Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run Recap and Review

This is way overdue, but I figured better late than never!

I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on April 6, 2014. Cherry Blossom is one of the largest road races in Washington, DC.

Overall, I really liked Cherry Blossom. I knew from the beginning of my training that it was not going to be a PR or even close to one, so my goal was to treat it like a fun run with thousands of other people. And a fun run it was!

This year's course started at the Washington Monument, went around part of the National Mall, went over the bridge behind the Lincoln Memorial just barely into Arlington, VA, then back over the bridge, along the Potomac River to the Kennedy Center, turned back down along the Potomac, around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial, down and around Hains Point, then back up to the Washington Monument. Most large races in DC have several miles around Hains Point, which can be windy and lacking in spectators. But it was relatively calm, and a group of people were at the tip of Hains Point giving out beer. The peak of the cherry blossoms was a few days after the race, but most of the cherry trees were turning pink.

None of these pictures are from Cherry Blossom, but here are some of the things you will see along the course.

Washington Monument, near the start and finish area
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Bridge to Arlington and the Lincoln Memorial
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Jefferson Memorial (inside, you'll see the outside and the Tidal Basin
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Potomac River
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Based on my training, I thought I would finish around 1:40-1:45. I had no pressure to run any particular time. It was the easiest 10 mile race ever. I crossed the finish line in 1:39 and change, including a 2-minute bathroom break just before the 10K/6.2 mile mark. Go me!! Beat my time goal? Check. Had fun? Check.

I liked:
The entry fee was reasonable. You could pay extra if you wanted a medal or technical shirt.
The course is flat/pretty and took us along the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, the Potomac River, and the Washington Monument.
The weather was good. Cold at the beginning but clear and dry. Not too windy along Hains Point. Pretty much perfect weather during the race.
There is an official transfer period in February. This is a nice option. Most race entries are non-refundable and non-transferable.

I didn't like:
The course was crowded the whole time, although you had enough space to move after about the first mile.
The corrals were not enforced and people pretty much started wherever they wanted to. I actually moved one corral back because I knew I was nowhere capable of running the projected time I put down on my registration. Based on the corral cutoffs, I should have moved back two corrals. But one corral ended up being perfect. I was running with people at about my pace the whole time, and I passed and was passed by about the same amount of people. So I seeded myself appropriately. Not everyone else did, though.
The hassles of a large race. Getting there early. Crowded course. Allowing extra time to check your gear, use the bathroom before the race, and get into your corral.
Entry is through a lottery. This is not a downside for me, since I think lotteries are fairer and work better than opening registration at a certain time and having the system crash because too many people tried to register at the same time. But it means you can't just decide to run Cherry Blossom close to the race.

Bottom line? I would run Cherry Blossom again.

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