The race started out with the lead pack of Africans as usual and they were going too fast for me to run with them, so there was a gap between me and them before veteran Bert Rodriguez pulled up next to me. Bert is known for this race, and is consistently a sub 51 guy on this course, so I figured hanging with him was all I needed to do. Last year, I had hung with him for about less than half the race before he pulled away and beat my by nearly a minute. This time Bert asked me what I was shooting for and I said anything in the 50s. He agreed it was the same for him and we went through the first mile in 5:05, right on pace. We crossed over the bridge and I could tell the wind was strong. This may not be so easy. We could still see the lead pack going strong. There were only a few other white guys in front of us. I guessed that we were right around top 15, and actually at the time Bert and I were 13th and 14th. I then remembered that the top 3 Americans get prize money IF they finished within the top 15. How close was I?
After running around the circle and crossing back over the bridge again, we made the brutal left turn down towards the Kennedy Center. At this point we began to see Wilson Komen who dropped back from the lead pack and began reeling him in. As we did so, another runner(Christopher Mills), caught up with us and hammered up ahead. Mills surged strongly ahead and Bert and I tried to keep him in contact, but he was quite strong. After the dreadful U-Turn, I went through 5K in 15:50 give or take and Wilson hung with us and we hammered toward Mile 4 at the next dreadful U-Turn. As we made the turn, I saw on the other side of the turn an army of GRC guys trying to chase us down. Somewhere between mile 4 and mile 5 Wilson faded, but I hung with Rodriguez. We went through Mile 5 in 25:39.
As we made our way to the 10K mark, we went through in 31:59. After that, we made our way towards Haines Point. Then Bert threw in a surge and I almost lost him(pictured below). But I hung tough and reeled him back in, and he knew I was still on him. The wind was brutal(and I think even more brutal for us since it was just two of us trying to desperately block it). I tried to tuck behind him, but it didn't do much. Then he tucked behind me. We tried desperately to block the wind for each other, but it was no use. Together we grinded through it and caught one of the Africans who fell off the lead pack. At this point we were 12th and 13th.
As we came around the tip of Haines Point, Bert began to surge hard. I hung with him but I began to feel my labor from running so hard into the wind. As we turned the other direction, the wind was pretty much gone thankfully. We approached mile 8. I had never stuck with this guy for this long. I thought I had a shot to beat him. But with only 2 miles to go, Bert punched it hard. I tried with all my strength to match him. He had gained a few meters on me. I clawed like hell to get him back to me. He punched it again. Another gap. I was losing him. I kept trying to surge to keep my turnover. I think I did that well, but Bert was just surging harder and I could not respond. With 1 mile to go, I saw the mens GRC cheering me on and as always I thank them very much for that! I began to grit my teeth and go up the torturous hill with 800 meters to go. I could still see Bert up ahead, but the veteran had beaten me. I ran strong through the finish, however and claimed 13th place overall(6th American), and 3rd man out of DC, MD, VA. Bert ended up finishing 15 seconds ahead of me.
*Thanks to Charlie Ban for the photos above!*
2013 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run
1 DANIEL SALEL 35 22 1 46:06 KENYA $8,000.00
2 ALLAN KIPRONO 1 23 2 46:07 KENYA $4,500.00
3 LANI KIPLAGAT 13 24 3 46:44 KENYA $2,000.00
4 STEPHEN SAMBU 37 24 4 46:59 KENYA $1,500.00
5 SHADRACK KOSGEI 7 28 5 47:29 KENYA $1,000.00
6 MACDONARD ONDARA 22 28 6 47:35 KENYA $900.00
7 TESFAYE BEKELE 25 30 7 48:29 ETHIOPIA $800.00
8 TYLER MCCANDLESS 33 26 8 49:01 BOULDER, CO $700.00
9 PATRICK RIZZO 31 29 9 49:25 BOULDER, CO $600.00
10 CHRIS KWIATKOWSKI 305 24 10 49:47 CHEVY CHASE, MD $500.00
11 CHRISTOPHER MILLS 111 23 11 50:59 FALLS CHURCH, VA
12 BERT RODRIGUEZ 114 33 12 51:40 CHARLOTTE, NC
13 CHRISTOPHER SLOANE 122 29 13 51:55 NORTH POTOMAC, MD
14 ALEXANDER BENWAY 130 22 14 52:03 RESTON, VA
15 CHARLIE HURT 121 29 15 52:12 RICHMOND, VA
16 CHAS BALLEW 118 28 16 52:22 WASHINGTON, DC
17 JAKE KLIM 125 32 17 52:25 NORTH BETHESDA, MD
18 WILSON KOMEN 115 35 18 52:28 WASHINGTON, DC
19 JERRY GREENLAW 120 25 19 52:29 ALEXANDRIA, VA
20 ERIC WALLOR 129 30 20 52:37 PALATINE, IL
21 JOHN SCHROEDER 419 25 21 52:44 WASHINGTON, DC
22 EVAN JURKOVICH 132 27 23 52:47 WASHINGTON, DC
23 BLAINE OREILLY 126 24 24 52:49 WILLIAMSBURG, VA
24 DOMINIC SMITH 510 23 26 53:00 WASHINGTON, DC
25 JACOB SMITH 128 21 27 53:16 NEW RICHMOND, OH
I have mixed feelings about this race. On the one hand, I am pretty psyched about finishing 13th. It's great to have moved up over the years. Below is my history of finishes in this race:
Despite my place, I honestly am not really happy about my time(51:55). I was aiming for sub 51 and I was far off that. I'm not sure how much the wind affected things however. And I do believe I could not have run harder and competed to the best of my ability.
I have also been looking at this year as a whole, not just by season. I must remind myself that just because I don't PR in an event this season doesn't mean I am not on the right track. I do feel like I am headed in the right direction and am doing the right things. I have also shifted my focus to the half marathon for this fall, which is something I have never done. My goal is to have every race build off each other, to get stronger, and to adapt to a faster pace. This is also a new approach for me as I have not looked at things in a bigger perspective until now. Indeed, when I look at my first 2 races this year and how I have placed, I am moving up. I hope to place well at Pikes Peek in 2 weeks.
Moving forward, it's time for me to target my speed and see what I can do @ 5K/10K. I have already done some solid workouts at 5K/10K pace during this training cycle. I need to do a high quality workout this week, and then I will get a perspective of what I might be capable of on April 21.