Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Two-Race Weekend and April Snowstorm in New England

When I signed up for two races this weekend, it all seemed so logical.  After all, who doesn't love spring in New England?!  Hmm... famous last words!  It POURED on Saturday as I drove an hour in each direction to run 9.3 hilly miles for my running club's April Grand Prix race, and then I woke up this morning to three inches of snow for today's 5K.  Happy Spring to me.

I should have known I was in for a good time on Saturday when my alarm went off at 6:30 AM, and I started driving into this.
Great running weather, right?!
 Although despite the driving rain all morning, I had a great time at the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-Up 15k.  This race, held by the Tri-Valley Front Runners, is considered a prep race for the Boston Marathon, and more than half their field this year was club runners, which made for a fast and competitive race.  I enjoyed running with the more experienced runners and many of my own club members, which made it easier to push my speed by sticking with runners who were around my target pace. 

The awesome Colonial Road Runners!
 The only thing that I had conveniently forgotten about this area of Western Massachusetts is that it is hilly.  I mean HILLY.  My Garmin tells me that the race had a total elevation gain of 323 feet, and I can say that I felt every one of those.  This course was not for the weak, but after the first few miles, I actually found myself getting into a good groove.  The miles passed by quickly as I focused on getting to the top of one  hill, and then rejoiced in a downhill, and then refocused on the next hill.  I honestly didn't spend as much time enjoying the scenery as I usually would (and it was beautiful!) because I was so intently focused on the hills and keeping up my pace.  


 Although I was exhausted by the end, I was proud of maintaining a strong, relatively consistent pace on a rainy day on a difficult course.  I was completely soaked when I finished, and couldn't have been more excited to see the race volunteers ladling hot soup into bowls right near the finish line.  Awesome!  Inside the school gym where the race finished, I enjoyed a slice of pizza and a chocolate chip cookie as well.  My only moment of sadness occurred when I realized that I had forgotten dry clothes to change into.  Let's just say it was a COLD hour-long drive home...

I spent most of the day recovering and mentally preparing for my 5K today.  The race director for the TCS Shovel Town 5K is a fellow club member, so a large group of Colonials were planning to head out to support him.  I was looking forward to racing a 5K, since I've been mostly focused on longer distances this past year.  Excited, however, until I woke up to a winter wonderland!  

April in Massachusetts.  Thank you very little.
The weather forecast had said "flurries" starting at 10 am, so when I woke up to two inches on the ground and snow continuing to come down rapidly at 6 am, I was less than impressed.  But this is what we runners do, right?!  Onward!  True to form, the snow didn't keep many of my club members away, although it did cause us to break out our winter clothes once again... hats, gloves, jackets, and even ski goggles to ward off the blowing snow.

Surprisingly enthusiastic for this race!

Almost immediately, I stepped in a huge puddle and my feet were soaked in icy water.  Also, although I felt fine when I woke up, my legs felt heavy and tired almost immediately after starting to run - testament to the previous day's hills.  It was the race volunteers that kept me going - over 75 volunteers out on the course, manning water stations, giving splits at mile markers, taking photos and just cheering us on, while they themselves were covered in snow.  The support was pretty incredible, and it kept me motivated.  As I sprinted across the finish line with snow and hail blowing in my eyes, I felt unstoppable.

Although I was over a minute from placing in my age group, I was proud of my time, 26:51, an 8:40 pace.  Not bad on tired legs in the snow!  As is the theme pretty much whenever I race, my immediate thought was food... so one of my running buddies and I changed into dry shoes and socks (I remembered this time, lesson learned!) and treated ourselves to a fancy breakfast out.  Smoked salmon benedict on a sweet tomato brioche with chive hollandaise.  Unreal.  



With the unpredictable nature of New England weather this weekend and some challenging race conditions, I feel stronger than ever with two sub-9 minute mile races down.  This weekend also reminded me once again how much I love being part of a running club.  Had it not been for my teammates, I would absolutely have pressed the "snooze" button both mornings and watched the rain and snow from the comfort of my couch.  Instead, my running friends motivated me to finish both races strong, with a smile on my face.  What a weekend!  I am starting to feel ready for my next race - the Coastal Delaware Marathon on April 24th!  The countdown begins...

