Going into Eastern States 20 Miler, I had one thing on my mind – What’s going on with my right knee?
Let me back track a bit. Thursday morning, I was doing what was supposed to be an easy 10 mile run. Around mile 6, my knee started hurting. No warning what so ever. Of course, in typical runner fashion, I pretended I didn’t feel anything. After about another 2 miles with the same pain that wasn’t going away, I decided that I should probably stop running. I did the usual routine – ice, stretch, etc afterwards in hopes that it was nothing. I also decided to take Friday and Saturday off from running to really let it rest.
Race day came on Sunday. My knee was feeling OK, no pain, just an occasional ache here and there. Sarah taped my knee up and we took off for the race. I forgot about my knee because it felt good.
I wasn’t really sure how I was going to run. Do I treat it as a training run that I just paid for or do I keep it long run pace for the first 10 and then drop down to goal marathon pace for the last 10? Sarah didn’t really have a plan either, but we both agreed that we wanted to just not get injured (she’s nursing an ongoing Achilles and bone spur injury). We’d go by what felt right.
Apparently, going faster felt right.
The weather was almost perfect at the start – sunshine and temps in the upper 30s. I dressed just right – Saucony long sleeve top and capri’s. The fun thing about this race is that we run in 3 states (Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts), through 7 towns and the majority is along the beautiful seacoast. We had a short walk from bib pick up at a school to the starting line. It’s a very relaxed race. You line up and then someone shouts “go!” Or at least I think someone did because everyone started running. There is no timing chip or starting mat. You just go!
We ran along at a comfortable pace (although way faster than our usual long run pace) for the first couple of miles. (Thanks for the WOOHOO! Robin!) At one point I realized I hadn’t heard a beep or vibration for a mile marker yet. For some reason my watch was set to indoor and was essentially in stopwatch mode. After messing with it (thank goodness for easy touchscreen capability!), I got it started correctly. Since there were ZERO mile markers on the course, I assumed we were a little over 2 miles into the race at this point. I never realized how much I love seeing mile markers till this race. I need a countdown!
For the first 3 miles or so, there was not much of a wind. As soon as we reached the coast, the headwind smacked us right in the face and stayed for the duration. Sarah and I were trucking right along feeling good. We were in shock every time that my watch beeped (hers wasn’t working right either) with our splits. We tried to slow down but it felt so slow when we did. It felt good, so we kept it up.
Mile 1-2: ??? Mile 3: 8:17, Mile 4: 7:51, Mile 5: 8:15, Mile 6: 8:16, Mile 7: 8:13, Mile 8: 8:22, Mile 9: 8:11, Mile 10: 8: 18, Mile 11: 8:11
The wind really started to pick up at this point. We were completely exposed. In the previous miles, there were groups of people so it was easier to draft a bit. Not so much anymore. It was nice to see Kailey and her son at some point (mile 12?) spectating. Even if it’s for a brief second, it matters!
Mile 12: 8:25, Mile 13: 8:20, Mile 14: 8:13, Mile 15: 8:25, Mile 16: 8:22
Around mile 16-17, Sarah and I both stopped for a water stop. I was trying to choke down some water and then stopped to fix my KT tape that had come loose on my shin. By the time I started up again, Sarah was way up ahead. I gave her the wave to keep going. Bad mistake on my part! Without having company, I started to think too much. Particularly about my knee. It was starting to bug me a bit. And then there felt like there was something stuck on the bottom of my shoe. No matter what I did to try to scrape it off, it just wouldn’t go away. I stopped to fix it and found some kind of gummy chomp stuck in the grips. Gross! After scrapping it on the curb, it finally came loose. Stopping that one time, threw me off. I started to have visions of calling Ron to pick me up and drop me off a 1/2 mile from the finish. I wanted to be DONE especially when a cop directing traffic tells you “1 mile to go!” and it’s really 2 miles.
Mile 17: 9:12, Mile 18: 8:53, Mile 19: 8:34, Mile 20: ?? Forgot to stop my watch!
Official time: 2:48:20.
And yes, that is a big pile of snow behind us!
For the most part, I felt really, really good for the duration of the race even if my knee wasn’t 100%. I’m actually shocked that I felt so comfortable and was able to run at those speeds yet still carrying on a conversation for almost the whole race. And the pacing? I’ve never been that consistent with pacing in my life! That truly was marvelous.The part that makes me worry is how much the wheels fell off once I didn’t have someone to run with. I won’t have Sarah to rely on Marathon Monday. Her wave starts way ahead of mine. My mental game, as usual, still needs some work before race day.
What would you rather run in – cold, snow, heavy rain or wind?