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Tufts Health Plan 10K, race report (PR!)

Posted Oct 12 2009 10:02pm

I cannot believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. I don’t think that’s happened on this blog, ever.

Ok, resolve to never do that again!

I have to preface this report by saying that literally, over the past few weeks, there has been more than one day where I have almost given in to the temptation to quit running. Literally, quit. I’ve had very low motivation to get out there and get running in the dark, knowing that it may still be dark when I’m done. Not even having the sunrise to look forward to can be really difficult especially when you are in the final laps of what feels like a marathon of busyness (not sure if that’s how you spell it, but, oh well) at work. Ever since the LLMs arrived on August 10th, I’ve been going non-stop. Just two more weeks and I can get back to being more of my normal self.

Because, as my brother says, life happens, or as I say, shit happens, I had kind of lowered my goals for this race. Originally, earlier this year, I wanted to break something like 54-55 minutes. But I’ve not done speed work now basically since July and have felt it on my runs. I’ve also really cut back on the mileage so I wasn’t sure what I was capable of today.

I was happy today to have a coworker running the race for her first time. I’ll just call her M. She just started running this year and the longest run she’s done before this was 5.5 miles, so I was so proud of and happy for her to have run the race in just over 65 minutes. She did really awesome.

We met up around 11 a.m. and walked around and checked out the booths to see what was being given out, what was being sold. She has been looking for a rain jacket and she got one that was originally $80 for only $31!! The price said $39, but who were we to question the wisdom of the gods that brought the price down even further!?  (It’s funny because not too long before that she had said to me that she was going to try to not make any impulse buys.  What can I say, it doesn’t take much time around me for someone to plunk down some money for running gear?!)

This race always has a lot of porta potties at the beginning but this year, I think even more could have helped. I felt like the lines were longer than in the past. Long story short, they were singing the national anthem while we were still in line.  So, I didn’t get to line up with people running around my pace.  For that reason, I never really felt like I could hit my target running pace for at least the first 3 miles. It was, as my brother says, like doing the Giant Slalom around people.

As usual, there were walkers who had chosen to line up way further forward than they should have. So, as you are running along Charles Street, which allows cars to park on both sides, you’re completely crammed in, like sardines, and trying to get around people is frustrating as hell. If you’re walking within the first quarter mile of the race, and you’re surrounded by runners, then you lined up in the wrong place!  I could tell that there were others like me, trying to get around the crowds anyway they could, running up onto the sidewalks, trying to avoid spectators, etc. I tried to do the same.

Which leads me to what my husband calls my “big yard sale” or what others may refer to as a “face plant.”  Does it count as a face plant if you don’t actually connect with the ground with your face, but you do connect with just about everything else? ! :-)   It was bad enough that I heard people (over my headphones) yell out “whoahhh… are you ok??!” All I could say was “oh shit! and then I just kind of sat there stunned for a few secs, and then I got back up, gingerly, I have to admit.  I hobbled a bit, just walking, to see how bad my right ankle was. I started running a bit and then just got going again.  I thought to myself “I am NOT stopping running this race now!” And then I thought to myself, “dammit, I’ve got to work myself past all these people again!” (I’m just being honest. It was just so crowded, and yes, I do realize that to some people I may have been frustrating if they were trying to get past me too.)

Anyway, I finally got going again, and realized at this point, the arm warmers could come off. (Did I forget to mention it was really cool here today – the high was supposed to only be around 55 and at noontime), and my little mini-stretch gloves that I bought for $1 last week.  I’ll miss them tomorrow, yes, but I didn’t mind giving them up since they were so cheap! 

A little bit after the first mile or 1.5 miles, I could see the elite runners coming toward us on the other side of the road. I could pick out Katie McGregor with her red hair, and the Ethiopian runner who came in 2nd last year (and either 7th or 8th this year), and then in another minute or so, Joan Benoit Samuelson, who has a very noticeable running form.  That helped to get rid of some of the frustration I’d been feeling up until then.

