I just took 30 seconds off my best 5K time. That feels good. I'm also not one to brag about place, since my place is only as good as the other runners who show up to race, but this is still fun to see:
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I'm feeling impatient right now. I have a terrible habit of starting my stopwatch after I've crossed the starting line or stopping it after I've crossed the finish line. My inability to hit that one little button at just the right moment often leaves me sitting at the computer refreshing CoolRunning for hours on end until I finally see my net race results. With that said, I know I PRed at today's Hyannis Half Marathon, the first race in the Cape Cod Half Marathon Trilogy.

It hasn't been the greatest week to end with a hard half marathon. I had a last minute business trip cut into my usual running schedule, which would have been fine if I hadn't tried to make up for the lost miles by running faster in the little time I did have to run. But no excuses. I was ready to PR at this half marathon. I was shooting for 1:40, which is 3:12 faster than my old PR.

On the drive down, my husband was asking how I ever found a race in Hyannis in February. I answered how not! Hyannis is probably the biggest race we've got going in New England until Boston Marathon. He still didn't quite believe me... until we got there.

Hyannis is not just the half marathon, but also a full marathon, marathon relay and 10K. It's also not just a race, but an expo and massive party. The event is hosted by the Hyannis Sheraton Conference Center. We arrived about an hour before the start to get my bib number and shirt, use the lavatory facilities in the Sheraton and stroll around the expo to some tunes. My husband was also thrilled to see Dunkin Donuts supplying fresh free donuts. I challenged him to eat a donut for every mile I'd run, but he didn't accept. Probably a good thing, even though I may have considered it myself at one point. Just not fair watching everyone eat donuts right before I had to run!

About 15 minutes before the start, I tore myself away from my husband and the Dunkin Donuts, and headed over to the crowded starting line. I lined up around the 8 minute mark to ensure I didn't start too fast, but we were asked to push back 10 feet about 10 times to fit all the late comers (and slower starters) in to the starting area. At least I didn't have to worry about being cold. I couldn't move an inch in any direction.

Just a few minutes passed 10 am (half hour after the marathon start), we were off and running! I crossed the start line about 20 seconds later to be greeted by a huge crowd of onlookers on either side of the street. It was exciting to see so many faces out on this nice crisp winter morning. We made our way through the streets of Hyannis and headed out toward the sea.

It was a crowded first few miles. I didn't bother to dart around too many people to save energy, but I tried to keep the pace steady, even and strong. Some people blew by me at mile 2-3 and I made a mental note to catch them later.

Around mile 3 I realized that I hadn't seen a mile marker. They're not the most noticeable markers, which was actually fine with me. I can't overthink my running when I don't know what mile I'm on. I did spot my a marker at mile 4 and was right around 30 minutes. I was happy with my pace so I kept it and started running along the water.

Many of the sights are beautiful in Hyannis. Not every mile has you seaside but you'll have your fair share of ocean views and spend most of the other miles running along quiet streets. That said we had to run with traffic at almost all times and we did have to run along a couple of very busy streets. It wasn't bad but not ideal.

Around mile 6 my legs started feeling stiff. I knew I should have rested more this week but it is what it is.

I welcomed the slight uphill and downhill stretches later. There are no big hills, but a few good slopes. It's just enough to keep you on your toes and engage some of the other muscles that were along for the ride. On these hills I was able to catch a few dozen people, including some of those who passed me at mile 2. :)

By mile 9 I just wanted to be in the double digits already. I was tired and my legs were ready to rest. I zoned out as best I could until I saw that happy # 10!

5K to go! That's just two laps around my house! I picked it up and lost the small pack of runners who I'd been drafting for a couple of miles. We made our way along the residential streets back toward the hotel and ran along some welcomed downhill stretches. I needed all I could get because I couldn't forget that this race ends on an incline.

More spectators started coming into view. I was at the last mile. Some guys caught up to me and I did my best to stay with them even though I was ready to puke. I just kept chugging along, focusing on my stride and maintaining my pace. I wanted to save a little bit in the tank for the last 1/4 mile.

After coming around one final turn, the finish area was ahead. Lots of spectators waiting. Lots of runners also ready to run the next leg of the marathon relay. I was glad not to be running the marathon today, but the race organizers and volunteers did a great job starting the half marathon, marathon relay and 10K all together. I was never once confused about which way to run, and appreciated the crowds at the relay handoffs - just enough to give me a boost.

Now it was time to run. The final stretch. I made a sharp turn into the hotel parking lot, trailing one woman I desperately wanted to catch (but didn't) and powered my way up the hill. My husband got it on video, which was kind of cool. I spotted the clock at the finish line at 1:42 even. No 1:40 today but I still broke my old PR of 1:43:12! My net time would be faster, which I will hopefully know very soon, but it's a PR anyway.

And when it was all over, I finally got that donut. :)

Thanks for the great race, Hyannis! See you at the Johnny Kelley Half in May!

Update: I finished in 1:41:23 - almost two minutes better than my old PR. YAY!
 
 
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I finally ran a 10k!

