Sunday, March 24, 2013

Eastern States 20: Race Report

As I sit here on Sunday evening, I am icing my knee and my foot. And switching over to my hip and my hamstring, just above me knee. All on my right side. They are all completely screeeeeaming at me tonight. That's because I ran the Eastern States 20 today with the amazing Lauren, who is barely back to running after breaking a bone in her shoulder. Ouch.

So, the race was, in the end, pretty ouchie, but it was overall, very awesome.

Lauren picked me up at 6AM this morning and we made the trek down to Hampton Beach. At that early hour one might think it would have been a quiet ride, but of course we were gabbing and laughing the whole way. She had her GPS off and counted on my keen sense of direction to get us where we were going. (I actually had a paper print out of the directions.... Just like the Pilgrims used when THEY ran Eastern States!) 

We arrived in time utilize the portopotty in the parking lot (we over-hydrated on the way down to compensate for under-hydrating on Saturday. Not a useful move but a pretty natural one, I guess!) and  catch the first bus to Portsmouth High School. When we got there, it was pretty quiet and they were not set up for registration yet. It was about 8AM. The gun was set to go off at 11AM.

So, ummm, maybe we didn't need to leave QUITE so early for the bus.


Anyway, being us, we chattered happily and commented freely on the situations that arose around us. We also ate some bananas and bagels and whatnot to fuel us. (The start time of 11AM is a tough one for runners fueling-wise. They start then to mimic the Boston Marathon start time because many, many of the runners use it as their final long run before the marathon. Now Boston starts at 10, but I guess Eastern States hasn't quite caught up to that new time.)

After awhile some of Lauren's Vermont pals arrived. Kristin, "Mitch" (his real name is Marty, but I kept forgetting and referring to him as Mitch, so I'm going to go with it), Abby (who Lauren was meeting for the first time, too) and another fellow whose name (eek!) I can't recall this second. They were kind enough to offer us a table near them and so we moved ourselves over and I had the chance to listen in on the chatter of some SERIOUSLY hard core runners and triathletes. For. Real. These folks do NOT mess around. On top of it, they are incredibly friendly, even to mortals such as myself, and it was great to be in their aura, even if none of their speediness immediately rubbed off on me.

This brings me to another point. (When, oh, when is the darn race gonna start, you wonder!?  I know, I'm getting there!) Eastern States is not a race for casual runners. This is not your local 5 or 10K where people just decide to hop in at the last minute for a fun time with their pals. I looked around that cafeteria and was struck by the fact that I, a fairly fit and capable gal, was probably one of the LEAST fit people in the room. We are talking about flat abs, amazing calves, quads of steel... Whew. I couldn't decide if I felt more inspired or depressed about the whole thing. I'm going with inspired. Also, I'm going with the fact that I need to hang out in crowds such as this much more often. Keeps me humble!

After 6,542 trips to the ladies room, the race began. (Ten minutes late, by the way, because apparently the police didn't put it on the calendars. WHAT!?) The day was absolutely perfect. Just about 40 degrees at the start  but the sun was warm and glorious. We all had long conversations about what to wear and I came down with capris, compression socks, a long-sleeve technical tee, Run Like a Mother tank over top, light gloves and a hat with visor. I think I chose very wisely. Lauren had on a similar get up plus a windbreaker, which she regretted by mile 3. Live and learn. (Or don't... as Lauren is ALWAYS saying that she over dresses but continues to do so anyway.)

Because of her recent injury and my recent I-will-be-in-denial-about-this-20-mile-race-because-Lauren-is-injured mental breakdown, neither of us was prepared to go great guns for this race. I had said to her that if I went any faster than 9:30s before 15 miles I was sure my wheels would come off. Of course, we were going faster than 9:30s right away. It was hard not to because the day was so gorgeous and the terrain was (Angel choir: AAHHHH) almost completely flat. The few 'hills' we faced were sort of a treat, mixing things up a bit. It was nice to feel strong on them and pass a few people who needed to walk. As much as I curse the constant up and down of running in my neighborhood, it sure benefits me on days like this.

