The 2014 USA 10 mile champs were held in Washington DC at the Cherry Blossom 10 mile road race so we headed there for the first proper race of the year following a week in Maine, with 3 days skiing. Since moving over I've ran 3 x 100+ mile weeks with plenty of long runs, weekly track sessions and tempo work.
The course is fast, flat but with tight bends but has previously been the scene for many 10 mile PR's so I fancied a decent run and was aiming for sub 56, as my pb stands at 57:12 set 18 months ago on a perfectly flat fast course in Llandudno. I'm certainly feeling like I'm 95% back to full fitness but benefits from the last 3 100+ mile weeks and better training are probably still to come.
The forecast was pretty good, high 50's to low 60's for the day, but the morning would be much cooler with a stiff breeze. To make matters worse the women's elite field was starting 10 minutes earlier which reduces the runners around me making it harder for packs to form and increasing the likelihood of spending a few solo miles.
After an 8 hour drive south we arrived at 8pm and went out for a steady 3.2 miles to stretch the legs then had the usual pre-race meal of pizza. The DC metro was being opened at 5 am to transport runners to the start at the national mall, right next to the Washington Monument. We arrived at 6:45 but then queued for toilets which wasn't too bad but we still didn't get a great warm up. I got 0.5 miles done before the start then headed for the seeded corral.
The course is fairly flat but the first and last miles contain the hills, opening up with a slightly downhill first mile and a gradually climbing last mile. With top kenyans over and also the top US runners the start was rapid but this time I held back and slowed deliberately when I saw 5:10-5:15 pace for the first third of a mile and went through the first mile marker in 5:26.. from then on my mile splits sat at 5:32-5:37 apart from one 5:42 when I got isolated.
Early on I found the pace hard work and the tight 180 degree turns made it hard going but then just after mile 6 I was caught by 2 runners and held on to them and suddenly we picked up a few more and formed a nice group to tick the final few miles off. For a while I thought sub 56 was gone but ran a good last few miles and finished in 55:57, many struggled with the last mile as it was into the wind and with a gradual climb but stuck in the group I just chased heels and found it OK, never desperate.
Probably one of the most well paced consistent races I've ran and it's always nice to improve a pb so a decent day.
Well organised race for its size, certainly a fast course although the tight turns and gradual climbs slow slightly, the main issue was the strength of the field, it seemed thin in the seeded runners range, possibly from the lack of elite women which would normally be mixed in and so for a race of 20,000 runners you could get isolated. I found philly half much easier in that regard even though I was definitely working harder in Philly but had that incentive with a group to hold on to.
Due to the cold snowy winter only a few cherry trees had blossomed too.
Next up is a 50k in Virginia in 2 weeks.
Strava data: http://www.strava.com/activities/127485561