Needless to say, I am excited to get racing this season. After taking a long 6 months off after my last Tri in early August and enjoying some vacation over the winter, I came back ready to tackle the training load in 2018. In December, I challenged myself to run every day for at least 30 minutes to build up the base coming into January, most weeks were 30-35 miles and 136mile month which is the most I’ve run in a few years. Between the runs in Baltimore and finishing the year in France and Belgium with family, my legs and mind felt refreshed.
I set out this year to mainly race 70.3 races. This is my 10th triathlon season already and I have my sights on a few big goals over the next few years including 70.3 World in 2019 in Nice, France and qualifying for Kona in 2020. Unlike years past, I have not signed up for 5-6 races throughout the summer already. I have signed up for 1 Half IM in the spring and have yet to select 1-3 Halfs for the fall. I will be using the summer to keep the training load manageable and perhaps a little unstructured in an effort not to get burnt out like the past 2 seasons.
With a Half IM in early May, my focus has been on staying healthy and improving upon my running which continues to be my weakness coming off the bike. Last December, I signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler lottery and got in for the 4th year which is very lucky. Last year, I was not in great shape going in after having some nagging pains in my left leg coming off the early season Half IM in Clermont, FL where my run fell apart in the last 5k. I ended up doing it as a workout and coming in around 1:00:13, which is a decent time and good training run for sure. This year was another story, I wanted to go out there and push my limits.
Leading into Cherry Blossom race weekend , I had been building quite a bit of swim and bike volume for 2 weeks. My body was definitely feeling the stress in the legs and I ended nixing a 2h30 long run the Sunday before. Oddly enough, a nagging cramp in the left leg was back after some strides just the Wednesday prior and lasted a few days, but the good news was that the hamstring felt good. I did a ton of rolling and wore compression sock to work and bed and by Saturday things we looking great.
The day before the race is also always a great day as Cherry Blossom race weekend coincides the Back on My Feet Baltimore spring half marathon race and relay at the Oldfields School and NCR trail north of Baltimore. This event is very special because many BoMF members, who are in recovery run their longest run ever, thus achieving many goals they hadn’t even dreamed possible just a short time ago. The BoMF Staff and all the Volunteers on the course are always phenomenal and this Saturday was not any different. Even though it was a chilly start, we were all thankful that the snow and freezing rain stayed away. As in years past, I sped up and down the NCR trail taking thousands of pictures at various points in the race, and seeing hundreds of smiles along their journeys to conquer the 13.1 mile race. I was also very pleased to have 3 of my Tri Team Invicta Teammates there, Deborah, Mike and Rich, who killed it out there.
On to race day, Sunday morning we drove into DC early after spending the night in Northern Virginia and found the ideal parking spot right on the Mall. I was feeling a bit tired from a long workweek but figured the adrenaline would push that fatigue out of the way once race time hit. It was right around freezing for the start of the race. Tori and I warmed up on the mall and I shed some layers and found my way into wave corral. I knew from years past that I’d want to be to the outside and not too far off the start line so as not to have to fight through the traffic of the start. This worked and found myself with a few Falls Road guys Sean and Terry. It was quite puzzling for all of us because we were looking for the 6:00 pace group being led by Meb Keflezighi but it was nowhere to be found even as we were pacing in the 5:35 in the ¾ mile. Sean had an amazing race coming off a broken foot and Terry was trying to beat his 10year old younger self. Another friend James came flying by at mile 2 and I never saw him after that, he had a huge PR in the low 58min, crushed it!
Ask anyone and they'll tell you the 2018 Cherry Blossom race conditions were ideal. The course was changed where it didn’t go over the bridge into Virginia, thus eliminating a typical windy section. This morning however did not have any wind as in the past 4 years I’ve run it. I had wanted to pace 5:55 per mile or faster. I saw that my splits were pretty consistent and at 10k mark in 36:40, so I decided that I’d push the pace with such a perfect day. I was hurting pretty badly by the beginning of mile 9 and at the 1200m to go mark the slight incline out of Hains Point got me, my legs were lead filled. My pace dwindled to 6:00 then 6:10. I saw Tori with about 400m to go and my form was absolutely atrocious, I tried to relax the arms and took it all the way in.
As I crossed the finish in 59:31 (not working the tangents also gets you off pace, ran 10.08 according to GPS), I can say I was very content with my race. I know I could have played it conservatively at 10k and maybe even gone 20-25seconds faster overall; but as I spend most of my efforts throughout the year doing multisport races, I rarely get a chance to redline in road racing and therefore I was pleased with this training effort in the lead up to the first half Ironman of the year. I am thankful to be healthy, be able to push my limits and especially for all the help along the way from family, friends, teammates, and My Tori. A little more work still needs to happen on the track but very happy with the winter training and spring progress. Ready to go crush some swim and bike splits in a few shorts weeks!!