Baystate Half Marathon
Lots of stuff has been happening since I last posted in August! I’ve been busy with a new project at work, started my fall semester class, and had some fun weekends in Newport, Maine, and of course in Boston! In terms of training, I recovered from Timberman 70.3 and started getting ready for half marathon training. Additionally, I began really thinking seriously about where I wanted to go with triathlons. I had a great year – I enjoyed training and racing tris, culminating in a successful half ironman. Only after Timberman did I really realize how much I loved triathlon and wanted to take it to the next level.
Over the summer I had looked into a number of tri clubs and coaching programs to consider for 2013. After researching online and talking to some people in these groups, I decided to contact QT2. I really liked their detail-oriented approach to all aspects of triathlon. And I had seen and heard about a number of their athletes performing well – pros scoring top spots and a number of age groupers qualifying for Kona.
I contacted QT2 through their website, and only a couple days later, was chatting with Cait Snow about the program (which I thought was pretty awesome considering she is one of the top women in Ironman in the world!). I was debating between the one-on-one coaching and the mission plan (both are awesome, by the way), but ultimately decided that I not only wanted the individualized training plan, but also the support of a coach on a day-to-day basis. She matched me up with her husband, Tim (who is also an accomplished pro triathlete). Less than a week later, I was on a trainer in their driveway completing my first bike test to set my HR zones! More to come on training and racing with QT2….but for now, moving on to the race!
Baystate Half Race Report
From there, I had about 6 weeks until the Baystate Half Marathon, my final race for the 2012 season. Although I was ultimately only doing a running race, I was training like a triathlete. Because the bike is my weakest, I will be spending A LOT of time in the saddle! I was a little skeptical of the lower running volume (I was a high-mileage girl who would do 20 mile long runs, tempo runs, and track workouts for my half marathon training!), but I really wanted to believe in the system.
I had done the Baystate Half 2 years ago, and had just missed my PR by about 3 seconds. Flat and fast, it’s run on the same course (and at the same time) as the Baystate Marathon which is known as great Boston Marathon qualifier. On race day, the weather was perfect and I was feeling good, so there was no excuses not to have a great race. We planned to run the race at 6:18 min/mile pace to get to a 1:22-1:23. Not quite a PR performance for me, but I wasn’t really in shape to do that anyways! (and this is why I need a coach – I would have gone out and run sub-6 min pace, thinking that I could push through and hold that, when I probably would have hit a wall halfway through!)
The half and full marathon race starts are slightly staggered, but you join up about 1/2 mile into the race. For the first 2-3 miles, it’s pretty crowded with both groups, but then the half splits off and does a shorter two loop course. I hit the first mile right on pace – 6:18! The first loop felt great. I led the women’s race from the start, and it didn’t seem like there were any other women very close to me. I was running mostly by myself after mile 3, and could really focus on staying strong and on pace. As I came around to start the second loop, I could tell my mind was starting to wander and doubt. Could I keep this pace up? I was going a few seconds faster than planned – was that going to hurt me in the end? I hadn’t done more than 13 miles or much speed work in the past few months – had I trained enough? Mile 7-9 were a bit tough for me as I tried to push these negative thoughts out of my mind. I hit mile 9 in 6:23, and knew I had to step it up and get going to finish the race strong and stay in the lead. I focused on my form and feeling strong and I started feeling good again!
Finally, I started catching up to two guys that had been in sight for most of the race. That gave me the extra boost I needed to finish strong. I ended up with a 1:22 (right on pace!) and even a negative split (which I haven’t done in a long time!), taking 1st place by about 3 minutes. Here is the article from Lowell Sun (tough race pic – I swear I was smiling and not in total pain!)
I did a short cool-down, and then grabbed some brunch with an awesome friend/co-worker who came to cheer me on. We impressed the entire diner with the amount of food we ate (highlight was definitely the banana chocolate chip pancakes!). Then I headed back to the finish line to cheer on some teammates to their marathon finishes. CRC had a great showing – many PRs and Boston qualifiers! And it was nice to see have some other CRCers out on the course cheering!
Baystate is an awesome race – well organized and professional, a flat and fast course, and great support along the course. The high schoolers manning the water stops were awesome. Really enthusiastic and encouraging, and one stop even all dressed up in their Halloween costumes! One memorable moment was the one guy yelling “You’re a beast! You’re a beast!” (for all the guys reading this – races are the only time where calling a girl a beast is appropriate!). Definitely check this one out if you are going for a PR or want to qualify for Boston!
Resting and relaxing has been my style the last couple of weeks since the race! I am taking two weeks off, with no swimming, biking, or running. It’s hard to go from working out every day to doing nothing (I’m going a little crazy!) but I know it’s good for me to take this time to rest and get ready to go to start training for next season. I have more exciting things to share about my plans for next year, coming soon! 🙂