I headed down to the Cape on Saturday morning. Stacey was so gracious and offered to let me stay at her house Saturday night even though she was photographing a wedding in VT and wouldn't be home until after midnight. On my way to the Cape, I made a stop in Falmouth to finally meet in person two very influential people in my life right now, my coaches Stephanie and Ben Bruce. Ben was also running Falmouth as one of the many incredible elite runners (he ended up placing 4th overall and was the 1st American finisher, congrats Ben!). Ben and Steph were staying with a host family in Falmouth and we had planned to meet up while they were in town. Unfortunately I hit some pretty bad Cape traffic on my way, so I didn't get to spend as much time with them as I had hoped. But thankfully we still had some time to chat, drink coffee, and I got to hang with the newest Bruce, Riley.
|little Riley is the cutest!! Thank you so so much for having me Steph and Ben!|
After leaving Steph, Ben, and their little cutie pie I made my way over to the beach to find Beth and her friends. After being internet friends for so long it was so great to FINALLY get to meet Beth, who is every bit as fabulous as I had imagined. We sat on the beach for a while and then went back to her friend Allison's house to chat some more. They were planning to have lobstah rolls (or lobster for you outside of New England) for dinner. I decided to head back to Stacey's to make myself a big bowl of gluten free carbs for dinner hoping it would be easier on my stomach.
|Beautiful beach on the Cape|
Photo credit: Beth
After probably too much pasta, and a glass of wine, I went to bed early knowing my alarm would be set for 5am. When my alarm went off I got up pretty quickly. I was excited to get this show on the road. Stacey, her husband Gary, and myself were out the door by 6:00. Gary was volunteering at the finish line, so he dropped us off at the busses, which would bring us to the start at Woods Hole.
|Stacey and I on bus|
Photo credit: Stacey
We got to Woods Hole pretty quickly, which meant we had about 2hrs to kill before the race started. We walked around a little, checked out the starting line, and then settled in a spot by the water to relax, hydrate, and wait.
|enjoying the water while we waited|
|pretending I'm fast|
In all honesty, I was pretty thankful for those 2 hrs of waiting around. It gave my stomach just enough time to settle itself before the start of the race. I was pretty nervous things weren't going to go well during the race, but thankfully it turned out ok. Stupid stomach. Anyways! The race started at 9, so around 8:45 I started making my way up to the 8:00 pace flag. My goal was to finish under 56:00 so I lined up right by the front of the 8:00 mark. My local running buddy, Stephanie and I had talked about starting together and had similar goals, but hadn't planned on a place to meet before the race. I hoped if I went right by the 8:00 marker she would show up there too, and she did! She's actually the one who convinced me to enter the lottery for Falmouth a few months ago. I'm so happy I did and that was picked.
Right at 9am the elite runners were off and running. Not long after that it was time for us to go. The sun was warm from the start, which made me a little nervous because of my bad experience in Vermont in May. I told myself I would push as much as I felt comfortable and be sure to stop at all the water stops. The first few miles are rolling hills through winding tree-lined roads. The crowds of people right from the start were incredible. I tried to settle in to pace right around 8 min/mile. My legs quickly started to feel the burn from the hills but I tried not to focus on it and instead focus on what was in front of me. I decided to try to relax on the up hills a little more than I usually do, and let it go on the down hills, which seemed to work out pretty well.
Around mile three we came out of the woods and ran along the beach (same beach I met Beth at the day before). It was beautiful. However, the sun was beating down and my legs were still burning. There were multiple people standing out by the roads with hoses spraying water. It was around this point that I dumped the first cup of water on my head. I could feel myself getting warm and I didn't want to risk it. The water felt great. From then on out I hit every hose I could see and continued to pour water on my head at every stop.
It was also around this time that my watch beeped at me as if to say I had completed another mile, but I hadn't (super annoying). After that I was pretty unsure of where I was at. There are mile marks painted on the road, but I as having trouble seeing them. As I approached mile 5, and saw the painting on the road, I thought it was actually mile 6. I pushed on and began looking for the steep hill I knew was near the finish. I kept looking, but I didn't see it. I was confused, and tired, but kept my eyes forward and continued running. Eventually, I saw another pained number on the road....mile 6. Crap. I kept running.
|focused on the finish|
The crowds, cheering, and support throughout the entire race was incredible. This was even more evident during the last mile. I was so thankful for everyone there that day who kept me pushing forward. I don't remember much about the course at that point, except the large number of people lining the roads. Finally I saw what marked the beginning of the last steep hill that would lead me to the finish. I knew there was a slight downhill on the other side and I was determined to give it all I had left. And then, just before the bottom of the hill my shoe came untied. At that point I couldn't stop to tie it, so I kept going hoping I wouldn't trip and fall on my face. When I got over the top of the hill I spotted the American flag that hangs over the road just before the finish line. I let my legs go and cruised down to the finish.
|this was the flag we ran under on our way to the finish line|
Photo credit: Beth
My time ended up being 56:56, which is an average of 8:08/mile, about a minute slower than I was hoping. However, I can honestly say I am very happy with my race. As I said earlier, my legs were tired and burning nearly from the start, but mentally I felt stronger than I have in a while. I fought for every mile and stayed focused on my race. It was a huge step for me mentally this year. So, even though I didn't quite finish where I had wanted to, I consider this race to be a big victory. The Falmouth Road Race itself was probably one of my favorites so far! Everything was very well organized, the course was beautiful, and the support was amazing. I will definitely be entering the lottery again next year!