I have come to really love the BAA races. The Distance Medley, which is a combination of all three races (5K, 10K & Half marathon), has become a symbol of triumph in my running history. in 2013, it was the “thing” that kept me training throughout the year, as the races are pretty well spread apart. It also was a trio of lessons learned. In the 2013 5K I learned that one should never house beer with a side of blue cheese fries the night before because what you’re going to end up with is the extreme urge to vomit all over yourself. (and a time of 29:00, which was a freagin’ miracle in and of itself) In the 2013 10K I learned that if you slack off in your training, you get back exactly the amount of effort you put in, which amounts to almost keeling over into a Gatorade cup. (and a time of 1:00, I think maybe there was 6 seconds in there) In the 2013 Half Marathon, I learned that race rituals should not be messed with. If you need a good bed, you sleep on a good bed, if you need to eat at a certain time, you better do that and if you need to pee 27 times, you best get in that damn port-a-potty line. Otherwise, you end up with a stomach that feels like it is eating itself for 13.1 miles and you waste 2 minutes waiting in line for the bathroom so your bladder doesn’t explode. (and a time of 2:08, which would have been 2:06 minus the damn bathroom). Why did I sign up again this year? Because I knew there was so much good there and I knew lessons learned and embraced would take me a very long way. My goal for this year was to trim major time off of last years cumulative total. Also, I wanted all four metals in my hand from the BAA (the three distance medley races & the Boston Marathon). To me, the Boston Athletic Association is symbolic of all great athletes. All runners who aim to be, better. The races all have standards but embrace everyone. The atmosphere is always tantalizing. And although the races are difficult (with the exception of the 5K, pretty easy), they make you feel, great, at the end.
Since I was running the Boston Marathon this year, I knew I had to take it easy at the 2014 5K, it was two days before Boston and I wasn’t trying to race. Just shake things out. Keep it lose. I was lucky enough to run with my friend Stephanie (who also ran Boston) who kept me on target for a 28:03 minute race. So I shaved one minute off of last year’s time and it felt extremely easy. I was really happy with that. For the 10K on Sunday, I was aiming for 52-53 minutes and I showed up thinking I could probably nab it. I had a power playlist, I had my lucky shorts on and I had my watch charged and ready to go. I laughed off the hill as you come to Boston University, I think I called it a “blip” and scoffed at how hot people thought that strip was going to be. And I vastly underestimated the cluster fuck that seems to happen as you are charging up that hill. So, I will say this, as I lined up, I had slightly high expectations. They seeded people this year according to your bib and pace, which was so amazing. I was technically placed in the 8:00″-8:59″ group but I lined up with the 9:00″-9:59″ group as those seemed like more of my people. As the gun went off, there was plenty of space to spread out and I didn’t need to pass anyone because we all started out pretty nicely. I knew I was going a little fast so I tried to slow myself down, my watch read 8’20” for the first mile. So I tried to slow my roll. But this part of the race was shaded and cool so I felt pretty darn good. Mile 2, my watch read 8’35”, I was on target which made me feel even better. But then we turned the next corner which takes you to the hill. The first “blip” was no big deal, so I thought, AWESOME, I’m from Maine and I’m so cool, hills aren’t even hills but then I looked up and saw the real hill and I almost had a stroke. Everyone started clustering, people stopped short and started walking, this is where people fall apart. Right here. On this hill. It’s where dreams come to die. I tried to weave but I had some problems with that. It was hot, you’re on the concrete here with nothing to protect you and the sun is just beating on your face. It zaps energy like nothing I have ever experienced, so I went slower. My watch read 9’07” for mile 3. As I came to the top, where the turnaround is, I got really excited about the downhill, but the downhill just takes you into another hill, and this is where the strip of heat continues to kill your spirit, so at mile 4, I wasn’t really speeding up too much, 9’05”. I tried to convince myself to go faster, you’re almost done I thought. (sort of) But I was hot. So hot. It felt oppressive, mile 5 was a 9’09” and the last mile, I just couldn’t believe it, was 9’29”. I knew I was moving slow. I could feel it in my legs. My will to push was there, I think, but my body just wouldn’t listen. I was thirsty, so I stopped at water stops which were even larger cluster fucks and I know that affected my time. Once I passed the 6 mile mark, I just tried as hard as I could to book it, but I don’t think I was going very fast. The finish line just seemed so far.
My total time was 56:07, 4 minutes faster than last year but not quite where I wanted to be for this year. At the end of the race, I felt like I had given it all I had, but looking back, especially at that last mile, I’m not so sure. Maybe the lesson is that I just struggle with heat. Which I do. Or, maybe it’s that I keep making excuses for not ending with a great kick. Who knows. Either way, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I had a good race where nothing catastrophic happened. I hung out with a friend after who I never get the chance to see. I got my metal, I got my T-shirt and I only have one race left in the Medley to go. So who cares. Running is running is running. Just glad to be doing it.
Stephanie has big goals for the half, she’s talking 1:55 and with a best of 2:00, I’m not really sure how to get there. Since the 2:00 half, I haven’t really been able to match that time, the closest I have come was 2:04. The only variable I can think of, is nutrition. I had adopted much better nutrition practices at that point where as these days, I seem to be adopting the “What, I’m a runner, I can eat whatever I want” philosophy. And no, I haven’t gained any weight but my insides don’t feel as good. My gut definitely doesn’t feel so hot. The months before that race, I just made better choices. I didn’t eat chips with lunch, I watched my portion sizes, I wasn’t eating sugar. It makes a difference, especially for me. I need to control what is in my power and line up, ready to do the best I can. Train hard. Give it all I’ve got. Then see what that produces. If I did finally nab that sub 2 hour time, it would mean shaving 8 minutes off last years half, which would be huge.
I’m going to use the same high mileage training plan and see where it takes me.
I would say that I am getting back to my running happy place which is completely due to the people who haven’t allowed me to fail. I send a VERY special thanks to Meg, who has kept me running long distances with her marathon training, I need that, I really do. A BIG thanks to Allison who makes me do things like speed work, which is a must to improve and who keeps me focused and tells me when I am being stupid. A HUGE thanks to Jan, who has been getting up early to run with me during the week, I value those miles, I really do and I wouldn’t do it without you. And of course, to Kristin, a BIG thanks for taking me out of my pace comfort zone and pushing me to be better, always. You guys are special people. My running life wouldn’t be nearly as full without you.