First off, I want to thank Lindsay Schelhorn, Danielle Christie, Katie Faschan, Ann Corbett, Justin and Nora, Scott and Lacey, Doug and Kelsie for their continued support. Please help support the American Liver Foundation and their mission by donating here! You can donate as little as $5 dollars, and even that would be a great help. I’m at %32 with six weeks to go — help make this happen!
So, it’s been 48 hours since the Black Cat 20 Miler in Salem. How am I feeling today? Pretty good. My legs still feel like I have battery acid running through them. But, that’s a vast improvement from yesterday when I had sulfuric acid pulsing in them and had a running hangover. But, Sunday was great! My friend Katie (you all know Katie if you don’t click here and here) came up for the race from New Jersey on Saturday. That night we met up with one half of the Running Reillys (Ally) at the Publick House in Brookline for some of their great mac’n’cheese and some Belgian beers before turning in really early (read: pre 10PM) that night. Katie and I were up before dawn and out the door by six on our way up to Salem for the start of the race at 8AM. On our way in, Meghan and Ally wound up being directly behind us when we arrived at the parking area. We checked in and got our numbers. Due to a nagging foot injury Meghan decided to pull out of the race, probably for the best. At this time of the season there no point in risking an injury getting worse. But, the rest of us ran. Katie made it abundantly clear that she hadn’t prepped for this race in any way. But, in true Katie style, had every intention of running the full twenty.
The race got underway, two ten miles loops that ran through Salem and down into Marblehead Neck. I’d never been to either of these two towns, despite having wanted to for the passed three years. So it was great to finally see them. Salem is a nice New England town, not quite the freak show I expected. But, then again, it was March and not October. The course followed close to the water so there were some nice harbor views and included a few hills. The first ten miles went by fairly quickly. The clock as I passed read 1:11 when I started my second loop. By the time I hit 13 miles I could feel myself starting to fatigue, this also happened to be right after attacking the big hill. At 14.5 I had slowed down. By 16 I was feeling pretty miserable. By 18 I felt like I had nothing left. But, then I hit 19 miles and knew I was almost finished and then I did finish, with an official overall time of 2:26:58. Ally and Katie finished in just over 3 hours for each of them.
I was able to experience several new things during this race. First off, 20 miles is now the furthest I’ve ever run. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt my body being completely zapped of energy, around miles 17-18, exactly where every marathon guide will tell you the glycogen stores in your body are depleted. It wasn’t fun. A headache amplified by every footfall and when I would blink and open my eyes I was incredibly dizzy and took a few seconds to regain focus. This was also the first run I’ve done hills when my legs were worn out. This wasn’t as bad as I expected, I’ve integrated some good hill workouts into my overall training. I tried using gels when I thought necessary — at miles 10 and 15. They definitely did help. Within a few minutes a felt like I had a bit more energy (probably due to the absurd levels of caffeine in them), regained focus, and most importantly, fooled my stomach into thinking I had eaten something. Usually when I finish a race, the last 400-200 meters I break into an all-out sprint, I didn’t do that this time around. I just finished at the pace I ran the last mile in. I gave it everything I had all race long so that at the end I was tapped. What have I learned? Start more slowly. Plan on bringing more gels and keep experimenting during long runs on when is the best time to consume them. Reserve some strength for the hills. Hydrate before a race better. Maybe mac’n’cheese is best left for after a race.
Speaking of after a race…afterwards, the awesome folks at the race had bags, literally bags, filled with bagels, and vats of soup — thank you, it was a dream come true! Side note: I’m a big fan of when the race shirt fits the season you’re running in. For example this race gave us a long sleeved tech shirt, perfect for a March race. Again, thank you for being seasonally correct. After grabbing some of the bagels, the three of us headed back to Boston, went to Deep Ellum in Allston for some lunch. We all got hamburgers and fries. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only person in the world who has a single-minded fixation on consuming burgers and fries post-racing. Katie stuck around to have a home cooked (by me) meal with Lara and Peter before heading back to NJ that night. I, fortunately, had the last two days off and have spent my time recovering, sleeping, and catching up on so many things that get left by the wayside when your training and working and trying to make time to spend with friends…laundry, food shopping, reading a book in the afternoon, not wearing a tie all day long, you know, the little things in life.