Finished 1088/2706 overall, 10/50 in the Clydesdale Open Division
My goal going into this race was simply to break 2 hours in my first 13.1 race. My 13.1 split in the Boston Prep 16 was 2:12:53 (which was right after all of the most brutal hills son the course), so I felt fairly confident that this was a solid goal for me to shoot for. I planned to run the first 10 miles at or around a 9:00/mi. pace and then run negative splits running as hard as I could for the last 5k. I was pretty happy that I was able to execute my plan and achieve my goal for this race.
Going into the weekend, I of course lost the battle over when we would head down to my In-Law's Cape house (I wanted to leave on Friday) and we ended-up leaving on Saturday. We all woke-up early on Saturday as I was determined to get there as early as possible and settle in BEFORE heading over to the race expo to pick-up my number and timing chip. Of course it was snowing, and from the radar on weatherunderground.com it didn't look any better down Cape. So, I was faced with my first dilemma of the day. I needed to get in my pre-race facilitation run. So, after much internal debate I chose to do it here in my neighborhood, rather than down the Cape, and strapped my YakTrax Pro's onto my Newton's Stability Trainer's and put-in the work. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the two worked together. I had better traction in the snow slush and ice than I normally have on the dry pavement (or so it seemed). In fact, I had such an enjoyable run I vowed to make it a point to run more of my training runs in the snow and ice (weather-permitting of course). My pre-race went smoothly and I felt ready to knock-out a great race.
Of course as soon as I walked-in the door it was apparent things were not so smooth on the homefront. Something was wrong with the dog! he hadn't eaten, he wouldn't go outside and ostly just stood there shaking. So we called the vet and waited until noon to take him to be checked-out. Of course, as soon as Lex got there he peed, stopped shaking and really seemed to perk-up. The combination of Dexter apparently feeling better and the vets office being a mad house was apparently enough for Lex to just say screw it and come home. But, this means we didn't get on the road until after 1pm. So we made it down to the Race Expo around 230/3pm, got my number, chip and shirt, and walked around a bit. We were just overwhelmed by the masses of people and vendors, etc. It was pretty crazy in there. We did get to meet Mary McManus (@gracefullady), and found her to be one of the most positive, charming and inspiring people I've ever met. I even picked-up a copy of her book (which she signed for me).
By the time we got to the house it was 4 pm and we were all starving. I was pretty focused on my nutrition all week, but against my better judgement we hit our favorite spot for lobster rolls (George's Fish Market makes the BEST lobster rolls anywhere) and they were CLOSED for vacation! Ugh! The nerve of some people! But, by this time we had the craving for a REAL lobster roll and got on the phone with the In-Law's and asked where they would go if George's was closed? They directed us down the road to "The Original Seafood Restaurant". It certainly wasn't George's, but it was decent. The lobster rolls were over-priced for the size, but tasty, and the fried clam strips were abundant and melted in your mouth! It really hit the spot let me tell you! But afterward I became anxious and a little worried about how/if it would affect my performance.
Later, I made a nice ground turkey spaghetti sauce and whole grain bowtie pasta and had a small dish of it (I made it mostly for my post-race meal). I ran around the rest of the night setting out all my possible options for clothing (cold/warm/wet) and getting the rest of my stuff in order, and didn't get to bed until after 11p. Ugh. I really wanted to get to bed early. It didn't matter as I really didn't sleep well. I was up at 3a and again at 5a then tossed and turned until 6:30 when Iz came in to the room. I guess a good nights sleep just wasn't in the cards.
The morning was an absolute cluster trying to get the family up and moving, getting our stuff together and on the road. However, the sun was up and it appeared to be a beautiful day even if it was a little on the cold side. I had intended on getting there by 8a, as the organizer's said they were closing the main parking lot across from the hotel and the start at 845a, but we ended up not leaving until 815. By the time we got there they had closed the main parking lot and we had to drive around looking for a spot. Then on a whim I drove back by the main lot just as they were opening new spots. they used us to start a new row and we ended-up with "You Bob" parking right across from the porta-potties at the starting line.
Inside the Ballroom of the hotel, the cluster-&*^#*& of a day continued. Between trying to go to the bathroom myself, finding a spot on the floor to start stretching, Lex going to the bathroom and finally Isabelle deciding (when it was to late of course) she wanted to go too, meeting up with the Breakthrough Performance crew, I didn't get out the door moving toward the start until well after 930. Therefore i didn't have the time to do a proper warm-up, but did manage a little light jogging followed by a couple of sprints in the parking lot before finding a tree and heading over to my corral at the start.
Once I was in the corral, I ate my first GU gel and drank a little water, then waited and waited some more (for what seemed like forever). It was right around 32 degrees, overcast with a slight headwind at the start. Someone was screaming instructions over a barely audible PA system and the crowd kept surging backward (even though race organizers said the corrals would CLOSE promptly at 950). Finally, after listening to everyone complaining about how horribly organized this race is every year, etc. there was a very anti-climatic start, I said "did he just yell- GO!?!?" The only clue any of us had that the race was started was seeing the runners at the front moving forward, and the fastest runners taking off down the road (we didn't hear a gun, an announcement, nada). Finally, we all started moving from a very slow walk to a slow jog as we crossed the start little over 2 minutes later. Thank god the race was chip-timed. Ugh.
