I knew it was on the coast so I assumed it would be fairly flat, making it ideal to run a consistent pace throughout the six 5k's (sounds longer that way), or 18.64 miles (that sounds pretty long too). Nahant is the closest thing there is to an island without it being called an island, and is landlocked by Lynn (city of sin) of all places. Who knew? What I did know was there would be LOTS of turns. How else do you pack in 30k of running on a land mass of 1.2 sq miles?
Lots of familiar (and fast) faces at the start, including the entire GCS men's masters team that will most likely be kicking my butt at Baystate next month but I digress. Jim Pawlicki gave me a quick overview of what to expect (aka it is not flat and you will turn a LOT) shortly before the race and the RD gave a quick overview as well. 15 miles on Nahant and a long run along the beach down and past the start/finish area (on the causeway) before looping back at mile 18. Got it?
I had heard this race can be a bit confusing if volunteers and signage are not in place. After being assured by the RD that the course was well marked, we were off.
Now I should mention I didn't do any warm up (pretty typical for me) so I went out easy and relaxed hoping to run close to my planned marathon pace (6:40 pace). Good news is my 1st mile was 6:37. Bad news was I had to stop for a bathroom break (yes I know, poor planning on my part). Thankfully there was a bath house right at the 1st mile mark. I still lost about a minute (2nd mile was 7:34) but I didn't panic and didn't try to get it all back in the early miles. I just kept telling myself to be patient and take your time. I did lose about 30 places though and that was frustrating but it gave me lots of targets to track down.
It turns out Nahant is not flat after all. The course can be described with four words: up, down, turn, repeat. In fact the only flat section was the start/finish area along the causeway. The rest of the route was constant rollers (which I actually enjoyed). I've never turned so many times in a race....ever. Run a 100ft, sharp left, run a 100ft, sharp right. Wow. And for the record I was curious how many turns there actually were. The North Shore Striders have turn by turn directions of the course on their website. Count them up: 77 turns. Yikes.
Back to the race. I was feeling great in the early miles. Very relaxed, strong and running fairly easy and totally happy with my pace. After 9 miles I was right at MP (6:41 avg) and continued to catch and pass runners. But there were a few runners I was with in the first mile that were still a ways ahead of me and I was determined to catch them before we finished. Around mile 10 I started to pick up the pace and really focused on tracking down these rogue runners. It was fun, especially watching them glance back on the turns, each time me being a little closer. Bwah ha ha! They were running scared and there's nothing they can do about it. They shall be caught and passed. You can write that in pen.
By the time we reached Nahant beach for the last 3 miles along the causeway I had reeled them all in. Now I had to hold them off. I never looked back but instead just ran harder. It's a tough finish since you run right by the finish line around mile 17, running directly into the wind until finally making a u-turn around mile 18 and heading back to the finish (this time with a tail wind).I finally got a glimpse of where everyone was when I made the u-turn and started heading back. I felt like I had a comfortable lead but didn't slow up at all (running 5:38 pace over the last .64 miles). I cruised in with a time of 2:00:45, 10th place overall (complete results). My legs felt great! For a brief second I thought about the time I lost during my bathroom break and whether I could have broken 2hrs but I got over it pretty quick. I probably would have run the race quite differently if I hadn't stopped. Heck, it was a 30k PR! Ok, so it was my first 30k, whatever.
The best part was running some very nice negative splits. I averaged 6:41's for the first 9 miles and 6:17's for the last 9.6. For the nerdy folks, all my splits are listed below.
|Time||Total Time||Avg Pace|
They managed to squeeze 30k into the smallest town in Massachusetts and kept me on course. Nice job!
photo credits - Krissy Kozlosky
Complete photo set can be found here