Monuments, Cherry Blossoms, PRs and Ambulences

“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”

~ Michelangelo

Third time’s a charm?  Not always.  Training in winter kind of sucks.   Granted, this winter was not as cold and snowy as last winter, but it is still cold, dark, icy, and wet.  Too many workouts end up on a treadmill.  Waking up at 5 on Saturday morning seems completely insane.

The payoff?  Chilly early spring mornings spent with thousands of other runners who have been trudging through the same conditions only to squeeze into packed corrals listening to the National Anthem and listening for the starting horn.

This year, payoff for me was back-to-back races in Washington, DC.  The National Half Marathon on March 26 and the Cherry Blossom 10-miler on April 3.  The weather was beautiful for both, the crowd support was terrific – running through the tunnel at Dupont Circle with all the spectators above is just cool – and the cherry blossoms were stunning.   I had a lot of fun, even if I had to share my National finish line with an ambulance. (They really didn’t have another access to medical?)

Oh, and I ran really well.

I need to say that, because if I don’t, I’ll forget.  I ran a little faster, but more importantly, I ran with more confidence and more intention than ever.  It started with National, as I realized about 6 miles in that I had a good race.  I wasn’t going to fade at the end.  I finished passing people, not being passed.  I took that experience and went for an ambitious goal in Cherry Blossom that I missed by two seconds.  In fact, in Cherry Blossom, I was running so strong and steady that another runner used me to pace him and he thanked me at the end for being so steady.

The results?  I took almost three minutes off last year’s times for both races, with a new 10-mile PR at Cherry Blossom and a vertical half-marathon PR at National (I’m not counting the Baltimore, where someone had to push me over the finish line in 2009!)  More importantly, I know I can run faster and stronger than ever.

The reminder here for me is that whatever I’m doing is worth doing well, even under adverse conditions.   The payoff is the equivalent of a strong run to Hains Point under a canopy of blooming cherry blossom trees.  To quote Lance Armstrong, “Live Strong.”

I think I get it now.

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6 Responses to Monuments, Cherry Blossoms, PRs and Ambulences

  1. Shelton says:

    Amen to that. Some folks take races way too seriously. I did a sprint-tri as a relay with two of my sons a couple years ago. A guy came out of the swim and, on his way to the bike, angrily and loudly dropped the MF bomb right in front of my then 10-year-old son and me. I just thought, come on, man, this ain’t Kona.

    This difference between folks who have fun and folks who don’t was pointed up at a community bike ride a few years ago. Before the ride, I passed by a guy whose jersey said, “For Serious Cyclists Only.” Mine said, “Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter Racing Team.”

    I am big on thanking the volunteers. Especially the one who puts the medal around my neck, and then the one handing me a beer.

  2. Shelton says:

    Dang! I had no idea you’d done the half-marathon the week before. Now that is strong! Congratulations on both races. Journey, not destination, indeed. But I have to say that PR’s are a pretty good destination when you reach them!

    • Joselin says:

      It’s been a good running season thus far! I ran both last year, but there was a week between them. I just assumed it would be the same this year, but I was wrong. I think I got a lot of confidence in National, so I just went for it at Cherry Blossom. The next middle distance for me is a new half in Williamsburg (It’s been a good running season thus far! I ran both last year, but there was a week between them. I just assumed it would be the same this year, but I was wrong. I think I got a lot of confidence in National, so I just went for it at Cherry Blossom. The next middle distance for me is a new half in Williamsburg (It’s been a good running season thus far! I ran both last year, but there was a week between them. I just assumed it would be the same this year, but I was wrong. I think I got a lot of confidence in National, so I just went for it at Cherry Blossom. The next middle distance for me is a new half in Williamsburg (http://www.runforachievabledream.com/)- we’ll see if the warmer temps get to me or if I can make a real run at 2 hours.

      The countdown’s on for the Flying Pig. So are you tapering yet? Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a really fun race.

      The countdown’s on for the Flying Pig. So are you tapering yet? Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a really fun race.
      – we’ll see if the warmer temps get to me or if I can make a real run at 2 hours.

      The countdown’s on for the Flying Pig. So are you tapering yet? Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a really fun race.

      • Shelton says:

        I’m going to try to get 20 in on Friday, then the taper will begin. And if I don’t get 20 in, I’m not going to stress about it. I am psyched about the Pig. I have felt really good on my regular runs. I mean, I had to make an afternoon meeting today, so all I had time for was a quick 1.3-mile run around the neighborhood, and I did that in 9:14 pace. And my 3- and 4-mile tempo/easy runs are coming in under 11:00 pace. Huh? Is that me? Someone cue Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music: “I have confidence in meeeee!”

      • Joselin says:

        I love your attitude! I’m a true believer that the most important part of running is the fun. I’m one of those annoying people who thanks all the cops and volunteers, and don’t send me into a tunnel or an underpass and not expect me to yell (I love echos!). Joe called my parents after I saw him at mile 22 in Philly, and said, “Well, she still has a smile on her face!”

        I read in one book that you should keep smiling, and if you can’t smile, slow down. Works for me!

  3. bearrunner says:

    Sounds like you had a great, rewarding experience! Congratulations on the good run… Training in winter is no fun!

    cheers

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