Monday, January 28, 2013

Derry Boston Prep 16 Miler RP

This is a race that runners tell horror stories of. While I was waiting in the bathroom line prior to the start, I was listening to the ladies talk. Most had run the race several times, and they all had a tale of horror for each year they ran. I didn't hear anyone say, "Well, when I ran in year such and such, the weather was great!" And to be completely fair, I think the weather is pretty awful every year. This year it was 14 degrees at the start, but with 14 MPH winds the "feels like" temperature was about 2 degrees. From what I've heard, the worst year was run in the snow. I'm not sure I would have run if had been snowing. Knowing what I know now about the course, I can write without a doubt that I wouldn't run in the snow. There are some steep downhills that I cannot imagine running when slippery...but I digress...

I arrived at the gym about an hour early to collect my number. I quickly found Raelyn and her running group. Everyone was very nice. Everyone was also very nervous. It seems that runners both love and hate this race, and almost everyone I spoke to was calling this a "training" or "tempo" run. I really didn't know what to expect. I mean I knew the course was challenging. I knew miles 9-12 were suppose to be ridiculously hard. I knew the last 4 miles were suppose to be mostly downhill. I knew it was suppose to be cold. But I had no idea what that would mean for me. I had told Raelyn that I was thinking/hoping to run around 6:45-6:50 pace, but that was really a shot in the dark.

I actually felt a lot better when I saw that everyone else was nervous too, though I'm not sure why because it probably should have made me more nervous (given that these runners were all Derry veterans). I was most nervous about the cold (and so were they). I had run an easy run earlier in the week where the "feels like" temperature was -5 degrees, and it was just miserable. Dressing for races can be tricky. When it's cold everything needs to be covered, but you also don't want so many layers that you start to sweat and get colder because you're sweating. Did that make sense? Anyway, I was having trouble figuring out what to's what I started with.

Running Ninja

I told Kaylee I was going to be a running Ninja. She replied, "Momma, ninjas wear black." That kid is way too serious and literal sometimes. So, while it looks scary and silly, I needed to have something to cover my face for at least the first few miles. I have asthma, which hates hates hates running hard in the cold. Breathing through something for the first few miles helps.

After everyone finally figured out what they were wearing, it was time to head to the start. My first impression was that the cold didn't feel too awful. We only had to wait on the line for 5 minutes, so we didn't freeze while waiting. I think the cold felt worse while running. I was breathing through my makeshift mask, but it was getting wet from my breath, so I'd take it off, then the air would feel to cold to breath, so I'd put it back on. I did this on/off thing constantly through the first 5 miles, then I mostly kept it off, but really the air was just too cold to breath. My impression of the first 5 miles was something like, "yeah, this is hard, but not impossible." and "I wish the air wasn't so cold."

I was really waiting for the dreaded miles 9-12, and they didn't disappoint. They were some pretty tough spots, to which I just kept telling myself, "just keep running, just keep running." (Insert Dori's sing songy voice from Finding Nemo.) Around mile 10 or 11 Raelyn found me. I should probably mention that I ran this race completely alone. The first 5 miles or so I could see people, but at some point I couldn't see any runners at all. I had this awful feeling that I was going to get lost. Really I could see no one. So, when she came up and started running next to me, it was a huge relief. We sort of ran near each other for a mile or so, but she was just ready to go, and I couldn't hang on to her.

After the super hard miles, the last four miles were suppose to be much easier. It was sort of a joke though, because we turned the corner towards those "easy miles" and ran straight into a ridiculous head wind. It was just miserable. After 12 miles of running, I was still cold, my chest was tight, and this head wind was just making everything more uncomfortable. But what's a runner to do? I don't think running slower would have helped. I still would have been cold and miserable. The only real option is to hang on...

With about a mile to go, I was completely alone again. I couldn't see anyone in the distance. ANYONE. I was completely panicked that I wasn't running on the course anymore. I just kept going and eventually I hit someone directing traffic. A couple of turns later and I was done! Phew.

My official time was 1:50:20 (6:53 pace). I finished first in my age group, but Raelyn was completely robbed. She beat me by at least 30 seconds and placed second in her age group. I think the competition was fierce this year.

My thoughts on this race? Hmmm, I have no idea what to think. It was a good training race for Boston. It was definitely hard. The GDTC organizes this race, and I have to say they do an excellent job. The race starts at the middle school. They open the gym to the runners, so there's no waiting in the cold, and there are real bathrooms to use. There is someone directing runners at every single turn, so as long as you don't start taking random turns you won't get lost. That's a big deal. These people are standing out in the freezing cold for hours! They also had results kiosks in the gym. I was able to look up my official time right after I finished, which was awesome. We got long sleeved tech tops and a nifty pair of running gloves too. I didn't stay for the awards, but I've heard they have chicken soup and coffee. Really a great race. Now, will I run it again? I would love to say YES! Of course! It's well run. It's challenging. The runners and volunteers are all great. Unfortunately, the price I paid for running 16 hard miles in the cold was steep. My asthma was bothering me the rest of the day, and today though my legs aren't sore my chest and back are very sore (I think from breathing so hard). And given that this race is notorious for its difficult weather conditions, I will probably have to pass.

