine Corps Marathon (or even the Army Ten-Miler), or what, but the course was unusually quiet.
  3. I do give props for the conservative pacing. Half marathon runners had to reach mile 9 by 9:45 AM to prevent from getting swept. That’s hovering around a 16/mpm pace.
  4. Being near the back of the field is not the end of the world. I hover around there for breeze appreciation and knowing I won’t have to be elbowing people while maneuvering for position. Plus, I can fart and no one pays attention.
  5. Driving back home (aka driving through DC traffic) after a race totally blows. I wish the Metro was not under Safe Track at the moment.
  6. After analyzing my past half marathon performances, I have determined that I perform the best in cloudy, overcast conditions.
  7. Posting live Facebook videos on the course was a ton of fun and kept my mind off of my distressed obliques.
  8. If you gotta pee in the men’s bathroom because the women’s room is closed, do it. No one cares.
  9. Today’s race is my third fastest half marathon. Still striving for the sub 3-hour goal, though.

Congrats to everyone else who ran today/this weekend!

Next up: Everglades Half Marathon.

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