Today was the Beach to Beacon 10k, and it was an awesome day.
First: one of my goals this year was to run a 10k. I thought about registering for Beach to Beacon, but when the registration opened for that, I was at Sugarloaf, and it sold out in record time – 4 minutes. So, I figured I’d look for a different race to meet the 10k goal. But then one of my friends posted that she was looking for people to form a ‘team,’ (in quotes because it was in name only) to enter into the lottery, because apparently team lottery odds are better than individual odds. After asking a few questions, I decided, why not, I’ll donate the $5 lottery fee and if I don’t get in, oh well, and if I DO get in, then it was meant to be. I even posted it in our Facebook conversation:
So, a few weeks later, the universe decided when our lottery number was drawn. Oh. Em. Gee.
I’ve spent the summer with it hanging over my head. I’ve run 6 and 7 miles (as part of my OTHER goal, which is to have a long run that equals the months number, so, 5 in May, 6 in June, etc), so I knew I could DO it, but I was mostly freaking out about weather. Last year it was CRAZY hot, and I do NOT do well with heat. But, I knew I could cover the distance, even if it was super wicked slow. But then the reports from the Old Port Half, just a few weeks ago, had me REALLY freaked out. My friends that ran it had stories to tell, and it was freaking me out. One thing that happened at Old Port was that they ran out of water. (RAN. OUT. OF. WATER.) To prepare for that (and I’d heard nothing but awesome about the B2B, but the Old Port horror stories were really messing with me), I bought a handheld water bottle, and ran with it a few times to get used to it. I figured if I brought my own water, it would be good peace of mind. (I bought the Amphipod 12oz Thermalite handheld, from Running Warehouse, and it was perfect.) I did 7 miles on Sunday (my July long goal run) with it, and it was great. And the 7 miles I did I looped back to my house to pee and refill water, so that it would be like a race, with pit stops, etc. I survived, and my 10k time, like my June run (which went over 6.5 miles) was about 1:20. Slow as molasses, but doable, so that was my goal for B2B, after the overall goal of, you know, finishing. DFL>DNF>DNS, of course. (For the unfamiliar, that phrase means “Dead Freaking Last is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start.”) I was obsessing over weather, but it was starting to look like it might just be okay…..
Friday, I drove down to Portland where I would be staying with my friends Tami and Aaron. Tami was running the race, too, and she had already been to the expo but offered to go with me (and drive!) on Friday. The Expo was great – easy to park and find my info (and according to Tami, it was a lot better on Friday than it had been on Thursday), and I got my t-shirt and walked around, and bought a few headbands from Chica Bands. I also was really excited to see a Be the Match table, and I am now registered (or on my way to be registered) in the bone marrow registry. The only bummer of the Expo was that they were out of the B2B10k car magnets, which I would have TOTALLY put on my car for the drive home, because this race was that big of a deal to me. We then went down to the finish line, at Portland Head Light, which, even though I was born in Maine and have lived 37 of my 38 years here, I had never been to. (I’ve been to FORT KENT way more, and that’s a place most Mainers never see.) Tami pointed out the “if our phones die, we meet there” location, and I got pretty excited to imagine the finish line.After that, we met Aaron for dinner at the Blue Burrito in Westbrook, which had an amazing menu, but I couldn’t realistically eat mexican food based on pulled pork for a pre-race dinner. Instead, I had scarfed down a salmon and pasta dish that was excellent. Back at Tami and Aaron’s, we set our alarms for Really Freaking Early, and turned in.
I was up by 5, getting dressed and getting my bib pinned on, and we had a cup of coffee and an english muffin with peanut butter. I grabbed a banana for later, since we would hopefully be arriving well ahead of the start time. We made our way to Cape Elizabeth High School easily, parked, and hopped on a shuttle. We were dropped at the start line around 6:30 and the bus driver was funny “enjoy the next 1.5 hours, and the best race strategy is to keep the Kenyans in front of you.” The start area was great – they had coffee, bananas, orange wedges, gatorade and water – and of course porta potties. We were there so early that it was really not chaotic at all, and Tami’s mantra had been “if we can get to the start, we’ll get to the finish” because she’d heard stories about getting-to-start difficulties from others. So, we were at the start, early, yes, but we were there and there was only one way back – run to the end. We walked up to the start line and took some photos, and then waited back past the 10:00 mile pace sign (the slowest pace posted) for the race to start. Tami is way faster than me, but since it was chip timed, it didn’t matter – we’d cross the mat and run our own race from there, and it was really nice to have someone to hang out with until then. I also saw several other running friends (including the one who convinced me to join her lottery team) and it was a good energy.
