But can we back up for a second? Let's quickly recap the previous races of 2011.
Mid-Winter Classic, Cape Elizabeth in February: Cancelled (twice) due to snow and ice.
Race the Runways Half Marathon, Brunswick in April: Day after a huge snow storm, and very cold with biting wind.
Vermont City Marathon, Burlington, May: High heat and humidity. Extreme weather warnings throughout the course.
Danskin Triathlon, Webster, MA, July: High heat and humidity plus a trip to the ER.
Beach to Beacon, Cape Elizabeth, August: High humidity. Gross.
And then ...
MDI Half Marathon, Bar Harbor, ME: 50-60 degrees, no humidity, blue skies, perfect day.
Can I get an Amen? I mean FINALLY, a race in which the weather worked in my favor. Ideal conditions. If I'd had a bad race today, I would have been digging deep to find anything to blame.
That's better. That shows you how I felt today.
I have run this race 4 times, and every time I have it's been a day like today, but knowing the streak I've had in 2011, I figured it would be hot, or there would be a hail storm, or a tornado, or at least some extreme humidity.
|At the finish line with Susan, my good friend and partner in crime|
It was remarkable for me how calm I was walking to the starting line. I get nervous for every race, and for some reason, I was just super calm today. I enjoyed and appreciated the lack of nerves. I lined up with Suzanne, Susan and Liam, listened to the national anthem, felt grateful to be where I was on this day, and then we were off.
This course is very challenging with 3 big, long hills and lots of rollers in between, so my approach has always been to just do what I can do.
I had been directed to do a few things: relax, take it easy, take it especially easy on the downhills to preserve my quads, and try to get my mile splits to be fairly consistent, so that is what I set out to do.
Here's the breakdown:
Mile 1 goes right through Bar Harbor and along the water and it always smells like the ocean which smells like vacation. All good vibes.
Mile 2 goes straight uphill through a neighborhood and ends up on the Carriage Trails, the wide, groomed dirt trails that make up 9 miles of the course. I slowed down a good bit on the uphill, but felt strong and steady. Great start.
Miles 3-4: I felt great and in control, but I started to get hot. I took off the long sleeve shirt and wrapped it around my waist. I was now running with my arm sleeves for the first time (loved them). I eventually pulled them all the way down to my forearms which was perfect. I appreciated the beautiful course, which by now was dirt trails, rolling hills and lots of shade with bright sunlight filtering through.
Mile 5: I put my music on, still felt great. When I passed my friend Nancy's mom Lois, I shouted: "Can you take my shirt?" And I whipped it off from around my waist and threw it to her. I had on my baseball hat and sunglasses, and I realized by her blank stare that she had no idea who I was. She figured it out after a few minutes, but I laughed at the thought of a race spectator being thrown a sweaty long sleeve shirt by a stranger.
Mile 6: feeling great but waiting for the dreaded uphill mile coming next.
Mile 7: The hill! It's a long steady climb for an entire mile. I started up and felt good, and kept going, and still felt good. I kept asking myself how I was doing, and myself kept saying: Damn good! This is so weird! I'm still running! For the first time in my history of this course, I never walked one step up that hill. I ran slow and steady and thought about being in a low gear on my bike and just churning away. It was over before I knew it.
Mile 8: The blessed, beautiful gift of a mile. It's all gradually down hill. During this mile, I felt about as happy and strong as I have ever felt on a long run. I was alone, my music sounded extra good, I felt like I was flying, and I made an inventory of all the things I was thankful for. Thank you for the sunshine, for Eagle Lake, for this day, for Maine in September, for my family for allowing me to do this, for my friends, for my coach for pushing me, for my running friends, for my body. I think I even thanked my shoes and socks. I'm telling you, I was in a very good place.
Miles 9-10: Not sure what to tell you. More beautiful scenery. I felt strong and in control. Still happy.
Mile 11: Out from the carriage trail and onto the regular roads again. I looked at my watch and realized that if I just held on, I'd have a new course PR. Hey, I thought there was a mean uphill on this part? It seemed much better this year.
Mile 12: The hill that previously sapped me of everything I had left? No problem.
Mile 13: Downhill. Home sweet home. Really nice self talk went on during this mile, like: "You've got this." "You own this." "Just bring it home."
I finished in 2:13, which is a 3 minute PR for this course, and is only 2 minutes off my all time PR. Considering this beast of a course, and how strong and in-control I felt, as in, I was not pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I was super happy with that.
Mile 1: 9:41
Mile 2: 10:43 (all uphill)
Mile 3: 10:12
Mile 4: 10:19
Mile 5: 10:08
Mile 6: 10:06
Mile 7: 11:35 (all uphill)
Mile 8: 10:04
Mile 9: 10:13
Mile 10: 10:19
Mile 11: 10:05
Mile 12: 10:24 (worst hill on the course? what hill?)
Mile 13: 9:20
Last .1: :39
I think those splits (the non-enormous hill miles) look pretty consistent. I relaxed. I took it easy. I didn't even have a low moment. Not one. And I still had some gas left in the tank at the end.
My times for the 4 years I've run this race are, in chronological order: 2:31, 2:25, 2:16, 2:13. Chip, chip, chipping away.
My friends Nancy and Alan both had huge PRs today too.
Huge thanks to my mom for coming down and bringing Skyler with her.
Morningglory Bakery in Bar Harbor and a lemonade for the ride home. Suzanne and Skyler and I drove away, past stunning ocean views just bursting with sunshine. What a seriously good day. Did I mention that I needed a great day? And I got it.
(this post is sponsored by a large cup of Starbucks at 3:00 pm)