Seems odd that I hadn't run a 10k sooner. I've tackled everything else from the 400 meter through the marathon, including a bunch of 5ks, a 7.5 miler, 16 miler, 4 miler, etc. Never the 6.2 mile distance. Super Sunday 10k on Boston's waterfront provided the perfect opportunity.

As I've increased my mileage over the past few weeks, I've come to love my 6/7/8 mile runs. That's my new fun run zone. Whenever I finish any of those runs, I feel terrific... like I could run 100 miles farther. I was looking forward to this 10k, knowing that I could run it well and maybe even fast. My only concern was my recent knee pain.

So I asked myself:

"Should I run this race all out?" (Maybe.)

"Should I take it easy?" (Not likely.)

"Should I skip it and give my knee a full week off?" (Not a chance.)

I decided: "I'm going to run this race smart." That for me entails:

1. Not going out too hard.
2. Negative splits.
3. A hard pace, but one I know I'm capable of running.

I set my sites on a 7:30 pace. My last 4 miler was about 7:15 pace, so I knew I could do another two miles at the slower speed.

I arrived at Super Sunday 10k to meet my friend Jeremy who was running the 5k distance. It was his first 5k ever - his first road race of any distance in fact - and I would be his privileged pacer. He was concerned about running a respectable 5k time, and just knowing him I figured he could handle about a 7:30 pace. Still, I wanted to be sure we started out easy so we could both adjust to the race and not get too caught up in sprinting out of the gate.

We walked up to the starting line and settled in about half way back in the mass of people. Unable to hear the announcer back there, we just waited and waited for everyone to start running. Luckily we could hear the starting horn.

The horn blared and we were off!!

Not really. We sort of shuffled for about 20-30 seconds before reaching the line.

Then we were off!

Kind of. We were confronted with a wall of people and fairly narrow streets. I hadn't run this race before, obviously, so I hadn't thought through the crowd issues.

Trotting along. Trotting along. This was way too slow, I kept thinking, but I didn't worry too much about it. My knee wouldn't hate me and Jeremy could start to find his race.

After about 1/2 mile, I was done with trotting. It was time to start picking people off.

We surged ahead single file as best we could.

Passed 5 people. Passed 10 people. Passed a whole bunch more.

Mile marker 1: 8:50ish.

YIKES. I'm never going to run a 7:30 pace. Time to GO.

I really started picking it up. Jeremy stuck with me the whole way, although often having to slip along side so we could fit through the groups of people.

Mile marker 2: 16:00ish

SWEET. We made up some time and we were both running strong. Keep on going.

About half mile later, I lost track of Jeremy. It was just too crowded and I was still surging ahead. I knew he was running strong close behind me, and would be able to finish strong. I just hoped he would know when the end of the race was near so he could kick it. This race was going by fast and I figured that 3.1 mile finish line would sneak up on him.

I found out later that it did. But he had a fantastic first 5k, finishing 25th in his age group! Woohoo! Way to go J!

Meanwhile I had another 3.1 miles to go. Another full loop. I usually dislike loop courses, but this race was ideal. In that second go-round, I knew exactly when to push it.

I decided to focus on the "pick offs" to keep me moving forward. No one was passing me, except for two guys toward the end, so I was feeling great that I could keep going strong.

I focused on a girl in green.

Caught her.

I focused on a dude in black.

Caught him.

We were on the last mile, running along fan pier, and I knew it was time to go. I started finding a bit of my kick in anticipation of the final stretch.

I set sights on two girls in different shades of blue, one slightly ahead of the other. I focused on the closer one, then decided to just gun for the girl in front. I caught them both at mile 6, right before the final .2.

I started pushing it, on the verge of puking at this point. Oh, and there it was - some guy stopped right ahead of me to puke. I could feel his pain.

Last stretch and there are my friends cheering me on. I let out everything I had left and crossed just under 47:00 on the clock.

First thought. Damn. I didn't make my goal. I could have gone faster.

I found out later that I netted 46:34. That's a 7:30 pace on the nose! Exactly what I set out to do. What shocks me more is that I clocked the first 5k in 23:41and the second in 22:53 -- that's only about 25 seconds slower than my best ever 5k time.

Hmm. Just how fast could I run now if I really let it all out?

Can't wait to find out. Until then, happy road running!
 

Welcome!

11/27/2009

7 Comments

 
Thanks for stopping by! I'm a Boston-based runner, writing to keep my mind as occupied as my body! I run road races from 5K up to full marathon. I love discovering running routes, runner's techniques, energy-boosting recipes and ways to push through a hard workout. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment  or email me!

I've been running for over 20 years, though I've only become more dedicated to the sport recently. I run because I find it relaxing and rewarding - and I selfishly love how I feel after going for a good long run. I'm not as fast as I was in high school, when I was a 6 minute miler, but I'm working on it!

Personal Records:
* 3:51:25 marathon (NYC 2009)
* 1:43:12 half marathon (B.A.A. 2009)
* 30:18 4.2 miler (2005)
* 28:29 4 miler (2009)
* 23:11 5K (2009)

I'm also studying to become a personal trainer with American College of Sports Medicine, and I'll be a certified running coach this spring. I hope some of the information in my blog inspires adults and kids of all ages to get outside, have a lot of fun and run!

Robyn
Boston Road Runner