Cherry Blossom 10-miler

I’m back from Washington D.C.! I spent the better part of the weekend hanging out in the nation’s capitol and racing the Cherry Blossom 10-miler. The race was kind of “meh” for me, but in general I had an enjoyable trip. After picking up my race number and checking into the hotel with my running buddies, I met up with my Dad for dinner. Big thanks to him for driving 6 hours to be my official race photographer/spectator for the weekend 🙂

I felt like I was lacking in veggies, so my pre-race meal was a portobello mushroom “burger” with grilled onions, feta, lettuce, tomato, and a few fries. Anddd I had a beer (carbs!), because that’s how I do.

My throat was been feeling a little scratchy, so before hitting the sheets, I mixed up a cup of pink lemonade emergen-c. Big props to my running pal Megan M. for telling me 1) about this flavor and 2) suggesting I drink it hot. I never used to like emergen-c, but now it’s a pre-race staple!

For once, I actually got a pretty solid night’s sleep (10pm-6am) and felt decent when the alarm went off. However, there was a bit of a coffee emergency. I drink coffee every day, as soon as I wake up. I need the ritual to feel like I’ve started my day (and it helps me go to the bathroom-so key before races!!). Unfortunately the coffee machine in the hotel lobby was broken and by 6:40am, it didn’t look close to being fixed. I didn’t have time to go anywhere (like Starbucks) to get coffee, so I attempted to make some with the room coffee pot. I got about an ounce of coffee (seriously) into my cup before the machine conked out. It was pretty concentrated so I supplemented with hot tap water (angryrunner style!). I also gobbled down a luna bar.

After a little bit of digestion time and a 1.5 mile warm-up to the start, I got into my corral.

The Race-

The Good:

  • The weather was beautiful and nearly perfect for racing (sunny, 50 degrees).
  • I had a seeded bib number, so I was near the front in the first wave.
  • The course was mostly flat and I was able to see my dad twice.

The Bad:

  • The course had a lot of turns, which I felt slowed things down a bit.
  • The mile marker for mile 4 was off by at least a minute (seriously, shouldn’t someone have checked this??)

The Ugly:

  • I never felt like I found my rhythm during the race – my legs felt stale from the start.
  • I really battled with negative throughout the race – I kept thinking about how hard the pace felt, how tired I was, how much I wanted to stop, etc. NOT GOOD.
  • In retrospect, racing a half-marathon 2 weeks ago, taking nearly a week off, and then running very easy last week  was NOT the best race prep. I haven’t done a workout (besides racing) since the end of February and it shows. Blah.

I ended up finishing the 10 mile race in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 31 seconds (~7:09 pace) which is about a minute slower than I would have liked. However, I was checking out the race stats afterward and they made me feel a little better. I was the 129th female finisher out of 9,000 women – even if my time wasn’t exactly what I would have liked, it still wasn’t too shabby. My teammates Kristan and Felice are total bad-asses and placed as the 12th and 26th females OVERALL. So awesome.

After a 1.5 mile cool-down back to the hotel, a shower, and a mini snack (coffee and an apple!), my Dad and I headed to brunch nearby. It was after noon by the time we sat down to eat and was starting to feel kind of woozy, nauseous, and out of it. Yo, low blood sugar, what up? But as soon as my Greek omelet (spinach, tomatoes, feta, oregano) arrived, I attacked the plate. I felt 100% better after eating, thankfully.

Dad’s fried egg pizza deserved some blog love:

After a bus ride that seemed quite long, I’m back in NYC and figuring out my training for the upcoming week. No hard workouts till at least Thursday, but I DO need to start seriously training for the Brooklyn half. And soon. 7 weeks and counting…

Do you ever struggle with negative thoughts during races (i.e. I want to stop, this is hard)? When I find myself drifting into that territory, I try to repeat a mantra like “find your rhythm” or “maintain good form”, but it was a struggle today!

  • AR

    i <3 the shout out! those hotel coffee makers are the worst.

    And all things considered, that's pretty good for a blah day. I absolutely HATE when you can't find a rhythm. I tend to work on just not freaking myself out and hope I can rally later. Sometimes it works (especially in a race where people keep coming back), but sometimes it's a miserable failure.

  • I’ve suffered from negative thinking during racing although I’ve never wanted to really stop. I mean i wanted to but I wasn’t going to so it didn’t matter. Besides that I was making myself miserable! I’ve resolved to try my best to stay positive:) Looks like you had some seriously good eats though, sorry about your coffee dilema!

  • I have a HORRIBLE case of negative self-talk, always. The first 3-5 miles of my last couple halfs and full marathons have been full of me convincing myself reasons I should drop out. It usually isn’t till I pass the half mark that I realize I should shut the eff up and that I’m fine.

