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Race Report: Cherry Blossom 10M (2018)

Race Report: Cherry Blossom 10M (2018)


  • Date: 8 April 2018
  • Location: Washington DC
  • Type: Road Running Race
  • Distance: 10 miles

Purpose and Goal

I’m using this race as a gauge to see how my fitness is progressing at my “1-hour threshold” pace. I’d like to eventually run 10 miles under 51 minutes (next 1-3 years), and an awesome outcome for this year would be sub-53 minutes. I’d be happy with anything under 55 minutes as long as I raced as hard a possible.


Training was really good the 2-3 weeks prior to the final week. However, I felt horrible all week leading up to the race. I overdid the speed workouts a bit the week before. Some of the bad feelings are likely mental. Fortunately, I know that the taper sometimes goes like this. I got myself to a good spot mentally the night before the race.

Race Report

Race morning is chaotic. 26K people. Lots of fast dudes, including several olympic medalists, lined up within a few feet of me at the start. Meb is there. Centrowicz is there. It is 33 degrees and windy. Had to be in corral 25 minutes before start just to get a good spot. My first mental battle was going out controlled and getting in a good rhythm without overdoing it. Mission accomplished. First mile in 5:22 which ended up being the slowest of the race. Felt really good from there. Really good! Just kept the foot on the gas and settled into the sweet spot just shy of redlining. Found a good group to hang with through mile 4. After that, I traded places with another guy the rest of the way. We were super-consistent. Just kept hammering 5:15-5:18 per mile. Breathing and form was effortless through 8 miles. At that point, we turn back into the wind and slight uphill. This was the only part of the race I really had to work and suffer. I knew I could break 53 minutes if I kept 5:20/mile. That turned out to be very hard. Even though I was running as fast as possible, I just couldn’t get the turnover to maintain pace with wind and hill. 5:21 and 5:22 last miles. The dude I was running with took off with 400 to go and beat me by 4 seconds. He’s in his 20s. It was fun battling with him during the race. We traded lead position at least 12 times.


Very happy with 53:04 on this cold, windy day. Very happy to be the top master. Satisfied with training and preparation to get here. Surprised by how easy it felt. Very happy to have family there to support me.

Team Involvement and Celebration

  • Had the family with me in DC: Wife, kids, and parents. Very awesome having them there, although it increased the complexity of planning race logistics.
  • It was fun to celebrate with the family in DC after the race. We explored the city, had a great lunch, and bought yummy treats to enjoy on the ride home!
  • Super-cool to have so many friends comment on Strava about the performance.
  • A few friends checked in to see how I did — nice to feel like there are others out there who actually care about my performance.

Lessons Learned

  • Training body with long cruise intervals around goal race pace is very effective. After doing different variations for at least two months, I feel very comfortable with this pace and effort.
  • I still lack strength and technique to close strong. I should have been able to surge and go sub 53. Need more strength training and hill workouts in the future.
  • May have been cold temps, but my form was very compact and non-dynamic. Very short arm swings. Can’t complain about pace, but efficiency indicators did decrement as rave progressed. Video from mile 5 below.
  • For me, 5:15 is sustainable for an hour and breathing is not labored, but 5:05 is very hard and can only last for 3 miles. I have a very steep cliff between my 1-hour threshold and 3K VO2Max pace (4:57/mile at last month’s race). I think I can only improve my time further if I work on getting more efficient at VO2Max. I need to get my mile time down to sub-4:30 and my 3K down to 8:45.
  • It was good for me to start easy and build to 5:15 pace in 2nd mile. Not warmed up enough given crowd and corral dynamics.
  • 330W was precisely my average power for this race, and this is exactly what I targeted during track and treadmill workouts. I’m amazed at how consistent this is.
  • My mind nearly caused excessive stress and suffering that could have jeopardized race. Stopping this with breathing and meditation was effective, and I did a good job getting focused and positive the last 24 hours. Felt confident and strong by the time I got out to the race.
  • Having family with me at the race was an extra stress, but ultimately made the experience much more meaningful.

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Brock Butler

Coach & co-founder

Brock is an athletic coach and elite competitor who focuses on running events from 1-mile track races up to 100-mile ultramarathons. He won the 40+ masters division at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2017, the Blues Cruise 50K Trail Ultra race the same year, and the USATF Masters 3000m Indoor nationals and Cherry Blossom 10 mile race in 2018.

Brock’s passion is helping athletes of all ages gain satisfaction and confidence by fully expressing their potential as a runner. He started Run Expression, Team Run Xpress, and the Runner’s Toolkit to provide athlete education, coaching services, and a social community in the Philly region.

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