20 Miles. The New Hampshire coastline. Energizing sunshine. Training to make a dream come true. A serendipitous meeting along the way. A new found inspiration.
Yesterday was a day to test sheer will and determination. Last week my running schedule was loaded. The last big week before the start of taper (although I know there is still plenty of hard work to be done before the big day right Coach Denise? It will be time for some fine tuning. 3 WEEKS to go until the Boston Marathon!)
Here is a glimpse about the torture . . . I mean FUN that was training last week . . .
Over the weekend I ran a total of almost 30 Miles 29.75 to be exact! On Saturday my awesome coach Denise had me run a marathon pace run. When I saw the workout on my schedule I thought, “REALLY!?! but I am running the Eastern States 20 Miler on Saturday. Won’t this run completely exhaust me for tomorrow.” But now, I understand. The purpose of this run was to prepare my body for racing when I am fatigued. To train my muscles to learn to recover and flush the lactic acid faster.
On Sunday I wake up feeling rested but my legs feel tight thanks to my snowy almost 10 miler from the day before.. Thankfully the Eastern Sates 20 Miler does not start until 11:00 a.m. (also good preparation for race day at the Boston Marathon). I wake up do some stretching and enjoy a large breakfast, a toasted poppy seed bagel with cream cheese on one half and peanut butter on the other (I hope I don’t have any poppy seeds stuck in my teeth like Elaine in Seinfeld in case of any random testing . . .HAHAHA!), a giant bowl of granola with milk, an orange, and a glass of orange juice. I typically would not eat quite this much pre-race if the race started early in the morning (I’d actually have a pre-bed meal the night before to “fill up my tank”) but figured I had better get in as many calories as possible so as not to bonk when running through lunch time. I spent time during breakfast laughing to myself as I sit in a bar in the hotel by myself surrounded by beer paraphernalia, a fully stocked bar, the smell of stale beer, with house music blasting. The setting for this pre-race meal is just too hilarious.
After breakfast I headed to catch the bus to the starting line. The bus is filled with some of the fittest looking people you might ever see all sharing marathon tales and tales of Boston qualifiers. I am trying to stay relaxed and enjoy a 15 minute catnap in the sun on the bus as we head to the starting area. The Eastern States 20 Miler has the most chill atmosphere of almost any race I’ve been to of this size. Perhaps its due to the fact that many of the racers are seasoned veterans of the marathon distance. I enjoy some relax time an decide its warm enough to ditch the long tights in favor of my preferred race “uniform”–a Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra in Lapis Blue, my SLS3 Compression Socks in Bright Pink (my daughters favorite), and my favorite well-loved New Balance Running Shirt from Reach the Beach, and a Sweaty Bands Head Band in a Zebra Print (for my son who has a zebra lovey) I like to keep my outfits colorful and slightly crazy. It helps keep me happy on the run!
A dynamic warm-up before the race with some striders, butt kicks and high knees to get my legs loosened up was just what I needed and I am relaxed and mellow at the starting line and am even surprised to “run” (haha) into a friend who I haven’t seen for awhile.It is good to reconnect.
The race starts suddenly and we are off down the coastline from Portsmouth, NH through Hampton Beach, NH (reminiscent of finishing Reach the Beach Relay NH), to the finish just over the state line in Salisbury, MA.
I work to settle into a nice easy pace (suggested pace is 9:15-9:00 for the first 10 miles. The race today is practice for Boston and not truly a race. This is hard. I have a hard time not being super competitive. Thankfully an awesome runner from Maine runs up alongside me and asks what my pacing plan is for the race. She joins me to run as our paces seem similar. and come to discover serendipitously that our coach is the same, Denise Goode of The Sustainable Athlete. Kate and I begin to laugh and settle into a comfortable pace together, sharing stories of racing and family and life. The run is fun and the first ten miles seem to just fly by, we do not even notice any mile markers on the course. We just enjoy a new friendship and the amazing coastal scenery and warm sun (which I would later find results in the most odd running tan).
The run feels comfortable and at 10 miles to go we drop the pace to marathon pace, 8:15-8:20. I feel strong, my legs are still tight so I focus on keeping my strides long and relaxing my feet. I have noticed that I sometimes have a habit of clenching with my toes as I run. Perhaps that is why my calves are so tight? (any thoughts or tips????) As I run I keep my focus on my form and on finding my strength from training on the hills and in the mountains all winter. Running negative splits can be a challenge but this is how I have been training. Denise has been having me drop the pace at the end of all of my long workouts and today I can feel the power that I have acquired by running this way all winter. I am able to settle into a faster pace and challenge myself o drop the pace for the last 5 miles if I still feel good which I do. Running the last stretch of the course I am soaking up the sun and the sparkling ocean views. I am energized by thoughts of my Pete and Gerry’s Organic Chicks kicking ass on the way to the beach at Reach the Beach and can almost hear them cheering me on.
I finish the race with pacing just under 8:00/mile pace. I am salty, I am tired but I am proud. I watch my new running friend Kate cross the line with a smashingly fast time and then we head to the beach. The water looks tempting to dip our tired legs in but upon feeling the ice cold chill we decide its not worth it. Maybe next time!
I worked hard and have new confidence as the Boston Marathon approaches in less than 3 weeks. The Eastern states 20 Miler is a test of my endurance and my inner strength. I feel ready. Now bring on the taper!
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