This past weekend I participated in the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Hat Trick. I had a few friends running the race so I decided to look for a bib, and ended up getting one at the expo from a friend of a friend. I met a couple of our ambassadors and twitter friends at the expo, and then went home to get ready for the morning.
I prepared my fuel the night before. With 9.3 miles (5k and 10k) over two races in the morning and a half marathon the following day, my plan was to have a serving of ENERGYbits prior to each race. I had my serving of UCAN as I was on the train headed over to BC for the race, and before that had my normal early morning breakfast of Nature’s Path’s Q’ia (hemp, chia and buckwheat cereal) with coffee and two glasses of water.
The 5k was a beautiful loop around the reservoir near Boston College, which is a route I run pretty often. I knew there was a long, gradual climb at the end. Halfway through the race I realized I was feeling good (my splits were 5:46, 6:11, 6:35, 5:44) so I decided to push it a little. As I got towards the end of the last climb, probably around mile 2.6 I started slowing down. Right as this was happening, Olympic runner Shalane Flanagan passed me. I decided I needed to catch her and match her pace until the end of the race. She made that ~6 minute mile pace look so easy! I was determined to keep up and finish strong, which I did. I finished right next to her in 19:36. Since I was running with Marguerite’s bib, it was good for a 4th place female finish out of 1000+, and 34th overall out of 1550.
I had about 40 minutes before the 10k started, so I had my servings of ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits (which helped with soreness and recovery) as well as two bottles of water. As always, no stomach issues whatsoever with the fueling plan.
I met up with Dani of Weight Off My Shoulders who was part of the Runner’s World blogger group. It was fun to meet some of the people I’ve tweeted with so many times but had never met in person. All of the bloggers got to run all 3 races, and also joined us at November Project on Friday!
It got quite a bit warmer between the 5k and 10k start. 5 minutes prior to the race I had another serving of bits to get me ready for the next 6.2 miles ahead. This would be an out and back along Heartbreak Hill. I ran 3 miles or so with a new friend from November Project, which made the miles go by quickly. I picked up the pace after the 3rd mile, as we turned and headed back uphill. The training over the last 6 months on Summit Ave were perfect preparation for this race weekend… I can’t imagine how tough it would’ve been without all those cold mornings on Summit Ave this winter.
I cruised along at a mid 7 minute mile pace, and saw one of our ambassadors at mile 5. We decided to catch up after the race.
As we reached the top of the last segment of Heartbreak Hill, I felt like I had a little extra left in the tank, so I decided to push it. After turning off the Carriageway on Commonwealth Ave onto the main part of the street, I broke into an all out sprint for the finish, which was probably 500 meters away. I crossed in 47:38, almost exactly two minutes slower than my PR, but I was pleased with my effort given how hot it was.
After hanging out for a bit, I decided to walk a bit of the way home before getting on the train. I ended up walking from Boston College to Cleveland Circle (a mile?). As I crossed the street, a runner passed me and looked back. She asked if I had any ENERGYbits on me, because she’d heard about them before. She happened to also be from November Project, so we talked for a bit. She then asked if I wanted to keep running… Can’t turn that down. Ended up doing another 1.5 miles with her, and found out we went to the same summer camp. Small world.
I’m registered for the Pan Mass Challenge this summer, which is a 192 mile charity bike ride to raise money to help fight cancer. I’m seriously slacking on time on the bike, so I had promised my dad I’d ride with him in the afternoon. I went to my parents house, napped and headed out for 20 miles on the bike. This may have been overdoing it juuust a little bit.
Sunday morning seemed to be even warmer than Saturday. I had the exact same breakfast and headed to BC for the half marathon. I got a little ambitious and lined up with the 1:30 pace group (which would have been a HUGE PR). I ran both the first two miles sub-7 and thought I had a chance at keeping up. At around mile 3.5 I realized how foolish I had been to go out so fast, especially after Saturday’s events. I couldn’t believe I still had another 10 miles to go.
I ran a bit with a few of the Runner’s World and Running Times staff/editors. Such friendly people! They seemed to move around from group to group asking all sorts of questions and telling stories.
Around mile 5, as we were heading down Heartbreak Hill (opposite the marathon route) I saw Shalane pass me again. I tried to catch up to her to tell her about yesterday and thank her for (probably) unknowingly pacing me to a great finish, but I couldn’t catch her. Even on the downhill.
Around mile 5.5 I had an electrolyte packet which immediately gave me a side stitch for the next 3.5 miles. I’m still experimenting with electrolytes, so please let me know what works for you!
Mile 6-10 absolutely sucked. No other way to describe it. I wanted it all to be over and I even thought about giving up. Every time I have this thought, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with elite triathlete Mark Kleanthous who says whenever you’ve had a rough race or run, think of those that can’t run or do sport at all. Run it for them.
No matter how awful you feel on a run, it’s not permanent. You will finish, and the next time will be better. Don’t. Stop. Moving. Seemingly right when I needed it most, Danny Bent (co-leader of One Run For Boston) appeared out of nowhere. Wearing his One Run shirt and underwear-like red shorts, Danny’s ridiculously positive vibe gave me the boost I needed to keep moving. We chatted for a half mile or so and then he kept on moving. Mile 11 brought with it Heartbreak Hill and the steepest and hottest part of the route. We were headed straight uphill, with no shade. Tremendous respect for anyone who’s done the Boston Marathon. Those hills were rough.
I met Megan, another Runner’s World reporter around mile 11 and we chatted for a bit. We both agreed that more water stops were necessary, especially on such a hot day. I was trying to give Megan motivation, but I think it was as much for her as it was for myself. I needed something to keep my mind off how awful I felt, so talking and running definitely helped. The last mile of Heartbreak seemed like it was never going to end, and my mile split dropped 3 full minutes from my first mile.
Steven, my coach, said I should race the 5k and 10k and then just have fun in the half. I felt like I ran an absolutely horrible race, but ended up with a decent time (Marguerite PR’d by 12:13!) and more importantly, I had a good amount of fun out on the course for the half, since there were so many November Project and other friends out there. Such a big difference from the last race out in Western Mass.
Somehow again at the top of that last hill, I found something left in the tank and sprinted towards the finish line, crossing in 1:47 (absolutely no idea how that happened). I collected my medals and wandered around for a while and then headed to brunch to finish off a great weekend.