Saturday I headed over to the expo after getting into the city later in the afternoon. It was in the National Building Museum (I still don't know quite what that means), which is a gorgeous place to visit. Look at those pillars!
Packet pick up was yet again organized,smooth, and not super crowded. I picked up a few more BondiBands because I love how they keep all the layers of my hair in place and the sweat off my face. I decided to buy a black one that said "Run happy" on it for the race. It's the Brooks Running motto, which I LOVE, and also is the vibe I wanted for the day. The other big thing I wanted to do was sign up for the Baltimore Running Festival since I missed the super early bird pricing and they were offering a discount (more on that to registration to come!).
Afterwards my boyfriend and I took advantage of the wonderful spring weather, including looking at some actual cherry blossoms in bloom! We split a snack at Good Stuff Eatery that included rosemary french fries and a toasted marshmallow milkshake with an actual toasted marshmallow and fluff in it. It was worth every calorie! Eventually we met up with my friend whose house we were crashing at. We caught up over pizza and beer at Mellow Mushroom. I had a delicious vegetable pizza on a gluten free crust and a beer (or two). I drank some chocolate Zico and water to rehydrate and fell asleep to a movie.
Due to my less than wholesome dinner and the terrible sleep I got, I was really anxious in the morning. I took a warm-up jog to the metro, which was full of runners, and made it into the red corral with 10 minutes to spare! It was a lot colder than I had expected, so I was glad I wore my black arm sleeves from Saucony, which have become one of my new favorite running items. Last year I was nervous since it was my PRD and signed up for the 8:30 pace group which ended up being a 8:00 pace group due to a speedy pacer. This year I wanted to push myself by following the 7:30 pace group. The pacer was super friendly and there was a group of about 4 of us girls who stuck close to the pacer the whole race. The pacer and another racer were talking about their Boston Qualifying times which is something I can only dream about, but hey, goals need to be big, right?
The first 5 miles felt good, and I focused on taking in the scenery while keeping up with the pacer. Miles 6 through around 8 had us running straight into the wind which was cold, difficult, and very unpleasant. After that stretch I felt great to be almost done and at a solid pace. The course has lots of spectators and runners which is awesome. For the last mile I sped ahead of the pacer to finish as strong as I could. I finished and immediately found my friend who couldn't believe I was so chill for just running a race. My net time was 1:13:41 which blew away my time of 1:20:01 from last year! My average pace was 7:22 and my 10K split was 45:54. Following the pacer definitely kept me at a steady pace, but I liked not really looking at my Garmin and just running.
I was blown away that I was 271 out of over 10,000 women and ran faster than 86% of the men! I love that they give that gender statistic to the women :) We ended up going to our fancy brunch reservations at Old Ebbitt Grill after the race, where I had a crab cake and a Cherry Blossom Mojito. Afterwards I had my post-DC race obligatory cupcake, this time a vegan red velvet one from Sticky Fingers, a cupcake shop that has won Food Network's Cupcake Wars twice! It was really dense, moist, and delicious! My friend lives right by the National Zoo which is only one of two zoos in the country that has my favorite animal-panda bears! It was a gorgeous day so we walked to go see some animals afterwards. The male panda was wide awake and eating which made me super giddy. The weather ended up being much warmer at the end of the day and all of the post-race walking made me pretty tired. My night ended with me cuddling up on the couch to catch some Game of Thrones on HBO and passing out.
If you have the chance to enter the lottery for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, please do so! It's a big event and is really well organized and a lot of fun. I will definitely be entering to run it next year. I'll be back in DC at the end of the month for the Nike Women's Half so hopefully it'll be another great weekend in the Nation's capital.
Do you have any big races coming up? What's your favorite animal at the zoo?