Run To Remember

33691171_10216710219613718_2850132046993424384_nPhoto: A bunch of the Heartbreakers Pre Run To Remember. Chilly but ready to go.

The last half marathon I raced in and didn’t participate as a sighted guide wasn’t my best. As you can tell from my recap here Race Recap: DMSE Classic Half Marathon . I hadn’t been trying for a personal best that day, but I was almost 10 minutes slower than my best I had set at the B.A.A. Half Marathon back in 2015. I had felt frustrated with the distance, even though it truly is my favorite to race in. I just couldn’t get all the pieces to fall into place.

So, coming off an injury post the Boston Marathon, I looked at the training runs I was missing in the Heartbreaker intermediate half plan in the two weeks where I could not run at all and wondered if I could get my fitness back in time to PR on a course I had never run. Luckily, I attend Tuesday morning practice and Thursday evening practice regularly. Those workouts I had been doing were still there. Stored in the bank and waiting to be withdrawn on.

My training cycle leading up to race day was almost perfect. Tempo runs felt great, long runs felt comfortable. I hoped I had done enough to earn myself a new best time, but either way I knew I would feel strong and confident on course. Also, I had a really cute outfit picked out, which always makes me excited for race day!

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Photo: My kit. Nike Pegasus 35, Nike short, shorts, battle shield Heartbreaker singlet, Heartbreakers x Neon Bandits socks, 2 Birthday Cake flavor Gu, Garmin Forerunner, Maurten 320, Run Gum, Olympic Trials x Heartbreakers hat.

     I’m really not a morning person and a 7a.m. gun time means I’m going to be cranky pants for a while after waking. That’s why I get up extra early so I don’t have to expose that on to world. I had one cup of coffee and a banana, had half of my Maurten 320 before leaving and then took the rest to drink about 20 mins before race started. It was definitely chillier down by the water, so I decided to go into the convention center to warm up literally and do my warm up drills to get my legs going.

I soon was spotted by several of my teammates and was soon wrangled into the group picture (I had read about it in the race thread on Facebook, but forgot where it said to meet). Eventually, a bunch of us herded together while Tamar’s mom snapped a great shot of the team before we headed into the corrals.33691171_10216710219613718_2850132046993424384_n

Photo: Heartbreakers in singlets bearing the team, logo pose in front of the Boston waterfront.

     Soon I was talking race strategy with Tom, Logan (Who is 13 and was running his 2nd half!) & Coach Liz who used to be my pacer on Track Tuesdays. We all were shooting for similar times so we all entered the corrals together and began to stretch out and warm up a bit. About 8 minutes before the gun we started to move out way to the front of the corrals. The pace signs we saw all the way in the front were 8:30 per mile which made us so confused knowing that many would run much faster. Then we realized we loaded in on the wrong side and would start with wave 2. Whoops!

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Photo: Liz, Logan & I waiting for race to start.

As soon as I saw wave 1 leave, I realized that this might actually work out really well. The first wave would have 5 minutes to spread out before we would start and we were at the very front of wave two. As soon as we took off, it was great. We had plenty of open course before us and the electricity that race day gives you was coursing through our bodies. The wind was very obvious as we went through the seaport and I knew thinking ahead, that the Mass. Ave. bridge and Memorial Drive were really going to suck.

Not far from the start, the Heartbreakers cheer squad was set up right near Trillium Brewery Beer Garden (where we would meet up post race) and I had a huge smile as I heard them yelling for Liz who was just ahead of me. As I passed I tried to flash the heart symbol with my hands but am spastic as so it probably looked like I was vogueing (which also works) and flashed them a big smile as we headed off through the financial district.

I needed a 7:30 pace to match my previous best time of 1:38.21 & my first 4 miles were right how I had planned 7:30, 7:30, 7:24, 7:24, but as we went over the Mass Ave bridge I realized we were going to be facing into the wind longer than with it at our backs. I was holding my pace and but using a little more energy than planned. At mile 5 I ate my first Gu. The next few miles I pushed the pace despite going into the wind. I think this was and error and I should have just relaxed until the wind was at my back. Bright side of this section…Tara Jennings who snapped a few shots of me and caught my surprise at seeing a teammate out of appear out of nowhere!

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Photo: Me running in the middle of the road while Tara yells to me causing me to make a surprised/smile face.

     This is where I really started to feel tired. At this point I had lost Logan and Liz and Tom was still with me. Mile 9 was a 7:48 split and I knew I didn’t have lots of extra time so when mile 10 was a 7:34 I almost gave up pushing hard. Then I saw my husband Joe and I felt energy come back into me. He also got this video (where I do a squeal of excitement).

Seeing your friends and loved ones out there cheering really changes the game. The boost you get can make or break a race, so thanks to my husband (who is also not a morning person) for waking up before the birds to come see me do what I love. I ate my last Gu and grabbed a big gulp of water from the last water station.  Just then, I spotted the huge smile of Adrianne Haslet and her ridiculously fluffy buddy Fred Astaire and my mind was made up. Leave it all on the course, this is what you train for.

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Photo: Me chugging water to swallow Gu while simultaneously seeing Adrianne and waving. Tom right behind me in orange.

     Mile 11 I clocked a 7:33 which was still too slow but getting closer to my goal. Mile 12 was a 7:29 and I knew it was going to be real close. At about the 12.5 mile mark the Heartbreakers were there again and it was just what I needed to pull my head out of my ass and crush the last mile. As I came down the straightaway towards the last mile my watch chimed a 7:00 pace. Down the chute I pushed and came across the line at 1:38.16 picking up 5 seconds over my previous best.

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Photo: Me with the crew that kept me going all 13.1 miles.

     I can’t even go into how thankful I am for everyone who comes out to cheer for me at races. It really means so much. All star status to my husband Joe. Secondly to my teammates, pacers and coaches… thank you for everything. Two distances ( 5K& Half Marathon ) with two new best times, two to go ( 10K & Marathon ). These victories are for all of my squad. Thanks for giving me the confidence to be better.

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Photos: Post race celebration with the best team.

Video: Birds eye view of Run To Remember course

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