Mostly we kept to about a 9:15 pace. I was regretting that I had not pee'd 6,543 times, as I needed to go to the bathroom immediately at the start. D'oh. I knew their were portopotties where the 1/2 marathon started, so I just had to hold on till mile 6.9. And I did. We made an awkward (possibly illegal) cut through some snow to the bathrooms and as we did, I knew that my right side was officially talking to me. The talk was, basically, "Heh heh. You think you're running 20 miles today, Lady? You are hilarious."

After the bathroom break we hopped back on course and things stayed mostly at bay. We talked and talked and laughed and laughed and enjoyed this truly beautiful race course. SO much ocean. SO many amazing homes. At mile 10 we sang (loudly and obnoxiously) the first verse and chorus of Livin' on a Prayer because, "Oh, we (were) half way there... ooh, oh!...) We got surprisingly few disgruntled looks, mostly because the field had thinned out a good deal by then.

In case you were wondering or unsure, 20 miles, no matter how pretty the course and glorious the weather, or off key your hair band tribute, will always be sort of a long way to go.

Things got pretty interesting for both of us when we hit Hampton, the town where we parked the car... though not the finish line. The cruel joke about this race is that the finish line is about 3 miles from where the after party is... also three miles from your car. So you have to go past the people who are already finished and enjoying themselves (blessedly they are inside the ballroom of the hotel so you can't actually see them eating delicious soup and M and Ms...). It seemed forever until we passed it and hit the final water station. By that point neither of us could deny that we were hurting cookies.

But, we were just a 5K from the finish. So, we imagined the distances we had left in relation to where they would be from our houses. "Just from my house to the lake" and that kind of thing. There is a bridge that takes you into Massachusetts and this feels like it should the end. But it's not. It is a verrry long 2 miles (or so) from there. And it's pretty much a straight shot so you can see a long way off. It's one of those situations where you swear you must be on a treadmill because nothing feels like it's getting any closer. Gah!

Finally, we reached mile 19 and I had had enough. I hurt. I wanted to be done. And I knew that going faster was not really going to hurt my body any more. Cardiovascular-wise  I felt fantastic. So, I picked up the pace a bit. And then a bit more. Lauren, who was wearing a Garmin, finally said, "Hey, (expletive deleted), you know you are speeding way up, right?" But, of course, she came right along with me and agreed, best to get this whole darn thing OVER with!

Just when I was praying my entire right leg would just fall off my body for some sweet relief, we reached the turn off and the finish line. We did it in about 3:07, 9:21 pace. We were a bit broken (me more than Lauren) but very pleased with our finish. (For comparison, Lauren has done this race a bunch of times and last year ran it at 8:00 pace. Wowza!) We started in the middle of the pack and pretty much passed people the entire route, with almost no one passing us. We weren't being aggressive but it was good to know we ran a smart race. In fact, after the last bridge I spied a woman in a bright pink jacket fairly far in the distance and I got in my mind that we should shoot for passing.... About 200 meters before the finish, we did!
I am such a Tool. Lauren is classy, as always.
We took a few minutes for a photo at the finish and for a look at the beach. A very kind Mom with a very adorable toddler offered to get a photo of us. Then we hobbled to the bus for our bags and over to another bus for the ride to the hotel.
Strong. And finished!
We both had some great veggie minestrone soup and indulged in a Coke and peanut M and Ms. Best. Tasting. Food. Ever. (If you've ever done a race of this length or longer, you know what I'm talking about!)

We ran into Kristin, Abby, "Mitch" and The Other Lovely Gentleman Who's Name I am Forgetting. They each had a good day, to say the least: Mitch PR'd this race by 10 minutes, Kristin came in 3rd for women, and Abby came in 2nd for women. (WHAT!?! Toldja they was fast fast fast!)

A quick change in the bathroom (man, a shower would have been nice!) and a walk back to the car and we were on our way back to real life.

We had a great time getting an OK time at this race. The company is everything. And amazing weather doesn't hurt, either.

I'll have to let you know if I can walk in the morning. The jury is still out on that!

Official Results:

Time: 3:07:43  
Pace: 9:23  

Overall: 282 of 444 total runners

Age group (all females up to 39): 65 of 119 
Gender place: 111 of 215                                                

1 comment:

  1. I ran that race yesterday too Phoebe. I have never been so glad to see a coke in my life:)