Those cherry blossoms have a powerful effect on runners. One runner shared his special story with us!
My name is Pete Thomas, and I am happy to say that Victoria Davies agreed to my marriage proposal at the foot of the Washington Monument on the day of the Cherry Blossom race. We are both public charter school teachers in Northeast DC, and I live in Noma and Vic lives in Arlington. In terms of the proposal itself, I actually ran the 10 miler with the ring zipped into my runner’s belt/fanny pack that I typically use for energy gels- I hid it behind some GU packets to be extra inconspicuous.
Once I finished the race, I unzipped my pouch and made sure that the ring was secure (it was just a little bit sweaty) and then waited to cheer Victoria on near the finish line while I hid the ring in my hand. Once she finished the race, I walked up and gave her a big hug and made sure that she got a banana and some water (it’s important to be well-nourished and hydrated before making any big decisions) and then I asked her if she wanted to go up towards the monument so that we could get away from the port-a-potties and look at the cherry blossoms. She was at first a bit more intent on getting to the metro so that we could go get brunch, but I nervously managed to convince her that we should go check out the view of the Mall and the Tidal Basin before we left.
Once we got up close to the Monument on the Lincoln side from where we could get a pretty spectacular view of the city, I finally got down on one knee with the ring and asked her to marry me. She fortunately said yes, and after a few tears, selfies, and phone calls to our moms, we took a nice walk down the mall towards home. Since then, we’ve enjoyed our spring break from school by visiting Savannah and eating lots of delicious southern food that we’ll have to work off in future ten milers! We both had a great time running the race, and we are very happy to be able to look back at this awesome DC event as part of the beginning of our future together!
This post isn’t for the runners. It’s for all of the parents, spouses, friends, loved ones and strangers who want to cheer on the 15,000 runners who will hit the streets on April 12 at 7:30 a.m. for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run – thank you.
Hilda and Denis DiBlasio are not runners. But they are the best parents I could ever ask for and they were up before the sun on the day of my first marathon, Rock ’n’ Roll USA, and came back down to Washington, D.C. to cheer me on at the Marine Corps Marathon this October. It doesn’t take a runner to make a fabulous supporter, all it takes is being there. For a runner, having your cheerleaders’ support means the world when you’re out on the race course.
It might seem daunting, but as you spectate, it gets easier. My parents have gone from struggling to decipher a race course map to showing up with what I think you’d agree are award-winning signs. “Toenails are overrated!” or “This seems like a lot of work for a free banana” and a pretty fabulous giant photo of my cat with the word RUN on it – just to name a few.
But if this is your first time spectating, here are some tips to make your day of cheerleading for your favorite runner at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run!
Make a plan. Take a look at the course and talk to your runner about when they could use some support. Pick key locations or mile markers that don’t involve crossing the race course to move between. If you’re positioning yourself near a mile marker, pick a spot 100-200 yards after the actual marker. This gives your runner a chance to register that you’re located nearby and they can start looking for you.
Tell your runner what you’ll be wearing. Chances are, they will see you first. It’s a lot easier for them to spot you in a crowd if they know where to expect you. Meanwhile, you’ll be scouring a constant stream of thousands of runners who all look the same. Let’s face it – we are all opting for in-season neon.
Pick your spots. So where should you go? Study the race map. Looking to stay close to the start and finish? Hang around the Tidal Basin. You can catch runners on their way out, as they come back during mile 5 and still have time to get to the finish. Want the most bang for your buck? The Lincoln Memorial should be your go-to. You’ll see runners come past at mile 1, shortly after mile 2 and looping back after mile 3 giving you plenty of time to head to the finish to try to snag a photo. If you’re up for a hike – head on down to Hains Point on East Potomac Park. This three mile stretch that falls between miles 6 and 9 is a rough one and every cheerleader makes a differences as runners come through the windy turn and push it on home. You can plan to see your runner shortly after the 6 and 9 mile markers if you plan it right.
