I have trained hard. I have fought the good fight. I did not train as much as I wanted. I trained enough to set a PR. Physically, I feel the best I have coming into a race, perhaps ever. I am in shape and have no nagging injuries. Mentally, I am confident in my abilities. I know the course well, having run all or parts of it multiple times in previous Cherry Blossoms, Army 10-Milers and the Marine Corps Marathon. It has been a long road and the race is almost here. Now I am settling in to my taper runs and it is time to focus on and enjoy the upcoming race. What am I looking forward to most?
- Running with my friends and family. This is what got me into running and keeps me running. I love my daily runs with the guys in the neighborhood, but it is the excitement of competition and the camaraderie of doing it with the people I love that keeps me getting out of bed every day at 5:15am. This year, I am running with my brother-in-law, Eric, and some peeps from the old neighborhood in Silver Spring. It is Eric’s first 10 mile race and I am excited to be doing it with him. Hopefully, he doesn’t kick my butt, at least not yet.
- Running in DC. It is my favorite city and I say that not because I am from there (ok, maybe a little bit), but because it truly is one of the most beautiful cities to run in. This will be my fifth race in DC and I can’t think of anything more beautiful and inspiring than running past the monuments and cherry trees, even if Mother Nature brought Spring a little early this year.
- Running for a PR. Last year, my brother and I ran the Cherry Blossom together and I’ll never forget the moment I looked at my Garmin and thought to myself, “We can set a PR.” I hadn’t really trained for a PR and didn’t really think about breaking the 90 minute barrier. But somehow we put ourselves in position to do it. We ran our butts off for the last couple miles and came in at 1:28:25. It was a great feeling. This year, I am older and wiser and have learned how to train for races rather than just going out and running every other day. I followed the Intermediate level virtual training program offered by the race organizers. I’m pretty sure I can beat last year’s time, but if I don’t, it won’t make or break my race.
Over the next week and a half I’ll probably concern myself with more trivial matters, such as which songs to load on my iPod and what I’m going to wear on race day. I’ll scrutinize the course map and over analyze a “race strategy”. And I’ll keep running until I cross that finish line.