4.02.2012

Cherry Blossom: Pros and Cons

Yesterday I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile race in Washington DC. I have been lucky enough to have been to DC several times before, so I did not feel pressured to go and see all the sights or stand in really long lines to get into the museums (the line for the Natural History was all the way down the block!) I had a great (leisurely)  day on Saturday wandering around, meeting up with these girls, checking out the "new to me" MLK Memorial and trying to find a few cherry blossoms. There were a few, but you could tell that the early warm weather and subsequent rain kind of ruined the timing for most of them. That didn't stop me from taking a bazillion photos, but that deserves a post of it's own.

PROS:

- The expo. I was in and out in 10 minutes. Everything was well signed; the volunteers were directing you to your next stop; there were plenty of bathrooms. Plus it was in the National Building Museum, which is a gorgeous old building. I didn't really check out the booths since there were so many people, but there were a ton of options!


- The commute. I got a hotel about a mile from the start line and it was SO NICE to leave only 15 minutes before I wanted to get there. Usually racing involves some kind of commute, but this one was a nice short one! It was so convenient! Even if you did not stay in the city, the metro is very handy. This is a definite plus!

The weather. It was not too hot. On the other hand, I was going to wear shorts, but opted for pants at the last minute because I am a wimp and I would rather be warm during the race than stand around freezing beforehand. It was probably about 45 - 50 degrees during the race.

- Port-a-potties. There must have been a couple hundred of those bad boys. Plus they had them along the course every couple of miles. However, this didn't stop the lines at the start from looking like this. I waited in line for 30 minutes even though I didn't even have to go when I got in line!


- The wave start. There were 6 (I think) different waves, which made for a much less confusing start. I was in the Red. Wave. Haha. The race began at 7:30 but the red wave didn't start until 7:33. The only thing about that is that the elite runners started at 7:20 and that is when they started the clock, so every time I got to a mile marker, the clock scared me a little bit. For example, at the first mile, the clock said 21 minutes or something like that. Ouch.

- The location. The race started and ended at the Washington Monument. You couldn't ask for a nicer place to run. Much of the course was along either the tidal basin or the Potomac, which meant running near water a lot of the time.


- Meeting up with the girls (mentioned above). It was so nice to finally put faces to the names. We did not get any photos. I am so bad at that.

- The bibs. They had our names on them! This is the first time I have ever had one with my name on it. It made me feel special, like I was an elite runner or something. I liked it.


- Water stops. There were a lot of them and they were nice and long. However, with all the people, I missed the first one because I was all the way over to the left and it was on the right. I noticed later there was a sign before each stop, but it didn't say which side the stop was going to be on and they did change sides.

- The website was very easy to navigate, was packed full of information and you could even watch the race on live streaming video if you wanted.

CONS:

- The crowd. There must have been 20,000 people. I really don't know how many there really were, but there were A LOT. Usually everyone spends the first mile or so finding their pace, passing a few people, getting passed by a few people...this happened for the entire 10 miles. There was never a time when I had a little bubble of space around me. It was very claustrophobic and I had a hard time maintaining a pace when I was constantly having to pass people.

- Speaking of passing people, and this is not the race management's fault, but what is up with people who get into a corral that is faster than their pace? It really irks me. This race was done on a wave start. I think my wave was 8 - 9 minute mile pace, yet clearly some of the people who I was passing at the beginning were slower than a 9 minute mile. Do people feel like they have to prove something? Like they are wimpy if they get in the correct corral? Because that is not the case! It's just that it's hard enough having to pass people that are going 2 seconds per mile slower than you; it's nearly impossible when they are going a whole minute slower. Get in the correct corral please.

- The "goodies" after the race consisted of water, Gatorade, bananas and muffins. That's it. Really, people? You can't get some better treats than that? I know that most of our race entry fees probably went to the street closures and security and stuff like that, but I expected a better spread.

- In fact, to top the above cop out, you also had to pay extra for a medal and/or a technical tee-shirt.