Take public transportation. Take an awesome 10 mile race, add in Cherry Blossom season and top it off with D.C. traffic and parking and you have a transportation-tastrophe waiting to happen. Just stick with the metro. It opens at 5 a.m. on race day and the Smithsonian metro stop (on the Orange and Blue lines) is only about a quarter mile from the race start and finish. Other possible stops include L’Enfant Plaza (Blue, Orange, Green and Yellow Lines), about .8 of a mile from the start; Metro Center (Red, Orange and Blue lines), about .9 of a mile from the start; or Archives (Green and Yellow lines), about .9 of a mile from the start. There is also bicycle parking available.
Bring snacks for yourself. Runners have aid stations to rely on for fuel along the way – but you’ll be standing and walking for a good chunk of time. Take care of yourself! Keep an eye on the weather, charge your phone and bring some snacks and water – you’ll need it after all that cheering.
Download the Cherry Blossom Race Day app – but have a back up plan. Unfortunately, in large crowds, cell phones can lose service. That means runner tracking might not work. Even the best race planners can’t account for service carriers being overwhelmed. I had no issue with cell reception last year – but still, know your runner’s expected pace so if service is poor you still have an idea of where he or she will be.
Cheer loudly, but don’t say “you’re almost there!” I know it sounds nice, but closing in on the finish, runners do an insane amount on math in their heads. Even though being 11/13ths through the last mile might sound close to being finished to you, for a runner, the hardest part might still be ahead. Don’t mess with the mental system. Unless you’re at a mile marker, steer clear of announcing any remaining distances.
Have a finish line plan. Runners who just pushed themselves to the limit for 10 miles aren’t always the best at improvising on the spot (but they are great at waddling around in circles or laying on the ground) – so it’s best to make a plan ahead of time. Pick and landmark that’s not too close to the finish and meet there.
Lastly, know what a difference you make. Running is hard work, but putting up with a runner can be just as hard. We know our smelly laundry, grumpy tapers and ravenous I-must-eat-everything-in-the-house-because-today-was-long-run-day stints take a toll on our loved ones, but that fact that you still come out to cheer us on means the world. So from all CUCB runners to you – thank you! And enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Natalie started running in the second grade and hasn’t stopped since. In her day job, she is a reporter on the breaking news team at USA TODAY. In the way-too-early mornings and shouldn’t-you-be-exhausted-by-now evenings she’s busy running, practicing yoga at her favorite studio, acting as President of the American News Women’s Club or writing for Run Washington, HalfMarathons.net and Runner’s Breakfast. Natalie is a chronically starving marathoner, loud laugher and wannabe triathlete in training for her first half Ironman in June.
Runners are used to obstacles. Lately, many of us have been running in freezing (or below freezing) weather. We climb hills, dodge mud puddles, keep an eye out for traffic and use whatever means necessary to avoid getting sick.
Some of us have cute obstacles, like little children. When my boys were little, they often came along on my runs in a jog stroller. But it’s been so cold up here in Pittsburgh, running moms can’t safely take their children out for a run. So this week I helped a fellow Pittsburgh running mom who is training for her first Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run by watching her young baby while she got in her first virtual training run.
Some of us have not-so-cute obstacles. Ali, the runner we mentioned in our first blog post “Lucky to be Runners,” has already overcome some big injuries. This week she hit some really bad luck and fractured her foot. She has two very small fractures and no bones displaced. She has to wait two weeks to see how things heal. There’s not much I can do to help her with this obstacle except sympathize and suggest my least-favorite upper body and core exercises.
Several years ago, I had almost given up on running completely because of a physical obstacle. But something inside wouldn’t let it go. And the 2011 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run was my ten-mile victory lap.
You know what I mean, don’t you? As a runner, you’ve overcome some big obstacles of your own. Kids, work, injuries, weather…you’ve been there and done that. So pay it forward! Share your biggest obstacle and how you tackled it and turned it into something that made you tougher.
