Because you have to pick up your bib on the Friday or Saturday before Sunday's race, and because you have to get there kind of unreasonably early if you're going to show up on Saturday, you generally have time to kill. Especially if you're on your own and/or meeting up with people later on. This is part one of my Day in D.C. It's what I like to call the running edition.
These pictures aren't necessarily in chronological order, but they make more sense. First, there was my room at the host hotel, The Westin City Center. It was nice, but I prefer the old host hotel, the D.C. Grand Hyatt, by a lot. Anyway, I never got a room like this at the Grand Hyatt:
Treadmill, exercise balls, yoga mat, and dumbbells included.
You'd think that would be pretty awesome, and in theory it was, but I was there to run 10 miles. The "workout room" did me no good. Not even to warm up since the hotel was over a mile from the start line, which provided plenty of time to warm up, unless you rode the metro. Then it was only about a half mile to warm up. Also, the treadmill's electronics let off a creepy red glow that lit up that entire corner of the room that was a little unsettling. To make it worse, I didn't even notice the glow until I woke up the next morning. It's worse to wake up to than it would have been to fall asleep to, I think.
This is the outside of the National Building Museum, where the expo was held:
See all the happy people exiting with all their happy running products and services.
Here's something that gets me about the Cherry Blossom, although it's not a new gripe. They pride themselves over their "green" certification and made a point to let everyone know they were sending out "virtual" goody bags via email to avoid all the paper that gets wasted by sticking real coupons and flyers and such into bags. However, people were standing all over the place at the expo passing out flyers and cards regarding other races in other places. Granted, you didn't have to take one, but a lot of people did, looked for a moment, and then discarded it. How is that green, exactly?
This is what the expo looked like on the inside:
The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler has been around for 40 years. You'd think in all that time the event would be able to put together a decent expo, but they haven't. The Cherry Blossom expo kind of stinks. I was looking for a Honey Stinger waffle to buy for before the race and couldn't find one, because all the vendors that were selling nutritional supplements and energy bars and gels and stuff were all selling the same exact things. All of them! I couldn't believe it. There are 15,000 participants and the thousands of people who accompany those people and we have four different vendors all selling the exact same things. What the H? I will say that actually picking up your bib and t-shirt and stuff is an absolute breeze, almost a joy. Even if there's a wait the lines move pretty quickly. But the expo itself... yeesh.
After the expo I walked around some, which will be part of another mostly off-topic post in another day or two, then I met up with some friends for dinner, and then I went back to my room, where I fell asleep somewhere around 9:30. Usually I get antsy trying to sleep the night before a race but not this time. There's a reason for that, but for now here's what race morning looked like coming off the metro and walking toward the race village:
This picture has been touched up a little because it was so dark, but the sight of the almost glowing monument is legit.
I really love that the Cherry Blossom is held on the grounds of the Washington Monument. I think that's what keeps me coming back, because while it's a nice route and an amazingly well run event for its size, without the cherry blossoms it's just another run, and the location of the race kind of makes up for it. In two of the three years I've run this race it was after the cherry blossoms were long gone. The first time I ran it was right in the height of the blossoming and running around Hains Point was almost magical. The last time I was crushing the course so hard (for me) that I didn't even notice the blossoms were gone. This year running the Point was a trudge. That's no fault of the organizers. I mean, they have no way to tell when the blossoms are going to be at their peak, but while I'll surely enter the lottery to run this race again next year I don't think I'll be too upset if I don't get chosen.
Anyway, to put an exclamation point on how well run the event is, I got to the start village exactly 45 minutes before the gun was due to get off. I immediately went to get in line for the port-a-potty because I figured to budget 25 minutes getting through the potty line, then another 10 minutes to drop my stuff off at the bag check, and then 5 minutes to get into my start corral. But when you have this...
Port-a-potties as far as the eye can see.
...and it's only one of FOUR banks of port-a-potties just like this one you get in to do your business pretty quickly. I was milling around for a while and still was ready to get into my starting corral with nearly 30 minutes to spare.
I milled around the corrals for a while and then the waves started to be released. The story of that is coming soon. Maybe.