My second race of the 2010 season, and another P.R. Wahoo!! I'm two for two, baby!
I've run this race six times now. I first ran it in 2004, three months after my middle child, Noah, was born. I finished in nine minute pace, which at the time was a huge achievement since I was just barely back in shape and still portly from giving birth. I also remember I was nursing at that time. Alina agreed to watch the kids, and I nursed Noah, booked it out of her house, raced, scrambled out of there, and went back to Alina's to nurse again. By the time I got back from the race my boobs were like a size D and I was in pain. (Andy loved those years.) The last miles of the race I kept thinking, You can nurse in a 1/2 hour. Just keep going. The faster you go, the sooner you can nurse. Those athlete mommies out there who nursed know what I'm talking about...Running when you need to breasfeed just--well, ouch.
I just was looking at the race results from 2004, and I noticed that my friend Stacy finished just ahead of me that year.
Yesterday, six years later, we both finished in the same positions--Stacy just ahead of me--only this time we both ran faster than that year. We are six years older and have five kids between the two of us, and combined we are 40 minutes faster than our younger selves. That's pretty fucking cool.
Okay, onto the race report. My previous fastest time for this course was a 1:11:45, which I did in 2007 when I was running 50 miles a week, training for Boston, and wasn't yet doing triathlon. I ran faster yesterday, in 1:10:59, on only 25 miles a week and while training for IM.
Yep. I'm pleased.
Here's how it went down:
Andy and I came up to Maine on Saturday night with the kids. Ange wasn't racing, and she agreed to watch all my kids (and hers) while we raced. (Do I have the BEST friends, or what?) Anyway. We arrived at the race and found all of our tri/running peeps. As always, this race draws everyone out, and the field was huge and competitive--820 strong--and that's for a race in small town Maine. Last year I ran pretty well and beat a few of my friends (many of whom I rarely beat) and so this year I knew I had a big ol' target on my back. Yikes! Still, I've been running very well this winter, and I knew if I just ran hard I could PR, even if I didn't beat all my super fast, super tough friends.
I warmed up alone, and tried to get my focus. I had a plan for this race. It was the same plan I had for Derry two weeks earlier.
There are different types of suffering while racing. Right now I want to distinguish between two types: In one type of suffering you race smart, build your pace, and then blast the final miles and really bring on the pain. In another type of suffering you take the first mile out way too fast--you blow your wad, as it were--and then suffer more and more until the final miles, during which many people pass you, you lose confidence, and nearly hurl because you are so wasted. I think both types can hurt equally--but the second type is the harder type to deal with from a mental standpoint and it better replicates the suffering you might experience during IM, so that's the suffering I wanted. I need to practice getting over the defeat of killing yourself yet still slowing down, the defeat of having others pass you, and the defeat of knowing you didn't leave enough in the tank. I need to practice this over and over again until it isn't defeating and isn't scary.That's the goal of all of my racing from now until IM CDA.
That wasn't Jen's plan for me. She said expressly, Run the first mile hard, but do not blow your wad. (I'm a fan of that metaphor. So apt, even though I'm not a guy.)
I agreed. But it still wasn't my plan. My plan was exactly that--to blow my wad early. I planned to take the first mile at 5K pace. That, I figured, would do the trick. I told as many people as I could that this was my plan, because I didn't want my friends to think I'm a total dumb-ass, jack rabbit under normal circumstances. (I actually am a dumb-ass, jack rabbit under normal circumstances, but that's beside the point.) I blasted at the start. I know I was blasting because I was only a few steps behind Andy for the first half mile,and Andy planned to run the race in an hour. I knew the majority of my friends were behind me, and that was hard. To say I was racing aggressively? An understatement.
From the first step of the race I didn't feel my usually race zing. This could be because I hadn't rested for the race (14+ hours last week and 15 the week before + Derry). It could be because I am bloated and awaiting my dear monthly pal. (You all are pretty familiar with my cycle, now, eh? ha!) It could just be that I was scared of my own plan. Anyway, I didn't feel light. I felt like I was working--and some. As I blasted the first mile I talked myself through it-- I'm glad you don't feel light. That's good, Mary! That's good! GOAL = as much suffering as humanly possible--and then to get over it and beyond it. Feeling heavy just added to the possibility that it would be a tough run. Perfect. At least, that's what I tried to convince myself...
First mile was 6:40. In the next few miles we hit some substantial rollers, and my pace slowed. I was hurting already. This is good, Mary. This is good. I decided I wanted to hit the five mile point in under 7 minute pace. In front of me was my friend Carrie. She was running steadily and strong, and at exactly that pace, so I decided I would just keep her in my sight no matter what. And I did. I hit the 5 mile point in just about....