This was by far the largest field of runners I'd ever been in and I quickly realized that hitting my goal pace in the first couple of miles may be next to impossible. In-between the slow jog, I was running in quick bursts as I would see a lane open up and take it, jockeying for the best position. Several times I ended-up on the sidewalk running around spectators trying to find some breathing room to run. I don't do crowds well, period. Crowds make me anxious and angry. This was no exception. I noticed my first mile was 8:59 and I spent the entire second mile (8:40) trying to get forward and into position with others who were actually running my pace. I finally found my spot somewhere in the third mile, and ran into a couple of other Children's Team members whom I'd met at the BP 16 and a couple of our "team" runs. We shared some nice conversation and camaraderie until we finally found some breathing/elbow room just before mile 5.
I started to hit my "usual" 5 mile wall and began to question whether or not I could keep up this pace or even finish. So, I ate another GU and grabbed some water at the aid station (throughout the course, I alternated Gatorade and water and each aid station). My mind started playing the usual "what are you thinking? You can't do this! You're not a runner!" games with me. And then I picked my head up and saw Coach Cap and his kids standing with Lex and Isabelle on the right side of the road cheering me on! I thought about stopping for a hug and kiss my wife and daughter, but opted for the high-five's. As I pulled away from them I heard Coach yell something like "Looking good Doug!" Seeing them really gave me a needed emotional lift right when I desperately needed it. Soon after this we moved into the beach side section of the run and I just ran taking-in the beauty of it all.
Around mile 8, as I was coming-up one of the few small hills on the course, when I looked over to the right shoulder and saw a sign that said "Go Doug, GO!" And I thought to myself, "Oh look! There must be someone else running near me named Doug." Then I realized the sign was for me! It was my friend Sarah from the Children's Team and her husband Frye! They were literally going nuts for me, screaming, yelling, ringing a cow bell, so cool... It was great and really buoyed my spirits. Right after I passed them I started my iPod again only to have it die. I've never run a race or even a long run with my iPod before, and I never will again. Between the iPod and my spare sunglasses (I apparently lost my good ones) constantly fogging-up, it was very frustrating, and like Coach Cap said afterward, I probably could've run 10 minutes faster without the "computer" strapped to my arm (I have a 2nd or 3rd gen, huge)... LOL!
There was an aid station about 9.5 miles and there were so many people stopped there that I just decided to skip it. It was ridiculous, I would've had to come to a complete stop and wait for some Gatorade or water and I just didn't want to. A decision I soon regretted when i realized I was starting to run out of steam around mile 10. I tried to step on the gas and didn't go anywhere. So, I decided to eat another GU and drink some of my 50/50 Gatorade mix I brought with me. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the damn bottle back into the belt smoothly and ended-up dropping it, only to have it kicked by another runner into the bushes. After I retrieved my bottle, it was on! Even with the stoppage, mile 11 was 8:50.
I decided it was time to just let go and started running as hard as I could. Just after mile 11 I reeled my friend Erin (from the Children's Team) back in. Her boyfriend jumped in to run with her at mile 10 and she started pulling away from me at a steady rate. I didn't think I'd be able to catch her, but I did. Once I got by her I really turned it on. Mile 12 was 8:17. it was at this point I really started to feel great. It was around here that I started focusing on my "power" word of the day (which happened to be "Monster" courtesy of Isabelle, LOL)!
This race was so much better than the Boston Prep. I was actually passing people by the droves at this point instead of being passed by little 70 year-old ladies in sweatpants and headbands (a very humbling experience, btw). As my watched beeped the end of mile 13 (7:43) it seemed like everyone was ringing cowbells and I suddenly had visions of the American Nordic Combined Team (weren't they awesome!?!?) flashing through my head and I really started to kick hard to bring it in. Turns out I ran 13.25 miles, but that last 0.25 was at a 6:41 pace, and my Garmin says I reached a top speed of 12.7 mph in the final 100 meters or so. The last thing I remember hearing was the announcer saying "Whoa, I didn't catch that guys bib number but he sure woke me up, alright!"
After I finally collected myself enough to figure-out that my family and everyone else were probably waiting for me inside, I stopped looking around for them in the parking lot and went in to look for them. On the way in I saw Sarah and Frye who were looking for their friends that they had actually come-down to cheer for, and told them thanks for the sign and the cheers! Once I found everyone, we made our way out of the ballroom, down to the other side of the hotel and up to the second floor for the post-race party. We grabbed some food (Meatballs and Chicken Wings), and I quaffed the best tasting bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager I've had in a long time (thanks Thin!), then headed home. All-in all it was a great race. It had a great course which was relatively flat and fast, gorgeous scenery, and awesome finisher medals. I'll definitely do this race again...
Lex took this with her Blackberry as I was finishing...