Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Expo…and a Pre Race Meltdown

When I started running last March, one of the first races to make it onto my bucket list was the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.  So when I entered the lottery back in December and found out I had been accepted to run the race, to say I was ecstatic was an understatement.  Sadly, my experience didn’t live up to the hype that I’ve heard about this race, or the high expectations that I had going into race weekend.

Preston and I kicked off our Cherry Blossom race weekend at the expo Friday evening after work.  The expo was held downtown at the National Building Museum.  We debated driving vs. taking the Metro, and opted to drive.  We were very lucky to find street parking right out front of the museum without having to circle to find parking at all.  I thought this would have been a sign of good things to come that weekend.

Given the course time limit of 2 hours and 20 minutes, I knew when I registered that I’d be considered a fairly slow runner for this race.  Preston and I walked inside the museum, and immediately were directed to the second floor to retrieve our bibs.  When Preston ran this race in 2012, he was in the Red Corral (the second of six corrals), and once again was in the Red Corral this year.  Based on the corral breakdowns that had been published online, I guessed that I had been placed in the Green Corral (the fifth of six corrals).  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d wind up in the last corral, but low and behold, I wound up placed in the Purple Corral (the last of the six corrals).  I could have sworn that I had submitted an estimated finish time of 1:50 or 1:55 when I registered for the lottery, and even double checked my race registration e-mail confirmations to see if the time was listed on them, but the estimated time that I sent in was nowhere to be found in any of those e-mails, including my original lottery entry confirmation e-mail.  Thus, I had no proof to take to Runner Relations to try and argue my case.  I had been placed into the wrong corral, and there was nothing I could do about it.

The estimated finish time I submitted should have had me placed in the Green Corral, not the Purple Corral

The estimated finish time I submitted should have had me placed in the Green Corral, not the Purple Corral

The disappointment didn’t initially hit me, partly because I was excited about meeting Cyanne from Run Stretch Go.  After picking up our bibs, we immediately ran into Cyanne in the second floor hallway, and it was great to finally meet her in person!  Big blogger fail though, as we didn’t take a picture, but at least we got one after the race on Sunday!

cucb bib

My bib and race t-shirt

After saying goodbye to Cyanne, Preston and I headed downstairs to get our race shirts and to browse the expo floor.  We quickly got our shirts, chatted for a few minutes with a fellow member of Team Red, White & Blue who was volunteering at shirt pickup, and then stopped at a few expo booths.  The Cherry Blossom expo was much smaller compared to many other race expos, but I was still able to visit Sweaty Bands to pick out a new headband to commemorate the race.  Preston and I also picked up 26.2 and 13.1 magnets for our cars, which we’ll put on once we get our cars washed.  The other highlight of the expo was meeting Cynthia from You Signed Up For What and Mar from Mar On the Run, who are two of the bloggers who host the Friday Five linkup that I participate in every Friday.  No picture again (I know, bad blogger!).

Overall, I found the expo to be extremely organized and efficiently run.  Because of its smaller size, there weren’t many booths to browse, but from the time we entered the museum, being immediately directed upstairs to bib pickup, and then returning downstairs and easily finding the t-shirt back up area couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  They were also offering beers to runners as part of the after work “happy hour” experience, which Preston and I both opted to pass on.  While the expo floor was a bit crowded in some areas, that could have easily been due to the fact that we went during after work hours when many other local runners were also at the expo.

The few items we bought at the expo

The few items we bought at the expo

After spending about an hour at the expo Preston and I headed home.  The reality of my corral placement didn’t hit me until the next morning though.  Because I was in the last corral I knew I wanted to get into my corral as early as possible.  Since I had noticed on the schedule of events at the expo that the time that the corrals would open hadn’t been published, I posted on Twitter, asking if anybody knew when they’d open.  A sweet volunteer, Molly, worked very hard to get my question answered, and despite becoming increasingly upset about the situation (she told me that the corrals would open at 7:15, only 15 minutes before the start of the race, which didn’t seem right to me at all), Molly was super helpful and patient with me.  (I was also at work at the time, proctoring a practice AP World History exam, and the early Saturday morning wake up call didn’t help my mood either.)  After the exam, I headed home, feeling utterly defeated and at that point wasn’t looking forward to the race the next morning.

The reality of my corral misplacement had finally hit me.  I would be starting the race with runners slower than me, which would make it difficult to finish the race in a good time and meet my race goals.  I began to panic about the water stations running out of water, and there not being any food at the end of the race, two horror stories that I’ve heard from other runners about their experiences at other races when they’ve started in the back of the pack.  (Unfortunately, they did run out of most of the food by the time I finished, as all that was left was bananas, but thankfully the water stations still had water.)  I was now going to be one of those runners, and felt as though I was going to be punished for being a slower runner.  I was so upset to the point that Preston suggested that we not run the race, and for a moment I actually contemplated his suggestion.  But then I refocused and refused to let myself not run the race.  After dinner, we set out our race clothes, prepared our bags to check, and set our alarm for the 4:30am wake up call.

