So I’ve been hemming and hawing sitting down to draft this race report. [Warning: it’s on the long side even for me]
Race report? You might ask yourself
Yes race report because yesterday was the Eastern State 20 miler that I ran with Lacey. You’ll notice I said “ran” instead of “raced”. Ummmm that’s because this was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. You can read Lacey’s report here. I loved reading it because it totally captures the essence of what went down.
In short this race went according to NONE of our expectations. I didn’t really hype up the race too much because it was a part of the larger picture: Boston. I figured it would be a good confidence booster as a last run before tapering (as Boston is 3 weeks from today!?!). Lacey and I had talked a bit about what our goals were and we had two:
- Finish stronger than we started
- Maintain a good GMP (~8:00) throughout
As I’m sure you can tell by my tone so far neither of those happened.
To start with, the race conditions were much worse than the weather forecast had led me to believe. According to weather.com it was suppose to be cloudy but with some sun, temps of upper 30s at the start to low 40s throughout. Well okay, I suppose both of those are true. BUT the forecast neglected to mention that since we were running along the Eastern sea coast (Kittery ME to Hampton Beach, NH) it was going to be a cold 40* and WINDY.
Luckily both of us had packed tights and gloves so we were okay. And as you can see all smiles and hardcoreness at the start:
And despite looking ready to go we actually missed the start! We ended up being, literally, at the back of the pack. Since it was such a small race (no chips or mile markers on the course) it wasn’t the biggest deal but when they say the race starts at 1100 they really mean it!
We eased into the pack and I know Lacey was chomping at the bit to GO! We had talked about race strategy and since one of our goals was to finish strong we held back a little bit.
Full Disclosure Time: I entered the race on Sunday not feeling 100%. Lacey and I had emailed back and forth and I was considering dropping out of the race and, if this had been a training run and not a race I had already paid for and committed to, I wouldn’t have done it. I think. My left shin (the one that I don’t have the PT ‘script for) was bugging me and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now before you guys start hating on me and bashing me know that I went into the race knowing it wasn’t the best move for me.
The first couple of miles were around 8:45-9:00. Therefore I kept telling Lacey that I knew I was holding her back and that I wasn’t going to be able to hit the GMP and that I was taking this as a training run and going to shoot for 9:00 pace (roughly a 3 hour finish). I knew that she was trying to encourage me but I just didn’t have it in me. In addition to my shin throbbing, I was soooo sleep deprived that my body just didn’t want to do it.
Around mile 5 or 6 we saw Elliot, Lacey’s boyfriend, and Kyle, their friend from high school. They were on picture duty and following in a car and I have never wanted to climb into a vehicle so badly in my life! I told myself that if I felt like shit at the halfway mark I could drop out. At this point Lacey asked me how I was doing and I had to be honest “I’m just looking to finish on two legs”. I again told her to go ahead but, bless her soul, she told me that finishing together was more important. I seriously almost cried.
I can’t tell you how much Lacey being there with me helped. I was in agony every step. I don’t think I had a pain free step the whole time. I was nauseous, shin throbbing, groin screaming because it was compensating. And those were the physical symptoms. I was also worried about slowing Lacey down despite her protests of us being in this together.
Miles 7-16 were kind of a blur to me. It’s really too bad because I’m sure the NH coastline was beautiful. But the wind and my body were all I could think about. My nausea was getting worse. I don’t know if it was the awkward start time & time I ate breakfast (ie low blood sugar), dehydration (despite the cold I was sweating whenever the sun came out) or pain.
Around mile 14 we saw Elliot and Kyle again and I (successfully) hid behind Lacey when the camera came out because I was NOT feeling it. It was at this point I knew that I didn’t want to see them again because I for sure would hop in their car. Which is SO not like me. I usually take the attitude that I can handle anything. It’s a point I pride myself on. Lacey told me that we can walk at any time and I knew that if we did I wouldn’t likely find the motivation to keep going.
But I had to stop a water stop at mile 16 or so and I drank down 4 water cups! And Lacey offered me a gu chomp in order to fight my nausea. I don’t think it helped much physically but mentally it gave me a little boost.
Which at this point, with 4 miles to go, I kept telling myself that I do this all the time and I can do it again. Which were the words that Lacey told me at mile 8 when she said “Only 12 miles to go. You can bang this out no problem”
Around this point Lacey was sidelined with a terrible cramp in her abs. It was awful to see her in pain and we stopped a bit for her to stretch. She kept telling me to go on without her but I couldn’t. At one point I didn’t notice that she stopped to walk and I promptly stopped (despite Kyle telling me not too haha) and waited for her to catch up to me. This was around mile 18 and from this point on we faced a tremendous headwind. Our pace drastically slowed and it felt like I wasn’t moving. Those last 2 miles felt as long as the first 18.
I really like the way Lacey summed up the race so I’m copying and pasting:
It is kind of encouraging to have someone run with you, see you at your very worst, and not think badly of you. Talk about a tough run. And talk about an emotional ending. The last two miles were right along the beach boardwalk and the wind was PUSHING us back. I mean, it had been windy pretty much the entire run. But the last two miles were something else entirely. It was a wind tunnel and all I could think of was JUST KEEP GOING.
It was a very emotional ending for me. As soon as we crossed (arm in arm and we told the people recording the times and numbers that we finished TOGETHER) I started crying. It took so much to NOT cry during the race that I let it all out as soon as we were out of the shoot. It was part pain, part happiness of being over and part pride of actually finishing.
The final stats?
- Official: 3 hours 10 minutes (taking into account all the walking)
- Unofficial: 3 hours 6 minutes
Obviously the numbers (while all in all aren’t that bad) don’t tell the whole story. Like I said, it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It was awesome to have a partner to share this experience with regardless of the outcome. So thanks Lacey 🙂 And Elliot 🙂 And Kyle 🙂
At some point during the race I told Lacey “I need to say this aloud. No running tomorrow!”. And it actually happened. Although I really don’t think that I could have physically run even if I wanted to. Again, please no bashing here. You can’t possible say anything about how stupid I treated my legs that I haven’t said to myself already. Butttt it’s over. I can’t change what I did.
It’s also taper time. Thank god.
Whew that was longer than I intended this to be and I wasn’t sure I wanted to post anything on this at all. But as Lacey wrote, They can’t all be good runs or good races. And when they’re not. Just let it go. That’s what I’m doing. Letting it go. Writing this out was a good step in that process 🙂