(Thanks for the pics, Jodi!) (The two men above are Bob and Mark. Mark is Ange's husband.)
Anwyay. In my opinion, this race really begins at mile 5. The first part of the race is very rolling, but you are relatively sheltered from the wind. At mile 5.5 or so you turn a corner onto an open road (Rt. 77) which is just a wind tunnel. The hills become longer, though not as steep as the earlier hills, and combined with the wind you can just get worn down, especially if you took the first 5.5 way too hard. Which is what I did.
I was pretty beat at mile 5, but I decided that I would hold 7's as long as I possibly could anyway. I had been running with Ellie Tucker, a Masters runner who was a great pacer. I would pass her going downhill, and she'd pass me back going back up, but mostly we stayed shoulder to shoulder. I'm not sure I could've kept pace if she hadn't been there. At about mile 6.5 Steve (MaineSport) passed me with definitiveness that rocked me. He had clearly been just behind me for awhile, and had simply decided now was the time to step on the gas. I was almost out of gas at that point, and I felt a wave of defeat. Get over it and run faster. I told myself. This is IT! This is what you need to feel and then get through! Move it!
My voice talked me through it, but I could feel my body rebelling. I quickened my cadence and stayed on Ellie, and tried to relax. At mile 8 the wind came out in full force and we started up a long, gradual hill. I went from holding 7's to running 7:30 pace. I pushed and slowed and pushed and slowed. I got passed. I got passed again. Then Stacy passed me--and like Steve, she passed me with an assuredness that immediately made my heart sink. She shouted at me to come with her, and I wanted to so much. I pushed--but I just wasn't moving! I was so frustrated and I hurt. This is the point. Move! Move! Don't let it defeat you! You will P.R. You CAN P.R.! And I watched Stacy move powerfully into the distance.
I started to get annoyed with my mental talk, and it was then that my second self came out. Fuck you! Great fucking plan, Mary! Who gives a shit! Just slow down before I BOOT! In retrospect, this is good. My two selves--the self who hates me for making me suffer and the self that wants me to bring the suffering on, only do battle when I am in a very bad place. The last time they fought like that was at IM LP during the marathon. I had successfully obtained the state I was shooting for.
When I rounded the corner off 77 to finish the race I was so shot I couldn't even focus on catching Ellie, who was just ahead of me. Another girl shot past me with a quarter mile to go and I just gritted me teeth. I could see the clock ticking, nearing 1:11. I would get in under 1:11 if it FUCKING KILLED ME.
And I crossed.
1:10:59. In the last two miles I had gone from averaging 7:01 pace to 7:06 pace, but I had still gotten in under 1:11.
I had P.R'd by 46 seconds, but I didn't feel triumphant. I had survived. That was all. Erin, another good friend and rival, finished right behind me. In fact, all of my peeps/rivals/good friends (seriously, like 10 of us) finished within about a minute and a half of each other. We had all PR'd--all totally suffered. Andy, I learned, beat all of us and came in just over an hour, just as he had planned.
(I will add here that-- ahem, in case you have forgotten, I am coaching him--Mr. one hour ten-miler!)
I am still trying to tell myself that I succeeded. But I'm finding it strangely hard. Is there a lesson here? If you know what it is, please tell me. I'm sort of baffled at my lack of enthusiasm over having both PR'd AND achieved my suffering goal.
After the race I talked with everyone and relived all the gory details of the race. I love catching up with my Maine peeps. They are truly good folk. We then got lunch with Bob and Jodi (tri friends) and Ange and Mark and their brood. I had a really good, dark beer at lunch. I love a really good dark beer. :) Then we went off to celebrate my nephew's birthday and catch up with my sister and her husband. It was a great, great day.
Pics of the race--courtesy of Jodi:
Mark--Ange's husband. He broke 1:10 and beat Ange's record, so the duel between them is on!
Stacy, looking strong and on her way to a massive P.R.
This is Sheri Piers, the women's winner. She finished just after Andy, and they did battle for much of the race.
Andy, suffering up 77 --running uphill and straight into the wind.
Mile 9.5. Steve (left), Mark, (front), Bob (right). My Maine friends know how to suffer, and they know how to get it done.
Mike. The rivalry begins for 2010. Mary's is UP ONE, baby!
Erin (left) and Stacey) hot on my tail.
Tim (center). I beat him last year, but this year he got me by almost three minutes!
And me. A half mile to go, and ready to hurl.