It's not every day you are invited to participate in one of the world's most-recognized road races. But luckily this year New Balance did just that for me inviting me to run in the 42nd Annual Falmouth Road Race (7 miles) on August 17th.
As always all thoughts on the race are mine and of course honest ... ain't nobody got time for lyin'!
This would be my second time running Falmouth. After being selected in the lottery, I ran it in 2012 during the 40th anniversary when they offered a rare medal for Finishers because of the big anniversary.
Following 2012 race
We opted to head down to the Cape the day before the race and hang out at my parents' camper in Sandwich, MA - a short 30 min or so ride to the Shuttle Buses for the race. I was happy to NOT be one of those racers riding down from Boston on the morning of OR forking over an arm and a leg to pay for a place. :)
I want to thank my Tedy's Team mate Allie for picking up my bib and special welcome gift from New Balance at the Expo for me while we made our way down to the Cape in traffic. Allie came through in the clutch.
Now normally the New Balance Falmouth Road Race starts at 10am, but this year it had a 9am Start Time. This meant a 5am wake-up call for my support team (dad and wife) and me.
You may ask for a 30 minute drive to the Shuttle Buses why would I be up so early?
Well the Falmouth Road Race is a point to point race, which means myself and 12,800 of my closest friends need to take those Shuttle Buses to the Start area in Woods Hole. Shuttle Buses run from 5:45-7:45am.
My Tedy's Team mates would be meeting around 6:30/6:45 at the shuttle bus area so I wanted to hook up with the crew before we boarded the buses.
What a fine looking crew!
Around 7:30am, we got in line with our friends to board the school buses.
It was a quick ride up to Woods Hole. The Falmouth Road Race volunteers are amazing and have the loading and unloading areas running like clock work.
We unloaded in Woods Hole and headed to find the port-o-potties. There were ample port-o-potty areas available to the runners.
Usually Falmouth offered strict corral placement and policing, but switched it up here in 2014 with pulse starting.
This year, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race is introducing the “Pulse Start” system as an improved plan to start large numbers of runners within a venue site of limited size. This system is possible due to use of chip timing, that allows for all runners to receive an accurate time based on their crossings of the official start and finish lines. The "Pulse Start" has received excellent industry-wide runner feedback.
Goal: to give every runner the best experience possible
- This includes the ability now to run from the start with less congestion on the course
- Pulse intervals within each pace group are set at time intervals [approx. 2 minutes between] thus allowing for less congestion at the Start and on the course
- Each pace group will have multiple pace starts
My Tedy's Teammate Meg and I would be running together and decided to line up between the 8 and 9 min pace signs. There was a great atmosphere on race morning with amazing weather and a bunch of talented elite runners on site (Oh Hey Meb!).
After having the pleasure of meeting a couple of blog readers and the brains behind Somerville's own Runfellow gear, the pulse starts began.
Coming off the quad injury in the previous week I didn't set high expectations time wise for the race, but kept the main goal as Having Fun!
With over 12,000 runners meant a lot of tight running at the beginning of the race. The first three miles of the course are the tightest and also feature a majority of the hills and shade.
The self-seeding is a tricky game to play as many participants line up incorrectly resulting in tripping, elbowing and generally unsafe running conditions. I always line up in the area closest to my actual pace in order to keep the course safe and you should too. Runners Safety Moment From Me To You
Meg and I were doing the best bobbing and weaving that we could to try and get into a groove where we could find a comfortable pace and run next to each other. It was Meg's first time running Falmouth so I was playing guide the best I could.
Mile 1: 9:03 Mile 2: 8:49
I thought the race did a great job with the number of water stops available and trying to keep them balanced between the left and right sides of the road.
Not many races can beat the breathtaking views of the ocean that Falmouth has. The Sun was shining and the water was glistening. My quads felt pretty darn good even as we battled through the ups and downs of the first few miles of the race. It was my pesky left quad that was being a stick in the mud. It isn't a sharp or alarming pain just a constant reminder that the hamstring will require rest post Half Ironman (Sept 7).
Meg and I have done most of the long training runs for Boston Marathon together the past two years so we have a pretty good rhythm when we run together which I love and had missed. It can get pretty boring running alone without music. So we were able to use this time to catch up.
