The 2008 Cherry Blossom 10 mile run race report

The Cherry Blossom 10-miler

The annual Cherry Blossom festival in DC is accompanied by the ever so popular 10 mile run. The participant number was increased from 10,000 to 12,000 for the 2008 run and yet, online registration closed within 4 hours of opening on Dec 11th 2007!!! Luckily I had volunteered at last year’s event which guaranteed me an entry into the race for this year. So while thousands of people were battling the slow servers, I was already planning my run.

I had a little over 3 months to prepare and I was determined to run better and faster. I invested in some uber expensive winter gear and mentally prepared myself to wake up early and run every morning before work, saving the long runs for the weekend. I also spent many hours of my employer’s time reading blogs to find out exactly what I should be eating, how I should be training, and how not to get injured. Basically, I couldn’t wait till April 6th. I was going to be a lean mean running machine!

Well, at least I had good intentions. My plan worked for the first two weeks and then even my expensive clothing wasn’t convincing enough to get me out of bed on those cold, dark, rainy mornings. Excuses are too easy to come by and with 3 months to spare, it’s just too easy to say “starting tomorrow…”. Unfortunately, tomorrow never came, until April 5th!!!

Yesterday, the day of the race, I woke up to a gray and cold morning (nothing had changed in these 3 months it seemed like). It was drizzling, with more showers expected all day. So this was my luck; instead of a nice crisp morning with the birds chirping and the cherry blossoms swaying in the cool morning air, I was woken up with skies that looked ready to break any second under the weight of billions of rain drops!

Devang and I got on the metro saying little to each other. I was still trying to get over the weather when he finally broke the silence and asked me something about the champion-timing-chip. I looked at him in disbelief as I realized that I had forgotten to put on the chip. Unfortunately there was no time to go back and undo the damage. To make matters worse, once at the race, I couldn’t find the friends I had planned to run with. That was the third thing to go wrong that morning and I had seriously started thinking it was all down hill (or should I say up-hill) from here. Thankfully, before I could brood over the idea anymore, it was time to run.

It’s hard not to get carried away in the spirit of the run when there are 11,999 others running along side of you. I soon forgot about the chip and barely noticed the rain. The Cherry blossoms were so pretty regardless of the sunless morning and the petals were flying around like snow. While running, I saw a guy propose to his girl friend as the crowd cheered running past them. I saw two cousins running together, one wearing a birthday party-hat and the other wearing a shirt that said, “my cousin is 30 today and she is single.” I wished her happy birthday when I passed her. I saw another young lady who was wearing a sign that said, “40 days till I’m a lawyer“. I congratulated her as I passed her too. It was like reading bumper stickers while driving! It was so much fun.

Before I realized, I was past my 6th mile. My body was doing great, and I was doing fairly well at 10 minute per mile. At one point it started getting really warm, so I decided to take off my jacket and gloves, and tossed them on the side of the road. This eventually turned out to be a bad move since 5 minutes later, it was raining much harder and I was running against the cold wind. Thankfully, my body had been warmed up and I was able to ignore the fact that my exterior was numb!

I finished the race in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Devang Β met me at the finish line with a huge smile. And I was so happy to see him!

So even though I was far from being a lean mean running machine, I did alright. I am still recovering from the fact that my time wont be official without the champion-timing-chip, but I’ll get over it in a few days. I guess the only other way to make it official is to find another 10 miler, rinse and repeat. Actually while I’m at it, why not a half, after all, it’s only 3 more miles! I can do that!

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

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