Foyer full of wet running gear... a runner lives here!
Questions: 

What spring races do you have planned?

Any tips for racing in the rain?

What is your favorite post-race treat?


http://hohoruns.blogspot.com/2016/04/centerpoint-half-ww-35.html

21 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I'm not sure I would have driven to a race in that much rain! Congratulations on two great races in very tough conditions!

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    1. Honestly the snow day was WAY worse than the rainy day. The rain seemed wonderful in comparison :-)

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  2. Wow! That is a testiment to your dedication! You go girl! Great job! In MN we get crazy weather day to day like that too!

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    1. Yikes - this is nuts! We just got another 3 inches of snow yesterday... Happy April to us!

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  3. You did a great job considering the conditions! I wonder how many people DNS'd those races! I would have done them too--we get crazy unpredictable weather here in Chicago. Sometimes it completely changes during a race!

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    1. I used to live in Chicago when I was growing up - you're right, the weather there can be just as crazy...

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  4. Glad the crazy weather didn't keep you from having fun!

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    1. Thanks, all in all, we had a blast :-)

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  5. Great job for getting out and racing in less than ideal conditions two days in a row! I can bet that was a cold ride home. Having running buddies to keep you accountable makes such a difference. Good luck as you continue to train for your marathon. It's not very far away! Thanks for linking with us Michelle.

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    1. Thanks so much - the countdown to spring marathons is definitely on!

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  6. Congrats on your races! I once did a back-to-back 5K and half marathon and realized it was something I was NOT eager to do again! The 15K sounds like a really challenging race...hills are my nemesis! And the 5K...geez, snow? I'm from Buffalo but live in Philly, and since being here, I don't think it should be snowing in April, haha!

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    1. Wow that sounds tough... back to back races are always unexpectedly tough the second day!

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  7. Wow that is some crazy weather! You did a great job running strong at the 15K despite the hills and the rain. Call me crazy, but I prefer a hilly race to a flat one. Like you pointed out, you can just kind of focus on getting up the hill in front of you, then you have a little celebration on the downhill, then repeat.

    It's funny that y'all had the snow on Sunday morning and the race was called the Shovel Town 5K. I live in the mountains of Virginia and I have run snowy April races as well. It's just that time of year where it could go either way! I've got my first 50K this Saturday and right now they are predicting light snow in the morning and 20-30 mph wind throughout the day. As if 50K wasn't hard enough ;-)

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    1. I totally agree - my marathon PR was on a hilly course - I find it much more motivating.

      Good luck on your 50K - sounds like challenging conditions, but I am sure you will rock it!!

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  8. Never done 2 races in a weekend, I would have absolutely no idea how to pace myself!

    But, my running club group is definitely what gets me out of bed early on Saturday mornings for my long runs. Otherwise I would sleep forever! & probably cheat myself out of some miles too.

    I ran a 5K last weekend & my next race is a half on May1. Then I hope to pack my schedule full of fun summer 5Ks to work on some speed!

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    1. That sounds like an awesome plan - summer is great for shorter speed racing... for me anyway, long distance is brutal in the heat! I like your thoughts!

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  9. You are beast! I'm not sure I could be motivated enough to race in either one of these in those conditions! Great job!! Thanks for linking up with us!

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    1. Thanks so much :-) Hopefully this is it for the snow this year!

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  10. Great job on both races! I ran the Honolulu Marathon in 2014 and it rained the entire 26.2 miles. It was probably in the highs 60s, so that's a completely different kind of rain! Body Glide saved me a lot of pain and I sacrificed a few minutes at the medical aid tent around mile 16 to put Vaseline on my toes because I could feel a blister forming from wet socks.

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    1. Wow that sounds brutal... I can't believe that I have run 18 marathons and never had a rainy day... my luck will run out at some point, I am sure!

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