Monday, November 2, 2015


Back in the summer, my good bud and Oiselle teammate, Jess C., was looking to put a late fall marathon on her calendar.  I was already scheduled to run the Mohawk Hudson on 10/11, but I told her if she found one that was local, I'd be more than willing to jump in as her wingman and join her for the half while she ran the full.  She dug around and landed on the Black Goose Marathon organized by Ocean State Multisport and taking place down in Seekonk, MA on 11/1.  Done and done.  Because I get stupidly excited about racing, I went ahead and signed up for the half.  Jess was much smarter than me and decided to give it a few more weeks to make sure her IT band, which had been nagging her all summer, was healing quickly enough to start her training.  No dice.  By September, Jess knew she was out.  The good news is that she's now training and racing again, which is awesome.  Since I'd already signed up, and I'm not one to bail on a race or throw away the registration fees, I decided I would go ahead and run it anyway.  But first, I had to get through my marathon and that was my focus for the time being.  In the meantime, my husband, who does not consider himself a "runner" was kind of getting into running.  Jeff, who usually provides the answer "only when chased" when people ask him if he runs, does actually get out for about 3 miles, 2-3 times a week when the weather is decent.  Yet, one day in early October, he found himself tacking on an extra loop instead of turning left to head home and running 6 miles instead of his usual 3.  When he was done and he walked in the door, he was clearly tired but he was smiling.  If you're a runner of any kind, you know 'that' feeling.  Not surprisingly, he started getting out for these longish runs on a regular basis.  Then, after finishing a run one night he asked me whether I thought he could run a half marathon.  "Maybe I could join you for the half that you're running in November"  he said.  I tried to curb my enthusiasm and just play it cool, telling him he could definitely pull it off if he got a few longer runs in over the weeks leading up to the race.  Mind you, inside I was jumping for joy.  I couldn't believe Jeff wanted to step up his game and potentially run a half.  And I was beyond thrilled that he wanted to do it with me.  Knowing that we runners tend to be a bit overbearing when we start talking about racing, I did my best to hold back and stay chill which is way more Jeff's style.  The next day he went out, bought himself some new kicks and a few new pairs of socks, and within no time, he was running 10-11 mile runs like he'd been doing it his whole life.  What??  So, he signed up for the race.  Fast forward to November 1st.  Race day.  We'd planned to get up at 5:30am and head out by 6:00.  Instead, we both woke up around 4:45, which was really 5:45 because of daylight savings.  One bonus of racing when you turn the clocks back, there's no chance in hell you're going to be late.  We made coffee, gathered our gear, and hit the road around 5:45 figuring we might as well just get there early and hang out.  Though it took us about an hour to get to Seekonk, the ride was smooth and relatively painless.  When we arrived, the race volunteers were just setting up their tables and there were about 3 other runners milling around who'd probably woken up as early as we had.  We grabbed our numbers and shirts, went to the bathroom, and then headed back to the car to wait.


And wait some more.  We turned on Sirius XM's First Wave and rocked out to some solid 80s alternative gems from the likes of Police, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Devo and the oft-underrated Midnight Oil.  Confession....there might have been some robot dance moves involved.

I went to the bathroom about 12 more times just because I could and then finally it was 7:30.  We decided we should probably hop out and do a little stretching since we'd been sitting for almost 2 hours.  Fortunately, it was cloudy and relatively mild outside, so we could ditch our stuff and head to the start without freezing.

Race Director, Gary, organizing his volunteers.

Right around 8:00, Gary, the race director, hopped up on the roof of his van and yelled out to get our attention.  He thanked us for coming, told us how thrilled he was to see this race, which he'd been working on for three long years, come to life and then took a few minutes to explain some last minute details.  You could tell how excited and nervous he was about everything.  Finally, he said, "I don't give a sh** who comes in first, and I don't care who comes in last.  All I care about is that you all make it safely across this finish line."  We all laughed and clapped for him.  Such a cool and humble guy.  We shuffled over to the start and then Jeff and I wished each other good luck as we had planned to run on our own for this one.  I found a myself a spot in the crowd, turned on my music and got into the zone.  Gary gave us an official wave from his van and we were off.  I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from myself for this race.  I'd just run a marathon three weeks before and while I had been easing back into my training, I was still bouncing back.  That said, I was amped up and excited to race again.  So, it really could have gone either way.

At mile 1, pacing with a marathoner who would 
veer off at mile 5 and leave me to fend for myself.

Miles 1-3 went by pretty quickly.  I didn't feel terrible but I wasn't feeling great either.  My breathing was a bit labored and my legs were quick to remind me that they could still feel the marathon.  I was a little worried, but was hoping that after I loosened up and settled down, things would ease up.  I tried to find a pace group and focus on my music without staring at my watch.  The one major bonus of running a half so soon after a full is how insanely short 13.1 miles seems both mentally and physically.  Miles 4-7 came and went. I was holding on at a decent clip, but I was getting tired.  I ate a GU mile 7 and did my best not to focus on how wiped I was feeling.  At mile 9, a very large, brown dog jumped out at us and I had to sort of stop and stutter step around him.  That was a first.  I reset after that and told myself to buck up.  I only had to get through 4 more miles.  That was nothing compared to the 26.2 I'd done three weeks before.  A couple more tough miles went by and I was having to dig in.  By the time I got to mile 11 I knew I'd be okay.  I hadn't checked my watch in a while, but I'd been running behind a couple guys pretty steadily since mile 8, so I tried to shift gears and pick up the pace for the finish.  When I turned the corner at mile 13, I looked down at my watch and saw 1:26 and change.  Holy SHITE.  I had .1 miles to go and I was on pace for a PR.  I booked it as fast as I could to get myself across the finish line.

Official time: 1:27:30
First female, 3rd overall

One of the volunteers put a race medal around my neck and then another handed me a trophy about half the size of my body.  "Congrats" they said, "you're our first woman."  I was smiling and nodding and awkwardly trying to drink some water while holding on to the insanely large trophy they'd just given me.  This must have looked pretty funny.  I took a moment to gather myself and just take in the moment and then I headed to the car to grab my clothes so I could get warm while I waited for Jeff to finish.  Jeff's goal had been to come in under 2 hours, which I had thought was very realistic based on his training runs.   I was going back and forth from the food tables to the finish line to check on the time and ensure that I didn't miss him.  As the clock got closer to 2 hours, I planted myself at the line and waited while hoping/praying that he would have a successful race and maybe want to do it again.

Official time: 1:59:58

Then, at 1:59 and change, I could see him coming around the corner.  "Come on, Jeff", I yelled.  "You're gonna do it!!!"  Talk about CLOSE.  He rolled across with 2 seconds to spare.  I couldn't believe it.  No watch, very little training, and not much of a runner up until about 4 weeks ago, and he still managed a sub 2 hour half marathon.  I was so proud, excited, happy...all of it.

Once Jeff had a chance to cool down and stretch, we hopped in the car and bee-lined it for the nearest Starbucks.  Two large mochas later, we were headed home.  I did ask (er...force) him to take one selfie with me.  He's not into it, but it had to be done.  This one was going down in the books.  My first big race with Jeff.  A PR for me.  An incredible finish for him.  All of it was just so amazing and I was reeling for hours afterwards.  I don't know whether Jeff is hooked or not or if racing together will become a regular thing for us, but it doesn't matter.  Just sharing this one adventure was enough.  And if I had to put money on it, I'd bet he isn't done.  To be continued...

Listen to this:
Marathon - Jamie N Commons or listen w/  

No comments:

Post a Comment