Both my dad and I were able to secure spots to this year's race. Given the logistics involved in the point-to-point race, Eileen and Kellan stayed home for this one. Generally, I'm a fan of races that allow me to park right next to the start/finish area. It simplifies things and allows me to have the warm up and cool down I want without any hassle. That just wasn't an option at B2B, but we managed. In retrospect, the only real pre-race mistake I made was warming up too early. We were able to hop on the first shuttle bus out of Cape Elizabeth High School and arrived at the race start about 6:20am. By 6:30 the start area was already starting to fill up and I began to get nervous about my ability to get in a proper warm up due to the bathroom lines and how quickly the starting corrals were filling. So I took off for a 2 mile warm up. I felt great during warm up, but it simply ended too long before the start of the race. While I tried my best to do running drills and strides in the time remaining before the race, my legs were not where I wanted them as the start neared. Now that I've seen how things go I know that I can put off that warm up next year and still be to the starting line on time. Lesson learned.
With about 10 minutes to go before the start I made my way into the sub 6:00 mile corral and found my buddy Isaac who I knew would be running about the same time. As we chatted, I looked around at the competition and suddenly felt overweight and too muscular - which marks the second time this has ever happened to me, the first being in Kona 2013. I was not surrounded by triathletes who have developed some level of upper body strength through swimming and massive quads from all the hours on a bike. I was surrounded by twigs. I'm use to being the twig! But here I felt like I stuck out for not looking the part of a real runner.
After months of anticipation ahead of race day and hours of waiting the morning of, the gun went off. A massive wave of runners spilled onto the roadway. Even starting in the first 150 runners was chaotic. With the first few bends in the road being to the left it seemed as though everyone wanted to share the same exact space. I felt trapped for about a half mile and couldn't seem to find my way out of the crowd. As we neared the first aid station, though, I found an opening and broke to the right side of the road. While it required running a few extra feet it was worth having a bit of room to breathe. After the aid station I veered back to my left so I could take a shorter route around the course, but I stayed on the outside of the pack so I always had room to move if I wanted it. With all the jostling and with a lack of any real rhythm I went through the first mile in a pedestrian 5:42. Given the course layout I knew that was not a good sign as I expended far too much energy to run the first mile that slowly. I figured I needed to run between 5:32-5:35 for the first mile.
|A few minutes into the race with Isaac stocking me in the background|
I ran the second mile reasonably well. With the first mile being a bit slower than planned, the second was right where I needed it to be. However, with the first two and a half miles being downhill to flat the first real test of the race came near the halfway point with the first climb.
|Running an open 10k is nothing like running 10k off the bike...|
The hill at the 2.5(ish) mile point isn't a particularly long or steep one, but it hits hard. It hits really hard. After running a gradual downhill for miles any sort of incline makes your legs feel as though you're scaling a cliff face. It was rough and it's the place where my hopes of a sub 36 minute race ended. I scurried over the top of the "climb" and hit the 5k mark in 18:02. With the final mile of the course containing a number of rolling hills I knew a negative split was out of the question. Making matters worse was the fact that I suffered for a solid 3 minutes after that hill. It wasn't until I neared the 4 mile mark that I started to feel okay.
|This is what happens to your form when the wheels start to come off...|
With 36:00 out of the question I was doing everything I could to finish in a somewhat respectable time. As I entered Fort Williams Park I did my best to surge and make up any lost time I could. I ran reasonably well during the closing stretch but I couldn't help but being somewhat disappointed in my race. I never imagined running north of 36 minutes. I was convinced due to all the training and racing I'd done in the build up to the race that anything short of that time was a let down. That said, I was able to keep things in perspective as I was happy to just be experiencing the race. As I made my way through the park and toward the famed Portland Head Light I kept in mind that I'd learned some valuable lessons about this course and would put them to good use in the future.
|Just .2 mile left to run|
The view from my side of the finish line is amazing. I've never crossed a finish line with a view so spectacular as the one presented by the Portland Headlight and the Atlantic Ocean. The finish alone was worth the pain brought on by the 6.2 mile journey.
|An amazing view to cap off one of the top 10k races in the world|
With one race over, another started. I wanted a post race massage but knew that the tent would overflow fast! Fortunately, I made it there to be in the first grouping of athletes to receive treatment. That was more of a relief than the actual finish of the race. For 10 minutes I closed my eyes and tried to allow my muscles to begin the recovery process.
With 6500 finishers, the post race festivities were overwhelming. My dad and I had not planned accordingly and never set a meeting point other than "somewhere by the food tent". Well, about 6300 people were mingling in that area which made it pretty hard to connect with each other. I reverted to the old "if you're lost just stay in one place and I'll find you" tactic that my parents taught me when I was young. It worked! Before long we were reconnected and in line for the shuttle back to the parking area.
Time aside, I loved everything about this race. It completely lived up to the hype and I will be online ready to register the second it opens for 2016. As an athlete, they took care of everything I could have needed. As a race director, I was in awe of the production value and precision of execution. Everything was perfect. Beach to Beacon is a must do race!