Monday, May 28, 2012

Race Report--Boston's Run to Remember Half Marathon

My alarm went off at the crack of dawn Sunday morning. MarathonMike and I were in the car and headed to Boston by 5:30am. 

The first thing I loved about this race was the convenience factor. With an early start time on a Sunday morning and our proximity to Boston, we had absolutely no traffic and it was a breeze to get into the city. The race starts at the Seaport World Trade Center in South Boston which is the second thing I loved about this race - easy and cheap parking! 

It was about 6:15am when we arrived and I was a little nervous about getting my race packet and finding a bathroom before the start at 7am. Which brings me to the third and fourth reason I loved this race - no line for packet pickup and absolutely no line for the bathroom!  There were so many (so many!) porta-potty's along the outside of the building that you could get away from the crowd and easily find an available bathroom. I was ready to roll soon after arriving with my bib on and my shoes tied. 

MarathonMike gave me the final "Good Luck" before getting into the crowded chutes behind the starting line. It was at that moment, as the race was about to begin and the National Anthem was sung, that I thought about the craziness of the last two weeks and all of my training that brought me to the start line. I didn't cry, but I got choked up with all of that swirling in my head. It was time to run and I was ready! 

Starting Line
The 5-milers lining up for their race after the half marathon start.  
There were 5,000+ runners in the half marathon which made the first few miles very congested. I almost missed the first water stop because there were so many people around me that I didn't see the tables or the volunteers even in their bright-colored shirts. All of a sudden, people were crossing in front of me and I realized it was for the water. Even though it was early in the race, the warm weather made it necessary to take advantage of every water & Gatorade stop. 

By mile 3, the crowd was spreading out and I felt like I had room to run. I tried to pick up the pace when I was working my way through the crowd and realized my watch was showing an 8:50 min/mile pace. Wait, what? How did that happen? I actually started to whisper to myself, "Slow down!" so that I wouldn't set myself up for a fast start and slow finish. I settled into a rhythm that felt comfortable and managed to stay at an 8:52 min/mile pace for most of the race.  

The fourth reason I loved this race was the scenery. The race took us past Government Center, Faneuil Hall, along the Charles River, MIT Campus, Harvard University and Boston Common. It was shady in most places and where it was sunny, a breeze was blowing that made me forget about the warm sun. It really was a beautiful race.  

I kept my pace at 8:52 min/mile until about mile 9. My legs started to feel a bit heavy and this was the "tough" part of the race that MarathonMike warned me about. This is where all of the training kicks in to get you to the end. And it did! I focused on my breathing... in 2, out 2, in 2, out 2... and coordinated it with my steps. I just kept going! 

My pace slowed down a bit, but the reality of finishing under 2 hours seemed likely at this point. In the last mile, I spotted a friend of mine from the running club. I shouted her name and she smiled and ran with me to the end. She was pointing her finger to the ground next to her or a little ahead of me as if to say, "You! Go there! Stay with me!" That little kick from her pushed me to the end right when I started to feel so tired, sore, ready to stop, and a tiny bit nauseous.

My official time was 1:58:42 with a 9:04 min/mile average pace. This was 10+ minutes faster (about 45 sec/mile faster) than my first half marathon a few months ago. 

I can't believe how much I improved in the past three months of training. Hard work pays off! I know this because it is what helped me get to the starting line and all the way to the finish. What a great learning experience for me as a novice runner. Certainly a Run to Remember!

Future plans? Take a break in June with easy runs. Rest up for marathon training in July! 

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