I grew up in Maine, have lived here my entire life other than a brief four-year stint in New Hampshire for college, but that doesn't mean I greatly enjoy running outside in the winter. It's cold, it's dark, it's icy, and living out in the boonies means there's virtually no shoulder to run on.
Marathon training started last week, so I had to get a long run in to kick things off, and this 10-miler was the perfect motivation...back when I signed up for it in November.
I woke up on Sunday morning to some fresh snow and a little ice in the driveway, but no rain - which is what the weatherman had predicted. Other than the "polar vortex" which hit Maine (and the rest of the country) in early January, it's been a pretty mild winter for us (so far, we've still go three more months), so I was pretty pumped when I looked at the temperature and it said 30* at 7:30 a.m.
I suited up, grabbed some toast for the road and headed toward Cape Elizabeth for the race.
Because I didn't have time on Saturday to go get my bib, I got there at 8:15 not sure how long the line to get my bib would be. I also wanted to make sure I got one of the good parking spaces near the finish line. I was the only one in line and then had an hour and a half to wait before the race. So I wandered back to my car, blasted the heat, and listened to my book for a while.
About 10 minutes to race time I wandered up the hill to the starting line.
A little back story on the area where the race was held. I coached cross country and track in this town for four years after college, it's an area I know well, but it's very hilly for a coastal town, so I was a little nervous going into the race. I've been running and cross training, but since Rehoboth, I think my longest run has been 6 miles, maybe. The course finishes on a really long gradual hill, which has always been one of my least favorites in the entire town...more on that later.
I milled around the start for about five minutes, chatting with a few people I knew and then we were off.
Mile 1: 8:53 - This mile was crowded, as it usually is in the first mile of a race, but once we got through the first half mile or so, it thinned right out and I was able to enjoy the downhill start.
Mile 2: 8:56 - I was worried about this mile, because I know the road and it's full of big, rolling hills. I slowed my pace a little and felt pretty comfortable through the set of three decently large rollers.
Mile 3: 8:41 - Big hills over, this section was pretty flat through a bunch of neighborhoods. Pretty unremarkable
Mile 4: 8:31 - Totally missed the memo on this mile. There was no sign for it, so I never even checked my watch to see what my time was during this mile. Again, pretty boring. It's the middle of winter, so no one really comes out to cheer like they do for Beach to Beacon (same town, different course).
Mile 5: 8:36 - Here is where I finally checked my watch. I was pretty happy to be running under 9 minute miles because I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that the second half of the course was probably equally hilly to the first, but with more long gradual hills vs. shorter rollers, so i was a little nervous that I had maybe pushed a little hard in the first half.
Mile 6: 8:44 - We took a corner and WHAM! the wind smacked you right in the face. Good thing is that wind would soon turn into a tailwind. Again, there wasn't a mile marker for this one, so I just kind of cruised along.
Mile 7: 8:33 - When I saw where I was I decided I would push hard for the last three miles, just to see what I had left. Ouch.
Mile 8: 8:19 - The finish is so close! This is a pretty long downhill section so I really scooted my booty through here to try to bank some time for what I had been dreading, the hill at mile nine...dun, dun, dunnnnnnn!
Mile 9: 8:12 - Huh? That wasn't as hard as I remembered. I've been doing workouts at OrangeTheory Fitness as speed and strength training, so that must have kicked in a little bit. A lot of the days include incline work on the treadmills along with whatever strength work they have scheduled for that day.
Mile 10: 7:39 - I owe this all to "Party Up" by DMX. I was pushing up the end of the mile 9 hill and trying to catch this guy ahead of me who had passed me around mile 6. The song flipped over to "Party Up" and I dropped the hammer. I'm not sure why, but that song always gives me an extra boost of energy - it came on at mile 18 of my fall marathon just when I was feeling crummy and I felt new life, and then it came on around mile 9 at Rehoboth, same thing. We made the last turn into the high school parking lot and there are about 600 meters to go, so I started kicking early. The race directors have gifted runners with a down hill finish, which is usually great, but that headwind that smacked you in the face at mile 6 came back with a vengeance. I was able to push through the wind to the finish, passing the guy I wanted to on the way there.
Final time 1:25:12.
I went into the race with an A, B, and C goal. C: Just finish the race and use it as a training run. B. 1:30, A: 1:25. I was really surprised I was able to basically hit my "A" goal with the amount of training that I had under my belt. I thought for sure I'd be running around 1:30-1:35.
After that, I'm feeling energized for the start of my Maine Coast Marathon training!
Feeling a little bit tight today, my hamstrings are really feeling those hills. Going to do a short run after work before boot camp. We're looking at a little bit of a snowy week this week, and maybe some more this weekend as well, so I might have a few more treadmill runs on my hands than I'd really like, but that's fine.