Gaspee Recap

There’s a sweet spot in New England weather that promises the arrival of summer. It’s warm but not hot, not too humid, but most of the spring pollen is on its way out. This past weekend brought just those promises to life!

Saturday started with the Gaspee Days 5K, the culminating activity from last year’s Beginners Running Group. A year ago, we were nervous to mingle with “real runners” and doubted our training. This year, we were seasoned, having multiple 5Ks and a half-marathon under our belts! It was great to return to see our progress and help a new round of BRG graduates to complete their goal.

Photo courtesy gaspee.org

Those who are not local may not be familiar with the story of the HMS Gaspee. While everyone knows about the Boston Tea Party, the burning of the British customs ship the Gaspee occurred the previous year, leading up to the start of the American Revolution. Each year, the town celebrates Gaspee Days over the course of several weekends. There is an arts and crafts festival, fireworks, music, race and parade, and even a reenactment of the burning.

It is worth noting that the Gaspee race is one of the most challenging 5Ks around; it contains long, sloping hills that never seem to end. But the race also happens before the start of a parade, so there are thousands of people cheering you on. Residents set up sprinklers for runners; kids hold out their hands to high five racers. While it is a challenging course, the energy is fantastic!

I was excited to run this race, even though I have been nursing an injury and haven’t really been able to get a good run in since the half-marathon last month. My expectations were not high for this race; my goal was only to improve my time from last year, even if only by seconds. At the beginning of the race, I took off, pushed by the crowd and excitement. My first mile was 11:11, a pace I knew I couldn’t sustain. (Remember, I am an okay runner!) My sugar started to drop, and I felt a little woozy. I slowed down at times, allowing myself to walk some of the tougher hills.

I made it through the turnaround, enjoying my turn under the passing sprinklers. I was just starting to get discouraged at mile two when I saw my friend Kerri waiting for me.

“You don’t need to wait for me; I’m not running as much.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I need to walk a bit.”

“We can walk tot he top of the hill. Then, we’re running.”

And we did. Kerri stayed by my side throughout the race, slowing down when necessary, but keeping me motivated to try my best. I would not have pushed myself so hard had it not been for her encouragement, to remind myself that I am stronger than I think. I need people who believe in me when I am doubting myself.

Pushed to a PR!

Kerri stayed with me until the final turn of the race. For that final .1, I pushed myself as hard as I could, finishing the race in 36:44, two and a half minutes faster than last year! That gave me a PR for my 5k, which I know will improve when I race again on a flatter, more forgiving course! My current goal is to complete a 5K in the 35-minute range.

Words cannot express how happy I am that I joined BRG last year.  I am grateful for the confidence BRG provided to teach myself that I, too, am a runner. I can set goals, work towards them, and achieve them. The summer offers a lull before “race season,” which includes a 5K, four-miler, 10K, and another half-marathon. Now that I know I can do all of these things, I can focus on getting stronger. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings!

10K or Bust?

Most of my runs stay in the three-mile range.  I know I could run farther, three-miles fits my schedule and ability. In group runs, we often talk about completing longer races.  Many complete 10K and 10 milers regularly.  It seemed like a distant dream for me.  Then I remembered that running three miles used to seem impossible.

Registration for the  Ocean Road 10K opened today.  A lot of the Rhode Runner group participates.  I know there will be a lot of support and friendly faces there.  The race isn’t until September 2018, allowing a lot of time to prepare.  Being a worrywart, I looked up last year’s results.  There few almost 1400 runners; at my current expected pace, I should be faster than 200 of them.  I have over ten months to get stronger and faster!

Yesterday was my first run in the suddenly cooler weather.  Wow, it was terrible!  I just thought that wearing longer pants and sleeves would be enough.  My lungs burned!  That was an expected surprise!  After doing some reading online, I learned that keeping my neck warm should help; Target sells fleece scarves that will do the trick.  Running in the cooler weather required changing up a few things.  I was not expecting my nose to start running fast than the rest of my body and my arms to get so cold.  After maintaining paces in the low 12’s, I was back in the low 13’s.  To face this new awkwardness, I signed up for a Thanksgiving morning race in Maine.  I’ll miss running with my friends at the local race; I’ll still be able to get in a race and enjoy an extra treat that evening!

Just like all of the challenges life throws at us daily, running in the cold will be a fun new one!  It will take some adjustments, but I will get where I need to be!