Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cherry Blossom 10mi race report

First, a little recent history. In the weeks leading up I raced in a couple 5ks and had been cycling a ton. First was Shamrock 5k in Baltimore. This ended up feeling a lot harder than expected, partially due to a hard ride the day before, but also because I expected to be in 5k PR shape without any real speed training... just one hill workout that same week. I ended up with a major positive split, coming in 16:23 and 13th overall. I was in much better shape to run fast last year so it was foolish to think the same this year, when I've approached training much differently. 2 weeks later I raced at the Multisport Expo in a XC 5k on the Prep campus. Matias and I cruised through the course, coming in 1-2. I ran 17:15 for the win (first and probably last time I'll ever beat Matias in anything!) and despite taking it a bit easier I easily had a much better race than Shamrock. Smarter racing and a little more run-specific hill training led to that. I had my first track "workout" the following Tuesday, which was short 5k-pace intervals. Nothing strenuous, just waking the legs up for this past Sunday's Cherry Blossom 10-miler, without a doubt my favorite local running race.

I had a hard bike workout Thursday which made me worry how my legs would feel by Sunday but on Saturday I ran for 20min and knew all systems were go. 100% full capacity. I warmed up with teammates for about 15-20min and still felt good heading to the start line. I found myself lined up behind... who else? Dee Nelson. Elbows at the ready, my first task would be getting by her without knocking her down and running with the burden that I roughed up a 68 year old woman. I managed to get by with minimal contact and the race was on. I sought out Matias but he got out to a faster start than I would've liked so I let him go and linked up with Bain. We came through mile 1 at 5:35, a little slower than both of us wanted, but we agreed it felt a little tougher than expected! Bad sign? But half a mile later my legs settled into pace and picked up speed a touch. The next few miles were consistent as I stayed on Bain's feet and slowly my small group began to reel in Matias' pack. We joined back up a little past mile 4 where I remarked to Matias "I finally caught you!" From there we made our way together down Independence Ave, catching and dropping a few other runners.

Following Matias, somewhere between 4 and 5, pain starting to set in. Photo by Jimmy Daly.

We got to mile 5 in around 27:34, but then I started to hurt. It was time to get tough and hold on. I didn't hold onto Matias though, as he picked it up heading into Hains Point. I waved goodbye as he and a PR fellow went after Bain. I forget my 10k time but it must've been somewhere between 34:20 and 34:35. It was also about that time that I began to suffer. It didn't help that the DJ around mile 7 was playing a song I was wholly unprepared to add to my mental playlist "Do The Locomotion" by Little Eva. A fine song otherwise, it wasn't what I needed on repeat in my head with 17 minutes of racing left. But on I soldiered.

Right around mile 8 I think I was beginning to slow mentally and physically as I heard a pair of footsteps draw ever nearer. Then a turning point! I saw a group of 20-30somethings suddenly erupt into a cacophany of cheering. They all shouted "YEAH!!! GO DAD!! GET HIM, YOU GOT IT!"

Dad and me with 1200m to go. Photo by Michelle Miller.

....DAD?!?!?! Oh hell. I can't lose to a guy named DAD. So my legs, reawakened with a competitive vigor, picked up steam and increased turnover. I felt like a different runner. Running away from an old man (I learned later he wasn't just any old man, but 56 year old Norm Larson, who is/was recently the 6th ranked masters runner in the US). His footsteps grew a bit fainter and stayed that way until mile 9.25, where I ran into a spot of difficulty again. It was quickly dispelled after I got some support from my friends from Falls Road. I came into the final hill and was able to finally reap the benefits of my recent hill work, putting a final cushion on DAD and rolling into the finish in 55:31, good for 44th overall and a 5:33/mi avg.

Scaling the final (and really, the only) ascent of the race, feel the pain. Photo by Jimmy Daly.

I'm very satisfied with this result. I fought for it and raced for it. And I did it with really only bike/swim and 40mpw run mileage. So being able to hold 5:30s for 10mi at this point has me very excited to start the real run training alongside an increase in bike mileage and intensity. I also paced fairly evenly, so it's nice to feel more experienced running longer distances. I start track work regularly this week and long tempos each weekend. Hopefully I'll get faster!


  1. We may not have been as supportive if you lost ground to "Dad."

    Nice race!

  2. Arms are looking buff dude. You been lifting weights?

  3. All from the pool! I hope it isn't weighing me down, for real!

  4. Look strong for sure. Doesn't seem to be slowing you down though obviously!! You're gonna absolutely smash triathlon this season. Gonna be fun to watch.