Monday, May 27

Boston's Run to Remember 2013: Race Report

Here's the abbreviated race report:

My official time was 2:31:28. My stretch goal was 2:30 and I think I ran a smart race and put everything I had into the last 5K, so it was a great success in all of those ways. My last PR was last fall at 2:44, so this is a pretty big win and shows that all that training is paying off!  Ran most of the race with Kathy and her friend Judy, who were awesome race companions.  My mom took 20 minutes off her time from her first half at Nike last month, and good times were had all 'round.  Now if I could just stand up without wincing...

Kathy and Cate RtR

Oh, you want the whole story? Glad to oblige. Get a drink, friends. It has been a while since I did something blog-like and you know how I get. Ready?

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, seriously, it was. Memorial Day weekend in Boston. You know, low 40s, 20 mph wind with gusts up to 40, driving rain? Yay, race day! It least it's not 90 and humid. That was earlier this week. Love New England.

My mom jumped into this race too, and Catie was willing to babysit during the race (after having just PR'd the heck out of the Brooklyn Half last week), so I brought Ellie along too. We got a hotel right at the start line (Best. Thing. Ever.), hit the expo Saturday and then had a nice dinner. Met up with Kathy from Fitterknitters and her friend Judy at the expo and bored the heck out of Ellie by having a long chat, but they had to get home.


 Holding my bib upside down. Yeah, I'm cool. (Photo by random stranger.)

My mom and I spent a lot of time obsessing about the rain and what to wear. I packed thinking it would be a repeat of Smuttynose, mid fifties and rainy, so shorts and armwarmers. The night before the forecast switched to low forties and rainy and windy. Luckily, my mom brought ALL THE RUNNING CLOTHES and was willing to loan me a pair of compression pants.  (She would come to regret this decision.)  After plenty of obsessing about clothes and what to carry and blah blah blah we finally went to bed around 9:30. My monkey mind of course kept me up until about 11.

At 5 am we were up, drinking coffee, me eating my sandwich and granola and a banana (I've learned that I need a lunch-sized breakfast before a half), getting dressed. Kathy texted from the parking lot, and she and Judy came up to our room for a more luxurious location to putter and pee than a cold starting corral. The weather turned out better than expected. High 40s, and the rain blowing out to sea. Not exactly the memorial day weekend weather we might have expected, but better than feared.

Ellie woke up, and was excited to see us off. I had arranged for her to get room service, and when we left her she was in bed waiting for them to bring her belgian waffles, and for Catie to come take her to the finish line in an hour or so. She told me afterwards that she was able to watch the race start from the hotel window. WIN!

 Downstairs we had to go around the block to enter through security, which was not as draconian as advertised in the pre-race emails.  We got up close and personal with 10,000 or so other runners, had a moment of silence for the officers killed in the line of duty in whose honor we were running, including Sean Collier whose bib many people were wearing (unfortunately my mom and I didn't get a bib for him, but I thought about Sean a lot during the race). National anthem, and we're off.

  Martha and Cate RtRKathy and Cate RtR Pre Start 2
Photos by Judy. (Garbage bags. We're all about the style.)

 I had promised my mom during the Nike Half that I would go on ahead at RtR, which is the only reason she let me stay with her at Nike. This spring I ran three half marathons, but this is the only one I raced.  The others were the princess, which was basically a 13.1 mile sparkle party on sneakers, and Nike, which was my mom's first half and which she paced.

So I hugged her goodbye and took off right from the start. At Smuttynose last fall I spent the whole race with Kathy in my sights, as she became more and more distant ahead of me. I figured I'd use her as a rabbit for this race too, and stick with them as long as I could.

There were some nice vistas in the first mile as we crossed the Seaport Street bridge and turned into the financial district. I should have realized the GPS was arsed up when the first mile marker was at 1.2 by my watch. I just figured I'd started the watch too early. I saw the 7:00 pace group sign ahead of where I'd noticed the timing mat, and thought maybe I hadn't noticed a second mat, and maybe the first one was for the finish.

There were a couple of crowd-related slowdowns in the first mile, and it felt pretty easy, but the first mile of a long race always feels easy. That's why you run it too fast, right? I was managing to keep up with Kathy and Judy, and they didn't seem too upset to have me crashing their party, so we were all good. Past Government Center and over the Longfellow Bridge into Cambridge and still feeling good.

  Cambridge St RtR Mile 2
(Cambridge St., photo by Judy)

The Cambridge stretch is a long out and back on a nearly perfectly flat riverfront highway. It's a longer take on the route for the Tufts 10K, and it's just as nice as it sounds. Partway through was a long line of officers giving high fives to the runners. There must have been 100 of them. Judy took a photo of them too.
  RtR Officers High Five
(Another Judy original.)

Along here Kathy started getting smart, and questioning whether the pace was reasonable for 13.1. She decided to walk a bit and hang back, and Judy and I kept running, not knowing whether we might see her pass us later on. At mile 8 I started coughing, kind of out of the blue. A puff of albuterol (works best when not left at home!) and a little self-talk and I managed to catch up with Judy. I was getting a little bleary at this point but Judy was conscious enough to initiate a fist bump at every mile from then on, which was awesome. That woman can run--she set the pace on all the up-slopes (bridges and underpasses), and kept me moving.

