Monday, April 4, 2011

Cherry Blossom 2011

So this was the weekend that was going to start the race season off for me.  The Cherry Blossom is a race I have done for the past three years.  My friend Ed, got me started with it, by telling it is was this great race back when I started racing in late 2008 (which is a whole other story which I will tell some time later). I ran the Harrisburg Marathon which was my first race since I was in my late teens, and this is actually where I met Ed (who is a friend of a friend sort of thing).  To register for the first year you had to log in to a web site and sign up, registration filled up in about 4 or 5 hours, and there are like 20,000 runners that run this race.  Last two year they did a lottery which I was fortunate to get in in both times.  The first year I ran this I ran a 1:20:17, and the next year 1:12:51.  So each year I got a little better for me.  This year I was hoping to do it under 1:10, because I was able to do it a sub 1:10 in the Army Ten-Miler.  Since this is spring, and really the first long race I was doing this year I really didn't know what to expect.

Let's start at the beginning here.  The beginning started with me and a group of my friends from Team In Training, decided to enter this race.  There was John and Sam Gallagher, they live down in the D.C. area now, Kayla Redding, and my old friend Jason (he actually isn't that old, and we haven't been friends that long, but we always train together and push each other to get to that next level so I call him my old friend).  We all signed up as a group, so we all got in or we all were out.  We all got the email about a week later stating we were in.  Unfortunately, Kayla had some shin splints, and bowed out so my old friend Ed went in her place.  So the weekend was set everyone was ready.

Lisa, Bex, and I were all packed up Saturday morning, and we were off to the National Building Museum (that is were the packet pick up and the health and fitness expo).  I picked my packet and Kayla packet to give the bib to Ed, and then we were shopping at the expo. At the expo I met up with John, Sam, Jason, and Jason's family.  From the expo we went out to lunch at Merzi, and Indian restaurant that was somewhat like Chipotle.  I watched Bex, and Lisa ordered for the both of us, and I had some type of Chicken thing, I'm not sure what it was, and I know if I ever figured it out I may like it (I am just that type of guy), so it is best if I don't know.  It was good, but Lisa and I were still hungry, so we stopped at the Red Velvet Cupcakes place for a lunch desert, we got three cupcakes which we ate when we got back to the hotel.  We got to the hotel unpacked our stuff (I notice since Lisa and I had a kid we pack a lot more stuff than we normally did).  We met up with Ed shortly after we checked in, and I handed over the bib to Ed, we made arrangements to meet up the next morning at 6:20 we were going to meet and take the Metro.  After the meeting with Ed, Lisa and I went to dinner at Noodles and Company.  I got some coupons at the expo for the place, we got two free bowls, I got the Spagetti and Meatball bowl, and Lisa got some Japanese noodle dish thing.  Dinner was great and then we went back to the hotel.  We took Bex to the pool, the pool was freezing, but Bex seem to have fun in.  We went back to the room and slowly went to bed.  I didn't get a great night of sleep, Bex kept kicking me all night long (I think she wants to be a runner or soccer player, I don't think she decided yet, and she has plenty of time to decide).

I was up around 4am, notice that there was a Law and Order marathon on TNT (a.k.a. the Law and Order network) and I watched a episode and a half.  I got dressed went to the bathroom, ate some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, kissed my wife and child good bye, and they wished me luck, and out the door I went.  I met up with Ed at his hotel which was a few blocks up, and we got onto the Metro.  We had to wait about 10 minutes for a train, and then the train ride was like 15 or 20 minutes.  We got to the baggage check around 7:30, and my wave started at 7:40.   So I dropped off my stuff and ran to the starting Corral.  I started in the first wave, which was label "Elite males & starting wave."  The previous two years I was red, which is the second wave, and orange wave which was the fourth wave.  Which I was sort of glad to see I was starting with the first wave.  In previous years I had to weave in and out of people for about 4 - 5 miles.

The gun went off sharply at 7:40 and we were off.  The crowd wasn't as large as it was in previous years, and I was moving a what felt like a good hard pace.  The five miles went by pretty quick I was running around a 6:30 pace.  During the race you see some of the great site of Washington, the Washington Monument, and there were others, but I was running to fast to really see any of them.   From mile 7 to mile 9 you are running down a road that has Cherry Blossom trees, which was awesome to see the cherry blossoms starting to bloom.  This section is flat and it seems very long when you are running down it, but eventually you get to the end and you have about two miles left in the race.  I ran last two miles in under 13 minutes, and finished the race in 1:05:27 (6:33 per mile).  Which isn't to bad of a time for me.

I went to the baggage claim, and claimed my bag, listen to some of the music and the announcer at the end of the race.  I heard when Bill Rodgers, one of the legends of sport of road running, finished the race and he might of been the 2 millionth runner to cross the finish line (The race has been in existence for about 38 or 39 years so to think that many people have run it total is really something amazing).  Here is a link to Bill Rodgers wikipedia page, if you are interested in looking him up.

I met up with Jason and his family at the baggage claim, and we then met up with Ed.  We chatted for a few minutes, and started walking back to the Metro,  Ed and I took the metro back to Crystal City where we stayed, talked a little more about the race, and after the train ride we went back to our separate hotels.  When I got back to the hotel Lisa and I packed everything up, and all three of us headed to Georgetown Cupcakes to pick up our order of cupcakes.  Oh did I forget to mention we order cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes (Yes that place from the TLC show DC Cupcakes).  Lisa walked in got our cupcakes and we ate some on the way home, and they were awesome.  We finished them that evening at home, I was going to wait until the Biggest Losser came on, and eat them at that time, since I am notorious for eating fat delicious food while watching that show, but I couldn't wait.

Well that was the Cherry Blossom weekend, my next big race is May 1st, the Gettysburg Marathon, and hopefully I will have some good new from that (Maybe 8th time is the charm for a Boston Qualifier).  I will also be doing Got the Nerve Triathlon on May 22nd, Eagle Man on June 12th, and Muscle Man sometime in July.  So I will have plenty of writing to do for those race.

Garmin Map