Boston Prep 16 Miler
So, it’s been quite a while since I posted. I’ve had about 4 different blog posts drafted, and I’m finally getting them up! It’s been a busy, but great beginning of the year. Let’s rewind a bit…
At the end of January, I headed up to Derry, NH with some CRC ladies to run the Boston Prep 16 miler. This race is notorious for it’s hilly course, and is a go-to among New England runners as a tune-up race for the Boston Marathon. This race had been on my plan for a while, and as it neared, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was ready to race 16 hilly miles… considering my longest long run in the past 3 months was 9 miles, and mostly done on the flat roads of Somerville/Cambridge. But, Tim gave me the confidence that I could, and would, run well – he’d been right so far, so I trusted in his judgement and got myself together to run a long race!
As the day grew closer, the temperatures dropped, and race day was predicted to be in the teens. The race director even sent an email out the day before, banning anyone from wearing shorts! He said they would actually pull people from the race if they showed up in shorts. That means, it was COLD. NBD for this Boston runner!
As we did our pre-race warm up, one of my friends pointed out a woman running in the other direction – Stephanie Reilly, a local runner who ran for Ireland in the 2012 Olympics. Looks like I’d have some serious competition. But, I knew I had to stay in my own head and just run my race. As we gathered at the start line, I had to remind myself that this was a long race, and I needed to pace it well. I had done a similar length race with significant hills in the early fall, went out too fast and hit the wall at mile 6. I did not want to be hurting for 10 miles again!
The race started, and the first few miles were pretty uneventful. Just tried to find a steady pace, which proved difficult with the big ups and downs on the course. Uphill miles had splits of about 6:50, while some of the downhill miles were closer to 6:00. But, I was averaging faster than my planned pace. I seemed to be the only woman around – Stephanie was way ahead, and there was no one in sight behind me. Around mile 7, I was still feeling good, but those little thoughts of doubt entered my head. I kept waiting for the tiredness to set in, to start feeling the pace I had been pushing. I was in a small group at this point, with about 4-5 guys, so I just tried to turn my brain off and run with them. A couple miles later, the pack began to break up as we passed a few runners. We hit a water stop, and I cruised through – suddenly, I had dropped the pack, with no one ahead of me in sight.
Now, not only was I alone, but I was approaching the toughest part of the course. From 9.5-10, there is a short but very steep climb, and then a long uphill from 10.5 to about 12.5. It was mentally tough to get through this part, since there were very few spectators and no runners ahead of me that I could see, but I was physically feeling very strong. I had a solid 6:50-6:55-6:56 from miles 10-12. After that, it was smooth sailing – all downhill to the finish. I finally saw another runner in mile 14, and I used him as motivation to pick it up the last couple of miles. I passed him in the final mile, and cruised into the finish with a 1:41:48 (6:22 min/mile pace). This was much faster than I expected I could run that day, and I felt great. The finish line announcer even said “you look like you could go run it again!” (which, btw, never happens – I usually look like I’m dying at the finish line!) I finished 2nd female and 10th overall. Stephanie took home the win with a new course record of 1:36. No woman had ever gone sub-1:40 on that course, so it was very impressive!
This race is definitely one to do if you live in the area. Although the course is very tough and it can be very cold, it is on beautiful back roads through a quiet town. The course was well-marked with people at all the turns, and it was nice to have the gym before and after to stay warm. Great showing by the other CRC ladies as well – everyone looks like they are well on their way to awesome races at Boston!