Adam at Lesser Is More did a race report from his run back in 2010, and my office is littered with folks who've run it, and swear by it. The only significant negative to doing the Parkway Classic over Cherry Blossom (I have friends with volunteer codes, so I could still get in that way if I wanted) is getting to the start of the race:
The "getting there" issue:
The GW Parkway Classic is a point-to-point race. Usually, that means you leave your stuff at/near the finish, you're bussed to the start, and you run back to the finish again. At least, that's how most P2P races are.
For Cherry Blossom, I could roll out of bed, walk to my (very!) close metro station, and be there in a snap. No bags to check, just stand out there in the dark and wait for sunrise and the starting gun. It's such a short trip that it's one of, if not THE most convenient race I do each year.
But, it's not like it's IMPOSSIBLE for me to get out of bed early, and I'll just bring an old blanket or sweatshirt if the race is cold this year. I'd rather it be cold than warm, so I'll live. Maybe even one of you out there wants to carpool? *bats eyelashes* Anyway, grumbling about not wanting to show up early is no reason to not do a race.
Cherry Blossom is cheap to register and run. It's $40. However, finisher medals come with an added cost, as do long sleeve tech shirts (you get a short sleeve cotton one with registration).
GWPC 10 is a little pricier. It's $75. But, this year, for the 30th Anniversary of the GWPC, they are giving finishers medals to all runners! Plus, all runners get a tech tee. So the cost is virtually equal.
I love the Cherry Blossom race. It's flat and fast. It's also packed, unless you can get yourself right up to the front of your assigned corral. Strangely enough, I used to use CB10 as my PR race, but this year, the Army 10-miler was my PR, finishing it in about 83.5 minutes. So it's not like I'm incapable of having a fast race on a non-flat course. Army is only SLIGHTLY hilly, though . . . .
Compared to CB10 and Army, the GW Parkway Classic features more rolling hills, but is an overall net drop. Moreover, it's alongside my beloved Mount Vernon Trail, where I do almost all of my long runs. I wrote a runner's guide to the Mount Vernon Trail here, and this portion of the race will be near the "South" part as I described it, finishing towards the "Middle." I know that terrain. I know the homes alongside the course. I know every nook and cranny of the trail, and have watched cars drive by (where we'll be running) as I slagged through my long runs. This course map is like a trip down memory lane of many long runs in 2013:
|The GW Parkway Classic 10-miler course. Start at Mount Vernon, end in Old Town Alexandria.|
So there we are. My first race of 2014 has been chosen, and I still haven't settled on what my focus for racing will even BE in 2014. But, as of less than 30 minutes ago, I did this:
|Change can be good, right?|
Finally: Why not just run both races?
I suppose I could. But last year, my first true year back, I made a point to cut the amount of racing that I used to do. When I first started running, it seemed like I was doing a race weekly, certainly monthly. I think there's such a thing as over-racing. I know some running coaches and gurus preach against it. For me, it's all about staying healthy, and having a few focused goal races to strive for. Plus, I really don't want to use a "back door" to get into Cherry Blossom. So it's settled. I will push my comfort zone and do something different this year -- even though I'll be racing in completely familiar territory.
P.S. My friend Holly at Race It Live It Love It just highlighted a race I hadn't heard of, but which looks good. The Cherry Pit 10-Miler. It's the same weekend as Cherry Blossom. Perhaps they used that name as a hat tip to people who didn't make it into CB10? And what if you do BOTH Cherry Races in one weekend? You should get a cherry pie or something if you do.