I’ve been hard pressed to get out and do any “decent mileage” runs in quite some time. During winter months, I normally will run 2-3 miles at most because that’s about all I can handle boredom-wise when running on a treadmill.
With the “polar vortex” we’ve been experiencing here in PA, winter just doesn’t seem to be letting up! But with only just over 2 more months until the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run— it’s time to get back in the saddle!
Whether you’re like me and take a hiatus during winter months, or you’re just coming off an injury related break– the first time you lace up those shoes and strap on that Garmin can be quite frustrating with regards to time/pace. But I do try to keep it in perspective. Here are 4 things I’ve done to try and keep myself in check:
1. Keep it in Perspective
There have been so many times that I have been ready to just throw in the towel. It’s not even funny. Throwing hissy fits within myself because I didn’t finish my (for example) 5 miles “fast enough.” How about let’s keep it in perspective—I was ABLE to run 5 miles! Some people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to say that. Some would give anything to be able to run one.
2. Find a Newer Runner to Share in the Experience
I started running in December 2010. I ran my first half marathon in October 2011. I have since run 3 other half marathons, but I’m telling you, I have YET to feel the same runners high as I did when I completed my very FIRST one. It’s still there, but just not as intense. Because of that, I felt like my love affair with running was waning a tad bit.
What renewed my enjoyment in running has been living vicariously through others as they complete their “running firsts” milestones! I have several friends who are planning to run their very first 5k this year, and I plan on being there for each one!
3. Make It a Family Affair
This actually kind of pairs well with number two for me. My daughter Mackenzie (she’s 10)will sometimes join me on my runs. It makes it not so much about the running as it is about picking a healthy activity to be done with your family. We actually practice her spelling words while we run! Plus (and this is how it pairs with #2) – we have the opportunity to hit new milestones together. Slowly I would increase the distance or the time that Kenzer and I spent running. And before I knew it, she had run her very first 5K with me last year! This past Thanksgiving, we ran her second “Turkey Trot 5K”- and she shaved a full 5 MINUTES off her time!
4. If All Else Fails Say “Screw it”
Now not so fast– make sure you read this in it’s entirety—I’m not saying stop running altogether. Or giving up. I’m saying take the pressure off yourself. Leave the Garmin at home. Don’t start the running app on your phone. Just go out and enjoy it. Remember why you started running in the first place, and reflect on how far you’ve come to this point. You’ll slowly get back to where you left up, but enjoy the journey until you get there.
See you out there friends!
Any more words of advice for the good of the cause? Do you run year round, or take time off during winter?
We have all made resolutions this year to start or finish something, start or become more active and other fitness or health related things. I have resolved to get my boys more active.
I am coming up with a plan for them. I want them to spend less time with the electronics and more time being active. Well, I will let them download the Couch25K app because we are going to run one as a family. I want the boys properly trained and confident before I put them in a race setting. I am confident they can do it.
Since my boys are teenagers, it will not be an easy task. Their lives are their cell phones. They are social butterflies and invited to events, however that is all going to change. I am not going to use fitness as a punishment because I want them to like it. But they will have required amounts of fitness weekly.
I have a lot of equipment and will set up circuits for cross training. I have ropes, balls, weights, slides, kettle bells and more. I have a timer and will make it fun for them. Fitness is important to me and I want them to understand why.
I am looking forward to running with them and becoming fit as a family. I know they will not like it at first, but will be grateful once they become acclimated. I am excited for all of us. It will be an awesome lifestyle change. I am ready for a Fit Family in 2014.
Have you made any resolutions to do something as a family? If so, what?
Francine has a love of family, fitness, fashion and fun. She is on a journey to become a better runner, eat healthier, get fit as a family and show off her fashion sense all while having fun. She is the mother of 2 boys, works full-time and is a recent grad. She believes that Hard Work = Results and staying Positive gets you there.