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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, March 29, 2010

Eastern States 20 Miler

I probably should take the Boston Marathon more seriously than I do. I understand the importance of the race in general but I refuse to look at it any different than any other race I enter. I hate it when people find out I'm a runner and the first question they ask is "are you training for Boston?". People, there's more to running than just Boston! I guess that's my point. I don't want everything I do to be all consuming around training for Boston. So I do other races (road, trail and snowshoe) which limit the opportunities I have for long runs (which are important).
What's the point of this ramble? Well, I signed up for the Eastern States 20 miler to force me to at least race long and the timing is perfect (3 wks out). 
In the past I'd wait until the last possible minute to sign up, watching (and waiting) to see if the weather cooperates. When you run 20 miles from Maine to Mass along the coast (due south) the weather is a big factor. Some years I decided not to run because of head winds. This year I signed up in advance, hoping for at least a long run before Boston! Next year I'm going back to my original strategy. Lets just say the weather didn't cooperate.
This would be my 3rd (maybe 4th?) ES20 (results) and I headed over to Hampton Beach to park my car and catch a ride to the start with DoubleJ. The winds were already screaming due north (flags straight out). This would not be a PR day. My plans of running 6:20's were gone so now it was all about having a good strong run with no expectation of any pace at all. In the long run (no pun intended), this probably helped me relax a bit more.
Jim and I did an easy 2 mile warm up on the course and actually made it back in time for the start this year.
At the gun Jim jumped to the lead and would hold it the entire way. It was funny watching all these GBTC guys looking at their watches about 1/4 mile in, while Jim left them all behind. It felt like they were all thinking "what the heck is this guy doing?" Honestly though, except for Jim, the rest of the field started really slow. Last year I hit the first mile in 6:00, this year it was closer to 6:40. 

Mile 1 - photo credit Bob Wiles
The pack above all but broke up after the 1st mile, with a few of the folks heading out alone (big mistake). With sustained 15-20 mph headwinds nearly the entire way I knew I had to stick with someone, anyone. For all of the first 13-14 miles I ran mostly with a guy from GBTC (shown above). I'd draft behind him for a few miles and then I'd take the lead for a while. Once in a while we'd have another runner join for short periods and in time we reeled in some of the lone wolves who headed out earlier. I finally lost the draft after a water stop around mile 13. He grabbed for a Gatorade from a volunteer and for whatever reason the volunteer didn't let go. I then tried and the same exact thing happened. I had to stop, turn around and go back to get a drink. He didn't. From that point on, all the way to the finish, I was on my own. No more draft.
Around mile 13-14 the course headed inland for a few miles (a welcomed relief from the headwinds). This 4 mile detour was nice but was required because the regular course into Salisbury,MA was not possible this year due to construction. On a day like today, this was probably a good thing. It was actually a pretty nice loop but did have some of the only 'hills' on the course.
As we headed back to the ocean you could start to feel the winds once again. By the time we made the right turn 2 miles from the finish the winds were absolutely brutal. I can honestly say they were the strongest winds I've ever run in or raced in. Easily sustained winds over 20mph, right in your face. It was the hardest 2 mile flat run EVER. I was amazed how well I felt as I finished in 2:14:01 (6:42 avg), good for 17th overall (out of 705 finishers), and 1st masters. No cramps, no blisters, no nothing. My legs really weren't even sore. Felt pretty good all things considered.

My average pace during the race is a bit more telling then individual mile splits.When I had someone to draft off we actually did a decent job of holding a fairly consistent pace. Not so much after I lost my draft.

Miles Avg Pace
1 0:06:38
2 0:06:31
3 0:06:29
4 0:06:28
5 0:06:27
6 0:06:31
7 0:06:33
8 0:06:34
9 0:06:35
10 0:06:36
11 0:06:35
12 0:06:35
13 0:06:36
14 0:06:35
15 0:06:36
16 0:06:38
17 0:06:38
18 0:06:40
19 0:06:41
20 0:06:42

I heard two things after the race I've never heard before.
As I was walking back to DoubleJ's car to grab my bag  I walked by an elderly lady. The conversation went something like this:
Lady: "Did you just run a race?"
Me: "yes"
Lady: "How far was it?"
Me: "20 miles"
Lady: "How old are you?"
Me: "45"
Lady: "Do you smoke?"
Me: (ok, I'll be honest, my sarcasm meter was pegged but I bit my tongue) "No"
Lady: "Good, stay healthy"

The second thing was inside looking at the results.
A guy walks up and says with a straight face: "Are these sorted alphabetically?"
It took all of my power not to say "why yes, you won the letter H division".
Alphabetically? Wow.


sn0m8n said...

Steve, those splits are grotesquely even! I need your internal clock. Nice work.

Steve Wolfe said...

I wish I could say thanks but...
Those aren't splits, they're my overall pace throughout the race. I missed so many mile markers my splits were useless.
The point I was trying to make (and apparently failed) was I ran pretty consistent for 14 miles (while I had someone to draft). The last 6-7 miles were solo and my paced dropped off considerably.
I like your interpretation better though!

Morrissey said...

amazing splits steve. the headwind on mile 18-19 was difficult! i hate running in these conditions; but since we have no control of the weather we may as well just brave the elements --- builds character right? :)

Congrats what an awesome time

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