For anyone interested, my Garmin splits are below. The orange highlighted miles were the miles with the most uphill, which is probably obvious given the slower splits. You can tell where there's lots of uphill and lots of downhill based on my splits. Except mile 14. That's a slower split without a lot of uphill (just a lot of headwind).

Mile 1: 6:55 
Mile 2: 6:41
Mile 3: 6:04 
Mile 4: 6:29
Mile 5: 7:12
Mile 6: 6:32
Mile 7: 6:44
Mile 8: 6:42
Mile 9: 6:53
Mile 10: 7:29
Mile 11: 7:29
Mile 12: 7:49
Mile 13: 6:57
Mile 14: 7:07
Mile 15: 6:51
Mile 16: 6:23


Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Oh, so sorry about your asthma! You did so so well though! Truly awesome! I said this before - people run MP on this course, and you ran 6:53! Sounds like the headwind transformed those 4 downhill miles at the end into uphill miles. That must have sucked, to look forward to some relief after crazy uphills - people, I have never seen such a crazy incline that keeps going like in those miles 9-12 - and have that headwind!
I think this race has helped you peak for Hampton. I can't wait to see what you can do. Lets hope for warmer temps though:) Congrats again!

Raina said...

You never let me down, Katie! I can only imagine running in that kind of cold right now. It's been 2 winters since we've seen single digits (no wind) and it is hard to run with everything frosting and freezing up!
I am struck by how tough you are! Asthma and the ninja mask, and a hugely fast pace. I think that's the same pace as my PR 13.1. haha :)) Oh, your upcoming races are going to be lovely this spring! I can't wait!!

Karen said...

That pace is insane, definitely impressive to me! In the cold, wind, hills and seem like you're indestructible! I also love your runner ninja outfit. I've been having asthma symptoms lately too, so I get the sore back and chest. It is awful.

Katie said...

@AM: Oooh, it would be really cool if this wound up being my MP! Though, I'd be pretty happy with a 7:05...

@Raina: Thanks! I don't think you're missing much. I guess running in the cold is hard, but I think running on the track in more reasonable temps would so much more fun! (And I'm all about the fun...)

@Karen: Wow, it's really nice to hear that someone else gets a sore chest and back from running hard! Sometimes I feel like a lunatic! I mean my back feels like someone whacked me with a baseball bat, and my ribs are tender to touch. I can only imagine that this is from my asthma, but it seems so weird...

Pam said...

Way to go!!! I love the "ninja" outfit. It obviously worked for you:)

Michael said...

Nice work Katie! 1:50 is an AMAZING time for a first time Boston Prepper! I always look forward to those last 4 miles, but this year they were a HUGE disappointment. Anyway, it was nice to meet to on Sunday and I hope we see you around. Here's a link to my running blog:

I'm sure my BP report will be up there by this weekend!


Katie said...

@Michael: It was nice to meet you too! Your running group is great! And I am so glad to hear that I wasn't the only one disappointed in the last 4 miles! The thought of the last 4 miles got me through the first 12 miles! Oh well, it makes for a good war story...

Tia said...

What a course! I find myself very intimidated by hilly courses. Throw in COLD winter weather and you've got a challenge! I think you did a great job pacing this one. Mile 3 was FAST! And you ended strong too. I have never done a 16 mile race before so I'm sure pacing gets better with practice.

What do you have on your running radar coming up? Whatever it is I know you are ready. Your workouts are seriously motivating on DM!

Michelle said...

Amazing as always!!! What was the total elevation climb?

Katie said...

@Tia: I'm running the Hampton HM towards the end of February, and then I probably actually need to do some long runs for Boston, so might not race until Boston after Hampton...Though if I don't do well at Hampton, I could be talked into doing the Quincy HM in mid March.

@Michelle: So according to the mapped out run, which can be seen here:

The total climb is 587 feet. It doesn't sound all that impressive to me, but it felt pretty hard at the time...

colette said...

Congrats on a great race.... and in such tough conditions. I do like the ninja . Remember those fun face masks from Mrs Fischer for running in the cold? Those were helpful! Nice job speedy!

Katie said...

@Colette: You know, I don't remember the masks Mrs. Fischer made us for running. I do remember all 12+ of us invading her home for sleep overs though!

Alicia said...

Wow. I can't even quite get my head around running that kind of pace in the cold! I may have to re-evaluate my whining about how I always have to train too slowly in the winter because I can't run any faster... You did a 6:04 mile in there!! I think you're headed for a big marathon PR.

Rae Crowell said...

Great report! It was probably the 2nd hardest conditions I've run that race in, and I cannot imagine running those cold winds with asthma. My normal lungs hurt out there! Especially from mile 12 on. I was so jealous, fyi, of your warm-looking neckwarmer. My mouth was so frozen that I had a hard time eatting my gu. :-) Hope you recovered easily and quickly!