After running pretty darn fast at Smuttynose exactly 2 weeks prior to this race I went in with a very flexible plan. While rest, massage and heaps of foam rolling had me on the road to hip/butt/IT Band/hamstring recovery I wasn't 100% (well, compared to the post marathon days I felt great! but great is relative when you are a marathoner. so I was more or less hopping around on one leg.)
So essentially my flexible plan went from calling it a day the second I felt a twinge, to running slower than molasses, to motoring along at a decent long-ish run pace, to trying to win the damn thing (I was given instructions NOT to do this.)
And here is how it all played out.
No matter how much I try, I am always the last kid to the party on MDI the day before the race. (and, apparently, I am the VERY LAST person to post a blog about the big day. Go me!)
Eric and I made it up there by the time normal runners were sitting down to dinner. Oops! We arrived at the very last possible second that the expo was still open, grabbed our bibs, looked at the cruise ship and went out for a beer with a friend (because THAT is what you should do pre race for sure!!) Over the course of the night we had that beer, ate a decadent pasta dinner (the kind that is too rich for pre marathon fare but totally fine for pre half!) drank a glass of wine, ran into Danielle and New Sarah and called it a night a little on the late side.
|All my sweet gear and pumped up kicks. Ready to go!|
Then we proceeded to sleep not at all. Ugh!
We awoke to rain which is par for the course for MDI. Luckily, the rain was short lived and it turned into a truly glorious day!
We only had a short walk to the busses to take us to the Half starting point so we were able to wait for the worst of the rain to quit before we moseyed on out. On the way there we had a quick reunion with Jen, Jamie, Crystal and Mike (all doing the marathon, and killing it! or a relay. nice job kids!)
The bus trip was super easy, we jumped onto the first bus we saw and made it to the start (a nice cozy Grange like hall of some sort) where we stayed warm and dry. There was a little confusion about the start and where it was located- it was certainly a good hike from where we were. We got there with 4 minutes to spare which seemed a little shocking (I heard from reliable sources that we went off a few minutes early. Some people are taking tips from me and starting after the start! Isn't it fun!?)
I think in retrospect the only bummer of the race was the start. The marathon portion of MDI has a start that is pretty special, any of us who have done it before and then ended up choosing the half this year noticed its absence from our race. I have a feeling this was a first year glitch but my request is that the Half gets gussied up a bit in the future? (needy, needy aren't I!?) So, Danielle- you were sad you missed the anthem? Don't be dude because there wasn't one...
Eric and I stuck together for the first mile, prompting me to believe that he was out to beat me. I would have been ok with that since chasing him down was NOT part of my master plan but we were separated just after mile 1 never to see each other again. Until the finish, that is!
I felt better than expected for the first few miles and forcefully slowed my pace. I knew that the hills would be a challenge during the late miles of the course, especially since I had no reserves to fall back on. So along I chugged, pretty happy and enjoying the views and the companionship of other runners until mile 3 when suddenly, I was ALONE. Alone to the point that I almost thought I had taken a wrong turn!
|Right before I found myself ALONE I passed a guy wearing my socks...|
Dudes, there was nobody around. No effing people. Luckily, I came across a few early spectators (we started 30 minutes after the marathoners, but being halfway there already meant that the crowds were sparse...) so I knew I was on the right track. Honestly, this was a bit challenging mentally as I tend to get a nice boost from other runners and it can be pretty fun to pace off people for a while for a break.
It wasn't gonna happen. I had too much time to think which when you aren't racing at 100% can be a little challenging (internal monologue: am I running too fast? too slow? ugh my butt is tired! ugh more hills! omg I'm actually getting hot! am I too fast? too SLOW?!? oh shut up head...)
Right around mile 7 there was a long stretch of road and I finally saw a pack of runners way out in front of me. Thank the sweet baby Geezes, I have never been so happy to see other runners!!! I was doing a great job maintaining my "run at a pace that feels very manageable" plan so chasing them down and picking them off, the way I normally would, was not an option. However, they must have been feeling the challenge of the hills because within about half a mile or so I had caught and passed them.
There is no doubt that the final few miles of this course is hard as shit. I run a lot of hills here at home, and while they might be a bit steeper than some of the MDI hills those MDI hills are lengthy- they seem to go on and on for quite some time. I knew at mile 9 that, as expected, I did not have any extra gas in the tank to fall back on. My legs were genuinely feeling it and instead of the tired feeling vanishing after a bit of mental pep talk it stuck around. I took it in stride and focused on maintaining nice, controlled strides and was happy beyond ALL effing reason that I only had 4 miles to go.
During those last 4 miles I caught a few girls and started to think that an AG placing might be possible since I was on pace to come in close to 1:40-1:42. Certainly not a land speed record by any stretch, but I was taking into account the challenge level of the course and the toll it was sure to take on quite a few people, myself included..
For the last mile or so I could see one lonely female runner out ahead of me. I was able to close the gap considerably but I had no intention of pushing thru the home stretch, and even if that had been my intention I didn't have the legs for it. I figured that she was about 15 seconds ahead of me coming into the last 0.2 and since we were running at the exact same pace it wasn't gonna happen.
And yeah, when the lady in front of me ran for the finish and I saw the tape go up I basically said "fuuuuuuuuuuuck" but then I said "hells YES! I'm second!!!!" which was just fine. I showboated a little thru the finish line because when you are in 2nd you can do that!
|Haha! Yayyyyy! Coming in for the win, oh shit I mean second!!|
I finished, and must have looked a bit off color because the medics kinda ran to me but I was just fine. Apparently I just look like a person who needs medical attention!
It was a cool way to finish because all of us who were in the top 3 were hugging each other, giving high fives, comparing races and the 3rd place lady was funny "This LITTLE GIRL beat me!" she kept saying, which made me laugh because she was maybe an inch bigger than I am....
I drank Garorade. Walked around trying to stay loose and saw Danielle sprint thru the finish right around 1:50. She threw me her handheld so I walked back around to find her and hear about how she was the last person to cross the start line due to the *prompt* start! (way to make up some time and pick off some people!!) Then, as so often happens my foot cramped up and completely crippled me. So Danielle got to witness me shrieking in agony, drop the F bomb a zillion times, frantically rip off my shoe and basically drop to the ground when there was no relief, and finally get it back together, a sweaty shaking mess. This is par for the course and she took it in stride. Sorry dude, someday I'll act cool in public. (I have no idea how she manages to look so put together after a long run. and then there's me, writhing on the ground like some kinda idiot..)
|We actually look pretty good for people who just ran 13.1 fast miles!|
Almost immediately after the foot incident Eric finished and we made a beeline for the showers since we wanted to beat the crowd. I must admit that the showers at the finish of this race are such a damn lifesaver...
Happily, we got to see all our friends who we bumped into at the start finish before we headed out for home. It turned into such a beautiful day for race spectating that we lingered for a while, having a beer and cheering the finishers on. We ended up staying for longer than expected since we were walking to the bus stop while a bus was leaving, then we were not aggressive enough and missed the next bus as well... So over an hour later we fought tooth and nail (kidding, kidding) for a bus back to Bar Harbour, more food, and our car.
The next day my legs felt pretty great and I was able to get over the slight disappointment of loosing 1st by 11 seconds. I prefer to feel this way then to have done something over the top and be flat on my back for NYC. So, the countdown is on for NYCM at this point and hopefully my legs continue to recover and cooperate.