Saturday, August 7, 2010
1. Experience joyful running.
2. Break one hour.
Goal 1. CHECK
Goal 2. Almost! Read on.
The group for this race weekend was supposed to be 5, but one friend couldn't make it (missed you, Becca!) and Jen couldn't do the overnight part but joined us in the morning for the race. Amy, Christine and I made a night of it.
Pre-race meal (we all had the same) with one beer to calm the nerves after a trafficy drive to Freeport.
At the expo, which was like a marathon-sized expo, my first reminder about what a large race this was going to be.
We went to bed in our hotel around 10. This morning, we got going early, but the traffic from Portland to Cape Elizabeth was so slow that we weren't able to park and get out of the car until 15 minutes before the start, which was a little hectic, especially considering we needed to wait in lines for the port-a-potties before the start.
Quick pre-race shot before dashing to the potty lines.
Lots of runners who have to pee.
While waiting in line, we heard the national anthem and the wheel chair starting gun go off. Yikes! We got to the start, cruised through the crowds to find a spot in the middle of the pack, listened to the announcer tell us that out of the 6500 runners, 42 states and 17 countries were represented, and the elite runners at the front were comprised of the fastest road racers in the world, many olympians and world record holders. And we were literally running in their footsteps. So cool.
And we were off. In order to run 6.2 miles in less than one hour, I needed to average a 9:41 pace. In training, I've been right around there, and I have done it on a treadmill, so I knew I would be close.
First mile. I felt good, negotiated around some runners trying to find a place to stretch my legs. It was very congested and packed. Pretty flat. Lost Jen and Christine and Amy in the maze, but that was okay. My watch said 9:20 at mile 1. Nice.
2nd mile: Felt really long. Tried to get my breathing under control. All the excitement had me breathing pretty hard. My watch said 19: 02 at mile 2. Still okay.
3rd mile: Still feeling pretty good, listening to my ipod, great crowd support. At mile 3, my watch said 29:10. Shoot. I was falling behind.
4th mile: I needed to pick it up, so I skipped ahead to "California Gurls" by Katy Perry on my ipod, and kicked it in. This was a great, fun mile that went by quickly. At the 4 mile marker, my watch said 38:58. Still had some work to do.
5th mile: I needed a 9 minute mile, so I turned up my music and got onto the double-yellow line in the center of the road and did something I've never done in a race before. I focused on the person in front of me, caught him/ her, passed him/ her and went onto the next. I passed blue tank-top girl, gray tank-top girl, green-shirt guy and bare-foot runner man. It distracted me nicely, and the best part is that I was having so. much. fun. I was loving running. My inner voice was saying, loud and clear: "You've got this. All yours. You rock. Just hang on." There was a huge banner over the road ahead of me that said: "Aint No Jive. You're at Mile FIVE!" Woo hoo. My watch said 48:something. I had it in the bag.
Last mile: Because I thought I had it no problem, I walked through the water stop while I gulped water, took a bunch of deep breaths. Then I realized that the real mile 5 marker was actually about 50 ft. ahead of me, (damn) and now I was at 49:20, so I wasn't as fine as I thought I was. And unfortunately, I had budgeted my time perfectly except that the last mile is almost all up hill. I needed to run a 9 minute mile, and I ran hard up those hills, and still only got a 10 minute mile. When I got to the mile 6 marker my watch said 59:22.
Last .2: My poor little eager, hopeful heart still thought I could run the last .2 in under 40 seconds. I ran like I've never run before. I was haulin' ass. I was cruising. I probably passed 50 runners and flew across the finish line with my head held high.
Joan Benoit Samuelson (who created this race, and is the first female olympic gold medalist in the marathon) was greeting all the runners as they crossed the finish line, and gave me a high five.
My watch said 1:00.51. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh.
I continued on through the chute and up the hill to find Jen and Christine, who finished together in an impressive 57:58. I felt physically great, but I was definitely bummed. And for about 10 minutes I was bummed, until I decided that I was not going to let 51 seconds come between me and my feeling about this incredible cool, sunny day on an amazing course when I was standing there next to the ocean, surrounded by my best friends and a whole mass of inspiring athletes. So there. It was my first 10K, so that's an automatic PR, and next year, I'll know to leave a little room for that last uphill mile.
Never seen a post-race tent with so much food, and that includes Nike Women's and the Vermont Marathon. Beach to Beacon is hands down the most organized, smoothest running race I've ever been a part of. It was a well-oiled machine, everyone was kind and helpful. It was so impressive.
We refueled. We mingled and people watched. And then we decided to stay for the awards ceremony. I'm so glad we did.
The top 10 women were honored first, and then the men. Most of the runners were from Kenya or Ethiopia. The top woman, from Kenya broke the course record by 50 seconds and finished in 31:00.
The top male, from Ethiopia, won in 27:41, a 4:28 pace.
Stop and think about that for a second. That's more than twice as fast as I run. That's so ridiculously fast that it sort of blows my mind.
We all got teary listening to the runners accept their prizes ($10,000) and awards. All the top athletes were gracious, enthusiastic, and beautiful to look at.
We took the shuttle back to the car (seamless!), checked out of the hotel, and celebrated with a post-race meal: the insanely good organic salads and pizzas at Flat Bread Pizza on the Portland water front.
1:00.51, 9:49 pace.