I went into Cherry Blossom thinking I'd run it as a "social race" with some friends and check out the Cherry Blossom Trees down by Potomac Park. However, not only were my friends in other waves at the start (or I didn't know they were running it), but something happens to me once I cross the timing mat in any race I run. I become quite competitive and possibly unable to run at a more relaxed, social pace. I'm not one of those people who has to beat as many people as possible, I won't complain about not getting an ideal starting spot, but I always want to see if I can improve as a runner.
Yeah, at least today, I improved by a lot. I knew I was a stronger runner than during my last 10 miler 6 months ago, so I had that in my favor. The temps were around 50, perfect for running a fast race. Somehow I managed to be placed in the second of five or six waves even though I felt the same way a female runner near me did when she said "I don't count myself in that group." (the announcer called our wave to the start line then called us the "still pretty fast" runners).
I was concerned all week about the course being very crowded, friends of mine have been knocked down and cut during this race on a rather narrow course. But that concern didn't materialize, as I was able to break to the outside and settle in at a solid race pace very quickly. Mile One, 8:20 or so. Mile Two, 16:05 or so. Each other mile, under 8 minute overall pace. Thank you trusty Armitron watch for helping with that, you didn't break after six weeks like my other one did!
The course itself is a bit uneventful but I was running at a fantastic pace so I didn't slow down for the trees, only for water and Gatorade, which I spilled over myself on more than one occasion as usual. So what, it isn't fine dining! I got to mile nine at just over 1 hour 10 minutes, so I decided to end with a flourish and pick it up for the last mile. Not a sprint mind you, but I stepped out of my groove nonetheless and hauled towards the finish. Someday I may be able to keep my just under seven minute a mile pace for 10 milers and half marathons, but for now I'm big time stoked about 1:17:06! A new PR by 11:31 officially, 9:31 after removing facility break from the net time. Okay, my limited racing career helps with this obliteration (smaller sample size than many runners). But I set the bar very high for the GW Parkway Classic in 3 weeks.
After finishing with a few miles of running to the gym to cool down and work some abs and bike a bit to flush out the legs, no Open to All Yoga for me. Didn't want to do too much.