a touristy ten miles

It’s cherry blossom season in our nation’s capital, and are they beautiful or WHAT?! The annual Cherry Blossom Festival has been in full swing for the past few weeks, but between a couple rough hangovers and the Final Four, I have not made it down to the Mall to join the swarm of tourists.

I chose instead to participate in the 39th annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, a 10,000 person race around the national monuments. This was my first 10 mile race; the most I had ever raced previously was the Special Olympics 10K we used to do instead of a Saturday morning. I had been training with run-buddy Allison, but not enough to ease my fears about finishing.

Despite the promise I made to myself the day after I retired–that I would never wake up before 6am again–I rose at a dismal 5:30 Sunday morning to get to the Washington Monument by 7. I felt tremendous solidarity as I rode a metro train stuffed with runners like me, D-tags on their shoes and iPods loaded up. I popped out of the Smithsonian station to a BRISK forty degrees and gorgeous sunrise.

Frantically trying to stay warm, I tried doing all my standby swim stretches, but quickly found that doing the “Michael Phelps” arm swings was making me no friends in the packed starting corral. I resorted instead to Alyssa’s 10-10-10 (“HIPS THROUGH HIPS THROUGH GODDAMMIT!!”), while sneaking peaks at all the great butts around me. I lined myself up behind the man with the shortest shorts and best legs I could find, and we were OFF! Unable to take my eyes off the man’s tendons and flexing muscles in front of me, I unwittingly stayed right on pace behind him, until the first mile marker told me I had run it in 8 1/2 minutes. OOPS. Fearing for my life, I quickly dropped back and slipped into a more comfortable groove. (This was EXTREMELY difficult for me, as anyone who has ever swum with me knows that I hate getting beaten by anybody. Allowing myself to get passed during the race just about killed me.)

The course was beautiful, as one would expect from a race with “cherry blossom” in the title. Once we got started, the 40 degrees felt pretty good, and there was a nice breeze that helped dry the sweat. Crowded among the masses of runners, I was bombarded by smells of sweat, rotting cherry blossoms, and laundry detergent.

I loved every minute of the race. I think the one thing any non-swimmer athlete takes for granted is the ability to hear encouragement. In the watery confines of the pool, cheers, shouts, yells, and screams are impossible to hear–it’s just you and your head. But when you’re running, you can hear every word that supporters have to say; see every word on their posters; calculate exactly how fast your running by the conveniently placed clocks. It makes a world of difference, especially when the people cheering you on are small, diseased children, research for whom the entry fees are funding.

I finished in about 92 minutes, 2749th out of 8896 women, which I am happy with. Now that I’ve done 10, I want to sign up for a half marathon (13) as soon as possible. Any recommendations?

”]Michelle and I struggled to stand after the race, but DAMN if we weren’t going to get a picture!! We’re thinking of signing up for the half marathon in Virginia Beach over Labor Day, but as we’re still high on adrenaline, we might try to find one sooner. Anyways, it was a great Sunday morning, and I hope to participate in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for as long as I am living in the DC area.

What did you do this weekend? Any half marathon recommendations?

Besides running, I really did nothing. I did make homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, which was a minor miracle.

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3 Responses

  1. I remember when you were training for this! Yay good job! You are so brave!

  2. Congrats Jen!! Makes me remember our walk back to Woody with ice packs on one (or both) of our shins from our running practices from hell! I’m happy that you’re enjoying running these days. I’m thinking of signing up for a 5k next month…need to start out slow! 🙂

    Enjoying reading about your life in DC! Are you going to make it back to CA at all this coming summer?

    • Aw thanks MeiMei!! Yeah can you believe how far we’ve come since then? Real-Life adults!! How is teaching going? I bet the kiddies just adore you.

      I don’t know when I’ll be back in CA–I may be out in San Diego for business in a few months, so I will definitely keep you posted. Hope all is well! 🙂

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