It took me over a week to fully unpack my thoughts and feelings about the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. After a solid run at the Rock-n-Roll half I was in a good space mentally to take another crack at a standalone run race. Part of focusing and working on my run weaknesses is continually facing my deepest fears and insecurities of feeling like I can’t run fast or that my run is not good enough. I was very excited to run this race as the week leading into it I was feeling really strong, rested, and relaxed. In addition, with my mom in town helping to care for Isa, Irma and I were going to be able to do this race together and make it a “running date” which we haven’t been able to do in a while.
We woke up early enough to drive into the NW part of DC and park near a metro station and despite all of our advanced preparation we only made it with 10 mins to spare before the start. I still needed to complete my regular routine of bag check, bathroom, and warm up and so Irma was kind enough to take care of the bag check part so that I could complete my warm up. We parted ways with a big kiss and I couldn’t believe how relaxed and calm I felt. As a side note, a day before, my friend Erin had mentioned that Olympian Meb Keflezighi was supposedly pacing the 6min/mi pace group so when I got to my corral I briefly looked for what I suspected would be a large crowd around him as he is such a celebrity but the corral was in fact almost empty. I had already made my mind that I wasn’t going to be too “distracted” by a “Meb mob” so I just went about my business as the gun went off.
Trying to avoid some mistakes I’ve done in the past, I was decidedly focused on not starting too fast and just finding a nice, relaxed rhythm to my legs and arms. For the first 5 miles I felt awesome. The legs and arms were just flowing; I could breath easily and the pace almost felt like a training run. My friend Eric also gave me a nice loud cheer around mile 5 and I felt another boost of energy. But then in the next mile I started to get stomach pains and cramps just the same way I felt in my previous 10 miler race. I tried not to panic and continue at a slower pace but my body wasn’t having it. Just when I was debating whether I should continue running or walk the rest of it, Meb (who seemed to be running incognito) ran past me and I tried to keep up with his training run pace for a quarter mile but the stomach pains were too much.
Crossing the finish line was not as disappointing as I thought I would feel. Quite frankly, I was way more concerned about my stomach and my health as I seemed not to be able to stand up straight and had to go to the bathroom almost every 5 mins for the next hour. My inability to prevent getting stomach cramps when I do hard running efforts has certainly been a major impediment in gaining running confidence. Last year when I faced a similar situation after a couple of running and triathlon races, I went to the doctor and had some blood tests and the results came back in order. In the next couple of weeks I will be testing and trying different approaches with my nutrition to figure out what might be going on.
This journey continues to be a true blessing and filled with many humbling moments. Lately I feel like I have found a good pace to the training and the balancing act on the home front. I also feel like I’ve gained more appreciation for the process and the daily opportunity to train and have fun beyond expecting a big result when racing. As coach Greg often says “there are no shortcuts.”
I have to give massive thanks to the two Irma’s in my life: my mom and my wife. My mom flew in from Puerto Rico on her birthday and spent the last three weeks with us helping to care for Isa during spring break and many other things. Irma, my wife, had a phenomenal race, negative splitting and posting a personal best. She is the bedrock of our household and the best partner in crime. I very much look forward to our “triadventures” this summer.