I know I haven't written much since the beginning of the year, but that's beacuse I haven't done much since the beginning of the year. So here goes...
The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was my first event of 2013. I haven't run since doing a local 10K on New year's Eve, and really haven't trained to the level I became accustomed to last year. But I always have wanted to run Cherry Blossom, and this year my schedule was clear, and I got in.
I was really hoping to break the PR I set in March 2012 at the Reston Ten Miler (1:29:03), but after a few weeks training in 2013, it became apparent to me that that might not be the case. I struggled with motivation in January and February, I came down with a calf issue in March, and honestly didn't put enough miles in to adequately run an effective race. I was still gunning for the PR, but realistically figured I'd run about a 9:00 pace (1:30:00 race time).
The weather conditions seemed as if they'd be in my favor - the temperatures were supposed to be in the low 40's by race time, but 10-12 mph winds made it seem much colder as I waited in my corral in the 7 AM hour. I had on my Mizuno BreatheThermal shirt, but it only becomes "thermal" after you work up a sweat. Standing in the chilly morning air was tough.
The gun went off at 7:30, and by 7:40, our wave made its way on to the course. Lining up as I do towards the rear of the corral, I found it difficult to get into a groove, as I was dodging slower traffic and doing so while not crashing into other like-minded (and faster) runners doing the same. It never really cleared up the entire 10 miles on the course, but I did get a few stretches where I was able to run free for a bit. But the course was crazy crowded.
I passed the 5-Mile mat in 45:04 by my Garmin (45:07 officially), which was just under a 9:00/mile pace. I was pretty much on track with where I wanted to be, so I figured in order to PR the course, I'd have to run at an 8:45 pace the rest of the way. In Mile 6 I did, clocking in at around 8:40, but then we headed into the dreaded winds of East Potomac Park. The combination of fighting the winds and residual effect of dodging and weaving the first 3 miles I think did me in at this point. I did manage to run 9:00 or 9:01 for Miles 7 through 9 as well as for the majority of Mile 10, but that little uphill with 400 meters to go was the final blow for me. I did, though, manage to run a consistent race, as I ran the second 5 miles of this race in 45:05, just slightly quicker than the first 5, but not enough.
My official time was 1:30:12, a 9:01 pace, almost exactly what I had figured I'd do, going into the race. But all hope is not lost - I'm running the Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon on May 26, and by my estimation, I could have continued that 9-ish pace for another 3 miles, so if I do that in May, I'll be able to both go under 2 hours again for a marathon (first time was in March 2011 at Virginia Beach), and set a new PR (currently 1:59:09). I'm going to train much smarter for the next 7 weeks to prepare, and to build off of yesterday's performance.
What yesterday also did was rekindle my training fires - as I Tweeted this morning: "Nothing like finishing one race with a longer one coming up to get me back in a good training state of mind."