Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cherry Blossom Ten Mile: A Race Day Timetable

This weekend I laced up the shoes for my first big race since giving birth, the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in D.C. I signed up for this race on a whim about a month ago, using their bib transfer site and bought a women's entry who had to drop out (entries to this race are bought through a very high demand lottery held in December).

I wanted to run it because: 1. I had to defer to the 5K last year because of morning sickness. I walked it with my friend Kristin, but was sad to miss a race that's widely known as one of the best in D.C. and 2. As a pacer for my half-marathon in three weeks, because I wasn't sure I'd get the miles in on my own before the race (before Sunday's race, the longest training run I've done is 7.5 miles).

The logistics for running this were a mess. My husband was suddenly told on Wednesday he had to work, and had no choice Sunday morning. So, now, I was needing to get into D.C. by 7:15, find a sitter for my son, and get us all out the door quite early. Luckily, my friend Kristin (who I walked the 5K with last year) has a 9 month old son, and she lives on the way to the race, and she and her husband offered to watch Austin. Yes, I still had to wake a baby in the wee hours of the day, nurse him, get out the door, etc. but having her help made life ten times easier.

My friend Glen offered to pick me up from their place as well (I had planned to ride with him originally) so I wouldn't have to brave the metro to get into the race. That was a huge weight off my shoulders again.

Here's a timeline of Race Day:

4:45: Alarm goes off.
4:48: Peel myself out of bed, eat oatmeal with peanut butter and mixed berries on top, take the dog out.
5:00: Get dressed from the waist down and brush my teeth
5:05: Pack the car
5:10: Wake up sleepy Austin, feed him, and get him dressed
5:30: Get dressed from the top up (because of feeding), put my hair up, get Austin in his car seat, and double check the house
5:42: Pull out of the driveway
5:50: Empty interstate on the way to drop Austin off at our friend's place, he's fast asleep again in the back seat, and I'm feeling good about my morning schedule
5:55: Red and Blue Police lights come rolling up behind me. "Better get over and get out of their way," I think and move to the right. The police lights follows me as I go right, and I look at my speedometer and realize, "OH, they're pulling ME over," and proceed to receive my first race day speeding ticket (and only second ticket ever). 
6:10: Back on the road, $90 poorer, but back on my way into the District. Austin woke up because we weren't moving and is starting to fuss, and now I'm running behind. Great.
6:27: Arrive at Kristin's place, park and take Austin upstairs (who is back sleeping peacefully, thank goodness). Good luck is back with me again, as I found a parking spot easily, and right in front of their building.
6:30: My friend Glen picks me up from Kristin's place, we drive to pick up our friend Maria as well, and then pull into D.C. with less traffic commotion than I thought.
7:10: Drop my bag off at bag check, and get in line for Porta Potties with Maria. The line is moving slooooow, and from my pre-race half a diet coke and water, I do have to go.
7:30: Ditch the Porta John line and head to my corral where I meet my friend Lynne who I'm running with.
8:03: We finally cross the start line. The course for this race did not disappoint. Although the cherry blossoms were not in full bloom, with the majority of them in buds, I wasn't too torn up about it because my allergies are already acting up, and the blooming trees would have made them even worse. Conversing with Lynne helped during these miles, it was hard to get going, and around mile 2.5 I thought, "How will I keep this up today?"
9:15: At 6.5 miles, I can't hold it anymore after not getting to use the bathroom before the race. I see a REAL bathroom on the banks of the Potomac, where the wind had been whipping off of, and would for the next 1.5 miles, and have to leave Lynne to go. I'm so glad I did, it made me feel a lot better, but disappointed with the 5+ minutes it took to get done.
9:22: Back on course, and feeling so much better while jamming to my iTunes, I'm feeling a good pace. My body is starting to get sore, but I can handle it. I took ONE picture Sunday. Only ONE. And it's because when I saw this sign, I thought, "Holy moly, I'm really going to do this!" and knew I was going to complete a ten mile race 5.5 months after having my abdomen muscles literally cut in half.

10:15: I cross the finish line with my arms in the air. My stomach feels like I could barf for some reason, my legs are tight, and my abs like jello, but my pride is beaming. I see Lynne waiting for me and give her a huge hug after I cross. I DID IT.
11:15: Arrive to pick up Austin after then walking nearly an extra mile with metroing to get him. My legs are officially SHOT.

It was invigorating to run this race , and do something just for me. I love my son more than anything in the world, and he and our family are the center of my life, but I think it's important to still have a few things I own, myself. I think it makes me a better wife and mom to step away from those roles and not let them 100% define me once in awhile, and situations like this allow me to do that.

The achievement may have been mine, but as you can see throughout the day, many friends helped me get there. Kristin and Suni watching Austin, and texting me pictures of him during the race to assure me he was doing great, Glen being nice enough to give me a ride in to avoid the crowded metro, Maria standing in line with me for the porta potties when she didn't even have to go, Lynne running with me and keeping good conversation flowing to keep my mind off of miles and times, and my husband who encourages me to take every training run and is such an amazingly involved Dad.

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Jen H-Running Free said...

Love it Alexa! So proud of you! Sounds like a race I would like to come out and run with you some time! Can't wait to hear how the half goes - I know you will rock it! I know exactly what you mean about taking time to do things for you - at first I always felt guilty, but it really does make me a better mom and wife to have those things! Mom power!

Lynne said...

Great recap of a pretty great day. Well, except for the ticket. It's funny because I was wondering from the very beginning how I was going to make it the entire 10 miles. Thanks for running with me!

Darin Armstrong said...

Hello Alexa,
Just a quick message to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT’s ‘anytime’ for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…)

All the very best to you & your family for 2013 & beyond Alexa. Look forward to hearing from you…