    I ran a half last weekend during which the first 2 miles I thought something was wrong with my ankle and that I went out too fast, and pretty much convinced myself I was done for. My brain is my weakest running muscle, by far. I ended up having a great race.

    Anyway, awesome race — that puts you in like the top 1% or something! The coffee debacle sounds like it was probably pretty stressful. I’m glad you find a solution

  • Kristan

    No matter what you say, you did awesome! Racing 2 weeks after the half takes guts and at least you can cross this race off your list! I agree with the coffee situation, the turns, and Mile 4; all were terrible! But had a great time this weekend and your dad is adorable!

  • Meggie

    Oh yeah — during the NYC Half, I pretty much wanted to quit from mile 1! I kept telling myself “it’ll eventually get better” or “you just have to wait it out.” A lot of times, I just go back to “what’s the worst that can happen?” Typically, for me, its walking so I’ll just make a deal with myself that I’ll run at a pace that is slightly uncomfortable and once it becomes unbearable I will just cross that bridge when I get there. That “deal making” strategy typically works well for me.

    Looks like a great race to me! Glad it was great weather! Can’t wait for spring to have sprung in NYC.

  • That is still a GOOD TIME. All things considered, you hauled ass to DC, hauled ass IN DC, and then had brunch with your dad. That’s winning. But besides that, I’m in total agreement with the coffee maker (that’s why I bring gross instant coffee; it is the only solution) and negative thoughts. Trust me. I am the queen of believing I am sucking mid-race. You simply have to be stronger than your negativity…and remember that the people who run the fastest are usually in the worst pain of all.

  • Awesome job with the race!

  • Jen

    Congrats on the race!

    Quick question, how do you find motivation to run when it’s raining? I don’t belong to a gym so I’m always running outside in CP, but it’s so quick to scrap the running plans in bad weather! I was just wondering if you struggle with this or power through?

  • J (Morning Runner)

    At the end of races I always have negative thoughts. I always want to stop and be done and I hate running because I am tired and my legs usually hurt. Congrats on the great finish for the 10 miler!

  • Great job with the race!

    I’m the same way about coffee, I bring those individual instant packets anytime I go anywhere overnight! Starbucks instant is seriously good. There’s also a brand (Maxwell House maybe?) that makes coffee teabag type things that are more like brewed coffee. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    @Jen – I definitely struggle with motivation when the weather is bad. It
    helps to have a running buddy who will motivate me to get out the door! And
    I try to remind myself that once I get over the initial wetness, running in
    the rain can be kind of peaceful. No one else is out there!

  • you can’t be hard on yourself, lady. i totally agree that a 1/2 two weeks ago is TOO SOON. you iz crazy. you ran an awesome time, all things considered. no regrets!

    DC eats with dad, how saweeeet. love bonding time. and pizza time. looks like a good weekend!

    never tried this emergencee stuff. sorta interested. pink lemonade? sign me up.

  • YAY! That is still an awesome race, and an equally amazing brunch. I feel like I’m in your shoes a bit this week getting ready for the Scotland 10K (or rather, NOT getting ready). Midterms, 12 hour work days, and a major bathroom renovation means I’ve been hardly training since running the NYC Half.

    As for negative thoughts during races, I had serious doubts about finishing when running the Manhattan Half earlier this year. It was 14 degrees, my sweat froze in my hair, and my toes hit a point where they were so numb I didn’t realize until after the race that one of them was bleeding. The whole time, my mantra was, “keep moving, stay warm.”

    I also second Starbucks instant, when in a pinch. Portable, potent, and …err, potty-prep 😛

  • I was so happy the course was at least pretty, because I wanted to quit the entire last three miles.

  • amy

    Awesome race, even though it wasn’t what you wanted. What you describe is exactly how I felt in my half last weekend, flat and uninspired. And, good to hear you had a great weekend in DC!

  • Broken coffee maker, hotel? What were you thinking?! Runners need their morning coffee! 🙂

    Anyway…I think you ran a great race, esp for only being two weeks out from your half! I know I’m *just* starting to feel like I’ve fully recovered from that weekend. It always takes longer than I expect.

  • You are pretty bad ass too! You can always rely on me to tell you that. I am definitely a different kind of runner than you, but I try to always be thankful for the run while I’m going. Helps keep perspective too. But I also wonder why I’m so slow while I run too. Negative thoughts be gone…

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your sweet comments Marci 🙂 And you’re right – I should be
    thankful for each and every run that I’m able to complete. I’m very lucky!

  • Jen

    Ah, thanks for the tips! It’s reassuring to know that even someone of your running caliber needs the extra push 🙂

  • I ran the race too. There were a lot of turns – hairpin turns – but overall, I can’t complain about flat and fast. Awesome time, speedy!