My watch had me at an 11:25 pace, which I thought put me on track to run under 2:30. (Spoiler: it was lying.) Back over the Longfellow and it was the 10 mile mark and we were back in Boston. Coach Caleb said run the last 5K like a 5K race after a moderate 10 miles. I spent most that bridge psyching myself up to step on the gas at 10 miles.

Down Charles St. and we were passing people. Coach said to see how many people I could pass, but I lost count, partly because we passed a lot of people, and partly because when I tried to count I found I was unable to get past two, cognitively, at that point.  It was pretty much "green shirt, you're going, I'm kind of achy...did I count that guy?...clompclompclomp...pancakes.  Yeah, pancakes."  Didn't take much to move on from that whole distracting and difficult counting thing on to a mental narrative of "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," for the next three miles.

Next round the Common, a little turn down Comm Ave. Weirdly, Gu at mile 11, which I skipped--there was a sign saying "Gu Ahead" at mile 8, which would have made more sense, but no Gu to be seen then. I skipped the mile 11 Gu, I'd had my own nutrition throughout the race (learned my lesson on previous races: I'm not an empty stomach runner), and I wasn't in any mood to ingest anything but oxygen at that point. 

The next two miles are a blur. I remember thinking about Sean Collier and the manhunt and pulling strength from the public safety officers who handled that day. I remember crazy potholes, people standing in front of a homeless shelter waiting to get in, and a woman standing in the middle of a tangent to prevent people from falling into a giant puddle/pothole (Mental process: "What the hell is her problem get off the course I don't have time to go around you...oh, um, thanks.") I pulled ahead of Judy and then she pulled ahead of me and then she was gone.

Shortly thereafter I had to pee. In theory I totally could have held it, but at this point my heart rate has been above 90% of max for two miles and I'm running what was likely my fastest mile ever at the end of my fastest 5K ever, except it was at the end of a half marathon. A little came out and then the next thing I know I'm still running while peeing on my shoes. THANKS MOM FOR THE LOAN OF THE PANTS!

Back over the Seaport bridge and toward the flags flapping in the wind and the finish. At this point the sun had actually emerged. As I ran I searched the crowd for Catie and Ellie, since the pre-race instructions had been very clear that there would be NO spectators allowed at the finish line. I figured I missed them, but as I finally got to the timing mat, there they were, cheering up a storm. I crossed the finish line, using my last ounce of energy to raise my arms in triumph. At this point my garmin had passed mile 14 so I had no idea what was going on. The clock time said 2:34 and I was hopeful, but not sure.

I leaned against the fence separating the spectators from the runners and tried not to die. Ellie asked if I was okay, and Catie, smart runner that she is, looked at my watch and told her my heart rate was coming down so I'd be fine. I was able to speak English surprisingly quickly after that and got to see Kathy finish just a couple minutes later and then my mom at 2:49 for a 2:46:54 finish, 20 minutes faster than her first half just a month before. I ran back and crossed the finish line with her.


Ellie had never been to see me at the finish line before, and it was so great to see her and Catie there, and to anticipate them being there as I ran the last mile. Catie has given me the honor of calling me one of her "DailyMile moms" so I took this "sisters" photo of the two of them. Uncanny, right?


After getting our bling, eating bananas and chips and drinking water, my mom and I headed back upstairs. We didn't manage to reconnect with Kathy and Judy who had reunited with their families, but congratulatory text messages were flying. A quick swim in the hotel pool, showers all round, and we packed up to check out, stashed my bag in the car, and headed out to dim sum in Chinatown.

Of course we walked. Two miles. While pulling my mom's rolling bag (she was taking the train back to NYC). Good for the muscles, right? Dim sum was the real deal with carts and all but not very vegan-friendly for my mom. She wound up eating a bit of shrimp by mistake, but we managed to get enough veggie mei fun into her to keep her from passing out.

Ellie and I saw her on to Amtrak and walked back to the hotel to get the car. I had promised Ellie a shopping trip and off we went to the Natick Mall. Home at 10 pm and passed out. While we were at Dim Sum I saw Catie's post of this video that she made for us.


It is so wonderful I can't even believe it. I told Catie she was my favorite daughter. Ellie was not overly pleased with this and a flurry of text messages ensued between Catie and Ellie, including Ellie claiming to be an angel but mistakenly typing angle. She's okay, I was just being obtuse.  Har.

Today I'm sore and a little chagrined at the garmin, thinking different information earlier might have helped me pace the first half a little faster and gotten me under 2:30. Looking at the map, the Cambridge portion is fine, but the Boston section has me running through buildings, jiggering back, and cutting off-course through the Common.

Both my phone and garmin maps have these crazy problems (phone only had me at 13.8 by the end of the race, hah) and my mom's and Kathy's devices had similar problems. I guess it was a bad morning for GPS. Coach Caleb says to run races without a watch, and maybe this is just the universe telling me to listen to my coach.


So, all in all a wonderful day, enormous progress toward what for me is a challenging goal, good friends, happy family, and sore hamstrings.  What more could I ask of a holiday weekend?  Today I barbecued a pork roast from our meat CSA and did a lot of laundry.  And wrote this.  And drank a lot of water.  And sat down a lot.  I enjoy sitting.

Anybody know the best way to get pee out of running shoes?