This was the first race I felt jitters before in awhile. My goal was 70 minutes and I let a few people know I was shooting for it. I don’t run a lot of ten milers so I really didn’t know what to expect. My speed is getting better with the workouts I have been running but, It is hard for me to believe that some of the performances aren’t a fluke. I am starting to believe that I can be faster than my mind knows at this point. Anyhow, at packet pick-up I found out was in the 1st corral, more pressure. I was baffled why was I in the first corral?! Feeling a little anxious I went to sleep and tried telling myself that I could run fast in the morning.
The race had a 7:40 a.m. start time for the yellow wave in the first corral. I got dressed ate a Honey Stinger’s Protein bar and sipped on some Gatorade. The jitters were still going but they were turning into excitement. I stayed at my nephew’s condo that is about 1.5 miles from the Washington Monument which was where the race would start and finish. We jogged to the start of the race around 9 minute mile pace. This jog helped me warm up in two ways. First, it was chilly out so it was great to get the blood flowing. Secondly, it calmed me down and relaxed my mind. I remembered that I could run and that it wasn’t so hard.
I took my place in the corral and stayed to the back. I looked around and saw a lot of fit people and kinda felt like I had arrived. 15,000 people running and I was in the first corral, crazy! The gun went off and we started to run.
The start of the race was packed tight and people were jockeying for position. It was mayhem. I found a comfortable spot and tried to listen to my body and not get carried away in the excitement at the start. My plan worked out by Coach Caleb was to run the first seven miles as a tempo run and to get progressively faster as the miles clicked by. The last three miles the plan called for switching gears to a 5k effort. So here at the start I wanted to run fast but comfortable.
It wasn’t long into the first few miles my negative mind started working it’s darkness on me. People were passing me and lots of people were in front of me. I tried to calm myself down by realizing that in a race of 15,000 people plenty of people will be out in front of me. (turns out 7% would be out in front of me 1150 people) I tried to get my mind to think about other things to get the cynical cobwebs out of my head. Three different topics helped me to stop concentrating on the time goals and self doubt. One of the thoughts was how much I enjoyed the 15k race one week ago and how that race had no expectations, I just did my best. The second trick was to remember that I was doing this cause I love to run and I thought about how my body felt moving along the Washington, D.C. streets. Finally, I told myself to enjoy the beauty around me. Soak in the Cherry Blossoms and the other happy healthy runners all around me. After all, the reason I sign up for various races in other cities is to see something different. I learned my lesson in New York when my run closed my eyes to the surroundings. In the New York City Marathon I learned a lot about running by having a really hard day, I saw nothing other than the top of my trainers.
Once I got my head straight, I ended up having a great race. I was also proud of myself for changing my thought patterns, that in itself was a victory. I ended up finishing the race with a time / performance I could really be proud of. The goal was 70 minutes I finished in 74 minutes, not to shabby. I felt like I still had more in me. I walk away with different rewards from different races. The Cherry Blossom 10 miler gave me more evidence that I am a faster runner than I was, and I can control the mental aspects of the experience I am having during a race. That’s some good stuff!
Results: Chip time – 1:14:26 (average mile split = 7:22 minutes)