  • M A

    I had some serious negative talk at mile 4 when I thought I ran well over a minute slower than I had the previous mile! I always struggle with negative talk but that is actually a blessing – because I know it “always” happens in the beginning, and around 40 minutes it vanishes. (This is the same reason I don’t run 5ks)

  • there are lots of races when i battle negative thoughts! they usually last until the last, maybe, third of the race. then the end is in sight. i also battle negative thoughts during my training runs too. i should practice thinking happy thoughts…

    but congrats! to all three of you. awesome racing

  • Corey @ the runners cookie

    I think that’s an awesome time! Especially considering your legs felt heavy. Sometimes there’s not a whole lot we can do about the “off” days. That omelet looks like the perfect post-race meal!
    I’ve had negative thoughts in races before – usually I get rid of them pretty fast because I know they won’t help me, but sometimes it’s hard when I really don’t feel well. If all else fails, I try to focus on something else, or someone that inspires me (in running or in life), and thinking of that person gives me a boost.

  • kapepper

    I found your site when I googled “ezekiel” bread. I enjoy reading your blogs. Mostly right now I just wanted to say that “I miss my Dad”… I live in atlanta and he’s in Michigan and I’m glad your dad was at your race, how fun!
    I’m walking on 38 with 3 kids in the burbs… I’m running Boston (again)… shooting for a sub-3. I joked with my running buddies that I was living vicariously thru a 20 somethings blog site… great job, I love your blog… especially since I was once an RD.. love your food stuff…. You are a great read, thank you!
    My best advice… “own your journey”.. for it is yours alone! I’m the queen of postive race talk! 🙂
    My Bests:
    Push like a Mother (for all the mommies out there)
    Pick, lift, push (just a good ol’ keep the negative thoughts out)
    Don’t leave anything in the tank (thank you to my husband for that one)
    Light as a butterfly, strong as an ox (I’m a taurus)
    Strong song (came to me during a trail run)
    Fighter (stole that one from Kara Goucher)
    And when I don’t feel like being creative… I always fall back on James Brown…
    “I feel good… nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah….like I knew that I would now… nah…”
    To all the runners out there…. enjoy the journey…..

  • Maybe it was too soon for another race, but your time was so decent! I would have DIED without the coffee though. You are a trooper! BTW: you look so much like your Dad! Congrats on a great race… from you very old pudgy running fan.

  • Anonymous

    @kapepper – Great mantras! I may use one during my next workout or race.
    Good luck at Boston!

  • Anonymous

    @MA – I agree that the first 40 minutes of any race (or long run…) are the
    toughest mentally. In college, my long run buddy and I would always say “40
    minutes till fun!” on our long runs. It seemed to get easier after that
    point. Maybe because we were half-way through?

  • Anonymous

    @RVGoddess – your comments always make me smile 🙂 Thanks!

  • Katherine

    Hey – I commented the other day about seeing you on the course in DC. When I said I loved the course, I should have clarified that I thought it was pretty scenic, but it was overly crowded and curving all over the place. I totally missed Mile 4 (actually I saw the timer, but there was no 4 sign). I had no goals coming into the race as I had run the National Half the weekend before, so I wasn’t too disappointed despite a pace that was pretty lame (and disappointing, cough cough). I, too, let myself get a little defeated around miles 8 and 9. I’ve been having some mental games issues as well – though I think that’s just the nature of being a competitive runner. Despite your frustration, you ran a great race. Congrats!

  • Anonymous

    @Katherine – how do you think the cherry blossom course compared to the
    National Half course?

  • Congratulations on the great placement in the race!

    When I get stuck, I try to remind myself that even in a full marathon, it’s only 4 hours or so to push myself. I have allllllllll day after to rest, sleep, eat, whine, give up, etc, but for that 4 hours, I just need to keep pushing or I’ll regret it later.

  • holly

    i literally do not know how you run so fast. i bow down to you 🙂

  • Katherine

    Totally different. The start of the Half was crowded as well. More normal in terms of not all of the twisting and turning. Hillier course. Not much crowd support (tho it was pretty sporadic at this race as well). There were a bunch of tech problems this year – only miles 1, 3, and 10 were marked and ambulances kept coming on the course. Regardless, I would recommend the National Half. I would not, however, recommend the full from the looks of it (you run through the finish and I’ve heard the second half course blows).
    I wondered how you would compare this race to the NYRR races you do?

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  • Natalie

    You did so well! do you think the lack of real coffee played a role? Definitely there are times when I am cursing or thinking why I am here?? usually I feel that way when I haven’t trained properly or I’m just not having a good day. You did awesome!! Congrats.