On Sunday, the girls and I headed down to Cape Elizabeth to run in the Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler, along with over 600 other crazies that race in Maine in February. It seemed like our little group knew a ton of people running this race this year.
We carpooled with Stacy (thanks for driving!) and got there with plenty of time and even scored the best parking spot ever, literally right next to the starting line. We ran into the high school to go to the bathroom and met up with Jen and Ward who had driven down separately then went back to the car to take off our outer layer of clothing and huddle in the warmth until the announcer started talking. Once we figured out where at the start we'd like to stand, a few snowflakes started falling from the sky and we were off.
I didn't really have a goal in mind for this race. Given my lower mileage in the last few months, I knew a PR would be tough to get (less than 1:21:28, 8:08 pace), but I hoped to keep it under 1:24. It seems pretty crazy that this was my first road race since the marathon at the end of September and the only other race I did was the Bond Brook 5-Mile trail race.
Andy, a Reach the Beach: MA vanmate, and I ran together for the first few miles. I didn't keep track of my splits (for the first time ever) and had contemplated not even wearing a watch, but I did just to get an idea of how I was doing. The first mile came in around 7:30 which completely surprised me. It did not at all feel like I was going that fast. The next few miles were in the low 8's, and I only really know this because I was running in front of two guys during these miles that would say the splits out loud.
|Andy and I (photo courtesy David Colby Young)|
I skipped the water stop at mile three and was feeling pretty strong on the hills, but lost Andy soon after. At this point I started thinking that I really might be able to come close to how I did in 2012, but there was still a lot of race left. There was another water stop at mile five so I took some water, but did not fuel with the Sport Beans I had stuck in my back pocket. Mistake? By mile six, my legs were pretty much toast and it really became a mental game not to stop and walk. But I didn't, well once I did at mile 7.5 when there was another water stop, just so I could regroup and focus on the last two and a half miles that are practically all uphill.
|Right before mile 5 (photo courtesy David Colby Young)|
There was a decline down to the mile nine marker and then back up a gradual incline the rest of the way. There was a headwind at this part, not too stiff, but definitely noticeable this late in the race. I really had to focus on reaching the next cone that was placed along the course to keep myself going. It was really tough mentally, but I needed that challenge. Finally, the finish was in sight and I coasted to a time of 1:23:26, an average pace of 8:21. Nearly two minutes slower than last year, but within my unofficial goal of 1:24.
|Heading toward the finish (photo courtesy Roger Morse)|
I am happy with the outcome, it's not always about a PR. This race was more of a test of my current fitness in a race situation, to see what I need to focus on for the marathon that is in...101 days! I was surprised to find out that I haven't lost a lot in terms of my lung power. I always felt in control of my breathing through the ten miles. It was my leg strength that gave out, but that is something I feel I can get back in a short amount of time with some hard work. In hindsight, I probably should have taken some fuel around the five mile mark, just to get me through the last three in better fashion, but it is what it is.
Finish time - 1:23:26, 8:21 pace
276 out of 611 overall
91 out of 289 females
25 out of 47 in age group (35-39)
What I love about this race:
The 9:45 start time. Even living an hour away, I didn't have to get up at the butt crack of dawn and rush out the door. I enjoyed a leisurely morning and even got to get a good luck kiss from the boys before I left.
The course. While it is challenging with several rolling hills, it's not overly difficult. Part of the course follows the Beach to Beacon course, not the pretty part along the water, but the breakdown lane is wide without too much of a slant. Being a loop makes it easy to quickly get to the start and back to your car at the end. Also, since it starts at the high school, we can use real bathrooms and not stinky port-o-potties.
Course support. The volunteers are awesome. Every single one of them offered me words of support. With the temperature in the low 20s, I can only imagine how cold they were standing still in that weather for over two hours. Thank you so much!
The food. While there was the standard selection of yogurt, bananas, oranges and bagels with peanut butter, they also have fresh pizza. I might have had three slices. And the fact that it was inside the high school, not outside under a tent in the cold is a huge plus.
Overall, it was a great weekend with friends and I'd highly recommend running this race. I'll probably be back next year!