Sunday was such an amazing day and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a historic and celebrated event. (If you are unfamiliar with the history of the race, you can read about it here.)
Unfortunately, it was not a good day of racing for me. It was a start too fast, crash on the hills, crash a little harder from the heat/humidity and suffer for about 50% of the race. Before I get into the racing specifics, I wanted to share an overview of the day.
Wakeup was scheduled for 5am but ended up being around 4:30am when my oldest son decided it was a good time to start the day. And the whole room was awake by 5! The good news is that I didn’t have to fumble around in the dark trying to be quiet. The bad news is that I left my husband with a dog and two tired kids while I went and raced. I had some coffee, got dressed and made my way down to the lobby by 5:45am to meet Chris (who was also racing) for our hour+ drive to the Cape.
We were parked and walking to the bus-pickup by 7:15am. Falmouth is a point-to-point race – and so they offer a bus shuttle from the finish area (where you park) to the start line. I was blown away by how organized and quick the pick up area was. The bus dropped us off just up the road from the start area. From there, we did a short warmup run to a friend’s hotel room to pick up our bibs (huge thanks to Tim for picking them up for us on Saturday!).
We both had seeded numbers (I think it was a 7:45 pace cutoff) and were allowed into a holding area where the elites were warming up, stretching and relaxing. I felt like I didn’t belong and just watched in awe as Meb, Joan Samuelson, Molly Huddle and Ben Bruce (among a TON of others) went through their pre-race routine. (Meb was running for “fun” and not racing due to a tight hamstring). Race Recap
I made my way further back into the first corral until I saw bib #s close to mine. My plan for the race was to start conservative and run strong the last few miles. That did not happen.
My first mile was 6:40 – which I knew was too fast given the humidity and the hills for that first mile. I don’t recall any flat stretches for the first few miles – it felt like we were either going up or down. During this mile, I ran up to Meb and got to chat with him for a bit before he decided to pick up the pace. It was pretty amazing to be running side by side next to the 2014 Boston Marathon winner – kind of a surreal moment.
After the first mile, I told myself to slow down – and did. Second mile was 6:49. Still on track and in the window of paces my coach had given me pre-race.
But things just went from good to bad.There were a handful of hills to start the 3rd mile and I just couldn’t recover. My pace dropped from the mid 6:40s to 7:00. I knew that the first 3-4 miles were the toughest miles and so rather than work harder to get it back on goal pace, I decided to focus on effort. Miles 3-4: 7:05, 7:05
And then it went from bad to worse. The last three miles felt like they were never ending. While the course had gradually flattened out, the sun and heat were taking more of a toll on me. I was thankful for the hoses that many residents had spraying the runners and I made sure to run through almost all of them for some relief. I was fighting so hold to hold onto a sub-7:30 pace those final few miles. Miles 5-7: 7:29, 7:22, 7:28 (last .1 – 5:57 pace).
50:28 (7:13 per mile)
504 out of 11,187 (overall)
102 out of 6069 (females)
The Good and Bad
The more I train and race, the more I learn that some days are just not good racing days. I knew this was going to be a tough race because of the course profile (over 430 ft of gain according to my Garmin). The past couple of weeks have not been great training weeks – I skipped a long run, added in a few extra rest days and was hoping to feel more like myself on Sunday. But my legs felt off even in the beginning.
But, I’m focusing on the good of the day – it was a solid 7 mile effort (+ mile warmup + 2 mile cooldown). It was some good hill training. It was another experience to put in my back pocket for future races.
And most of all, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Falmouth Road Race on Sunday. The course is spectacular. You run on winding, narrow roads in the beginning and then the course opens up as you run along the coast.
The views are second, however, to the atmosphere, support and cheering you experience over the seven miles. I was blown away by the sheer number of spectators that were present from the start until the finish. Literally, every inch of the course was packed with spectators who were cheering, blasting music, handing out water or orange slices or spraying you down with hoses. The last 1.5 miles felt like the end of a large-city marathon. Spectators were packed 2-3 deep and were screaming your name as you ran by (LOVE that Falmouth puts your first name on your bib -> more races should do this).
And, I got to run a race next to Meb. I mean, how often in my lifetime will something like that happen? So while the “race” aspect of it wasn’t ideal, the entire day was truly amazing and I would love to run it again next year!
Have you run Falmouth?
What’s the weirdest race distance you have run?