Race Report: Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic

14 02 2010

Where is the finish line, I'm in PAIN.

Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter 10-Mile Classic: first real test of the season and first time doing this race.

I really wanted to do well. Really, really well.

I’ve been running the course for weeks now every Sunday with friends. Pretty steady, no hard efforts, just constant endurance pace. This would be a real test for me. Longest pure “just running” race. I have done two half-Ironman races, but those are different.

For some reason I have a much harder time with straight running races than any triathlon that I have ever done. The day started out early with a 5:15am bathroom visit, then I proceeded to raid the fridge, drinking an Ensure for fuel. Went back to bed to doze until 7am. The Ensure was my only caloric intake before the race. I have an ultra sensitive stomach and when I go hard it needs to be empty. I did sip on water before/up to the race start but that was it.

The morning was spent gathering all my gear (it seemed like just as much effort as a tri, what the heck?), getting the baby fed, all of us bundled up and packed in the car. We headed to Cape High School and the race start. After socializing for a bit I went out for a warm up with my friend Gerard. He and his wife Malaika, who was volunteering for the race, started the Southern Maine Chapter of Christian Runners, who Megan and I run with on Saturday mornings depending on baby juggling in the cold winter months.

We warmed up easy for 20 minutes or so building to a steady pace. I then had to hit the Port O John again with FOUR minutes to race start. Ugh. Lines. I hate them to death.

My goal for the race was to try and keep a 6:45 / mile pace and to stay with Gerard as long as I could. (I knew he could run faster than me, but he said he would stay with me as long as he could. Which means he was gone at mile 2. Oh well.)

Anyway, we lined up at the front of the start and went off fast to avoid clustering and being slowed down. This did get me out quick and I ran much faster than planned. First mile was fast and downhill, second mile was still fast and uphill. During mile 2 we had three hard hills during which I suffered bad and spiked my HR. This instantly gave me major chest pain. There is a point at which IF my HR and breathing get too hard I get chest pain due to an injury involving all kinds of nastiness, including broken ribs and a collapsed my lung.

That point is right near my Lactate Threshold, which I was hitting after barrelling down and up the serious start of this race course. At this point I had to start considering my options. There was no way I could run another 8 miles with this pain. So: I could slow down, let Gerard go, and hope it would go away; or stop, walk, and quit.

I kept going, slowed my pace slightly, I really tried to visually relax everything inside me, starting at my head and ending at my toes. I was suffering and in major pain but was trying to stay in the zone. By mile 3.5 I started to feel better and got my breathing and HR under control. Now I had lost contact with Gerard but could see him just ahead. There was no way I would be able to catch him without putting myself back into that pain zone. So I just ran my own race and kept my legs moving and my pace hard.

Miles 4-6 I felt pretty good, it was mostly downhill but I felt like I was maintaining a decent pace. At mile 6 we started climbing again and were on the major highway of Rte 77, open, expansive roads nearing the coast, where wind is NOT your friend. The first hill up to the scenic white church left me with a gut pain right below my belly button, radiating across the entire front side of my stomach. It hurt but I was able to keep going. BUT, I wasn’t able to go faster and increase
my pace like I wanted.  I ended up slowing down and that was the start of the suffer fest. My HR creeped back up again but not to my LT. I really tried to keep my form relaxed and keep the pace hard.

One thing that was bothering me throughout the race was I couldn’t see. My vision blurred at mile 2, and I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me. Everyone around me was hazy and I think some of it was due to the cold and wind on my eyes, but man. That was weird.

At Mile 7, I realized that Rob Smith was just behind me, and gaining. I had seen him at the start but I know I left him behind in the beginning. Uh oh. My mind and body kept telling me to stop but my heart and desire kept me going. I am not a quitter and I will not stop. Other people were also slowly passing me, just a few seconds faster than I could maintain, and every time the voice in my head became more negative.

At mile 8 Rob came behind me and passed me. I was irked. BIG TIME.  I stayed in his shadow for 1/2 a mile, right on his heel, but then had to let him go. It was just too much to pace him with the pain I was dealing with.

