Tuesday, May 27, 2014

RACE REVIEW: Johnny Kelley 13.1

On Sunday morning I ran the Johnny Kelley Half Marathon in Hyannis, MA.  My in-laws live on the Cape and have always let us know that we are more than welcome to visit. (yes, we are insanely lucky)  The race is easy to get to from their house, so it's a no brainer.  My sister-in-law, Locky, is also an avid runner and we've done this particular race together for the past three years.  My good friend & RB, Kirsten, from Winchester happened to be on the Cape this week-end as well, so I suggested she join us, which she was happy to do.  I like this race for many reasons.  First, the course is fast and scenic as it weaves along the beaches, through the local neighborhoods and finishes in downtown Hyannis.  It definitely gives runners a good taste of the Cape as the smells of the salty ocean air mixed with the strong aromas of fried food from the clam shacks linger for several miles.  Second, the race is logistically easy to deal with; parking is relatively painless, the crowds are light and number pick up is a snap.  And third, it's fun.  The race starts and finishes on the Hyannis town green, which is a big open lawn with plenty of room to spread out and relax.  Runners, their families and friends get to enjoy post-race burgers and dogs along with some live music from a local rock band (think Lynyrd Skyynrd).  The big unknown every year is the weather as you never know what you're going to get on the Cape in May.  Last year, it was rainy and cold and the year before it was humid and hotter than hell.  But this year, we lucked out.  We woke up to a 55 degree morning with overcast skies and no wind.  Perfect running weather.  Ok, back to race morning...Locky and I headed out at 6:30am, grabbing our necessary coffee before scooping Kirsten up and getting on our way.  When we arrived in Hyannis, we got our bibs and went off to find a bathroom. Turns out the bathroom situation was less than ideal with only three port-o-pottys and the town toilets (3 mens, 3 womens) for over 1000 of us.  What??  The lines were really, REALLY, long.  Fortunately the cashier at the 7-Eleven in town took pity on us and let several of us use his bathrooms without making a purchase.  I believe his response after I thanked him was, "I might as well turn the whole store over to you guys."  I didn't really know what to say to that, so I just smiled and waved.  As my 12 year old niece said several times over the week-end, "#AWK".  We headed to the start, said our goodbyes, determined our post-race meeting spot and settled in to wait.  Kirsten, who is currently easing back into marathon training after a brief hiatus due to injury, was planning to treat the race as a training run, putting no pressure on herself for a specific time and hoping only to feel good and enjoy herself.  I had other plans.  After running Boston in a "somewhat" comfortable pace, my legs bounced back pretty quickly, so after a week off, I was able to start back up again with my training. After a short debate with myself over whether to just run this race for fun or run it for time, I decided I wanted to see if I could come in under 1:30.  My PR is 1:29, but that was on fresh legs with a taper, so this was lofty goal, but I figured, why not aim high.  I asked my S-I-L if she would consider pacing me, as she often runs halves in NYC and regularly comes in under 1:30, and she was totally willing.  I decided I would run without a watch and let her do all the pace work, which, in the end, was a bad call, but at the time felt kind of freeing.  We got off to a smooth start and settled nicely into a comfortable pace.  I was feeling strong until the first hill.  The hills are not big or long, mind you, but they are there and they had a pretty strong impact on my exhaustion level.  For miles 6-9, I was getting tired and the doubt began to seep in.  Locky held on to the goal pace and I fell behind but tried to keep her within site.  Fortunately, she was wearing florescent green compression socks, so her legs were easy to spot.  When I hit mile 9 and ate another GU, I got a second wind.  I was able to shift gears and pick it up a little and I still had Locky in site, so I knew I was close to my goal time.  At this point, I was running next to a young and spritely guy who happened to have a cheering section at mile 10, so I was motivated to stick with him.  If I'm being totally honest here, I was also motivated by what I knew I would be enjoying when the race was over.


When we got to mile 12, spritely guy reached down and touched the mile marker and then did a fist pump in the air.  This guy was fired up to be done and I was right there with him.  We ran the last mile side by side and then kicked it in, him finishing a couple seconds before me.  My final time was 1:30:17.  So close, yet so far.  But, I was good with it.  I'd run hard, pushed through a tough spot, and powered through the finish.  I could feel the Boston marathon in my legs, the race having been only 5 weeks before, but I could also feel my training and strength from running in general, so they kind of evened each other out.  Lesson learned here?  Always where a watch when you are running for time.  As Locky cruised ahead, I had no idea what my pace was and if I'd known I was that close to my goal time toward the end, I might have tried to dig a little deeper on those last couple miles.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?  Turns out, Kirsten had a great run.  This past winter was crazy for her.  As I mentioned, she was coming off an injury and with family and work taking first priority, her running had to take a back seat.  This was her first race since last year and I knew she was nervous going into it.  She held on to a steady, comfortable pace for the whole thing and when she finished, I could tell that she was psyched about racing again, which is a good thing because we're running a marathon together this fall.  No, but seriously, it was clear that she was re-charged about running in general and I was really psyched that this race had given her such a solid boost of confidence.

Locky, me and Kirsten at the finish.

Finally, after grabbing some freebies (chips, waters, iced teas, etc), we made our way back to the car to get back home and enjoy the rest of the day.  The weather at this point was gorgeous; sunny, warm and dry as a bone.  I spent the afternoon hanging with my own family, my in-laws and my nieces and nephews; swimming, relaxing and getting beaten by my oldest niece in Word Yahtzee.  It was awesome.  The race?  It was already in the back of my mind as I focused on what made these weekends so great every year.


Listen to this:
Toothless Grin - Jinja Safari

No comments:

Post a Comment