It’s been a pretty darn good summer so far. And that’s not normally something I say with respect to my running.
I had planned to run Beach to Beacon 10K as the pinnacle of my summer running training. As part of my training program, I ran the Freedom 5000 on the Fourth of July. I haven’t raced a 5K in at least five years, and I didn’t get in as many track workouts as I’d hoped to. (That nasty best REALITY reared its ugly head, and family demands kept me from a few key planned workouts.) Alas, I toed the line feeling like I could run a respectable time. It was low 80s and sunny, even at 8am, but that’s just summer running in Austin. I ran a strong and fairly even race on the mostly-flat course, finishing in 23:37. That was good enough for first place in my 40-49 age group. Hooray for ageing!
A week later, I was on Cape Cod for my summer stay with my in-laws. I showed you my favorite running route down to the beach and my imperfect but fun run along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I certainly enjoyed running in cooler temperatures! I turned in a few encouraging runs in the 3-6 mile range as well as working in a weekly long run.
I also made a last-minute decision to run the Dennis Road Race, a 5-miler I ran last year. It’s become a bit of a family event, with my husband, his sister, and an auntie who runs. I had planned on doing a long run that weekend, but I decided it was too fun to pass up the chance to run with the family again.
The race course is rolling hills, nothing too challenging but not exactly flat and fast either. I went out the first two miles with bang even splits before seemingly falling asleep in the third mile– 25 seconds slower than the first two, with no real good reason. I managed to get the train back on the tracks for the last two miles and finish in 39:13.
Although I was slower than last year, I still finished first in the family.
I went for a short recovery run the day after and kept my runs pretty easy all week between the 5-miler and TD Beach to Beacon 10K. I wanted to go into the race well-trained but also well-rested.
Any time I run a race big enough to pick up my packet ahead of time, my night before ritual includes laying out everything I need so I’m all ready race morning.
Saturday morning came early, and my husband and I set off for Cape Elizabeth High School where we caught a shuttle bus to the start near Crescent Bay Beach. It was a beautiful morning!
Unfortunately, that would be my last smile for a while. I’ve always hated the sit-around-and-wait element of big races. Too much nervous energy! I was confident I could run under 50 minutes and wanted to get going already!
I was determined not to go out too fast, knowing that it’s a slight downhill first mile. I hit it about 15 seconds slower than my goal pace, but I was pleased not to have gone out too fast. It was cool (68F) but muggy (82%), and the course was not as shade-covered as I’d thought (and hoped!) it was going to be.
I ran fine– not as fast as I wanted, but not bad– through 5K. By four miles, I was feeling tired, and my mile-splits were slowing to reflect my sluggishness. I grabbed a cup of water at 4 miles, took a sip, and tossed the rest on the back of my neck. I was working pretty hard at this point, despite my slowing pace. I knew where the 5 mile mark was, and when I saw it I was convincing myself to hang on. But then my stomach went. I had some dry heaves as I was going up a hill. There was an emergency porta potty stop. I had to walk up another hill.
It was as if all the wheels were coming off my cart at the same time.
The finish of Beach to Beacon is tricky. With just over a half-mile to go, runners enter Ft. Williams Park and immediately go up a short but steep hill and then hairpin turn along a narrow asphalt path. It’s crowded, runners are tired, but the cheering crowds are encouraging. I was running okay at this point, knowing I had blown my goal but wanting to enjoy the event.
Just as I was starting to feel a bit better in my body, runners were shunted to a single-file line, shuffling along side the metal barriers, so an emergency cart could pass. It was not what I needed at that moment!
(And, yet, I was grateful not to be the person ON the emergency cart.)
Finally, I rounded the final bend and got sight of the Portland Head Light– the “beacon” to which we’d all been running. I crossed the line and tried to savor the moment of having taken part in one of the classic American road races.
It was hard not to be disappointed with my race and my finish time of 54:57. I felt like it was one of those races that I worked hard the whole way and just never got going.
While walking through the finish area, I heard a lot of runners mention the hot sun and humidity. I can’t say that was the reason I didn’t run well. I don’t know why I didn’t run well. It just wasn’t my day.
Good days are still to come!