Friday, October 19, 2018

Boston Athletic Association's Half Marathon

A few months ago Don suggested we run the Boston Athletic Association (BAA)'s Half Marathon in October. That would be two weeks after I ran the Disneyland Paris Semi Marathon. At least I would be trained for it! On the downside, it was only a week after coming home and I was working full-time at Princeton University.

Right after hitting the commit button we read the fine print: must finish in under three hours. Meaning must maintain a 13 minute pace -- which is faster than the 14 minute/mile pace required by the Princeton Half Marathon, a race I was doing good to finish in 3:15. Yes, I can run faster (not much faster), but if I am spending that much money to do a race, I also want to sight see. I'm never going to win the race in a field of 6,000 runners, so I may as well just have fun.

Cousin Martin lulled us into believing it was a flat course. 

He lied. Or at least it seems flat in a car, but not on foot.

We booked an AirBnB about two miles from the start line. I know it was that close because we passed it at the two mile mark of the race, then again at the eight mile mark (the race did some looping in the park to get to 13.1 miles).

In a "God Always Provides" moment, we realized we should have brought throw-away sweatshirts for the start of the race. While chatting with our AirBnB hostess she was folding sweatshirts to donate to Good Will. We asked her if we could have two, that we would donate them after the race. She said yes and we didn't have to look for Good Will in Boston. Turns out, it was warm enough we did not need the sweatshirt, plus bag check was close to the start.

We walked to the subway station a mile away, then took a shuttle bus the last mile so we could actually find the start line in the big park. We were at the start line in Franklin Park super early. Boston and BAA does a great job organizing their races. The start area was a party zone. There were lots of spectators along the route cheering us on -- often by name because our names on our bibs were large enough to read. 

My head was not into this race. I really just wanted to be home. I had been away from a lot in the past two months. My feet hurt (I have since switched to
new sneakers, and that pain has gone away). As the race Don said he was going at his own (faster) pace and he'd see me at the finish. His training runs had been slower than mine, but suddenly he had the energy to leave me in the dust. It was his day, not mine. 

The threat of having to finish within three hours loomed over me like a dark cloud. My plan was to just run it, not take any pictures, and certainly not stop for a port-o-pot.

The race started on time. Unlike Disneyland Paris who took nearly an hour to get 9,000 racers to start with much too much fanfare (allowing 300 runners to start in two minute increments with mini-fireworks in-between), this had no fanfare (other than the National Anthem) and we all started in under ten minutes.

It was warm and muggy for October. 

Passing the house where we were staying did not help me mentally. My GPS measured the 13.1 miles as less than three miles, so I can't even go back and study where the wheels completely fell off of me that day.

On the plus I loved how each mile marker showed the time. I calculated from one mile to the next how I was doing, and what I had to do to finish in time. 

We ran through the Emerald Necklace and Brookline section of Boston, note my choice of peacock emerald sparkle skirt. We passed Olmsted Park and Jamaica Pond from the road nearby. The area runs on the street below where Don's Aunt Elva lives (yes, below as in downhill from). At 102 she is still the youngest centenarian I know. 

Checking to make sure there are still a lot of people behind me. It is still early. The plan was to take the early downhills fast and walk the uphills. Only problem was there seemed to be more uphills early on than advertised

Back to I was having mental issues with this race.

Back to some scenic pictures. I know I said I wasn't going to take any pictures,  but it took my mind off the main goal of running a half marathon. My race. My pace.

To continue focusing on the positive, I loved some of the signs I saw, including these two:

Around the nine mile mark began the truly mentally draining portion of the race -- switchbacks. This is where we keep passing the much faster people (seemingly) on the uphills, to then pass the slower people (who look like they are dying) on the way back. I think we did this two times in the park. 
Pretty vista along a golf course in the park

Then we ran through the zoo, past the start line (also a mental challenge), for another kilometer to the finish line on a track. 

I was happy to finish just under three hours according to the gun start.

Official stats:

Net Time2:52:12
In Gender3202/3319 (Female)
In Division228/235 (F45-49)
Checkpoint Time at 5 Miles58:18
Checkpoint Time at 10 Miles2:05:32

Overall within my true zone. I prefer the five to ten mile distances. I can do a half marathon, but I am rarely happy about it.

I do, however, love the long-sleeved shirt and the medal. I'll have them long after the pain of the half marathon is in the past.

My next race is two weeks away. It is "only" a 10k. I'm working on getting my head back in the game.

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