This race recap comes to you straight from the freezer . . . I mean the frozen roads of Derry, NH. Yesterday was the annual Boston Prep 16 Miler. This is basically a race for crazy people training for the Boston Marathon and a bunch of other crazy people just looking to torture themselves on a killer 16 mile course in during the coldest part of New Hampshire winter. I ran this race last year and froze my buns off and vowed that I would only race this race if I was training for the Boston Marathon because you’d be nuts to race it otherwise. I remember being so cold last year that I hard a hard time holding my spoon to eat my soup after the race. Well, I qualified again so of course I had to race the Boston Prep race again right? Also, my amazing friend and training partner Bridget for some nutty reason agreed to come down with me to run the race too . . . I guess she must be a good friend!
On the ride down to Derry, the roads were covered with a thin layer of snow and we saw a couple of cars off the road. Plus the wind was whipping snow across the roads and as we drove the temperature never went above 11 degrees. According to the race directors it would be -10 degrees with the windchill. Awesome! (can you detect my sarcasm).Thankfully our spirits were up on the ride down and as usual Bridget and I always manage to spend about half of the car ride laughing which always helps to relax me pre-race.
Do you have a running buddy who helps you stay relaxed before you hit the pavement?
I had no real expectations going into the race and my only real intention was to try to have fun, to stay focused on my form and to finish with my foot still intact (I did not want a peroneal tendonitis flare up!). We bundled up before the race although thankfully Bridget knows me well and talked me out of throwing too many extra layers on because I might have overheated. Running in this kind of cold has its own special problems because if you overdress you can end up getting too sweaty and then getting cold from all of the sweat!
I wore a warm Skida hat to cover my chimney . . . I mean my head, lobster claw mittens, a long Lululemon neck warmer, three layers on top Under Armour Cold Gear, Athleta Half Zip, and my Boston Marathon jacket (worn with pride). On the bottom I wore fleece lined running tights from EMS, Smart Wool Ski Socks, and of course my Skirt Sports Gym Girl Ultra. I had an ingenious idea after putting on my skirt which has two great pockets on the legs for storing gels, ipod, keys or whatever. I always struggle to keep my legs and bum warm when it is freezing out which can result in VERY uncomfortable, weird itchy skin when you come in out of the cold (does this ever happen to you????). I had brought hand warmers with me to the race and decided that they would be perfect for keeping my legs warm during the race and they worked perfectly! If it is cold where you run I would highly suggest trying this!
After bundling up Bridget and I headed out for a “warm-up” run to the start and met up with another friend Allie, another speedy runner headed for Boston this spring.
At the start I planned to just get into my running groove and didn’t actually have a real plan for pacing other than picking it up for the last thirty minutes. I felt excited to race and was thankful to start the race with another friend Carolyn who is a crazy cool ultra runner. We chatted for the first couple of miles and then feeling great we parted ways. I felt sooooo good and ran faster than I should have for the first 5 or 6 miles (somewhere around 8 min/mile pace or less). I definitely was not as disciplined as I should have been for a “training” run. It just felt so good to run and actually did not even feel that cold in the beginning. I remembered to work the hills as I have been practicing in my hill repeats. I have been doing “up-downs” where you run fast and hard up and then rest for a short time and then run fast and hard, lengthening out on the way down. I wanted to use the downhills to gain speed knowing how beastly the uphills are on this course.
Even though this race doesn’t come with a ton of spectators, the few who braved the cold and all of the volunteers were amazing for smiling and cheering and standing in the cold to help us all out on the race course. Even though it was cold I made sure to wing through the water stops for some gatorade and water to help replenish my fluids ( you should have seen how sweaty I was at the finish, you would have thought I’d been out for a run in 8o degree weather!) and also to help metabolize my Ignite NaturalsReload Energy Gels.
I felt strong through the halfway point and feeling giddy snapped this photo and had a few laughs with someone who asked me if I was tweeting my photo . . . I told him I was live tweeting the race (gotta love bloggers!). The energy on the course was very focused. There was a lot of quiet determination as we moved along the challenging uphills and downhills. I felt good because I was able to hang with the same pack of runners for most of the race. I focused on my strides and also on using my upper body and strong core.
During miles 11 and 12 I started to experience a low, both physically and mentally. The wind had picked up, my body got cold and I realized I probably needed another gel (I may have been a little late on this one). I could feel my blood sugar begin to crash. My feet got VERY cold and this point and I felt almost as though I was running with bricks on my feet instead of my new Brooks. This was not a good feeling. I worked hard to regain a better mental focus and positive attitude because I knew that the half marathon point was coming up which meant less than 3 miles to go. Crossing the timing clock strips at the half marathon point helped boost me. I was very please with my time of 1:50!
At this point I just wanted to finish and new it would take some guts and determination to get to the finish line. Even though I was feeling tired at this point I wanted to stick to the plan of picking the pace up for the end of the race. Somehow I dug deep and dropped my pace to between 8:15-830 as planned. Once I settled into my pace I felt good and I began to hear the announcer at the finish line. I focused solely on my running, on my breathing, and on the sound of my foot strikes and I counted down the last few miles. One of my little mind tricks to help me during tough points in a race is to imagine that the other runners are pulling me along the course and I imagine myself “stealing their energy.” (do you have any special mind tricks that you like to use when you are racing?).
I finally turned the corner and neared the finish line. Just to make the course extra tough this race finishes on the uphill. I finished my 16 miles in 2:15.38, 8:29 min/mile pace and good enough for 27/71 in the super challenging 30-39 age group. I was wiped out but felt proud of my race and I feel strong. Also, thankfully my foot is not bothering me at all (knock on wood!). This race finish proved to me that I have worked hard and that I am back to being physically strong after injury. It was important to get out and race the Boston Prep 16 Miler yesterday and I am happy that I did!
Now I am am in active recovery mode for a few days . . . my body is screaming at me a little bit!
Did you race this weekend? I would love to hear about it in the comments!