I guess it’s about time I write about this race from last Sunday! Well, if you’ve been following me at all, you know that there are several races recently that I’ve had to walk. This was no different. Up till that morning, I was hoping to feel good enough to give running a shot, but the ever-present swollen bumps in my leg said no. So walk I did. I knew there was a strict cut-off time, to allow the hordes of tourists to view the cherry blossoms, so it was firmly established that if you didn’t maintain a 14:00 minute/mile pace, you’d be forced to re-route to the finish or picked up by the sag wagon. If I were running, this pace would of course be no problem. I’m pretty sure, though, that even the races I’ve walked have been under that pace. (Not the most recent one, though, because that course was a killer.) Still, I didn’t want to suffer the further indignity of being too slow. Insult to injury, literally.
I took the metro to the race start, and only a few minutes before I left my apartment did I think that maybe I should have biked there. I was afraid the metro would be too crowded. It wasn’t, but what was the problem was once I got off at Smithsonian. Sure, the race start was nearby, but then bag check—for which there were NO signs to direct us—was located waaaaay down past the start. There wasn’t a line, but it was still annoying. On race day, there are people going every which way, so it’d be nice to have signs indicating where things are. Didn’t help that the volunteers I asked didn’t know either. Since I hadn’t arrived particularly early for the race, I had to book it to bag check (in hindsight, I should have just planned to NOT wear warm clothing before the race, and carry my small things with me) and then book it back to my corral. It was already a comfortable temperature by this point, so there wasn’t much shivering going on. Which is good, because the worst thing in the world is to be standing around in shorts and a tank top when it’s cold with nothing to do but wait.
One thing that was a bit curious was that when I had initially arrived at the race start, I heard the announcer say something about the course not being exactly ten miles. He said to “think of it as a 15K”. I had missed the beginning of his announcement, so I was surprised that they had goofed on the distance and *just* found out. Turns out it wasn’t quite that. The real reason for the shortened course was that there had been some accident/crime on a part of the course involving personal injury, so a part of the course had to be closed off as a crime scene. And it had just happened that morning, which didn’t give officials enough time to measure the shortened course and tack on the missing amount. It seemed like it was handled well, for the circumstances, because when I was on the course, I couldn’t tell where the re-routing had been done. It seemed more-or-less seamless.
The course itself was like the course for most other DC races- that is, it runs through only the nice, scenic parts of DC, e.g. Tidal Basin, Arlington Memorial Bridge, West Potomac Park, Kennedy Center. There were so many people, SO MANY PEOPLE. Thousands upon thousands, it’s just crazy. At no point during the race did I not have several people in my vicinity. If I’d been running, I would have been dodging people during the entire course. HUUUUGE contrast to the Red Rock Canyon marathon, which had just over 100 people, and large stretches where I might see someone far off in the distance, or no one at all.
Considering I started in my original corral (which was one of the first) and considering the course had been shortened, I had nothing to worry about in terms of not being able to finish in time. I was well under a 14:00-minute pace, and oh how I would have loved to just RUN! I hate walking races, but I shouldn’t say that, because at least I can do that. One day soon, I will be all better and I’ll be stronger than yesterday. Keeping the positives in mind, it was great to be able to enjoy the beautiful spring day with a brisk walk through downtown DC and enjoy the cherry blossoms with thousands of other people who, rather than obstructing my path, were going in the same direction :-) I got some nice photos afterwards, and then went back to my apartment where my parents were waiting for me. Not a bad way to start the day. (not the best, but still…)
I still remember five years ago, my dad ran his first race, the Cherry Blossom 5K. (I ran with him, since I was, surprise(!) injured. Masking that pain was tough.) It’s still the only race he’s done, but he keeps (not-seriously) saying that he should sign up for this or that race. Here’s hoping that 2016 might be the year that he tackles Cherry Blossom again, maybe even the 10-miler!!!!