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Race Result

Racer: Erik Melis
Race: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
Date: Sunday, April 6, 2008
Location: Washington, DC
Race Type: Run - 10 mile
Age Group: Male 50 - 54
Time: 1:32:16
Overall Place: 5698 / 12286
Age Group Place: 232 / 426
Comment: First race of the season - post surgery

Race Report:

I wasn't sure what to expect from this race this year. Besides the obvious rain, wind and chill issues today, this was my first race post hernia surgery. I had surgery 7 weeks ago and 5 of those involved no running at all. The other thing that added some questions about my possible performance in this race was that just two days ago I was diagnosed with, and am treating (other than racing today), something the doctor referred to as retrocalcaneal bursitis (had to do some research on that one but finally figured out what it was besides significant pain in my heel during and after my runs). So, after 2 weeks of post-surgery workouts in all three disciplines, the longest run being about 7.5 miles, and after my "retro" diagnosis (always knew I was a little retro), I just wanted to complete the race to show myself that I was at least back making progress. While I really had hoped for something sub 1:30 this time, I'll take what I got since it is still a 3 minute improvement from my results the last time I raced this race in 2005 and is a PR for me at this distance.

For the race, we (my wife and I) intentionally dragged our feet getting ready so that we could minimize the time spent outside prior to the start. Since we live near the Vienna Metro station, we could time it pretty close and did. When we got to the Smithsonian stop, the scope of the number of entrants hit us full force as we made our way over to the bag check tent to turn in our dry post-race clothes. We managed only to get stuck in the mud a couple of times navigating the area around the tent but made it successfully. Then we headed off to the Porta Johns where once again the full impact of the size of the race field could be felt. Many of the "little huts" had lines 10-15 people deep. I suspect people were going in there and staying longer to avoid being out in the rain and wind. What we did figure out, and I'll point out to others for future races, is that the lines at the Porta Johns in the middle of the field and on the inside row were only 1-3 people deep and much more accessible. Then it was off to find our assigned corral, orange, which we ultimately did after a couple of trespasses into surrounding corrals.

Once the race started and we actually managed to start running amidst the crowd, it was still really crowded and hard to get a decent path and pace established. So, for the first mile or two we honed our slalom skills. After that, we were able to manage a pretty steady pace just above 9 min/mile (even managed a couple sub 9's in there as well). Had to walk for a bit a couple times to give my heel a break but kept a good steady pace for the majority of the run. My wife was a real trooper and kept me company the whole race even though she could have left me in her dust (well, maybe road spray instead of dust). We did notice an obvious increase in the breeze and the "drizzle" as we crossed back over the Memorial Bridge. Luckily, by then we were well into the home stretch so it was more bearable. After a quasi-sprint to the finish line and turning in our timing chips, it was straight over to the bag check tent to retrieve our dry clothes. There's something counterproductive to picking up dry clothes and then changing into them standing in the open in the rain but it added a little warmth nonetheless. Once we had changed then we headed back over to the Smithsonian Metro station and ran into about 12000 of our closest friends all trying to get onto the same Metro trains. We were eventually all herded onto and properly staged on the platform and managed to only have to wait for one train before we could get on.

All in all, while there were things that could have gone better, I'm satisfied with the results in that they showed me that the surgery didn't 'totally' undermine my preparations for my race season this year. Still lots of work to do but that can wait until tomorrow.