Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Doyle's Emerald Necklace

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eastern States 20 Mile Race

Sunday morning I was up around 5am. It was such an early start to the day for a race that started at 11am, but I had to get John over to his friend's house in North Conway and then get myself down to Hampton. I got there around 8:15am and hopped on a bus up to Kittery. I was fortunate to get a seat to myself, so I spread out and attempted to get a little shut-eye. There was a guy a seat over who was chatting the hell out of these younger runners the entire bus ride, so it made it impossible to get any sleep, but I still rested the eyes until we were dropped off at the high school in Kittery. I walked into the gym and got in a long line for bib pickup. I finally got my number and decided to go down one to one of the hallways where it wasn't as crowded. Once I got all of my stuff together, I decided to go ahead and put my drop bag back on the bus and hit my warm up. Just as I headed out, I heard someone run right up behind me scaring the crap out of me. It turned out to be Jim Johnson, who joined me. 20 yards later we hit a dead-end, but once we turned in the right direction, we did a 2-mile out and back. Jim's foot was really hurting him during the warmup; I wasn't sure he was even going to finish, and neither was he. We ran into Mike Wade, talking to him a bit before he wished us a not-fun race, and we all walked to the start. I saw a few people I recognized, but for the most part, I didn't know anyone. Denise Sandahl was there, so I knew I didn't stand a chance of winning, but my goal was top 5 women. There were some fast-looking ones there, too, so I was a little nervous.
The race finally started, and with the slight incline right off the bat, it kept me from going off too fast. Three women went on ahead of me, and one of them I recognized as Lindsay Willard. I knew just from her results that we were a pretty even match, so I decided just to fall in behind her for awhile since she was running the same pace I was hoping for. The first mile felt really easy, and I met Adam Wilcox who was running next to me. We chatted for a little bit, but then he pushed ahead for awhile. I kept in line right behind Lindsay, and she continued to run the perfect pace, so I just stayed put. I didn't know who was behind me, but I was really happy with the way it was going and just wanted to hang there. I could still see Denise and the first woman way up ahead and knew I had no chance of catching them, but I started to get a good feeling about 3rd. We had been running a nice sub 6:30 pace up until mile 6 when it jumped to 6:35. We hadn't hit any wind yet, so I felt like that mile had been too slow and decided to push on past Lindsay and try to make up for the lost 5 seconds from the last mile. My goal for the race was to run fairly even splits the whole way. I managed to pull that off, mostly, even though I kept alternating from sub 6:30 to 6:35. I was still liking the way it was going since I wanted to run a 2:10. I felt really good the entire race and just kept plugging away. I would check back when I could and never saw another woman the rest of the way, so I had a really good feeling I was definitely going to pull off the 3rd as long as I could hang at the pace I was going. This course is extremely beautiful, so I kept taking the time to look out at the scenery in order to get my mind off of my hurting legs. There was a bit of a headwind, but I didn't find it extremely difficult to run against. It was such a gorgeous day that it was hard to really complain about anything during the race. We finally got within a mile of the finish and knew I had 3rd in the bag, but I wasn't sure about my time. The race director had announced the course would be a little long so I had a feeling I wouldn't hit 2:10, but I was happy that I was at 2:09:something when I hit the 20 mark. The finish was a quick turn to the left and right into the shoot. I noticed the clock said 2:12:something and got really confused since there was no way it took me 3 minutes to run .2 miles. But I didn't care too much at that point. I was just glad to be done. I had finished 3rd woman, 17th overall (if the results are correct) in a time of 2:11:14 on my watch. I finally saw a couple of people I knew and spoke with them for a bit before meeting back up with Jim who said his foot was fine the whole race. I knew that was a relief for him since he thought he might have to drop. He ended up taking 2nd after all of that. So it was a good day for the Valley runners down there. We grabbed our drop bags and hopped on the bus back to the post-race food and awards at the hotel. The bus ride ended up taking probably 45 minutes due to the race traffic, and I was starting to hurt from the prolonged sitting. After we were dropped at the hotel, the walk back to my car felt really good to loosen up. I changed clothes then went back to the hotel to grab some food and wait for the awards. I found Jim at a table eating black licorice jelly beans. I don't know what that was about, but those things are gross. I grabbed some food, and we started talking about the times. I swore that they were off by at least a minute. That was confirmed when the award winners were called and all of the times were way off. Jim immediately went to work and found someone involved to start fixing it. Denise Sandahl ended up joining us for a bit. It was really good to finally meet and chat with her for awhile. While we were still sitting there, a guy came over to take down our times from our watches for the race and then set about fixing the 20 mile times. It didn't take long before they announced that the times would be adjusted by 1:18 to show the proper times for everyone. I was happy to see the fix since I ran hard for that 2:11. We left shortly thereafter to walk back to the car and then I drove back to North Conway to pick up John and head home.
All in all, it was a great day. Perfect weather, and I was really happy with my race. I loved the course and, despite the time and results issues, thought this was a great event. Putting a race like this together is a lot of work, and I thought it went very well. 
ES20 definitely gave me a little boost in confidence about the Vermont City Marathon. My goal there is a sub-3, and, now, I feel like I just might be able to pull it off. I'm so glad I chose to run today. I really needed that test.
Editing to add some photos:



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