I made plans to carpool the 1.5 hours to Berwick with my high school cross country coach, Mike, and his wife, Rachel, who are both talented runners and have both *just* missed out on top 16 awards at this race. (Also, these two are both registered for Mooseman 70.3 and Ironman Lake Placid for 2012)! It was ~27 degrees when I woke up on race morning, but it was supposed to warm up to mid-50s during the day, so I wore shorts and brought a bunch of different running tops along, just in case.
|hilariously awful race shirt!|
Unsure of my fitness, and how fast I might actually be able to run a 9 mile race right now regardless of the hills, I took it out at 8 min/mile pace for the first 2 flat-ish miles. This race is a huge party in Berwick - tons of people were out on their porches and lining the streets - drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, etc. Gotta love Pennsylvania!
The first 2 miles felt a little fast and I was cramping a little and wondering how I was going to run 7 more miles at this pace (and 8 min/mile pace is not super intense fast for me.. it should be doable!). It's a testament to how of shape I really am right now. But once we hit the big uphill, I settled into a decent rhythm. It was slow going, but I actually felt better running up the hill than I did for the first 2 miles of that race. I ran up, up, up for what seemed like forever, and then it turned into a steep downhill, and then went back up! Once the downhills started was where I started to have some problems. I am not a great downhill runner, but I knew that if I wanted to make up the time I lost on the slow uphill sections, I would have to push it, so I was basically running as fast as I could down this huge, unrelenting hill. My right knee and leg seemed stiff but I didn't want to stop and stretch it so I just ignored it. It didn't hurt.. just felt weird and a little uncomfortable.
I hit the halfway point at about 38:45 (which was ok, both Mike and Rachel had assured me that it is impossible not to negative split this race, even if you started out like a maniac), rounded a hairpin turn, and saw some young guy puking on the side of the rode. Lovely. I continued to run downhill for most of the rest of the race (mixed in with some quick uphills). It finally flattened out as we started to approach the town, but after running downhill for so long, it actually felt like I was going uphill! I passed the 8 mile clock in about 1:06:xx and knew that there was no way I was going to run a 1:12, so just started hoping I could finish in less than 1:15. At about 8.2 miles, I ran out of steam (funny, this is about the length of all of the "long runs I have done since Ironman Wisconsin). The last mile of this race was the worst part.. it's the same as the first mile (more or less) and is a straight shot down a divided "boulevard" with grass in the middle, which I am assuming is one of the main drags in Berwick. It just kept going on, and on, and on at what felt like a slight uphill grade. I finally saw the finish line, crossed, and was DONE! My legs were jello from those hills and my right knee was bothering me. I tried to stretch it out and then found Mike and Rachel. We went over to where there was food so they could check results, unfortunately, neither of them had super great races so we left without waiting for the awards ceremony.
I ended up finishing in 1:14:36 (8:18 pace), 13 out of 83 in my age group, and 605 overall, out of 1579 total runners.
|Garmin data.. at least I kept my heart rate stimulated!|
We headed out of town, hit up a Sheetz for some MTOs (LOVE SHEETZ!!) And then started the 90 min drive home. Mike decided to take a different route home than we took to the race, and we ended up driving over this mountain and in the "town" of Lopez in Sullivan County. Remember all of that terrible flooding that happened in PA in September? Well, the area that my parents live and the surrounding counties were hit hard. There are bridges closed all over the place. We got to Lopez, and the bridge we needed to take to get home was closed. So instead of turning around, we went straight (the bridge was to the right of us) into the PA State Gamelands hoping that we could go through them and emerge on the other side. 20 minutes later, we were driving up huge rocky ATV trails in a Subaru Outback, splashing through giant mud puddles, and Mike was getting frustrated. Meanwhile, Rachel and I were giggling because in reality, the situation was pretty hilarious. Mike was worried that we were going to pop a tire and be stranded miles into the wilderness with only some water and a Clif Bar. Rachel and I were facebooking back and forth in our iPhones (her in the front seat, me in the back).
|the "A" marks Lopez, the green area is where we were driving around lost!|
We made the turn onto the detour road, which eventually turned into the widest dirt road we had ever seen, complete with "do not pass" signs. Seriously, I can't believe that a dirt road in freakin' Lopez, PA gets enough traffic to warrant a "do not pass" sign! 20 minutes later, we turned onto a real road. Comments from the car included: "LOOK! a real road!" "it even has a painted line!" and "CIVILIZATION!!" We arrived back at Mike and Rachel's not long after our return to paved roads, and I thanked them for driving and headed home for Thanksgiving dinner with my family!
|en-route Facebook conversation between the passengers|
I will DEFINITELY be returning to this race in future years - it was a blast!
Hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!