Monday, April 4, 2011

4/3 -- Cherry Blossom 10-mile Race report

April 3rd finally arrived. The Cherry Blossom 10-miler! I had been waiting for this race since watching it last year on a bicycle. And I had been really anticipating it since my failures at the Philly Distance Run and Veteran's Day. I wanted to prove I can indeed run longer distance races well and conquer Hain's Point. With a new coach who puts emphasis on racing and my new attitude toward races, it was time to do or die. My fitness was at a high level leading up into today and my training has been going really well. No full taper, but Todd felt this wasn't necessary.

The race started and I sought out Matias to pace the first mile together. He's a solid pacesetter and even if we went out faster than our planned 5:40, it wouldn't be bad. We did go faster, 5:32, but that is still conservative and sustainable. The next 2 miles were solid, 5:26 for both, and I tucked in behind the taller Karsten Brown, a solid racer and windshield. Mile 4 was placed on the wrong side of the Ohio Drive turnaround, so the times appeared a lot slower, but I didn't panic, and estimate a 5:20 split. Our group of Dave, Karsten, Matias, myself and a couple other guys stuck together on Independence Avenue leading into mile 5 (5:18). This was my favorite part of the race. Just a long straightaway heading into the sun. I had felt a little off in mile 4, and this refreshed me. I got my legs back to full strength and started to put away Karsten and a Howard County strider, Mark Buschman, leading into Hain's Point. Matias had put out a bit of a surge and got about 10 seconds ahead by the time we got to parking lot A on the Point and crossed mile 6 (5:21), and 10k (a 33:40-:50 estimate, which would be a 10k PR!).

Matias and me... next time he should lend me his calves, or at least a piece of them.

At this point I found myself in a bit of a no-man's land. Matias was too far ahead to group with him, and Karsten, Dave and Mark were 10+ seconds behind me. I didn't want to be in this situation, but I just focused on Matias and the guy he had just caught... that guy was my next prey as well. I caught him about half a mile later, and hit mile 7 in 5:20. Mile 8 included the turnaround at the end of the Point, and by now I had TEXAS PAUL, who was barely coming back from injury, in my sights and was gaining ground back on Matias, with a 5:16 split. By mile 8.5 I was 4-5 seconds back of Paul, when I felt the cramp develop in the bottom-center of my chest, diaphragm area. Suddenly breathing became more difficult and painful. My pace leveled out and I knew this wasn't going to be good. I hung onto the pace as best I could, but the headwind + cramp began to take its toll, and came into the 9mile marker in 5:28. The RED FOX came up beside me and shouted bloody murder at me, reminding me I was on pace for under 54 minutes. I knew this too... but I was merely hanging on now, the cramp had gotten worse. I was right on Paul's shoulder but I couldn't muster up a pass. My pace dropped quite a bit, into the 5:40s. I pushed up the hill and gave it what I had for the last 200m... but I saw the clock tick 54:07, 54:08, 54:09, and I was disappointed I wouldn't get under 54.

The struggle against the cramp
BUT I had a chance to meet my epic goal of the day, 54:29, and I did, crossing the line in 54:22, a 7-minute PR off my last 10-mile race and a 3-minute shave off my 10-mile split in last year's National Half. Happy with the time and placement, 40th overall (I expected top 60), but a little disappointed, as if I had drank more before the race, perhaps I would have been under 54. Splits were -- 5:32, 5:28, 5:26, 5:20?, 5:18, 5:21, 5:16, 5:20, 5:28, 5:50.

It was a really fun race, and I look forward to getting into the 53s next year. GRC won the team competition and everyone ran awesome times. Michelle was the 2nd American female with a 59:20, Matias ran 53:45 after predicting a 55:20, Lindsey was 14th with a 60:48 and established herself as one of the elite area runners, and Dirk showed the world he's back with a 51:40. Training is going according to plan, and now it's time to get back to work.

Up next is the Pike's Peak 10k.


  1. A strong showing by the triathlete contingent, indeed.

  2. You done amazing well!! You know what, Dirk told me on the metro yesterday morning that you can run under 53:00 easily if you put your mind to it, but he ASKED me not to tell you, otherwise you might get chicken out. See you in Pike's Peak.

  3. Easily indeed. BTW, the Chicken Tender runner don't ever chicken out, he attacks.

  4. Nice Job! No shout out for the old man though. :-(