- The corrals (ie the wave start) were packed! I don't know how you were supposed to get into them either; I couldn't find a doorway. I ended up squeezing through the bars of the metal barrier in order to get in. And then I stood there, back to front with all my fellow runners. I guess I should have showered beforehand. 

- Not meeting up with Jill. She didn't have her phone with her and we set up a meeting spot for before the race but I didn't realize that there were going to be a million other people on the same corner, so we missed each other. Blogger meetup: fail.

Verdict? I probably will not do this race again. I bet that if you want to run in DC, there are a ton of other races which probably have just as nice of a course, but less people. It was a fun race on a nice course in a beautiful city, but I prefer smaller, more personal races. Besides, there are so many other places I need to see!

Now, an important question. On my 50 states list, where does this fall? Do I need a "50 states and a District" list? 

Have you ever been to DC? Have you ever been to a Cherry Blossom festival? Have you ever gotten a bib with your name on it?

13 comments:

  1. It is shameful, but I have never been to DC. I hope to remedy that eventually and to run a race there. I think LA is on my list first, though, since I'm headed to that coast.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tough spread! It sounds like you had a good time just not so great with some parts of the race! I think it is super cool that you got a bib with your name on it! I have never gotten one of those!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congrats on another finish! I love visiting DC and one day I'll run a race there. I've never been to a Cherry Blossom Festival. And a bib with my name on it is a race favorite!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Too bad the weather has been too warm and the cherry blossoms probably had their peak a week ago or so. They make you pay extra for the medal? That is weird but I guess it kind of makes sense to keep the amount controllable for those who don't care. Sounds like you still enjoyed the day in DC!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I live in the area and kept hearing about how the 10 miler was coming up and it was going to be packed! I think most of those races downtown are huge and get tons of people participating.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congrats on another race! Ugh I'm conflicted about the waves. I usually overestimate how slow I'm going to be and then spend the entire race dodging and passing people, but I'm always afraid that if I pick a faster time I'll just jinx myself and be a nuisance to everyone who has to pass me!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bummer that you missed your meetup:( I don't like crowds either. I try to avoid the larger races but have been to a few. At least they had plenty of potties:) I hate it when people get in the wrong corral. Never been to DC. Congrats on the race!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I worked in DC for about 7 months a while back and took my time seeing all the sights including the Cherry Blossoms... That race sounds too big for my taste way to brave it!! I totally know what you mean about the corral jumpers! I remember the 1st race I ran with my name on the bib & when the 1st person yelled "Go Natasha" I looked around expecting to see someone I knew :-0

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, I am glad that they improved the expo/packet pick up. It was a disaster last year. Seriously. Like a line around a city block. And the corals were just as crowded - we had to squeeze between bars to get into a coral.

    So I wouldn't do the race again. It doesn't strike me as one of the better races I've done, and I think it's crap that your race t was a cotton t. It's unheard of to pay extra for a tech t & medal!

    But, I did love the course - it was beautiful! And I love DC and would love to return some day!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Those massive races are always a little crazy. It sounds like it was fairly well run, all things considered. I love that you got your name on the bib! Houston did that for us too, I really liked it. It does sound like a beautiful course, and a great one to cross DC off your list!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love DC! I went there alone once on business. I think traveling alone would be fun occasionally, but it's also nice to go with company.

    Congrats on the race. Crowded races aren't fun. I don't understand the slow people lining up in forward corrals, makes no sense to me and yet it happens all the time.

    P.S. Did you see my blog today - - - you may be a winner :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Overall it sounds like a great event. I'm glad you liked it.

    Can you believe I was a Political Science major and I've never been to Washington DC? I've been to the capitols of Canada, France, Argentina and Paraguay but never to the capitol of my own country.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in DC and absolutely loved it. Other than the bridges (of which we crossed quite a few) and the killer hill at the end (I cussed the Virginia side of this race!), it was a remarkably beautiful race!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting! Any suggestions, tips or praise you have is always welcome!