We just got back from the Cherry Blossom race down on the tidal basin at the Mall in DC. We had gorgeous weather this year (although it was a little chilly at 6:45am when we got down there). The alarm went off at 5am and it was rough getting out of bed that early. Mike remarked, "Getting up this early is one reason not to like racing." Even Riley seemed a little out of sorts when I got him up to go outside. Normally, we're up around 5:45am which isn't that much different but it sure felt like it!
Meghan picked us up and we were off to the metro. There were quite a few people at the station with us and we picked up more and more people as we headed into the city. By the time we got off at Metro Center to change trains, it was packed and we had to squeeze into the metro like a bunch of sardines. I remarked that at least we were packed before the race versus afterwards when we wouldn't smell so good! At the next stop the lady next to me asked her friend if that was their stop, so I joked that she should just wait to see what stop the 9,000 other people on our car got off at. We were packed so tight on the train that it took us a few minutes to get to the door to get out.
We finally pushed past the huge crowds and made it above ground to the Smithsonian grounds on the Mall. We met the MCT Credit Union people who were able to get us an entry into the race after the online registration closed. We took a couple of group pictures and headed over to the course. We decided to stop and use the port-a-johns before the race and there was a lonnnng line - so long that I thought Mike and Meghan would miss their 7:40am race start. Afterwards, we all rushed over to the 10 mile start so they could get into the corral of runners. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see, all crammed into one small area for the start. Mike went up front to his blue wave of runners and Meghan went a little further back to the orange group. Soon they were off and running!
I headed over to check in our bag with Jen from MCT before the 5K start and then we wandered over to our starting point. We chit-chatted with another lady from Montgomery County and then at 8:40am, our race began. There were so many people, I had to zig left and zag right to get around them. I passed a bunch of slow walkers (move to the back, people!) and some slow runners. I finally got to a point where I could cruise and enjoy the run. The cherry blossoms were in full force along the road and it was a beautiful run. We ran down Independence Ave and turned left to run over the Potomac River on the Memorial Bridge. I made sure I took in the gorgeous scenery as we ran over the water. Beautiful trees ringed the tidal basin, a helicopter buzzed the bridge, and volunteers clapped us on our way. I passed the one mile marker - hurray - only two more! We ran towards Arlington Cemetery and a water stop, I hoped. I was getting thirsty and a little warm. I thought we only had to run around the traffic circle on the other side of the bridge, but noo, we had to run a little further up the road closer to the cemetery entrance before we turned around (and got to the water stop). I grabbed two cups of water and chugged the first one, getting water all over my face, and held on to the second one for a bit more. I sipped the second cup for another minute or two before tossing my empty cup on the ground. Yeah, the second mile marker was in sight. I was running pretty fast and my lungs were burning. The last mile was tough and I couldn't wait to see the finish line. I passed more people and kept on pushing through my desire to walk. Is that it up ahead, no, not yet. How about now? No. Am I done yet? There it is! I couldn't even surge ahead at the end since I had given my all during the race, but I picked up the pace a bit to the finish line. I finished in approximately 28 or 29 minutes (I forgot to start my watch so I don't know my time yet. I'll check that online tonight). I finished! I finished! I finished!
After I grabbed some more water, I headed over to the 10 mile finish to find Mike and Meghan. Sadly, I didn't see them finish because there were just too many people. I heard that 12,000 people registered for the race so it was pretty crowded. I did see Rich from Mike's TNT running group cross the finish line and I ran into Claire later in the crowd. I caught up with Mike and Meghan after searching for at least 30 minutes. We all did pretty well - Mike finished his race in approximately 1:30 and Meghan in 1:47. We hung out for a bit before heading back home on the metro, exhausted, a little sore, and happy.
I finished in the top 10% overall! I came in 71st place out of 1,056 people and #5 in my age group. I finished the race in 27:50 at an 8:58 pace. That's the fastest finish time I've ever had. Woo hoo! Mike finished his 10 miler at 1:34:38 at an 8:49 pace, which is pretty awesome and his fastest 10 mile race.