That's the actual course, btw. It's a keeper.
The short version of the RR:
Man, I just love racing.
The long version of the RR:
The Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry, NH is legendary around here. Anybody who's anybody has done it, talks about, compares notes about it. I love races like that. Nothing better than bonding over the stupidity of running 16 hill-laden miles in snowy NH in January with single digit temps.
It is a tough course; there's no arguing that. Miles 9-11 are a bear. But there are a lot of downhills, too, of course, so truthfully I think there are courses that are harder than Derry--like say running straight up a mountain or something like that. I also believe that Stu's 30K is harder. Locals will know the debate I refer to.
The day began when I met a bunch of my GNRC compadres so we could carpool to the race. This is one of the benefits to being in a club, I think. Every race is a social event. I like that. Our poor teammate Tom got stuck driving the girls--Rose, Maria and me. Poor guy. We chit-chatted all the way to NH, every once in awhile allowing Tom to pipe in. And then we were there.
One thing I've noted about long distance winter racing in the north: only the really dedicated, psycho, crazily fit and fast runners do it. Everyone was this race was a runner. Everyone was small. Everyone looked ready to rumble. Still, runners are a laid back crowd. They looked fast and mean, but everyone was warm and friendly when you talked to them. I love runners.
A few minutes after we arrived Claire came bounding up to me, seemingly out of nowhere, and wrapped me in a bear hug. It was evident she was really hyped up. Then she admitted it: a cup of Joe from Starbucks was the culprit. Her little Claire body just couldn't take the caffeine hit. From an experienced coffee drinker's perspective, it was little pitiful. (kidding, Claire). Anyway, she was either going to race like a jack rabbit or crash hard. I also got to re-meet Claire's friend Anne, who had traveled up with Claire. She was a little concerned about going 16 given that she'd never run that far before. Turns out this wasn't a problem at all. She and Claire (who ran the Goofy Challenge down in Tampa just two weeks before) both finished up with ease.
It was cold--maybe 10 degrees at the start.
But you know, it's been so freaking butt cold here this winter that it actually seemed okay. I had had on my really warm, really ugly Elmer Fudd hat, gigantic mittens, and then just regular tights, jersey and a jacket, and I was positively warm! Of course, it helped that the first few miles are a steady, hard uphill. I was out of breath within 30 seconds of the race starting.
I ran that whole damn race with people-- but alone. It was great. I love running with people but not actually talking with them. Kind of like how I love to make friends on FaceBook, but I don't actually talk to people on FB that frequently. Anyway, during the race I just watched people, watched my pace, watched a few excellent male runner asses in their little black running tights. It was very pleasant.
Unfortunately, about six miles into the races, I felt that familiar I need a bathroom break feeling. Now, let's be clear. I have no beef with dropping trow in a race. I've done so at virtually every marathon I've ever run. However, in all of those situations (okay, except for Chicago) there was a least a little leaf coverage--AND, importantly, I only needed to pee. Alas, not the case this time. Fields of white snow and occasionally a bare tree dotted the farming, Derry landscape. The snow on the side of the road was several feet deep. In order to take a crap I'd have to stop, sink deep into the snow with my little, still-dry shoes, dig a hole, drop trow in front of a gazillion peaceful runners and well. You get the picture.
And I had 10 miles to go.
10 miles of steep, steep HILLS to go.
The picture says it all: Please God, get me a fucking porta-potty right now! I focused hard. I focused on the runners, the next water stop, the beginnings of the achy feeling in my feet and quads. I focused on how I only had ____ more miles. It was, to say the very least, a bummer.
But it turned out okay. I really wasn't supposed to race this race--and well, I guess I really wasn't going to! I did still work as hard as I could without incurring any dire consequences-- like say, shitting myself.
The race ended rather unceremoniously. I had seen not one person I knew while I was racing, and there were quite a few people out there I knew! The last mile was downhill, and I was grateful to just let my body move as best as it was able to under the circumstances. I was thrilled to see that finish line. Bathroom, here I come!!
Final time: 1:09:33. 8:06 pace.
I saw many of my friends at the end--who had finished ahead of me, of course! Rose had absolutely crushed the course and ran a 7:43 pace. Really, that's amazing. The course has some serious ascents, and keeping the pace is extraordinary. Plus, her splits were really even. Impressive.
Okay. I'm sick of writing this report. Maybe I'll finish her up tomorrow.