08 10 2015.

race report: beach to beacon 10k 2015

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Let’s talk about the Beach to Beacon, shall we?

Back in March, I was one of those lucky thousands who managed to click and type away fast enough in order to secure a race spot. For many, the Beach to Beacon is the event of the summer – they train hard (and fast!) to be able to perform their best with the best. People anxiously await the event, meeting the elite athletes, and of course running along a beautiful stretch of road in Cape Elizabeth. For me, it was definitely a healthy combination of the three.

I had just done the Tri for a Cure a week before, so it was time to switch modes from the multi-sport mindset to that of the run-your-heart-out kind that I love so much. It was even more exciting to hear, in the days preceding the race, that some of my (new) coworkers would also be there!

I woke up the morning of the race really early to give myself time to spare. Given the race’s reputation, I knew (almost without a doubt) that we’d encounter heavy traffic getting into Cape Elizabeth. Darren was awesome and drove me within a mile of the start line and then went to park at SMCC – 2 miles from the finish.

I had about a half hour to spare once I got there so I spent it (mostly) in line for the porta-potties (how does one have to pee so much the morning of a race?) and then walked through the corral to my pace sign. My goal was to run it between 43:00 and 46:00. Both were stretch times, especially compared to my previous PR of roughly 57:00 at the Portland Trails to Ale – but I felt motivated, especially after a very motivating call with my coach a few days prior.

I found that the time passed by really quickly. I didn’t feel like I was waiting around forever – although they definitely started late. I was surrounded by thousands of runners and it was invigorating! Despite being pretty close to the front (between the 7:00 and 8:00 pace signs), I still couldn’t hear the announcer. Everyone around me was talking excitedly.

The time finally came to send us off to Fort Williams and, surprisingly, by the time I got to cross the start mat, I was running! The race starts with an immediate descent down a hill. It’s a beautiful sight – seeing hundreds, if not thousands of people running in front of you – a sea of people, constantly moving and breathing. It was an amazing sight.

After about a third of a mile, we emerged from the shade and felt the full heat of the day. It was only 8:15, yet it was already around 75 and just beating into us. Prior to the race, I had resolved to not carry or take in any nutrition during the 6.2 miles, and drink water only as needed along the course. I was already feeling so hot by mile 2 that for every mile from that moment on, I grabbed at water at the stations, took a sip, and poured the rest on my head. Much like I did at Sugarloaf.

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The spectators weren’t really present until we veered right onto Old Ocean House Road. (My suspicion is because of the closed roads.) At that point, it was basically spectators lined shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the race. I had a huge smile on my face – I was running my miles around 7:20-7:30, which was slower than goal pace, but I was so hot and knew that I could only expect so much from myself given the conditions.

I witnessed a few runners – more as the race went on – get over to the side to be sick. I knew that the heat was nothing to mess with. I didn’t want to get dehydrated, I wanted to finish the race strong, but I also felt my pace slowing and I started to get fatigued.

When I saw mile 5, I got so excited – I was ready to cross that finish line – a little more than a mile remaining and I’d get to celebrate an awesome race, and a first B2B for me!

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That last mile was the hardest. There were a few hills that – at the beginning, would not have posed an issue, but after 40 minutes of running – really challenged my pace. That was definitely my slowest mile by about a minute.

The final half mile was a series of twists and turns through Fort Williams Park – you really couldn’t see the finish line until it was right in front of you. The red barriers that had been used to separate the athletes from the bystanders brought back a memory of spectating while my dad ran the Beach to Beacon many years ago. (In hindsight, I wish I had more of an interest in running or even an appreciation for the sport 10 years ago.)

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Crossing that finish line felt like the greatest victory. That race was hard. I was exhausted and really dehydrated. In a daze, I just followed the flow of the athletes across the field and up the hill towards Portland Head Light. There were a lot of people. I didn’t end up sticking around for very long, though I bet the concessions and activities were a blast. Darren and I took advantage of the free shuttle bus back to SMCC, which saved us some time and energy.

My left knee had been bothering me prior to the tri, but I had aggravated it around mile 4 or 5. Within 20-30 minutes of finishing, me knee had stiffened up and was pretty uncomfortable to walk on. The bus saved me from an uncomfortable 2 miles back to the car. (And I had to take it easy, since we had an 8-mile hike planned for the next day!)

Overall, I was absolutely fascinated by the level of participation at the B2B. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people concentrated in one location for one event alone! I loved the competitive camaraderie that was present. I also feel like it was pretty well run. The porta-potty lines were a little bit long (20ish minutes per line) and I felt like the food at the end left a bit to be desired, but I’m really impressed with how smoothly and event for 8000+ people was pulled together, and seemingly without any issues.

Official time: 47:00 (a 10:00 PR!)


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