So, pretty soon, it was time to start. Wheelchairs went first, and then 17 or so minutes later, the gun went off. But being at the waaaaay back of the pack, it was almost 10 minutes before we crossed the start. I had to wake up my Garmin twice I think, while I was inching forward. But then… there was the start line, and off we went!
I had started my iSmoothRun app while waiting in line, and had started my running playlist on shuffle, but hadn’t put on my headphones until I was almost at the start. As I crossed the finish line, just about the best song that could have come on, did. It’s a song that was in one of my Body Pump classes “Glad You Came” by the Wanted, and just has a good energy, but the opening lyrics seemed especially profound as I crossed the start:
The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came
I mean, the rest of the song sounds like it’s about someone passing roofies, but that lyric, followed by the tempo of the song, was just perfect. Here I was! At Beach to Beacon! And it wasn’t hot, it was overcast and NOT HOT and oh.my.god, I was running the 10k I had set as a goal.
For the race itself – the 2nd mile was the worst. At brunch after, I was telling Tami that, that the 2nd mile I thought “oh nooo, what have I DONE?” so when I got home and plugged in my Garmin, it was interesting to see that that was my slowest mile. I don’t know why it sucked — maybe I started too fast (but Garmin doesn’t say that) or just? who knows. Anyway, after that I did much better. I found that I will go out of my way to high five any kid, and that if I am going to high five a kid, I must be running. (So, if Ihad a course lined with 5 year olds extending their hands, I’d PR every time, basically….) I didn’t take water at the stops – I had mixed some nuun into my amphipod and filled it halfway and frozen it the night before, and then I added fresh cold water in the morning, and that was holding me) but when I hit mile 4, I decided to take a pee break. I’m not sure how much my time would be different if I hadn’t – when I look at my Garmin stats, I clearly got a boost after the break – but I had to wait for two people to finish (including one who cut in front of me. I’ll just hope her needs were greater than mine.) I had clearly hydrated VERY well in prep for the race, and that was probably the unexpected low point – the unit was not level so I was listing and it was hot and I was almost dizzy, but man, I was NOT going to end up not finishing by passing out in the portapotty! (Not that I thought that I was going to pass out – it was just a weird vertigo-y moment and as soon as I was out, and moving, it was fine.)
Here’s a photo by Maine Running Photos (which, thanks for the CC license, MRP!) I’m totally smiling because hello, I just passed mile 5 and I am TOTALLY going to finish the Beach to Beacon. Also, I saw the guy and figured I should smile. But it wasn’t fake! (There are several more photos here, but I haven’t purchased them. But I almost look like a Real Runner in them!)
Mile 5 is uphill for most of it, but it reminded me of the GLS run, running upstream, but then you see the course inside the park and realize the finish is right there. I ran the fastest and the best in the park – seriously, if I could run like THAT every day, I would feel great. I even ran up the steep uphill, and then it was downhill from there. It was so. awesome. I finished and as I slowed to a walk, I pulled out my phone to stop my app and music, and saw that Dave had texted. He’d found a live cam of the finish line, and he and the girls were watching for me — and as it turns out, this is where wearing my Team Sparkle skirt (which I was on the fence about but obviously decided to wear) came in really handy – they saw the skirt and knew it must be me. He and the girls cheered and clapped for me back home, and I am so glad he did that – a big motivation for me to do this running thing is to set a good example for them. So, I finished, figured out where Tami was, and Aaron had parked only about a mile from the park, so we grabbed our freebies and had some snacks and walked back to the car, and he drove us back to the high school for my car. The lines for the shuttles looked crazy long, so we were wondering how the shuttle situation was later in the morning, since we were there so early.
There’s my splits – you can see my mile 2 “OMG, what have I done” and my finish line “OMG, I HAVE DONE IT!” speeds. And since it was my first, I was okay with any time. It’s a baseline to improve upon! I know that I was nervous about my first 5k, and now feel like I could do one at any moment, regardless of weather, and I would love to get to that place with a 10k. I am definitely, totally, going to try to get in to the 2014 Beach to Beacon, too. It was THAT GOOD. Near the end, there’s a part where you are running RIGHT NEXT to the ocean, and it was gorgeous, and all I could think was “Oh my god, I GET TO DO THIS. AND LIVE HERE.” It was an amazing moment.
The only thing I was bummed about was that there were no medals, and we thought there would be. I want a medal! Which is why I’ve decided to train for the Sugarloaf 15k in May.