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Cape Cod Marathon Race Review & Runner Recap Falmouth, MA

Posted Oct 31 2011 11:03am

All the news of the snow storm heading toward the Northeast coast had me pretty nervous for yesterday’s Cape Cod Marathon so I made sure to be prepared for the worst. When Nick (bless his heart) and I woke up at 4am there was snow on the ground here in Newburyport. Fortunately, by the time we arrived in Falmouth at 7:15 the precipitation had stopped. Thank goodness!

I love that Cape Cod Marathon organizers allowed for packet pick-up on the morning of the race because it meant that we didn’t have to pay for a hotel room. Pick-up was quick and easy and we stayed warm in the Lawrence School Gymnasium until right before the start.

In addition to the full marathon competition, the Falmouth Track club also offered a half marathon that was run on Sunday, a full marathon relay, and the Clam Chowder Challenge (half marathon and full marathon). Despite the relatively small field of ~1500 runners, the Cape Cod Marathon is the USA Track and Field New England Championship. Therefore, there were lots of speedsters out on the course.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, elite runners

After hanging out with Fancy Pants for a few minutes, we were off!

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, fancy pants

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race start 5

The second half of the Cape Cod Marathon course is packed with hills so my pacing plan was to run the first half at an average of 9:15 minutes per mile. There were water/sports drink stations approximately every 2.5 so I also planned to drink water at each station and swallow a Clif Shot at alternating stations (i.e. every 5 miles). I carried 6 Clif Shots in a Nathan fuel belt around my waist.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, downtown falmouth

I followed my pacing plan for the first 3 miles but then, as usual, got a little greedy and allowed myself to gradually speed up. When I ate my first Chocolate Cherry Clif Shot at mile 6 I was surprised to find that it didn’t sit well in my stomach. I’ve used the Chocolate Cherry shots often in training but perhaps the high caffeine content and rich consistency was didn’t mix well with my race-nervous belly.

The marathon course was beautiful as it took runners along the beach, through quiet wooded areas, and wound along quaint town streets. When I passed the half marathon mark under 2 hours, my greediness once again caused me to increase my pace slightly and finish the first 15 miles with an average pace of 9 minutes per mile.

Smaller Map

I had eaten Strawberry Clif Shots at miles 10 and 15 but as I neared mile 18, my pace and more frequent hills began to take their toll on my body and I hit the dreaded ‘wall’. My pace slowed and I didn’t think I could stomach a Shot at mile 20. However, I knew that I needed to get as much fuel into my body as possible so I started drinking Cytomax (sports drink) at the water stations.

I’m not going to lie, the last 6 miles were the most difficult miles I have ever run, particularly the 3 between 20 and 23 because they were so hilly. I was determined not to walk because it would have meant that my pacing was considerably off and, more importantly, I thought my jelly legs would give out if I stopped running.

During the last ~7 miles my pace slowed from 9:00 minute miles to ~10:00 but I was able to keep chugging along. Around mile ~24.5 I started chatting and pacing with a fellow runner which was a welcome distraction from my tired body.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race finish

The sound of the cheers at the finish line gave me an extra surge of energy to pick up my pace for the last half mile.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race finish 2

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race finish 4

I ended up finishing in 4:05:31 (~9:22 minute/mile pace) which is a new PR by 10+ minutes.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race finish 5

Post finish I needed a few minutes to walk off my jelly legs, rehydrate, and drag my reflective cape around like a baby blanket…

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race finish 6

Once I recovered we enjoyed one of the best part of the Cape Cod Marathon: the post race pasta and clam chowder lunch that is free for runners and only $5 for friends and family. At first I didn’t think my queasy tummy could handle the heavy food but once we got into the cafeteria, I quickly changed my mind. In addition to the delicious, hearty food the lunch was the perfect opportunity to chat with other runners at our table about their race experience and congratulate them on achieving their goals.

Overall I LOVED this race. Here are just a few reasons:

  • Water station volunteers were ready and waiting with generous cups of water and Cytomax.
  • Marathoners and relay runners were directed into different lanes of the road during baton hand-off so that marathoners wouldn’t get bogged down.
  • The course was beautiful and challenging.
  • Fellow runners and spectators were friendly and considerate.
  • The small size of the field and relatively low registration fee of $80.
  • The delicious post race lunch that was open friends and family and encouraged runner camaraderie.
  • Nice medal and sky blue, long sleeved race t-shirt.
  • Same day race pick-up option.
  • Varied individual and team racing options.

cape cod marathon race review, runner, recap, MA, falmouth, race medal

Although I wasn’t bothered by the following aspects of the race, I think these potential drawbacks are worth mentioning:

  • Most of the Cape Cod Marathon course was open to traffic so there were times when I had to switch lanes or hop up on the sidewalk to allow cars to pass.
  • Although their were spectators near the water stations and relay hand-offs most of the course was pretty quiet.
  • The challenging nature of the course makes it less than ideal for runners trying to improve PRs or qualify for the Boston/NYC/Gansett Marathons.

My leg muscles are really sore today but I managed to finish the race blister and injury-free. I had been considering running a race on November 13th, however, given my soreness it’s probably a good idea to rest up and avoid injury. Plus I think Nick has had his fill of race weekends for the time being and I don’t blame him! In the meantime, I’m eying a few early spring marathon options and may augment marathon training with a couple inexpensive, shorter, local races once I’ve fully recovered.

I hope you have a Happy Halloween and a great start to your week!

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