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Around Cape Ann 25k (Read 1073 times)

Mile Collector


Abs of Flabs

    A few days before the race, Linda F, a friend from my club, asked if I was ready. I told her that I was running really slowly the past week, probably due to the increased mileage in preparations for the NYC Marathon. I hope that she didn't think I was sandbagging when I told her I was having trouble maintaining a 9 minute pace. My right Achilles has been acting up too, so I really couldn't tell if I will do well. Fast forward to Labor Day (Sept 5). The weather in the Northeast was ideal. The temperature was in the 60s, with a cloudless blue sky and no humidity. The race was Around Cape Ann 25k. The course looped through the fishing towns of Gloucester and Rockport, with some of the most scenic views in the area. During the line up, Linda asked me to run with her, to which I replied never again. Her friend laughed at my statement, thus acknowledging that she is a tough runner. We ran together for the first several miles in the same race last year. I tried my best to keep up with her and ended up crashing and burning with 4 miles to go. Still, I didn't learn to run my own race until I crashed and burned again at Hartford Marathon a month later. Now that I'm no longer a freshman at running, I joined my sophomoric club members further back. The first mile was at a nice comfortable talking pace. The finish line was a long way out, and I was not worried about not making good time. We picked up the pace after that, and I felt my left shin tightening up because I still hadn't warmed up completely yet. Nowadays, it takes a good 4 or 5 miles before everything settles down. I remembered pieces of the course from last year, but their locations on the course were completely off. There were parts that I thought were near the end that were actually in the beginning. The steepness and length of the hills were all wrong too. Of course, I struggled for the second half of the course last year, so everything was a haze. I ran the course in 2:03:34 last year, and my goal this year was to go below 2 hours. I tried to maintain a steady pace of 7:45, but found my splits to vary considerably due to the hills. One noticeable difference from last year was that my run was much more enjoyable. Instead of struggling to maintain my pace, and wishing that the finish line would come sooner, I get to look around and enjoy the view. There was one section of the course where we get to look out into the ocean, with cliffs to the side. There were the green marsh fields by the side of the road that reminded me of a lazy Sunday drive along the coast. We ran through the downtown area of Rockport and the crowds came out to cheer us on. The water stations were said to be every 5k or so. Since it was a dry day and a long race, I took water from the stations to supplement the water I was carrying. My favorite water stop was provided by a spectator. Just like last year, he did everything right. Instead of cups, he and his kids handed out bottled water. It was esay to drink from without spilling. It held a lot more water than the tiny paper cups at the official stations. Most importantly, it was ice cold! At around mile 10, my left Achilles started hurting suddenly, which was completely unexpected since it was the right one that was giving me trouble earlier in the week. My first thought was whether I should slow down, followed by if it will affect my marathon two months from now. To my relief, it went away several minutes later. I saw Linda up ahead. Two people from my club picked up the pace and left me behind, and they were now ahead of Linda. I knew I was gaining grounds on her, but it took me over a mile to catch up. I started feeling a little tired after mile 12. My quads felt a little stiffer, and my breathing became labored. I thought for sure I slowed my pace to 8:00 at times, but I was wrong. I actually picked up the pace! The course went through a street lined with restaurants along Gloucester's coastline, and the smell of fried clams almost made me lose it. I just don't want to think about greasy food when I'm running. Despite running's increasing popularity, I still feel that we are a small community. I met a guy named Mike during last year's race, and I bumped into him again. More amazingly, he remembered me even though we had only a brief encounter. I chatted briefly with a young lady named Stephanie that works as a traveling nurse from Pennsylvania. People seemed to be more approachable on the run. We talk about where we live and what we do for a living openly. Perhaps we welcome the distractions to make the time pass more quickly. With a 1/4 of a mile to go, there was a short but fairly steep hill. Its location on the course was rather cruel. Once you get up it, it was flat or down hill to the finish, which was perfect for the final sprint. I don't usually look at my watch when I'm running, and had no idea how close I was to my goal. After I crossed the line, caught my breath and checked my watch, I was definitely under 2 hours. The official time came out to be 1:59:35, and I was delighted. The only disappointment was the post race refreshments. I wasn't expecting any improvements this year, but it was somewhat disappointing when I finished last year. Since it was a fishing town, I thought they would have fish chowder, or something similar. All they had were bagels and bananas. They added hot dogs this year, but I rather skip the mystery meat after a long run. Instead, I walked around and talked to my friends from other clubs that I haven't seen in a while. Yep, running is a small community.
      Mile Collector - Great report, and great run! Congratulations on hitting your goal. That always makes any race more fun. Others should learn from your example--on a long run, beware of starting too fast. Doesn't matter who you are. If you start too fast, you're going to burn glycogen stores you'll need later. And you are so right--running really is a small community. Hope we get a chance to meet someday.
      My Masters (>50) Race PR's: 5K - 20:17 10K - 42:36 HM - 1:31:22 Marathon - 3:20:48
      Mile Collector


      Abs of Flabs

        Thanks Pron8r! It was hard to slow down with the excitement of the crowd and the encouragements from the spectators. It's also hard to accept that you'll do better if you go out a bit slower than goal pace. I think track work has helped me learn to judge how fast I should go out so that I would have some left for the remaining intervals. Maybe we'll run Boston 2006 together, if I manage to get a number.