I had not planned to register for the Run to Remember but I was scheduled to run 12 miles this week and figured it might be fun to run a course with water stops, traffic control and a little crowd support – not to mention another medal to add to the collection. I also really liked that the race started so early allowing me to enjoy the rest of the nice day.
My training is going well and I was definitely prepared for the distance but I still wanted to set a conservative pace goal that I thought would be a nice balance of challenging and safe so I wouldn’t get injured. A half marathon is my favorite distance to race because you can be very strategic about the plan. In a 5k you have to throw in everything you’ve right away because it is so short. In a marathon you can attempt a race plan but in 26.2 miles there is a lot of space for something to go wrong and its not unusual to have your body fail you somewhere along the way no matter how well you prepared – one of my favorite running friends, Chrissy Horan, could write a book on this phenomenon. In a half marathon, there is plenty of room to be strategic but its short enough to push yourself.
My race plan was what I like to call a ‘3-7-3’ model. The first 3 miles are nice relaxed to warm up and let the crowd thin out, the mid-7 I would stay consistent in my goal pace, and the last 3 I would try to step on the gas and race my way to the finish. I wanted to average around 8:30 minute miles, it’s a conservative pace for the flat course but it was important to me that I was comfortable through the race and didn’t put myself in danger of getting injured.
Over 5400 runners participated in this race and, like most road races, the first couple of miles were very crowded and congested and I did not want to waste my energy weaving through the crowd. I just ran with the group without concern about my pace – I averaged an 8:56 my first mile but knew there was plenty of time to turn up the speed. The water stops were crowded so I slowed down to a jog for a few moments to actually drink the water (opposed to throwing it in my face and up my nose) and then returned to my pace. By mile 2, I was averaging just under 8:30’s and feeling great. I was tempted to speed up but stayed committed to the plan. As scheduled, the next 7 miles I stayed on the same pace and enjoyed the crowd support and gorgeous weather. It’s such a treat to get to run through Boston on a Sunday morning and stay on the pavement without worrying about traffic. I had also created a new playlist on my iPod, which was fun to enjoy (I love you Pitbull).
At mile 6.5 I inhaled an insect. It happens all the time and it never gets less gross but it reminded me that I needed to take in some calories. Around mile 7 I took a Gu to make sure I was able to hold on to my energy. My stomach does not care for Gu or similar race nutrition sources but its necessary, especially in longer races. It’s impossible for me to take in enough calories before a race – but that’s another blog post. I made sure to drink plenty of water and brought my focus back to the plan, which seemed to do the trick. The next few miles flew by and then it was time to move into the third and final segment of the plan.
I started to focus more on speed starting at mile 10. I would find another runner a bit ahead of me and catch up to them, one at a time. I stopped thinking about the ‘safe plan’ and just headed to the finish. My last two miles were under 8:00 and I still felt great. I crossed the finish line at 1:50:19 averaging 8:25 – perfect! I placed 1082 over all and 113/ 1101 in my age group. The competitor in me can’t help but recognize that I definitely could have run that race faster but I’m very proud of myself for sticking to the plan and executing it as well as I did. There are several races in the near future where I will have an opportunity to kick up the pace. The Fairfield Half Marathon is next on the calendar at the end of June. It’s a significantly more challenging course so I will add some more hills to my long runs in the next few weeks and likely set the bar a little higher for that race.
I found my friend Stacey, who did the 5 miler, soon after getting through the finish line and she had a great race as well. Stacey is new to racing and has definitely caught ‘the bug’. Its fun to see her get excited about each new accomplishment. We decided to celebrate our races with brunch outside to enjoy the beautiful day. Joe’s on the Waterfront is great for people watching and we both enjoyed seeing all of the runners proudly wearing their medals walk by. We smiled at them all, silently saying ‘us too!’
My body feels pretty good today since I was so conservative with my run, although my legs felt tight and my shoulders are sore from the extra sun I got along the course (oops!). Thankfully, it’s a holiday so I am able to relax most of the day and take a yoga class. It’s a gift that Rebecca Pacheco (aka Om Gal) was teaching at my favorite studio, Inner Strength, this morning. 90 minutes on the mat with Rebecca is the cure for anything: sore legs, headache, stressful day, bad mood etc… Again, that’s a totally different post but the class was perfect and I left feeling refreshed and like my muscles got the stretch they needed.
Beyond my performance, I’m proud for participating in the race because it is the Run to Remember. Memorial Day isn’t just a 3 day weekend and the unofficial start to the summer season. Its an opportunity to remember and be thankful for all the men and women who gave their lives on behalf of our country. This race honors the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Officers killed in the line of duty and celebrates their lives by giving back to the community. All of the net proceeds from this race benefit community and children’s programs of the Boston Police Runner’s Club.
Happy Memorial Day everyone!
|Stacey and I smile with our new bling!|
As always, please consider contributing to my fundraising campaign for the NYC Marathon. All funds will benefit the American Liver Foundation Greater NY Chapter. Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation: http://go.liverfoundation.org/goto/LauraNYC