Since I think I left my running bottle at work yesterday (I work occasional weekend shifts) I had to stop at some of the water stops. I had brought a few endurolytes and some of my sports beans with caffeine (love those things!). Unfortunately, the first cup of water I grabbed had all of about 2 ounces left in it, so I did the best I could with it.  I decided I’d walk through the water stops I needed to stop at, and make sure to get the water in me, not on me. My brother said it’s the strategy he used when he PR’d at the Philadelphia Marathon a few years ago. I think it does help me to keep on running faster in between the stops.

The next few miles were pretty uneventful, but I was so surprised by the number of women who I saw actually slowing down while running down the very small, few inclines on this course. Don’t they know a downhill is FREE SPEED? 

At the mile 3 marker, I saw 29:42 on my Garmin and thought I could possibly beat an hour if I kept up my pace, or got a bit faster.  I did pass a woman on the Mass Ave bridge (between mile 4 and 5), who was walking, and I tapped her on the back and said that she was doing good, at this pace, she could break an hour. She just smiled at me and let me keep going. I think later on I did see her running again.  When I got to the mile 5ish water stand, I saw my watch was at about 48 minutes and change, and was a bit worried I’d slowed down to a pace that would put me over an hour at the end. But I knew I could go faster and I really did want to break an hour.

In between Mile 5 and 6, there was a guy standing on the side of the road in a tux. He was good looking and reminded me of the Nike race in San Francisco where at the end, you get a Tiffany necklace from a guy in a tux.  There were a few other young, good looking guys on the side of the road, with signs and big smiles for all of us -  I thought, I’m sure they are helping a lot of people to keep going! (I told my husband about it and he said maybe he had a girlfriend running, and I said, maybe he was going to propose to someone?! To which my husband said, oh yeah, proposing to a sweaty girl, I’m sure!)  

Anyway, I digress. At about mile 5.6 or 5.7, you arrive at the  Boston Public Gardens.  At this point, I knew I needed to be on the inside, to cut as much distance as possible, and I didn’t care if I needed to run up on the sidewalk again, or what I had to do to get around people. I looked at my watch and saw something like 54 as the front number, and thought, I guess I really can break an hour today even with the “yard sale” debacle and everything.  I just picked up my speed and got going.  I am happy to say I was sprinting at the end, and could remind myself that I did “start strong” (except for the yard sale move) and did “finisher stronger,” which is the mantra of this race. :-):-)

 Here are some stats for today – it’s a PR since I started running a few years ago, and that’s never bad:

  • Garmin distance: 6.31 miles (giant slalom, remember?) offiicial distance: 6.2 miles
  • Garmin time: 59:04; official time: 59:00
  • Average garmin pace: 9:22; average official race pace: 9:30
  • Place overall: 2304/6020 runners (per Cool Running, although I heard there were over 8000 runners)
  • Division place (women 30:39): 727/1835 (Magdalena Lewy-Boulet won my division, so I don’t feel so badly for not doing better)
  • Mile 1: 9:52 pace (includes the “yard sale”)
  • Mile 2: 9:26
  • Mile 3: 9:20
  • Mile 4: 9:29
  • Mile 5: 9:46 (think I spent  more time walking through the water stop)
  • Mile 6: 8:54
  • Last .2/.31 miles: 7:29 pace

Below are some pics I took with my phone. I’m kind of bummed because I used the camera zoom app and then forgot to actually “zoom,” so they look a bit blurry.  In case you are curious about the final results, and want to check out how the elites did, click here.

By the way, Kristin in WA, of Running with the Runner Girl fame,  I would love to run this race with you if you can ever make it east for Columbus Day (I know you don’t get it as a holiday but take it anyway!) (She recently posted about how she’d love to run this race some day.)

2nd place finisher in the over 80 category and she's super nice!top 3 women overall, 1st and 3rd from America, 2nd from KenyaTop ten american finishers, with Molly Huddle speaking (overall winner)top ten american finishers Posted in Races Tagged: 10K, face plant, personal best, personal record, PR, race report, tufts 10K, yard sale
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