Monday, April 4, 2011
Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Report
The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler is one of the most exciting, fantastic races in the DC area. Top runners from around the world come to compete for the $46,000 total monetary race awards. Africans win this race-no question. The top dozen or so of this race are East Africans. No joke-the winner runs 45-46 minutes(typically a 4:35 per mile pace!!!!). Insane I know. With a 16,000 runner field, it makes it that much more interesting, and you get all kinds of runners in this race. The competition in the Metro area was fierce. Georgetown Running Company brought an ARMY of 20 runners including Olympic Trials Qualifier Karl Dusen, Samuel Luff, Jerry Greenlaw, my roomate Joe Wiegner, Dutchman Dirk De Heer, David Burnham...and the list goes on. Other runners in the field like the famous Michael Wardian(2-Time Olympic Trials Qualifier) showed up. The top 2 American Elites in the race were David Nightingale(sub 4:00 miler and 1:04 half marathoner/Olympic Trials Qualifier) and Lucas Meyer(from Connecticut/also easily an Olympic Trials Runner). Capital Area Runners' Rich Saunders(who ran most of the Shamrock 13.1 with me) was also in the race. Pacers had their own Bert Rodriguez. Ex-Gtown racer Patrick Reaves also showed up. As for =PR=, we had Adam and I as our top 2, with Aaron being out due to sickness unfortunately. Still, our team finished 3rd overall. Georgetown obviously dominated the race. Now on to how the race unfolded...
I got to the race SUPER EARLY(6:05 AM). The sun had yet to rise. The Washington Monument stood tall. My roomate Joe and I got up at 4:45 AM and drove to the metro to meet Karl and Sam to catch the 5:39 train from Grosvenor. We all sat and talked/chilled out. It was nice metroing with these guys rather than being alone and getting all nervous, I thought. There was hardly anyone on the train. We got closer to DC and more people were there once we got off Metro Center but still very stress free. It was nice. We dropped our stuff off at the Elite Tent and I met Peggy who is on the =PR= womens racing team as well. We then saw some of the Africans show up and GOOD LORD they looked fast. Intimidating indeed. I did a nice warm-up as the sun came up and the sky was clear. BEAUTIFUL DAY. After the warm-up, I was ready to go and put on the flats. Whew...nervous. Gotta relax. Gotta stay relaxed...
START LINE: I was happy to find fellow PR Racing Team Member Adam Condit at the start line and he and I were ready to go. We had a plan to run hopefully together much of the race and shoot for 52:00 minutes. We also wanted to go through around 26:00 at the 5 mile mark. The gun went off and immediately everyone sprinted. FAST FAST FAST Africans SURGED to the front like a stampeed. CRAZY. Adam and I jostled through a few runners to get in a good starting position. Wardian right ahead. Top G'Town Runners' Karl, Sam, Jerry, and Joe also right ahead. Stay Relaxed. The first mile flew by...5:05...5:06...5:07ish. Not bad, knew the first mile would be fast. I ran fluidly and actually felt quite good. Adam and I ran side by side. We went over Arlington Bridge and people cheered everywhere. I could see the Elite Africans up ahead HAULING around the cul-de-sac. PHENOMENAL. Adam and I ran with ease around the cul-de-sac to come back over the bridge again. 2:21 Marathoner and G'Town racer Paul Geuvara was hanging off our shoulders as well. We eventually pulled ahead of him but really only because Paul is coming back from a long layoff from injury(the guy is a damnnnn good runner). Then the Dutchman Dirk De Heer pulled alongside of us. Another great runner who is a 1:07 half marathoner. But I knew he was triathlon training so maybe he couldn't beat me? I went with him. I thought I could beat him, for an instant. At Mile 3 we had a pack going as we caught some runners and I made a move to go in front of the pack. Why do I do this, I thought? Is it just that I like to lead? I guess I like making moves, not necessarily a bad thing but don't I need to also be more tactical of a racer? ah fuck it...JUST RUN CHRIS! I lead the pack to the turnaround where I saw the top G'Town guys Joe, Sam, Jerry, and Karl tearing it up on the opposite side. Mile 3-Dirk surged AGAIN. Goddamn. Adam and I keyed off of Dirk from miles 2-4 but then we lost sight of him after 5. Adam and I continued to run together and shared the lead. Mile 5 was a nice highlight of the race. We went through in 26:03. PERFECT, we both said to eachother. I was also happy to see Beth and her mom and many others cheering for me and the =PR= team. Adam and I gritted our teeth for the second half, the brutal part of this race which goes around Hains Point. The wind wasn't easy. The pain started to set in. I was starting to hurt.
HARD WORK: I had to work the second half of this race. I was starting to hurt I think also because only 2 weeks ago I had raced a half marathon in a huge PR. It's tough to recover from a race longer than 10 miles, whereas a 10K it isn't so bad. So, all in all, the last 5 miles hurt like a mother. Rich Saunders caught up to us. I spat out, "good to see you again." He began to pull ahead. Adam also began to pull ahead of me just slightly around mile 6. I keyed off of them however and worked my ass off to try to get back up there. I think I was 32:20's at 10K which is a PR. I knew I was on pace to run 52:something. And I knew 52 anything would be solid, since my current PR was 53:25(split in the shamrock 13.1). But still I wanted 52:30 or faster. I went around the tip of Hains Point and could still see Adam and also Rich was up there-I was keeping them in sight. Mile 8 I really started to hurt and saw the famous Jake Klim(who has run this race in 50:55) yelling his ass off at me. I happened to look down at my watch when Jake saw me and he yelled, "DON'T LOOK AT YOUR WATCH!! LOOK UP AND RUN!!!" Gave me a kick in the arse. I started to surge.
I ran with all my might the last 2 miles but had no turnover. I was running close to empty at this point. I had very little left in the tank. Even so, I saw a runner up ahead who I was gaining on, and Adam still did not appear that far away. I ran under the bridge nearing the finish. Close. Damn I am hurting...just keep going...keep fighting. Mile 9. ONE MORE MILE. HIT IT HARD! I surged up the last hill before the finish. I could see the runner I was catching, closing on him....I made it up the hill and heard the roar of the crowd as I kicked as hard as I could but barely had anything to muster. I was out of gas...and real estate to catch the runner..I just finished right behing him and woah...Ok this is gross but I puked(AGAIN) at the end...actually in mid-air for the first time ever and then again when I stopped. I felt a whole lot better afterwards though. I don't typically throw up after races but the last 2 have been double wammies. I crossed the finish line in 52:54, a new personal best and an average of 5:17 per mile. I placed 32nd overall(19th American). Adam was 30th overall in 52:28. Top American was Lucas Meyer(13th overall, 48:26). Karl was 16th overall(3rd American) in 50:06, and my roomate Joe was 23rd overall in 51:34. I am happy with the race and considering I ran Shamrock 2 weeks ago and did nothing but easy running in between races, it was a solid effort and I couldn't have run a step harder. I think I will feel tremendously better for the Pikes Peek 10K on April 17 since the distance is shorter and shamrock will be a few more weeks back. Gradually going down in distance here with each race this Spring. I am excited to attack the 10K again and I am already feeling recovered after taking a day off today from running. I want to thank everyone for cheering me on out there and supporting me. Compliments to PR Racing Team Member Dustin Whitlow for the fantastic photographs!