Tips for Running the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler

Local runners who’ve run the course before weigh in on what they wish they’d known beforehand.

Fifteen thousand people are scheduled to run the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler this Sunday. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user muohace_dc.

Approximately 15,000 runners are scheduled to run the popular Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler race this Sunday, and that number doesn’t include those signed up for the 5K. If it’s your first time running this race, you may feel a bit overwhelmed that morning. No worries–we asked local runners who have run the race multiple times to share any tips they wish they had known their first time. Read on to learn how to make the most of your race–and good luck!

1) Take the Metro or jog to the race.
As with any major race, the Metro will run more frequently than usual this weekend, but it’s always a good idea to give yourself some extra time to wait for it. The Smithsonian stop is closest to the starting point, but local runner Colleen Quinn recommends getting off at Metro Center, Archives, or L’Enfant to do a warmup run to the race. Adds ultramarathon runner Mike Wardian: Bring some cash in case you need to take a cab at the last minute.

2) Wear layers.
Recently it’s felt like summer, but of course the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse on Sunday. Wardian says he often regrets under-dressing for this race. Still, at 7:30 AM it’ll feel chilly, but after a few miles you’ll probably want to shed some layers. If your family and friends are at a designated point along the race, hand off your layers to them. Wardian advises to pack something warm for after the race, too.

3) Go to the bathroom early.
Use the bathroom before you leave home or as soon as you get to the race. Last year, one blogger missed the start of the race while standing in a long line to use a Porta Potty. 

4) Pace yourself when the gun goes off.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of this popular race, but don’t start out so fast that your legs give out by mile five. “At the start, be careful of everyone surging. Try to maintain an even pace,” warns Wardian. “Ten miles is still a long way.” It can be tricky pacing yourself for a ten-miler, he says, but try starting out a few seconds slower than your current 10K pace, then push it down as much as possible beginning at mile seven.

5) Watch out for miles six to nine around Hains Point.
For many runners this the most difficult part of the race, mostly due to the lack of scenery. Plus, this point of the race “can mess with your mind a bit because you are past the halfway point but your legs are starting to get tired,” says Shanna Johnson, who will run the race for the third time this year. See if your friends and family can make the trek down there to cheer you on and help you get through this portion of the race.

6) Take allergy medicine.
If you often fall prey to allergy season in Washington, beware of the pollen and falling blossoms all along the course. Take your allergy meds before you leave the house, or bring some tissues along with you.

7) Stay hydrated.
The weather will be cool, but just because you’re not sweating as much doesn’t mean you should ignore the seven water stations along the race. Don’t want to stop? If you’re comfortable with wearing extra gear, follow local weight-loss blogger Beth Klein’s advice and wear a Camelbak or water bottle belt so you can sip along the way.