Cherry Blossoms and gazillions of people

Every year about this time about 2,000 Cherry Trees around DC explode with little flowers.  Not only does it seem to usher in the start of spring, but also the start of the main tourist season.  I generally try to make it down to the basin (the Tidal Basin is where the majority of the cherry trees are) to get a few pictures each year.  This year, I timed my trip to also go down and check out the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler – one of the major running races in DC.  (I’d classify the majors as: Marine Corps Marathon (30K), Army 10-Miler (20K), Cherry Blossom 10-Miler (12K) and the GW Parkway 10-Miler (8K)).

I had packed everything in the car the night before for a fairly long day.  I had my mountain bike, my tri bike and my cycling clothes.  My plan was to park across the river from DC and ride my mountain bike into the city for a few hours, then bail back out to my car to drive south a ways and go for a 50 mile bike ride (on my road bike).  So I was out the door by 7:30AM or so and headed down town to catch the action.  Here’s some pics I took.

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(A touch before the five mile marker)

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I think this sign summed it all up.

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After my first hour of watching folks, I decided to move locations towards the 9 mile marker.  Along the way I walked a portion of the Tidal Basin path, and got a few rather nice pics.

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Eventually I ended up at the 9.5ish mile marker, on a bridge over the race route.   I guess I never realized how many people 12,000 people are in a race.  Despite the fact that I’ve run in races with 20,000 (Army 10-Miler) and 30,000 people (Marine Corps Marathon) – this was enormous at ‘only’ 12,000.  Literally people streaming by taking up 2-4 lanes of traffic for two solid hours.  Incredible.  Really something you have to see to believe.  I wonder if this is what the Marine Corps Marathon looks like, or NYC?  Or Boston?  Hmm…Boston…  Anyway… Here’s some pics from that spot.

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After a bit it was time for me to head on out (a total of 2.5 hours of watching people continuously going by), and I headed back around the rest of the tidal basin to find my bike, which was hopefully still stashed in the bush I stuck it in at 7:45AM.  Along the way I took one last picture, and I think it’s one of my favorites of the day (out of 418 photos taken).

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The National Park was also handing out these nifty little buttons.  Of course, I had to have any button with a beaver on it.

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And here’s one more quick pic of me on my bike headed back across the bridge to my car…yup, still Cherry Trees in the background.

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After my first bike of the day, I still had my second bike to do.  Except, the second bike was a wee bit further and harder.  A solid 50 nonstop miles at an even Z2 pace.  Which brings me to point point about bike training…local trails just don’t work.  I know we all like going out for a ride on your local bike path – but realistically most of them aren’t good venues for getting in good quality training.  You just stop too often, giving you lots of little breaks you otherwise wouldn’t get in a race.  Trust me…I love them too because they are easy to get to.  But there’s such an incredible difference between 2.5 hours nonstop and 2.5 hours of stopping at little intersections, weaving around riders and walkers, etc…

I was quite happy with my cadence today, averaged 90.1RPM over the course of the ride, and that includes any ‘down’ time such as down hills where I’ll usually ‘rest’ if above 32-34MPH.

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I had met some friends to ride with (or rather start with).  As a result I also got back my road bike (Fuji Roubaix RC).  I had let them borrow it last summer after I got my tri bike and haven’t had a reason to need it back.  Either way..it’s back now!  Although, I think I might sell it given I haven’t used it in a year (and neither did they).  But, it did provide for a funny picture, as then I had my entire cycling career with me and my car.  My mountain bike from my days delivering the local paper in Seattle, my road bike that I got when I first started triathlons two years ago and then my tri-bike I got last May.  Oh, I was on the race wheels getting used to them in the wind in preparation for this weekends first tri race.

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Finally, afterwards I planted the first section of my little deck garden.  This part is the herb garden.  I use tons of fresh herbs all summer and in particular – basil.  I make huge batches of pesto, so this is a mainstay.  Mr. Owl is there to scare off the pigeons.  But mostly they just mock him.

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I leave you with this shot I took on the way home from cycling.  It’s the back of some random mulching truck.  Check out the lower right corner of the load though (click to enlarge).  Seriously…antlers attached to a scull…WTF?!?

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21 Comments

  1. At your pace, you won’t see crowds like that in Boston after Framingham – or Natick at the latest.

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  2. I’ve run MCM and the Army 10-miler too and never thought it was that crowded after the first couple miles. Maybe the perspective is different when running? Either way, thanks for the peak at this race. A few women asked me if I wanted to do it next year and I gave them a definite maybe :-)

    Cute owl but no idea on the antlers!

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  3. tim

    Enjoying the new layout!

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  4. Great pictures – sounds like some good riding, too…

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  5. From watching Marine Corps at various points this past year, I’d say it looked pretty close to that through at least Mile 10. Rebecca and I jogged around a total of about 6 miles hitting various spots of the course and only found it to really break apart (in the mid pack pace of runners) around Mile 20 or so. It helps to be faster and start ahead of the masses of people ;)

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  6. Love the new layout! It looks great. I really need to plan a race out in DC one of these days. It is so beautiful! All of those cherry trees look amazing.

    Hey…I know you wrote a how to post on using a CO2 cartridge for inflating your tires but it isn’t in your how to links. It is a great guide if you wanted to make the post a part of the links.

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  7. oooh, i like the new blog look. i can’t believe you had to go through 418 pictures to find the ones you like!!

    where did you go to get the quality long riding in?

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  8. Those pictures are great and the trees are really pretty. I was just telling my roommate that DC would be a great place to live for my next job (although, highly unlikely!).

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  9. Oooooh I love the Cherry Blossoms here in DC. I guess that’s the best part about being up here this time of year :)

    I guess I didn’t realize that there were so many running the 10 miler on Sunday… prob could never run with any breathing room… looking at the pics you got!

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  10. Hey – your new layout is sweet! How far behind am I in noticing it?

    Great race pics. As Calypso said, those big races are always much thinner towards the front where you’re running than in the middle of the pack.

    Paddles the Beaver, huh? That sounds like a phrase that could end up in the urban dictionary someday.

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  11. Beautiful photos! The Cherry Blossom 10 miler looks like a lot of fun if pretty crowded… I missed the blossoms by a week last year when I visited DC– I was so bummed!

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  12. The cherry blossoms at hanes (haynes?) point were amazing, and it was the perfect day to run: Temperature (low 50s), sunny, and no wind. I loved it.

    That being said, too many people. It felt really claustrophobic at times, and it never really went away. I ran the marine corps and I never felt as boxed in as I did during this race.

    One more gripe, the port-o-potty situation was insane per usual. And they changed the starting location to the mall, so there were no places where I could relieve myself. Fail.

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  13. put the antlers in the herb garden and that will scare the sh*t!!! out of the varmits

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  14. hey let me know when the homestead farm have blue berries and if you find the website for ITU race
    nice report

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  15. Beautiful photos! The new layout is nice as well. Those deer antlers are cool, but kind of creepy in the back of the mulch truck. Like the poor deer got mulched.

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  16. I love the photos!

    Can I borrow the race wheels for the summer? ;)

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  17. those are some seriously spectacualr photos!

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  18. Gorgeous photos!

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  19. Mmmm, basil!

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  20. Love these pictures! I went to DC just a couple weeks ago, looks like I should’ve gone a little later! I also think that the new blog layout is great, as several people have already said.

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  21. Outstanding pics of the DC Cherry Blossoms. The 10-miler looks like fun a race!

    I am pouting about herbs. I just put my house up for sale and there will be no plants on the brand new deck mucking things up.,,and my stash of frozen pesto is dwindling!

    Reply

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