Race Report: Boston Buildup 20K

Just a quickie report, since this was a training run and not really an all-out race effort.

This race starts at the Southport, CT railroad station and goes inland. And, let me tell you, it is hilly! With the exception of the Boston Blowout 30K (not technically part of the Buildup series), all of these Boston-prep races are very hilly. As I was struggling up my fourth extreme hill today, I found myself wondering if I really do want to ever run Boston. It never looks that bad on television, but, then again, neither does eating worms or climbing Mt. Everest.

It was actually a perfect day for racing in terms of temperature. I did a two mile warmup in tights, long sleeve, hat and gloves and was hot within half a mile. So I changed into shorts and a tech tee and that turned out to be perfect. Unfortunately, it was very windy, with a wind coming primarily from the west/northwest, although it was a swirling wind and would sometimes blast from the south too, usually at the most inopportune time.

I had a pacing plan of 7:05 or so for the first 3 miles, then 7:15 for the next 3, then try to run around 7:00 or better for the rest. That all went to hell pretty quickly given the hills and wind. I don’t know my exact time, since I again forgot to turn off my watch, but it was somewhere in the area of 1:31:15, or around 7:22 pace average. I don’t know the details of my run beyond mile 9.26 since my watch lost contact with the satellites for the remainder of the race. That coincided with a 10 minute downpour from miles 9.0-10+. So that certainly slowed everyone down, although I must say I’m getting better at ignoring horrendous weather conditions, at least from a mental standpoint.

I was running with guys for all of the way. I didn’t spot one other woman, so the ones who beat me must have been quite a ways ahead, and I didn’t look back to see who was behind me. I was told at the 10K water stop that I was woman #7, and no one passed me, so I guess I was seventh overall. I managed to pass a few guys in the last three miles, though, improving my overall field placement.

I’m fairly certain I could have run this faster without the wind, hills and 70 miles on my legs already for the week. But it’s hard to know how much faster as it truly is a difficult course, with a few monster hills that go on for a good half mile or so. At least I had the experience of passing a few people on those uphills, and I flew on the downhills. My time was good for first in my age group, which was a pleasant surprise. My reward was a hot pink Asics long sleeve technical shirt. Good base layer, or shirt for wearing hiking so I can be easily spotted at the foot of a deep ravine.

I like these races because they are small, congenial and you can just turn up, find parking and race hassle free. Yet, they’re pretty competitive, too, I suspect because not only are lots of the participants actually using them to train for spring marathons (Boston or otherwise), but the pickings are slim for winter racing outside of the NYRR offerings, so serious runners take advantage of what’s there.

The letdown was that “the bagel guy didn’t come through” (RD Jim Gerweck’s words). The 25K Buildup race I ran (and will run in about a month) had the best salt bagels last year. We’ve been promised two bagels each next time around. Fortunately we brought bananas and PowerBars, which turned out to be especially lucky since we got caught in a horrible traffic jam on 95 on the way home, turning a 45 minute drive into a 2 hour slog home.

I napped for an hour and a half on the couch. Now I’m, uh, “rehydrating” with Yeungling and watching DVR’d English Premier Football, to be followed by semi-drunken viewings of the Reebok track meet (I’ve already had a few spoilers, unfortunately…but no matter) and Tropic Thunder. Thank goodness next week is a recovery week and I only have to run 3 miles tomorrow…