At this point I was really suffering and did not want to be passed again. After mile nine and its rubbing-salt-in-the-wound climb with wind whipping in your face, we had a slight downhill to the finish line, and this is where all h*&l broke loose.

I was now running very hard, suffering more than I have ever had. I wanted to finish strong. My hamstrings were screaming at me to stop, and it felt like the wind in my face was making me slower and slower. I just wanted to stop. Body in pain, mind was checked out and the finish line was just too far away.

At the last corner, by the traffic light into the school, I let it all out. I ran as hard as I could, all out to the finish. I don’t know how I was able to stay upright, if there was even a pebble in my way I
would have gone down. Hard.

As I came into the finish I knew there were a few runners right on my heels. I sprinted hard, I wasn’t going to let them go past me: I grimaced, bit down and I ran.

I looked like I was going to die, crossing the finish line and then bent over, completely spent.

I couldn’t move. My legs would NOT move. People asked if I was alright, but I just needed a minute to get my brain to say, “OK I’m done, I’m safe, it’s over and I can move… slowly.” My wife helped me to get me inside.

I wanted to cheer on my triathlon friends, like Stacy, Erin, Mike, Tim, Mary and Martha who were all just behind me, but I missed them all. I was dead on my feet and worried about passing out – sorry there wasn’t anything left to cheer you guys on with. Great job!

I’m so glad that Megan was there with my baby daughter at the finish. It really got me through this race and whenever I doubted myself I knew they would be waiting for me out in the freezing cold, waiting and watching for dad to reel in the finish.

The family helping me up the killer stairs to the school, after a tough race

Once inside I tried to stretch, got some water/fuel and a massage. Ouch, that was painful.

I missed my goal by 36 seconds: 1:08:06. for a pace of 6:49 / mile.

My hamstrings are shot, I can’t even go down stairs. After the race I spent the rest of the day watching a movie, going to Home Depot and using a foam roller on my legs. Ow. Just trying to recover. Went to bed at 9:30pm that night but my body ached and I just couldn’t sleep. Stared at  at the ceiling until 12am when I finally fell asleep, only to wake again at 4am. To start it all over again.

Train, work, eat, sleep: the life of a triathlete.


Time = 1:08:06
Pace = 6:49
Avg HR = 162
Max HR = 172
Overall Place = 76 out of 814 finishers
Division Place = 14 out of 42
Mile Splits
Mile 1 = 6:25    HR Ave = 156    Start = 105    Max 163
Mile 2 = 6:51    HR Ave = 166    Max = 172
Mile 3 = 6:42    HR Ave = 165    Max = 171
Mile 4 = 6:47    HR Ave = 162    Max = 169
Mile 5 = 6:42    HR Ave = 161    Max = 168
Mile 6 = 6:52    HR Ave = 162    Max = 169
Mile 7 = 6:53    HR Ave = 161    Max = 168
Mile 8 = 7:00    HR Ave = 159    Max = 163
Mile 9 = 7:04    HR Ave = 162    Max = 166
Mile 10 = 7:15  HR Ave = 165    Max = 167

Course Map

Garmin Data from the Race

A few highlights and things that I learned:

  • Race nerves = bad. Much time spent in bathroom, with stomach pains throughout morning.
  • Must run under 170 HR or there is major chest pain.
  • I have to slow down a lot to relieve this pain or stop.
  • Felt my best during the middle of the race, during miles 4-6.
  • Even with stomach pain I can force myself to run hard and suffer.
  • Headwind going uphill = suck.
  • Running 10 miles in February really hurts.
  • Don’t plan on sleeping the night after a race like that.  Just stay up and watch movies. It’s better than lying in bed all night looking at the speckles on the ceiling with your legs throbbing.
  • The next day: hamstrings will be on fire and you will want to die.



One response

14 02 2010

You are so tough Nate! You overcame so so much during that brutally tough race. I saw you out there and knew you were moving fast! I saw you at the finish too… I was (AM!) very impressed with your run. Excellent job. WAy to put it all out there. that’s what it’s all about. great practice for that 140.6 thing coming your way.. 🙂

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