My cherry blossom esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

My cherry blossom-esque Sweaty Bands inspired my choice of shirt for the race

I wasn’t as mentally prepared for this race as I should have been.  I knew that there was nothing I could do about what the race directors had handed me, and that I’d have to do the best that I could given the situation.  Despite how defeated I felt before even arriving at the start line, I tried to put on my best game face as I went to bed the night before my first ten mile race.

QOTD: Have you ever gone into a race not in the right mindset?  How did it affect your race experience?

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25 Responses to Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Expo…and a Pre Race Meltdown

  1. Pam says:

    Oh I am so sorry Kathryn. Being placed in the wrong corral is terrible. I can only imagine how you felt on race morning. This is my biggest fear now when signing up for races, especially those that do not allow corral changes at the expo. (Disney really made a mistake taking this away since there are human mistakes made in the registration process). I’m sorry this did not turn out to be a good race weekend. Christine thought it was terribly disorganized and she was only a volunteer!

    • Thanks for the support Pam. I’ve heard horror stories about this happening, but never thought it would happen to me. Now that it is, it’ll be a fear whenever I register for future races, especially those including Disney who don’t allow for corral changes to be made due to error.

  2. Oh Kathryn I’m so sorry this happened! I know how much you were looking forward to this race!

  3. Chaitali says:

    I hope race day ended up being better than the pre-race stuff 😦 I hate it when races run out of food and water (especially water) for the back of the pack.

  4. I’m sorry to hear about the corral mix up. Luckily, I haven’t experienced this yet but only because I’m still so new to racing. I hope once the race started running took over and all the nerves flew out the window!

  5. Always attempting to be the eternal optimist, I would look at it this way. You may have been in the “slow” corral, but I’ll bet you were the fastest one there! 🙂

  6. Lesley says:

    I’m so sorry that you were placed in the wrong corral! I appreciate you being honest with us readers. I look forward to reading about how well you did!

  7. Great job on your race! Sorry to hear that you that you were disappointed in your Corral placement. Although, you can feel proud that you were accepted into the race. I try to always have a positive mindset before races, because if I don’t, it effects my run.

  8. Kristin says:

    XOXO!! I hope you’re feeling better- I definitely understand your frustration!! 😦 That’s no fun!!

  9. Carissa says:

    You aren’t crazy! The EXACT same situation happened to me!

    I knew I had entered a time under 2:00:00 for my expected finish when I registered but didn’t understand why I was placed in the purple corral. I, too, tried searching through my registration emails to find the time I had entered with no luck. When I tried explaining all of this to the solutions table at bib pickup, they were very unhelpful at best and in my opinion, borderline rude.

    They accused me of inaccurately entering my expected finish time or not entering it at all and also insinuated that I was just requesting a corral change because I wanted to run with my friends (not the case). When I told them I had wanted to run with the Gold’s Gym Pace Groups in the green corral (1:50:00 and 1:55:00), they didn’t even know what I was talking about. I was pretty infuriated at the entire situation.

    When I got home, I emailed them to ask what I had entered as my expected finish time. They told me I had entered 1:59:00 just as I had thought! Then I asked why I was placed in the purple corral and got this response:

    On Sat, Apr 5, 2014 at 11:09 AM, Beth Rosenthal wrote:
    Carissa–
    The green corral is for sub 1:55:05 runners. The purple corral is for sub 2:20:00 runners. Your time of 1:59:00 puts you in the purple corral.
    Beth

    I then told her that that time cutoff did NOT match what was posted on the website and that a change to the website was necessary. I never got an apology for the confusion or a response back even acknowledging that they were in the wrong for disseminating incorrect information.

    Just like you said, by the time I finished the race, all that was left was water and bananas–definitely NOT sufficient for refueling after ten miles.

    Between the bib pickup fiasco, their non-response to my email correspondence, and then the lack of post-race refreshments, I was completely turned off by this race as well.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that you went through this as well, Carissa. It helps knowing that I wasn’t the only person who experienced this with CUCB, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that it happened at all. Your experience is exactly why I didn’t even approach the solutions table, because I feared that what you experienced would be the same response I would get as well. I contemplated e-mailing them on Saturday, but I would have likely gotten the same response you did. Its unfortunate that CUCB has acted they way they have, given that runners come from across the world to run this race.

  10. Argh, that is too bad that you weren’t put in the correct corral. I know for my Disney race, the last corrals were full of mixed pace – some who didn’t enter times, some who had times matching that corral expectation, and some who didn’t have a verified race time to submit. It was a crowded mix of various paces. I’m glad you still went ahead with it!

  11. kristenk says:

    Oh no! That’s so crazy! I was terrified that was going to happen to me during Disney Princess but luckily they somehow got it right because I couldn’t change it at the expo. I’m looking forward to the race recap, hopefully that went better!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Sorry your Cherry Blossom 10 did not go as expected! I know you were really excited about it. Hopefully they will send out a participant survey soon to get feedback. Crossing my fingers for no more corral misplacements!! On a positive note, congrats on another race “corral twin”, I am sure I will see you in future DC races to come!

  13. Pingback: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Recap | From Dancing to Running

  14. RunBeckyRun says:

    I’m so sorry this happened! I think that’s why (as a fellow slow runner), I always bring my own water and Gu/food with me for a race. I don’t want to waste time at water stops unless I have to! I hope next year (if you choose to do it again) goes much better!!

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