Mile 3: 8:39
Now the extra joy of this race was hitting the 3.5 mark and realizing we were already halfway done. Hey oh! Falmouth is definitely original with it's 7-mile distance. The story behind it says that the race creator, Tommy Leonard, was at a bar in Falmouth and someone said to him that he couldn't run home, which was about 7 miles away in Woods Hole. And that is how the race was born. Well that is what rumor says.
(Note: more on the history can be found here)
Halfway there selfie
The spectators along the course cheer with the same enthusiasm and dedication as those at that drape the roads along the Boston Marathon route.
Residents offer up their own water stops and even put aside what it will due to their water bills by spraying water from garden hoses across the course. Ohhh it felt awesome each time I ran under one.
There are bar owners and locals playing music and holding up signs everywhere you turn.
Additionally, you can find cheering sections for each of the charities running in the race along the course as well.
I may or may not have gotten shafted by a little kid looking for high fives. Apparently mine wasn't good enough for him. #Ouch
Mile 4: 8:21 Mile 5: 8:30
The crowds were really digging the Sparkle Athletic skirt and my Wonder Woman socks. I was getting a ton of cheers and loving the support. Falmouth puts your name on your bib if you sign up before a certain date, which is also a great motivator during the run as random strangers are calling out your name.
It seemed as soon as we hit Mile 5 the weather was taking its toll on some of the runners. Many were starting to walk or slow down. I was still feeling good. Thankfully Meg was willing to hang back with me and keep the pace where it was. I honestly didn't even know what pace we were at because I was so focused on the action around me and keeping in tune with how my body was feeling.
I was pleasantly surprised when my Garmin buzzed at Mile 5 with an 8:30 pace. :)
Mile 6: 8:27
The crowds are thick and rowdy as you head into the final couple of miles, which really carries you to that final hill that you know is coming during the last mile.
But once you crest that hill you KNOW it's all downhill to the Finish Line. As you top the hill, you see the glorious sight of the huge American Flag that flies over the Finish.
Yes I get teary when I see it thinking of the thousands of folks that have run this race before me: family, friends, Olympians.
Mile 7: 8:14
It was a truly beautiful day and the race was over before we knew it. I had a great run into the Finish and even saw my wife and dad just before crossing.
Final Time: 1:00:49 (8:42 min/mile pace)
Once I saw the Finish Time, I wished I had lined up earlier or pushed it harder to break one hour. I had finished the 2012 race in 58:10. But with injury, etc, I was happy with the results.
And I fulfilled my main goal: I had fun the entire time. :)
My Garmin gave me 7.1 miles on the nose, but the official course description says 7 miles so we will go with that since I did do extra bobbing and weaving along the way.
Since it wasn't an anniversary year there wasn't a Finisher's Medal - man I wish they did one - but I can't be too picky I know.
Meg and I grabbed a water before heading to the Finish Area to find both of our families. The post-race grub included Cape Cod Chips, pretzels, peanuts, bananas and Yasso bars. Mmm I grabbed a Mint Chocolate Chip Yasso Bar (2 PPV) and it was delicious.
But I was ready for a celebratory beer. We headed off to the post-race Tedy's Team BBQ, which was being held at a house just a mile away from the Finish Area. A little post-race shakeout walk.
The hamstring was feeling a little tight, but the rest of me was feeling great! My dad and wife caught me up on their morning, their delicious breakfast and their race spectating highlights.
I will say a highlight for me was when a little boy that I was the real Wonder Woman because his dad led him to believe it. The excitement on his face was priceless and I wanted to take him home with me. :P
The BBQ had delicious Samuel Adams beer, Papa Ginos pizza, snacks, veggies and more. Thank you again Tedy's Team for having my family and I.
I think I even have Tedy's kids participating in my birthday virtual 5k fundraiser. They understand the awesomeness of a Finisher's medal. :)
Tedy Bruschi and I
After an amazing morning, it was time to head back to Sandwich and relax the rest of the day ... the Cape way.
Thank you again to New Balance and Tedy's Team for a great Falmouth Road Race.
Have you run the Falmouth Road Race? What is your favorite part?