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?

 

2017 Princess Half Marathon Recap

After traversing 17.44 miles the previous day with the Enchanted 10K, EPCOT (and carbo loading with those huge ass pretzels in Germany), and meetups over at Polynesian, it was time for my fifth running of the Princess Half!

 

I set my alarm slightly earlier on Sunday (around 2:15), and made sure I gave myself plenty of time to get dressed and get my stuff in order. I also made sure to pack all of my previous GSC medals into my gear bag. This would come into play later for my legacy picture.

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I decided to go with a “Beasty Belle” theme with the blue and yellow. You can’t really see it, but the tank top has the Ravenclaw crest on it. Chris got that for me awhile back, and I truly think that Belle would have been a Ravenclaw!

I decided to take the familiar route to EPCOT this time around, and completely ignore my GPS. This paid off as I got to the parking lot with no problems. I was reluctant to leave my car, though: the temps had dipped from the previous day, the humidity was down, and the wind was up. It felt like marathon weekend all over again. The forecast had originally been projected to actually be in the 30’s with wind…just like marathon weekend. Luckily for us, the temps were in the mid 50’s. Still, though…for someone that’s constantly cold no matter what the weather is, it still felt like an ice box.

I made my way over to the TS bag check and waited for the team to arrive for our usual picture. There were reports coming in from social media that traffic was at a standstill and/or crawling. By 4:30am, the majority of us had arrived!

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I also ran into Caroline, my favorite Sparkly Soul sister!

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We took off for the potties and then to the corrals. En route, I saw some of the elites literally running along the sides of the road to get up to the front corrals. This traffic jam was such a determent that the race directors decided to postpone the start by about five to seven minutes. Fantastic, I thought to myself, as I sat in corral K with a hooded zip-up sweater I found hanging on the barrier of the corral. It alleviated some of the coldness, but not enough for my taste.

Finally, we started moving around. One thing I did notice right away was that the Fairy Godmother wasn’t around to count us down, nor were there any characters up at the front. Were they all on vacay or something? This was such an iconic part of previous Princess races, and really made the race what it was. I really missed her motivational speeches.

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Finally, we got the fireworks and Corral K was off on their magical 13.1 miles! As much as I wanted a PR on this half, I know from my performance the previous day that it wasn’t going to happen. I took this race easy and made sure those side stitches didn’t come back.

Time to PR in photography once again!

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Race ya to the castle!

 

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Cone Alley, how I loathe thee.

 

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Now, for those of you wondering…yes, you can pee in the men’s bathroom. When ya gotta go, you gotta go. Nobody cares. We’re all runners.

 

Heading to the castle post-pee…

 

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Line to meet the Beast.

 

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This is the infamous chokehold point coming out of Cinderella Castle that we runDisney veterans always talk about. Don’t stop for pictures! You’ll create a logjam of runners behind you. Keep going, and if you want a picture that badly, head to the left as soon as you’re off the ramp and Disney’s Photopass staff can take care of that for you. 

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Anyone else besides me notice the lack of photo ops? For example, just past mile 6 there’s usually a train right here. Not there this time…

 

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Around the halfway point of this course, things started to get reeeeeal boring. You hit the second Cone Alley and all paces come to crawl. I found one of the 3:00 pace groups to run with for a little bit, thinking, “Oh hey, maybe if I stick with these guys, I’ll get that sub-3!” Upon further inspection, they started in Corral M, not Corral K. Womp womp.

And on we go…

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Up the Mile 10 ramp!

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Ran into my lovely Team Shenanigans ladies and we took it home from the coffee shop at EPCOT!
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Heading to the finish! Photo cred: Eddie McCoy.

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Shenanigans with John Pelky! Photo cred: Brittany.

I finished this PHM in 3:34 on the nose, which is my second worst half marathon to date. I’m just glad to have made it in one piece with minimal oblique/rib pain and a lot of pretty pictures. Oh, and meeting new friends!! I finally got to meet Ian (left) and Keith (right) on my way out of the staging area!

 

And, of course, I couldn’t leave without getting the GSC legacy shot (which garnered many comments of, “Shut the front door!” as I was layering up the medals!) One more year to go to become a Perfect!

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Christina’s Post-GSC Thoughts:
There’s really not a lot I can say now that I haven’t already covered in previous years, but I’ll repeat some of them…. The lack of characters and on-course perks are still diminishing with every year, and is making it hard to justify the cost of the races… As mentioned above, if you need to pee somewhere, just go pee… Don’t bottleneck the castle… Don’t walk 239847 abreast in Cone Alley… Be careful in that first cone alley as you go down the hill, because you’ll eat it if you’re not paying attention…. Don’t underestimate the power of the SUN; stay hydrated and properly sunscreened…don’t be too upset if you don’t PR this race; it’s designed to be fun (I have to tell myself that every time I come down here)…don’t traverse 17 miles the day before or your feet are gonna be sore…always bring throwaway clothes or a Mylar blanket so you don’t freeze, especially for those of us who are prone to the cold…etc. etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Since next year is the 10 year anniversary of the Princess Half, and the five-year anniversary of the Glass Slipper Challenge (now going by the name of “Fairytale Challenge”…-_____-), I’m curious to see what the theme is! Typically the runDisney Easter Egg is whoever the character is at the Mile 13 marker will the theme for the following year’s race. This year, though…it was Belle. Way to keep us in suspense, runDisney! I guess we’ll have to the wait and see!
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Next race: Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon!
See y’all real soon!
❤ Christina ❤

Diet and Mileage: How I Prepare for Princess Half Weekend

Princesses and princes, we’re roughly two weeks away from PHM weekend! Woohoo! *confetti*

Now is the time to start fine-tuning our diets and mileage in anticipation of race weekend. For many, the timeline varies. I will share here what has worked (and not worked) in the past, and would love to know some of your secrets for optimal performance come race day!

