02 02 2015.

race report: cape elizabeth mid-winter classic 10-miler 2015

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I had been anticipating this race for months. Like a few other races around here, registration is extremely limited – to 1,000. It always amazes me how many people are ready to jump in line to run 10 miles in the cold. Then I remember that I’m one of those people. I’m one of the 1,000 runners who set their alarms for 5:45 on November 24 and anxiously stared at their computers screens, waiting for the 6:00 sign-up.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Because this race pushed me in every way imaginable. This was a battle both mentally and physically. Starting at 6:30am when I woke up to “get on with the pre-race rituals.” Coffee to get the system started. Muesli because why not? (And it’s delicious and I’d been training with this as my breakfast.) Then came the nerves, disguised quite well as excitement.

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Something about this course had me really anxious. I had run it before (twice!) both Saturdays before the race with the Maine Track Club with 1:24-ish results. I could do it. But could I do it better? I really put the pressure on myself. I love numbers that end in zero, so 1:20 sounded like the perfect time to aim for. The problem: cutting 4 minutes off my time meant that instead of running 8:30, I would be running 8:00 miles. On a hilly course.

Enough of the analysis, though, because when that gun went off (literally, they had a gun..or a canon(?) that scared the crap out of half the people who had no clue what was going on!) I ran for it. Okay, maybe after about a half mile – the first half mile was a congested mess! There were no corrals or pacers, so everyone just lined up wherever!

After I heard my watch beep mile 1…I knew it was going to be a long race. I was dressed in three layers because I had been anticipating 10 degrees feeling cold. Somehow 10 degrees felt warm. (Magic?) Therefore, after just 7 minutes and 38 seconds I was feeling all of the sweat.

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(Photo copyright Maine Running Photos.)

The thing is, I knew that I was running fast – faster than I needed to. But having run this course before, I knew that the end was the hardest. It’s the kind of race where you can expect negative splits. After mile 7, you’re basically running uphill until the finish. Just look at the elevation profile!

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Anyways, I figured that if I could get some time in the bank at the beginning, I could afford to struggle on the hills. Hoooo-ly cow did I struggle! A 1:00/mile pace shift for those hills doesn’t look like much on paper but I just felt like I was running through molasses and couldn’t figure out how to get my legs to move faster! I avoided looking at my watch because I was sure that I was blowing all of my time goals.

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Mile 6. (Photo copyright Maine Running Photos.)

So that was the mental struggle. Sometimes running with a (rather challenging) goal in mind can be pretty daunting through miles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. When I hit mile 5, as nice as it was to be half way done, a thought definitely came through: “just half way done?”

That was the bad. Now for the good.

There’s a hill about 6 miles out that’s quite difficult, but certainly doesn’t top the boss hill chart for me. There was a guy who has been edging on me for the better part of a mile. As he came even with me, he let out this loud burp. Without missing a beat, he just innocently says, “Excuse me.” I look at him and give an honest laugh (all that I could muster at that pace) and added, “Sometimes you just have to burp!” His response, before passing me altogether was, “Mmm salted caramel.”

Goodbye new friend. I thought that was hilarious! Perhaps due to lack of oxygen to the brain. It helped to keep my spirits up.

When I passed mile 8, I looked at my watch for the first time in a while. 1:02:00 had elapsed since the start of the race. I was right on track to kill this. But wait. Did I hear something about a gun-time, rather than a starting mat? My watch time was based off of the moment I crossed the timing mat, yet I had been told beforehand that the time officially started when the gun went off. Crap. I now had to factor in 1-2 minutes of stop-and-go pandemonium at the start line.

I was about ready to give up on that goal – seriously considering it. This was all up hill, my watch was reading well above 8:00/miles, and I was feeling a bit pukey.

Then I remembered that I’m going to DARE this year! Dare to run the fastest race I’ve ever run. Dare to try. Dare to try harder. Dare to puke…okay maybe not that.

I’m a Find Your Awesome athlete as of today and if I set a goal I’m going to reach it! I knew that I’d be upset if I came this close to running it sub-1:20, but failed by a few seconds. I knew that I’d be upset if I didn’t give 100% the whole time. I wanted to cross that finish line knowing that there was nothing left to give, nothing else I could have possibly done to reach that goal.

I also thought of Lynne Cox’s book Swimming to Antarctica – which I’ve thought a lot about lately, especially when it comes to setting the standards for pushing yourself.

I was much more nervous than I had been during my first swim. I had greater expectations of myself now. I wanted to swim the first Antarctic mile, and I knew I would be very disappointed if I didn’t succeed.
Lynne Cox

I knew I would be very disappointed if I didn’t succeed. So I pushed. It helped that my name was on my bib – there were tons of volunteers and spectators who were shouting my name and telling me to run faster! So I did! I rounded that corner and spotted the official timer. 1:19:xx – no way. NO way. I had no clue what that timer was going to say – considering I started my watch late. I had time. I upped my speed and bolted over the finish line.

While this race was the toughest race I have ever run – tougher than the painful cramps at the end of the Tri for a Cure, tougher than the first mile I ever ran, tougher mentally than a lot of things I’ve done – I’m so much more proud of myself for doing it. It wasn’t easy, yet I’m going to remember it as a great race.

I even bought a t-shirt at the end. For whatever reason, I don’t want to own or wear a t-shirt from a race that sucked. Haven’t had one of those yet, but I really didn’t want this to be my first!

Splits (from my watch)
1 | 7:38
2 | 7:29
3 | 7:36
4 | 7:43
5 | 7:46
6 | 8:01
7 | 8:01
8 | 8:06
9 | 8:18
10 | 8:19
10.04 | :16
OT | 1:19:14 (2nd AG!)

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I didn’t look happy as I was approaching the finish line – but I was ecstatic! (Photo copyright Maine Running Photos.)

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The award! It’s a fun face mask – the printing is upside-down, but it’s completely functional and warm nonetheless!


1 Comment

  1. Karen Raymond

    I’m so happy that you have found a love for running! I love reading your blog…nice job!

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