I know the highlight of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is supposed to the actual blossoms, but I don't think I've ever noticed them while running. Ditto for the monuments. I guess I'll have to wait until the 700 emails about marathonfoto shots so I can check the race photos and see all that stuff thoughtfully framed in the background . Of course last year's best shot was of me checking my watch, as if to say 'am I done yet?'
The best part of Cherry Blossom for me is the history and the fast folks up front setting records and running mind-boggling quick paces for a significant distance. Allan Kiprono ran the second fastest 10 miler on American soil (and 'the fastest 10 miler ever on a record-worthy course' as they announced at the start) last year and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom set the US women's solo record this year.
The week leading up to the race was pretty typical. I ran fairly long on the previous Sunday, Tuesday was a nice track workout of 400s and 800s. Then I took off two consecutive days Friday and Saturday (first consecutive days off in 2013). I almost wonder if I should have not done that. But I felt as good at the start as I have for any race this year. And as a result the first mile was relaxed and still at an acceptable pace. Then I seemed to LOSE MY FREAKING MIND or so I thought.
Next two miles were 6 flat and 5:57. A year ago my best 5k (post 20) was 19:06. Cherry Blossom marks 5k and 10k and I was (minus a few seconds for gun time) right about there. It seemed to be around the same spot where I knew I needed to settle last year, however last year was because I was trying to make up for a lousy start from the second corral. The next two miles were 6:05 and 6:09, and the garmin was starting to beep before I reached the markers (this is expected, I was not running the optimum tangents for the sake of running space and avoiding water stops, and so forth). The garmin splits add up to 30:33, plus an extra 20 seconds means 30:53. Like last year, faster than Celtic Solstice with another 5 to run. But I was getting heavy legs and already started to think about what my time would be with varying degrees of fade.
Through 10k, my split was 38:43 probably the fastest I've covered that distance. I was knocked back with the Hains Point wind (probably 10-15 seconds for those two miles) but manged to hang until the turn where the pace dropped back to 6:20 with no wind, or the wind at my back. I felt like I was crawling, but really the pace was quite fine. If I had held the first mile pace a few miles further, it would have been those 6:20 just in a different pace. I felt like it was a massive positive split, but in actuality it was 1:25. I can live with that for a race over an hour. Second half garmin splits were 6:17, 6:27, 6:32 (wind miles), 6:23, and 6:22. Plus the extra .1 was 38 seconds. I split that between the two halfs, for 30:53 and 32:20.
What does the mean for the marathon in a 4 weeks? Well, i'm certainly confident about my ability to BQ with a 3:10 (since I'm turning 35 on Friday this is my qualifying time, hooray for getting old!). I'm throwing the actual CB time out as it will not compare to the course in Cincinnati. But the other races this year, particularly the club challenge 1:05 and Caesar Rodney 1:27, project closer to 3:05. So do I go out with the 3:05 pace group? I'm leaning towards yes.