Around a month out from race weekend, I start planning final runs/workouts and altering my food intake by eliminating or adding certain items. I find the one-month window to be the best for me; my body reacts very well, and I don’t drive myself insane with certain deprivations. Granted, I am human, so I slip up every once in a while, but I get back on track very quickly as I constantly remind myself that if I feel miserable now, it’s going to reflect on my race performance and overall happiness while in Disney, and nobody wants a cranky princess!

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:


Diet

          Alcohol—I go a month sober. (Giving up booze is incredibly easy for me, and my wallet is super happy. I didn’t do this for my first PHM and you can see the bloaty-ness in my medal picture…gross!) The extra detox time is awesome, and I can replace it with delicious teas and Nuun water.

Sweets/Dessert – Also for a month, I cut waaaay back on unnecessary sugars and sweets. Working in the restaurant business has its perks, and the dessert menu we have is extensive and delicious. After I got sick with Norovirus back in January (and subsequently expelled dessert on that day…), I’ve sworn off sweets for the time being. I’ll treat myself to a cookie or two once in a while, but I try to not go overboard.

Dairy—Heh. I have a love/hate relationship with this.  I LOVE cheese and creamer and milk. However, dairy items make me toot…and bloat. (See the common trend here? Everything makes my stomach bloat. Argh.) Again, I lay off the creamy stuff until post-race.

Fiber—This was a huge mistake I made last year and it threw my chances of a huge PR at the half marathon. My fiber intake wasn’t optimal in the weeks prior to the race, and I ended up with major stomach issues for race weekend (before, during, and after). I ran over to a nearby Publix for prune juice and fiber-happy foods, but it still didn’t make much of a difference.  Since then, I’ve committed to adding fiber-rich foods into my diet and using this as an area of focus in my training.

Protein: I love quinoa and beans (low-sodium). Mixing them into salads is one of my favorite things now. They’re stomach-friendly and provide long-lasting energy.

Grains: I try to avoid squishy bread items like bagels or muffins. (Again, major stomach bloat. I worked in a bagel shop during 2015 PHM and you can really tell that I enjoyed eating there. See picture below.) Granted, I do need carbs. I stick with toast or English muffins or cereal. Granola bars are also a favorite.

Fruits and Vegetables: I’m a natural rabbit. I love my greens and delicious fruits. Favorites include apples (especially for the fiber), pineapple, oranges (early morning pick-me-up), tomatoes, spinach, various legumes, and bell peppers.


Mileage/Exercise:

The month before race weekend is Beast Mode time (provided that life doesn’t happen to derail those plans). I add additional strength training and cardio to my workouts, with long runs on the weekends. I’ve found that your arms get just as much of a workout as your legs do, so do not neglect those bicep curls or tricep extensions! Your abs also need some love, especially your obliques. The side-to-side movement that your upper body does will get very sore very quickly if you do not work this section out. Stretching is also a primary focus; feeling loose and relaxed is far better than that “stiff as a board” feeling.

I add at least one “Mock GSC Weekend” where I emulate race day conditions. Since I run Glass Slipper, this includes a Saturday and Sunday of a 10K and a half marathon (or mileage that is very close to 13.1). For those of you that are firsties for any race or combination thereof, I would HIGHLY suggest taking advantage of this at least two weeks before race weekend. It’s good to shake some of those pre-race jitters, and to get your body used to early wakeups on multiple days. 2:30AM does come quickly!

If you are running in costume, take it on a test run or two to see what does and doesn’t work with it. I cannot count how many discarded tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, and miscellaneous things that have fallen off runners in the first 500 meters of this race. Take extra care that things won’t slide or fall off. Nobody wants to risk tripping and crashing on the highway because their feet got entangled in your tulle. Same goes for any new piece of running equipment you’ll have (visors, belts, arm bands, iPods, sunscreen, etc.). Test drive these and see what works.

As always…nothing new on race day!

Two more weeks until we see this sign!! 💖✨🎀


What diet and mileage tricks do you use as you prepare for race day?

2017 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Greetings, princesss, princes, and runners everywhere! It’s that time of the year again…PRINCESS HALF MARATHON WEEKEND!

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We are three weeks away from race weekend, and there are plenty of topics to cover! I noticed that many of you have taken to reading my Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide series over the last month, and I am soooooo happy that you have! While a little bit of the info is outdated, given the 2016 year with different dates and whatnot, I will be essentially redoing the guide to reflect 2017, so stay tuned! As always, if you have questions, let me know and I shall try to answer them the best that I can.

To get started, there are a few logistical items to go over. Just today, corrals and waivers got released!

If this is your first runDisney event, fear not. Here is how you go about navigating this strange new world and deciphering the corrals!

  1. Head to: https://www.rundisney.com/princess-half-marathon/
  2. Click on “Runner Info” and scroll down to Waivers.
  3. Download your waiver by clicking the link and filling out the info in the following window:                                                             img_4781-1
  4. Print out your waiver and sign it! You’re done!

If you do not have access to a printer, you can print it out at the expo. Make sure you have your ID with you to present to the volunteer who will check you in.

When you view your waiver, you will see a number at the bottom of the page that indicates your bib number. Using this number, match it up with the corrals for PHM or GSC. If you are running GSC, you will get your 10K corral placement upon arrival to the expo.

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We have 21 days, runners. Start shining those tiaras and stocking up on the pixie dust! Oh, and getting a few miles under your legs for those last long runs! 🙂  

Oh, and here is a throwback Thursday from my first Princess Half Marathon:

If you can dream it, you can do it! Stay tuned for more Princess Half funtimes! 💖✨🎀