Monday, March 29, 2010

Race Report: Eastern States 20

I went out up to Kittery to run the Eastern States 20 this weekend. I went and stayed with David & Cheryl C. and their kids at their place, had dinner with them but had to run back to Winchester because N brought the kids there after her dad broke his hip Saturday afternoon. So, she headed to Cape Cod to see him Sunday prior to surgery, our kids hung out with my folks, and I headed back to Maine to run. Nothing like a bit of extra excitement before a big run. Luckily, N's dad is doing well, but it was a tense afternoon and Sunday morning.

The run was great in that painful way that long runs are. Temps were mid forties, but there was a relentless, biblically spiteful headwind for probably 12 of the 20 miles.
We ran hard along the Atlantic for much of the race and I was glad to have a companion in David. When the wind got really stiff I lowered my head a bit and repeated to myself "You are small and slight and the wind doesn't know you're here." We set out at a comfortable 9 minute/mile pace and I have to say, that through much of the run I was thinking that I could run forever at 9 minutes/mile.

Then, for some reason, between 10 & 13 I picked up my pace and went harder. I might have unconsciously been trying to expiate last week's bonk, I don't know, but I ratcheted it back a bit and ran with David. Around 14 it started to hurt a bit (paying for my quickened pace) and by about 15.5 I knew it was time to dig down deep. I kept repeating the following things: "Be open to the experience, take what the road gives you, listen to your body." I also kept repeating: "Smooth. Easy. Rhythm." I was misquoting a line from "Born to Run" which goes "Smooth, easy, light, fast." It worked pretty well until I came to the last water stop and as I'd done on others got my Gatorade and walked while I drank. I lost my rhythm and got in a bit of trouble.

My stride was breaking down, my legs weren't moving so well, and the headwind along the beach in Hampton Beach was vicious. The sea was lovely, and the fresh salt air was amazing, and I tried to focus on that and dissociate from the pain in my gams. I was working hard those last 2 miles, but David was hugely helpful to me -- and he helped me tough it out. I misjudged the finish line. I saw knot of people and didn't see runners proceeding up the sidewalk, in the distance so I thought that was the end, and started my final grind about a mile too early. When I had to make an unexpected right-hand turn and didn't see finish line, I stumbled a bit around 19+. However, when I saw the actual finish I picked it up and hit it. A kid in his 20s came in right behind me and he said "I was trying to catch you but you were too fast in that last stretch." I smiled and said "thanks, I didn't feel fast." There was a little post race thing and I got a cup of greasy beef barley, and it was delicious.

It was great to run with David, it was fun to have someone to talk to, especially near the end. When I was in a world of hurt at 18 he quoted Dean Karnaze to me and that helped a lot. So did his carbonara from the night before. What was also hugely helpful was that Cheryl and the kids were all over the race course cheering for us and it was awesome and fun to see them and gave a reason to put on a good show -- though I have to say, I wasn't acting. I was running with smile the whole way, pretty much, and it was genuine.

The race was well run, water stops were well spaced, and we went off on time. The scenery was great and the course was mainly flat -- a few rollers early, a small up around 12 and then a few rollers in 14-16 but nothing major. The Hoyts were there, again (love running with them and really admire them -- it was hellacious running into the headwind, just me, I can't imagine pushing the cart that Rick rides in). I had one more Gu left on me and should have eaten it, I think it would have helped, but I was well hydrated, and today feel less sore than I did last week (though I am sore, this is my longest run this year and I went from 13.1 to 20...). It was a fun run. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned that if you run with a smile, it's true.

Posted via email from Cherry Blossom Ten

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