The B.A.A. 1/2 will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first half marathon I ever completed. This was the 4th time I’ve run it, but this time it was a little different. My main focus for the fall race season is the Bay State Marathon on October 21st and this race was two weeks before. I know myself…if left to my own devices, I will chase faster runners every time. My Heartbreaker Intermediate Marathon plan had me scheduled for a 13-14 mile run at marathon goal pace. I put the offer out to my teammates that if anyone would like to be paced at a 8-8:30 pace I would happily do the job. Luckily several people took me up on my offer.
I met Penntai & Uwe in Copley where they had shuttle buses headed over to Franklin Park (I usually uber but this was actually way better). We met up with Logan at the zoo, he had run Run To Remember with a group of us earlier in the year and needed to take this one easier too. After lining up at the corrals I went over what my plan was and how I was going to approach the pacing. Before we knew it we were off.
We look like a Nike/Heartbreakers ad
When I try to look back and remember the race I actually have a slightly hard time remembering details. When people are counting on me to execute their race plan I take it very seriously. I kept making sure we were all together and that no one was getting left behind. Everyone looked great and we really had a fun time together. I held an 8:20 pace consistently throughout the very hilly course which was tough but I got it done.
This section used to be cobblestone, so much better than it used to be.
Going into the race, I knew I was ranked 13th in my age division for the Distance Medley standings. My competitive nature got the better of me and I told the group I was pacing that I was going to pick up the pace for the last 5K. As soon as we hit the out and back section of the course I picked up the speed and dropped down to 8’s or faster when everyone else was riding the struggle bus. It was exhilarating feeling strong and passing tons of people in the last 5K.
Once again having problems making heart with hands. Going to say I was making picture frame for one on my chest. Totally what I was doing…
Headed into the last half mile of the course I started really pushing, especially when I saw the exit of the zoo. I forgot that you then run through and past the corrals to the stadium on the far side of the park. By this point it was really hot and humid and I was feeling pretty gassed. I pulled on that well of marathon training in my legs and leaned in. As I entered the stadium I got a surge of adrenaline and had a really nice kick. I blew by the couple holding hands while running and the guy exclaimed “really!? You’re just going to blow by just like that!?”. I replied yup.
I quickly got some water and my two medals and waited for the rest of the crew to finish. One by one they came in sweaty and tired. Definitely a tough day if you were really going for it. I for one was glad I had taken it easier than normal. Always great seeing teammates and sharing battle stories once you cross that line.
Post Race with the crew.
My time at the half was fast enough to keep my 13th place finish in my age division for the Distance Medley. Heartbreakers also took 2nd place in the Team Competition of the BAA Half in the male masters (40+) division. Our female counterparts took first! All in all I’m pretty proud and super thankful to my teammates who allowed me to pace them. I love trying new things and this was something I’d love to do again.
Kelly & I at the Inaugural Reebok 10K for Women
I’ve been a sighted guide for around 6 or so runners since I started volunteering with Team With A Vision after adding myself to the United In Stride database (you should too). Each runner has different needs based on what their visual impairment is. Last year Andrea Croak from TWAV reached out and asked if I could guide a runner in the Tufts 10K for women. She explained that Kelly, the runner who I’d be guiding, had never used a guide before. I wanted to make sure it was a good experience so I reached out before the race to ask about her vision and what her goals were. She mostly was worried about it being too hot which she didn’t like running in (I agree, hot race days suck!) .
We met the day of the race and I got to meet her super supportive husband Anthony. It was a pretty hot day so we agreed we’d be cautious with the pace. We went to the corrals and like in my favorite races, they let the VI division line up in the elite corral. I could tell it was fun for Kelly and many came over to say good luck. We had a great race together and we were super close to her 10K personal best when we finished. We also found out that she was 3rd in the VI category, her first time on the podium (well she would have been on the podium but a lady mistakenly checked VI on her entry so we didn’t get called up). She and her husband were overly thankful and I tried to explain that I love doing it. I also knew if we ran together again, that 10K PR was coming down.
Flash forward to this year, where the Tuft’s 10K for Women is now the Reebok 10K for Women. As soon as they announced the race, Kelly reached out to see if I would guide again. I immediately said yes. Luckily for her and me I had joined the Heartbreakers since we had run together. I had a bank of knowledge imparted by my coaches and teammates and I was going to use it all. Anthony held my stuff so we didn’t have to deal with gear check and I took Kelly to warm up before the race.
This was something I never thought to do with athletes I was guiding (because I used to get in the corral cold SMH) before I joined the team. Warming up before racing was a must for me now. We did some dynamic stretching and did a little jogging around the staging area. Then we headed to the lead corral and waited for the start. The weather was 50 and overcast which was Kelly’s dream temp and best lighting for her vision. I knew we were going to smash this race so hard.
Kelly and I flying down Beacon Street
As we made our way through the course, every tip I’ve learned over the last 9 months flew out of my mouth. “Fast,light,feet. Let the hill come to you and keep your feet under your core. Stay relaxed, slow your breathing down, stay calm. Save some gas in the tank for a final push”. Kelly was killing it. She really honed in on a pace faster than I even planned on and I let her run with it. Once we were 5 miles in, I could tell she was starting to feel tired. I told her that this is the mental part where it gets tough. I told her we’d back off the pace a bit and when we had .5 miles left we were doing one last push.
When we entered the chute they were saying the sub 50 minute cutoff was 10 seconds away. Kelly’s previous best was closer to 55 and when we hit the straightaway she hit the gas. We were flying as we crossed the timing mats and you can tell how happy I am in the finish line pictures. 51:17! She also was the new VI Champion!
Anthony had PR cupcakes waiting for us at the finish and they were all the sweeter knowing I had helped someone else reach their goals. It made me realize how lucky I am to have my team. Even when you’re not there I have you with me. I draw on your experience and now can share that with others. I truly think finding a way to share our gifts with others is the most incredible gift you can give yourself. Thanks Team With A Vision & The Heartbreakers!
Also, we didn’t know that there was an awards ceremony so Kelly didn’t get to go on podium AGAIN! Guess we’re going to have to go back to defend next year.