Back in March, some friends and I ran the Eastern States 20 Miler. When I first read about this race in the fall of 2016, I knew I had to register – the race starts in Maine, takes you down into New Hampshire and along the coast, and then into Massachusetts where the finish line is. I mean, how cool is that?! Running through three different states in one race! I don’t think there are many races out there that have that fun twist.
I ran with two Boston friends, Natalie and Nick. The weather was completely all over the place the week leading up to the race. At first it said there was a 100% chance of snow, then it said mix of snow and rain, and then it just turned to cloudy and very, very cold. So we weren’t really sure what to expect.
I was excited for this race because I was going to use it as a training run for the New Jersey Marathon. I wanted to participate in a race that was a different kind of distance, one I had never raced before. So, even though I’ve run a bunch of 20 milers on my own, running one as a race was completely new to me.
Because the race started in Maine, there were shuttle buses taking runners from NH up to the start. The three of us drove to NH early Sunday morning, and parked to get on the shuttle bus. As soon as we got out of the car, two of us slipped on black ice. The wind was biting cold and we put on wore more layers than expected. The ride to Maine took about 30 minutes. It was so fun being on a bus with other people who get your kind of crazy – I mean, up early on a Sunday morning to run 20 miles in the freezing cold? Sign me up!
The race started at a local school, so all runners huddled inside the gymnasium for a couple hours. Here we met other runners, stretched, ate peanut butter bagels, and eyed the clock as time ticked down until 11:00am.
Met Lauren from Instagram! (@lauren.runs.26.2)
Once 11:00am hit, we were off! My goal for this race was to keep a steady pace of 8:45 min/mile. This is my goal marathon pace for the New Jersey Marathon on April 30th, so I wanted to see how holding it for 20 miles would be. Honestly, I was pretty nervous going into this. I knew I’d been training hard for the past couple months, but I was eager to put my hard work to the test.
It was so beautiful running along the coast of New Hampshire. I didn’t look at the views too much because I was pretty focused, but the air smelled of ocean water, something that I absolutely love.
One strategy I used while running was keeping one runner or group of runners in sight and pushing myself to stay with them. I did this a bunch of times during the run, and then pushed myself to pass them and find a new runner to catch and stay with. It’s kind of like a game when you’re out there and it was pretty fun to be honest! I didn’t feel like it wore me out. In fact, my breathing felt really steady and I had a feeling I was hitting my goal pace of 8:45.
As I’ve run more half and full marathons, I’ve learned how to drink Gatorade while running. I take a cup at every water station whether I feel like I need it or not (because let’s face it, you probably need it.) I stare down a volunteer holding Gatorade, point to them (so they know I’m coming to them!), take the cup, and keep running. It’s difficult drinking while running but if I take little sips at a time, I can get it down with only spilling a little (ok, sometimes a lot) all over my face. I usually toss my cups to the side of the road, but the race director emphasized how important it was to get them in trash cans, so I held onto my empty cups until the next water station. There were about five or six water stations during this race.
I always put tape over my Garmin while racing because it prevents me from staring at my pace the entire time. Once I realized we were in southern NH and about to cross into MA, I ripped the tape off my Garmin to see how close we were. We were at 16.97 miles of about 20.30 miles. I could feel two blisters on the bottom of my right foot beginning to pop (ouch) and my left shin was hurting. Other than that, I was feeling pretty strong.
The race director told us that when we crossed a huge bridge in southern NH that was the 18-mile marker. I saw the bridge and then started running up it. Even though I felt good overall, my shin and blisters were hurting with every step I took, so I was excited to be nearing the finish. I finally saw bright yellow cones and crowds cheering, so I knew I was there. I booked it to the finish line and finished with a huge smile on my face!
Feeling so proud!
I was shocked when I stopped my watch and saw that I surpassed my goal of running at 8:45 pace – my official pace of 8:34 was eleven seconds faster! Physically, I knew I could run 20 miles. But I didn’t know I could do it that fast. This race gave me a serious confidence boost for the last month of marathon training. I definitely recommend this race to anyone who is considering it.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t sore from this race at all, but decided to try out NormaTec recovery boots the following day to help the legs recover anyway. We went to Wellness in Motion downtown and I loved using these boots! They pretty much squeeze your legs and the pressure moves up and down. We each used them for 45 minutes, and I might have to go again after the New Jersey Marathon.
Happy legs, happy Elizabeth
Have you ever used NormaTec recovery boots?
Have you ever thought you couldn’t do something but you end up proving yourself wrong?