(I wrote this post yesterday but I was too tired to publish it, thank you for understanding:)
So today I ran the 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) on Memorial Bridge. I wonder if on the day of the race, the weather is going to be as nice as today. It was in the 55F (13 Celsius) but under the sun it felt warmer, and just the right temperature to stay cool. Although I did have a dilemma about removing my light fleece before I started running, and I did the mistake to keep it on.
My run was good, and I mean by good is that I didn’t stop, not one time. However I had to slow down for traffic when crossing the roads.
Based on my experience today I decided to share some tips, hoping it will help some of you who are doing the same run on April 11.
The main obstacles you are going to face, are the followings:
1- The Bridge: going uphill:
When you start running on the road next to the Tidal Basin, you think: “it is a soft road I can get used to it” until you hit the first elevation near Lincoln Memorial, on Ohio drive (Click here to check the course map). The road start going up. Then comes the Memorial Bridge.
Bridges are (by nature) built like an arch (at least old bridges are) they are ascendant then descendant. So expect to increase the effort once you hit the bridge. Don’t try to go fast or you will use most of your energy at around 0.75 mile of the race. This is not when you should go fast!
2- The forces of nature; the sun and the wind:
Once you are on the bridge, holly molly! You can feel the forces of nature rocking you!
On the bridge everything moves, except you! The bridge is hanging in the air (and on pillars of course, thank God) but the air, wind and sun hit hard (and I mean hard) during the entire bridge stretch.
I explain: The sun is strong not only because it is over your head but it is also coming from the water. The sun reflection on the Potomac River, almost blinds you, and you feel as if you are crossing the desert. Remember that it is always going to be windy on the bridge, whether it is going to be windy or not on the race day. Which means it will feel colder. Today it was extremely windy, and at some point I couldn’t breath, because the air was filling my mouth and blocking my nose. So you can only inhale or exhale but not both!
So at this point your body is fighting the following: the wind that is pulling you back, the cold wind whipping your sweats and attacking your body’s temperature, and finally the sun blinding you. Ok this might be an exaggeration of the situation but take it seriously please.
Then things will get better: you will start feeling the impact of the “forces of nature” going away once you have reached the end of the bridge. At this point your legs feel less pressure, because after reaching the middle of the bridge the road start going slightly down, enough for your muscle to take a break.
3- The water station:
Once you have reached the roundabout before Arlington cemetery, you should start “recovery”. And in my opinion don’t enjoy it too much, because this is your only chance to pick up your pace (run faster) to compensate for the time lost “climbing” the bridge. This is when I tried to run faster, today, until I start hitting the bridge again.
The water station is going to be located after the roundabout. Other runners are going to be slowing down to pick up the water, drink, and carelessly drop their cups. So BE AWARE!!!
In my opinion:
1- You should not stop for water if you can!
2-Try to pay attention to people who will stop in front of you, or will throw, unintentionally, their cups at you.
4- Finishing strong:
Running the bridge on the way back is the hardest part. This is when you should use psychology. You know that it is not going to be easy crossing the bridge again, from what you just experienced, and you are already exhausted from running half the race. This is when my knees, this morning, start telling me to stop.
Believe me once you finish running on the bridge, the toughest parts of the race are over.
But don’t relax yet, because this is when you should run the fastest.
This morning after I reached Lincoln Memorial on my way back, I gave myself some light jogs, to recover from my knee pain and regulate my breathing. Then at around 0.5 mile to the “virtual” finish line, I sprint! Yes I sprint; I don’t know how I got my energy back
And you should do the same if you can.
So, a quick recapitulation:
(Click here to check the course map as you go along the itinerary)
1- From the Tidal Basin to Lincoln Memorial, run at a normal pace.
2- From Lincoln memorial through Memorial Bridge, run at a longer pace (the slowest)
3- At the roundabout pick up the pace, ignore the water station and avoid people.
4- The end of the bridge, jog for recovery and to control your breathing.
5- Before the finish line, try to run as fast as you can.
I hope everybody will be able to finish the race!
Good luck to us!!!!!
1- Cherry blossom 5k course, from the Tidal Basin to Memorial Bridge/
2- Cherry Blossom run my battle
3- Yoga Pilates and body pump the impact on runner’s efficiency. Part two of the dc cherry blossom run
Exceptional links to look at and read: