Saturday, Clark and I ran the King Crab Challenge at this year’s Dorchester YMCA Crab Run in Cambridge. That entailed running a half marathon plus a 5K that started two hours later, meaning anyone who signed up had to be pretty confident in their ability to run a sub-2 half. I’ve done races on back-to-back days several times, but never two on the same day, so this was a new experience for both of us. But it was only $10 more to tack on the 5K to the half, so why not?
Clark picked up our race packets at the Y the night before the race. I noticed the event shirt had “finisher” on it, even though we hadn’t done anything yet.
I haven’t finished anything other than filling out the registration form, shirt!
Our alarms started going off at 5 a.m. Saturday, but no one actually got out of bed until about 5:30, which was more than early enough.
It was cold and windy when we got up. At least it was supposed to be a clear day, so we’d have the sun to warm things up a little bit for the race, but that wind wasn’t going anywhere, unfortunately.
We were parked at the Y a little before 7, giving us a half-hour to kill before the start. I was pretty thrilled to be able to clear out my guts before running, for once. I also took a couple Imodium in the hopes that if there was anything left, it wouldn’t turn into yet another in-race Code Abby.
The main reason Clark wanted to run this half was because it covered most of the same course he’ll be running when he does Eagleman again in June. Bart ran it too for the same reason.
The three of us headed out to the start line, behind the Y, with the rest of the pack, just a couple minutes before the start. This is a really small race – only 86 runners finished the half. There’s also just about zero spectators, and much of the middle part of the out-and-back course is on a couple of rural roads surrounded by fields. In other words, my kind of event, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Clark and I were both hoping to run around 1:45, an 8:00/mile pace, but we were both feeling a little unsure of that, given the wind. It was blowing straight off the water at about 20 mph, gusting to God knows what. I was just hoping the stretches we had to run into it head-on weren’t too long.
There were a lot of Athletes Serving Athletes runners there, so the race director sent them off first, so they could start as a group and then get the wheelchairs in single file before the rest of the field caught up.
Less than a minute after they sent them off, they counted down the rest of us, and we were on our way.
Half marathon start. I’m in the purple shirt, blue tights and green hat, and Clark is right behind me.
We made a left turn not long after the start that put the wind right in our faces for the first time. It was pretty stiff!
I ran the first mile in 7:57, but holy shit did it feel like way too much work that early in the race to run the pace I’d been hoping to maintain the whole way.
The second mile took us along the Choptank River, where we could see the white caps churned up by the wind, and then back into a little neighborhood, with the wind at our backs. Still, mile 2 slowed to 8:04 and I felt like garbage. My upper body, especially my back, was so sore from strength training the day before. I know I say this every time I finally lift a couple weights again, but seriously – I need to do that regularly again!
Clark had also passed me somewhere in those first couple of miles. I was running right behind him until we got to the second aid station in the third mile, and I stopped for a couple seconds to drink a little water.
Three steps later, we ran past Bart’s house, and saw Marybeth, bundled up and sitting in the back of her SUV and waving at us all trotting by.
The course led us to what’s called a bypass on the map, but is really an unused road that was supposed to be part of a new development that never got built, I guess from when the housing market crashed. I ran mile 3 in 8:08. I stopped at the next aid station on the bypass for another drink of water.
We turned onto Route 343, the busiest road we had to run on (none of the course was closed to traffic.) Still, it wasn’t a lot of traffic, there was a (strongly sloped) shoulder and there weren’t too many runners, so it wasn’t a problem.
I finished mile 4 in 8:15. The downward trend was continuing. Clark was still just ahead of me. He wasn’t pulling away much, but I wasn’t gaining either.
About halfway through that mile, we turned off Route 343 onto a back road with hardly any traffic, which was a good thing, because like most back roads around here, there were no shoulders.
The wind felt like it was coming from the side, but sometimes a gust would feel like it was coming from head-on. I was sure it was going to feel like that when we turned around, just coming from the other side.
I chugged along. Mile 5 was 8:24 and mile 6 was 8:19.
Halfway through that mile, I made the U-turn to head back the way I’d came. Much to my surprise, it felt like the wind was behind me after the turn. Hey now, things are looking up!
Over the next few minutes, I ate the one GU I’d brought with me. Mile 7 was 8:14.
Just past the mile 7 marker, I saw Bart on his way to the turnaround, and he pointed at Clark just ahead of me and said “Go get him!” Three steps later, I came up to the next aid station. I stopped to drink a little water, and Clark stopped to eat an Accel Gel with water. I passed him, but I figured he’d glide past me again not far down the road, once he started running again.
A weird thing happened though. I sped up. I’m sure the surprise tailwind was a part of it, but the entire second half of the race felt so much better than the first half, even the parts that were head-on into the wind.
Mile 8 was 8:04. We got back on Route 343, and I passed the mile 9 marker on the shoulder in 8:01.
We turned back onto the bypass, which put the wind in my face, but it actually didn’t slow me down much. I ran mile 10 in 8:05, which included another brief stop at an aid station to drink some water.
After running the bypass, I was heading back through residential neighborhoods. I passed Bart and Marybeth’s house again, but she’d found something better to do.
Part of mile 11 was into the wind, but again, it wasn’t much of an issue, and I ran it in 8:04. Most of mile 12 was heading the opposite direction of the first mile, which meant that headwind at the beginning was now a sweet tailwind. I let it push me to run mile 12 in 7:50, my fastest of the race.
Then I made a right turn, and I could see where we’d started the race, just up the road. The finish line was on the lawn behind the Y though, so I had to make one more left turn to run across the grass to the finish.
Finishing the half.
My Garmin said I’d only run 12.9 miles, which is odd, because it always measures long, since I never run tangents perfectly. But the official race distance was 13.1 miles, and according to my timing chip, I’d run that in 1:44:24, a 7:59/mile pace.
I was pretty happy with how that half turned out, especially after I’d felt so crappy in the first few miles. Just goes to show you should always stick it out, because it might get better – and even if it doesn’t, it always ends.
It wasn’t over though, of course. I had a 5K to run in 15 minutes!
First order of business was the bathroom. You may have noticed I finally made it through a half marathon without needing a port-o-potty or the woods for the first time in I don’t remember how long. My butt wasn’t willing to wait much longer though. Luckily, there was no line in the women’s locker room for the three bathroom stalls, so that was taken care of.
Then I had to swap my half marathon bib for my 5K bib. I’m not sure why they couldn’t make one bib for two races that started within two hours of each other, but whatever.
I really wished I’d brought a second GU to eat before the 5K, but there was nothing I could do about that.
Clark arrived to swap his bibs too, having finished the half in 1:47:38. Not quite his goal time, but a six-minute PR! We have finally answered the question of how fast he could run a half if he wasn’t either hungover or recovering from severe food poisoning haha.
Clark finishing the half.
We stepped into the 5K starting pack. I did not feel like running another step, let alone another 3.1 miles, and I definitely wasn’t running any faster than any easy pace.
Again, the race directors let the Athletes Serving Athletes group go first, and then the rest of us. The pack took off and I lurched forward with it. Just as we were taking off, we saw Bart headed for the finish line of the half. He ran a 2:01, which he was really happy with.
Clark and I taking off for round two.
The 5K course was also an out-and-back, just with the cone marking the turnaround much closer.
So that put the wind back in my face for most of the first mile again. Ugh. Also, my feet were pretty tired of the 1400s I’d worn. I’ve had these particular shoes since December, and I think they’re at the end of their running life. I didn’t have any blisters, but I could feel where the balls of both feet were rubbing inside the shoes.
After the turnaround, I wound up running the rest of the way with a woman who was running her first race since ACL surgery a year earlier. She noticed and pointed out an osprey that had just swooped down and grabbed a fish out of the water, which was pretty cool.
I basically treated the race as a long cool down. My splits were 8:43, 8:32 and 8:25, and the last 10th of a mile was 33 seconds. Officially, I finished in 26:09.
Finishing the 5K. REALLY done.
Clark also took it easy and finished in 28:35.
That’s him in the background crossing the line.
I felt pretty good after I’d changed into dry clothes, eaten a banana and a granola bar and downed a couple water bottles.
We hung around for the awards. The race info had said runners who signed up for the King Crab Challenge were only eligible for awards in that category, so I was surprised when they called my name as the F30-39 age group winner in the half marathon, but I got a pint glass and a laminated certificate for that.
Actually, I was technically the third finisher in my age group, but the top two were among the top three women overall, so I moved up. And one of them was named Timothy, so I think “she” was in the wrong group anyway.
For the King Crab Challenge, they just added together our race times. My total time was 2:10:35, which placed me second among 11 women. I got another laminated certificate.
We left after that, but we should’ve hung around for the 5K awards. I placed fourth in my age group, but Clark was second in his, so he totally missed out on a laminated sheet of paper. I’m sure he was devastated haha.
Here are all of our final stats:
- 3rd/10 F 30-39
- 5th/50 women
- 14th/86 overall
- 4th/15 F 30-39
- 7th/76 women
- 18th/118 overall
- 7th/12 M 30-39
- 14th/36 men
- 21st/86 overall
- 2nd/5 M 30-39
- 20th/42 men
- 33rd/118 overall
Age group award pint glass and both finisher medals.
The race packet included wristbands for the after party at RAR Brewing, so we were going to stop by there for a pint, but when we got there, it was locked up, the lights were still off and all the stools were still on top of the counters. So we went home.
We got cleaned up, and Kara met us at our house a little before 1. We went to Rehoboth, first to get lunch at the Pickled Pig, and then so Kara could get new shoes at the New Balance store. She got a pair of the just-released updated 1400s. They’re pretty sweet, and my 1400s are shot anyway, so I’m thinking we might be shoe twins in the St. Michaels half.
Since we were in Rehoboth anyway, we had to go to Dogfish Head next. I only had a couple since one of us had to drive home, but Clark and Kara had some 120 Minute IPAs there and got a crowler of World Wide Stout to take home. When we got home, they almost finished that off before Clark fell asleep in the floor and I put Kara to bed.
Sunday morning, Kara was surprised to wake up hungover haha. We gave her coffee, fried eggs and ibuprofen, and after she was patched up, she headed home.
Clark and I napped most of the rest of the morning after she left. I’d thought about running an easy 3-miler, but the weekend’s schedule had called for a 1:45 long run and the 3-miler, so really I already did both runs the day before. Good enough for me.
In the early afternoon, Clark woke up and went out to cut the grass for the first time this year. I watched the first half of the NASCAR race in Texas.
When he came back in from cutting the grass, he wanted to go for a bike ride. It was a really nice day for it, as it had warmed up and the wind had died from the day before. So I went with him.
We rode a loop that turned out to be 18.6 miles. I know I was holding Clark up, because every now and then he’d get bored and go whizzing by me, then stop at the next intersection and wait for me to catch up.
By the last four miles or so, I was feeling sapped and just ready to get home. As soon as I made it, I scarfed down a couple slices of leftover pizza and sat down to watch the end of the NASCAR race. Turned out we’d made it home just in time to watch Jimmie stupid Johnson win. Great.
Today, it’s back to training for St. Michaels. I have a short easy run and strength training on the schedule.