You may know the Boston Athletic Association from this tiny race they put on called The Boston Marathon. I know I know it is rarely talked about so not everyone is in the old loop about it. Well it takes place on Patriots Day in Boston every April. A couple of folks get together and enjoy 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. Still don't know about it? Eh it's okay. It's never televised or anything. ;) Well the BAA puts on more than that little marathon. In 2012, the BAA created the Distance Medley and you know I had to take part. I was a challenge consisting of a 5k (April), a 10k (June) and a Half Marathon (October). If you completed all three races, you would receive and additional medal. YUP that's where they had me!
In 2014, I would complete the Distance Distance Medley. Yes I made that up but it meant I would be running the BAA 5k, 10k, Half AND Full. No extra medal was offered, but I will pretend I got one and offer that up to the BAA for future ideas.
So Sunday marked the final race in the Distance Medley - the BAA Half.
This is one well-run race. The BAA has the system down pact and as a participant I truly appreciate that.
The race began at 8:30 so the wife and I jumped in the car just after 7am so she could drop me off near the Franklin Park Zoo, where the race began/ended. I opted for an english muffin/pb before leaving the house and a KIND bar to use as fuel before and during the race.
I arrived at the Start Area just before 7:30 and was glad I chose to wear a throwaway shirt as it was chilly! Hello Fall. I beelined for the port-o-potties to get that out-of-the-way and started taking laps around the Start Area to stay warm. Okay I was also looking for anyone I knew since I knew a ton of people at the race, but hadn't made specific plans to meet up with anyone.
Thanks Pattie for finding me and catching up!!
At 8:05am I made my way over to the Start Area. I remembered in 2012 that the Start Corrals were a mess as folks ignored the Pace signs and just tried to get into the Start Corral. Things seemed to run much smoother this year.
While the acting race director (actual race director of BAA was in Kona competing in Iron Man World Championships) and the Mayor spoke, I stretched in the Start Corral and took the opportunity to snap a selfie.
For the first time since the Dopey Challenge in January, I opted to run with music. Since I was sick the last thing I wanted to do was spend 13 miles listening to my horrible breathing/coughing. :P I'd let the people around me suffer through that. ;)
Following the wheelchairs going off, it was our turn. Just after 8:30am, me and 8000 of my closest friends set out to enjoy 13.1 miles.
I didn't have a hard time goal for the race, but in the back of my mind I wanted to finish sub-2. But I knew I would have to listen to my breathing and my body during the race to really set the tone.
The announcer reminded everyone that the first half of the race is more downhill, while the second half was the uphill fun and to race accordingly.
Just like the Boston Marathon the Half starts out on an immediate downhill. I could see myself getting swept up with the runners around me so I recommitted mentally to focusing on MY race. It wouldn't be a PR day - not close to it - so no reason to race recklessly.
I didn't have anyone out specifically cheering for me, but since I knew so many folks racing I hoped to see many familiar faces on the course cheering and running.
Mile 1: 8:06 Mile 2: 8:40 Mile 3: 8:30
I LOVE the Mile 3/4 area of the race because it features an out and back. So not only do I get to see the elite athletes FLY past me, but after I go through the turnaround I can see my friends coming towards me. :)
Mile 4: 8:17 Mile 5: 8:32
5-Mile Check-In: 42:51 (8:34 min/mile pace)
I appreciate BAA offering runner tracking for free for the BAA Half. It allowed not only my wife to track me, but I could update Twitter on the fly. BAA sent out Start, 5-Mile, 10-Mile and Finish Time updates. I love me some free updates.
The weather was perfect and it helped keep my breathing in check. I made sure to take water or gatorade at every water stop and walk through those stops. That 10 second break for my legs and breathing was crucial to me feeling in control throughout the entire run.
Mile 6: 8:33
Just after the 10k mark, I took a quick walk break to have another portion of my KIND bar. Now I am not one to usually carry part of a bar in the back pocket of my shorts and I know why. Hello sweaty KIND bar. :P But it did the trick and thankfully didn't taste any extra salty. ;) I'm happy I carried extra fuel!
Not sure if BAA had a discussion with the trees, but we were entering a gorgeous typical New England Fall landscape and I was loving it.
Why yes the pretty landscape made the incline we were tackling a tad bit easier. Okay not sure everyone would agree with me on that, but it is how I felt in the moment.
I was doing a really good job of ignoring my Garmin during the run. Pace was the farthest thing from my mind. I wanted to soak up the beauty.
And cherish that I was healthy enough to be out on this great course doing something I love.
With my feet moving on auto pilot, my mind was allowed to wander to think about how my life has changed due to weight loss, Weight Watchers and running.
A quick text to friends and the wife letting them know I had hit Mile 7 and I was back to soaking in the race.
Mile 7: 9:07
The crowds were pocketed, but mighty. Spectating a race can be a chore I know - waiting around all that time to catch a glimpse of the person you love come by - but I want to thank all the spectators for cheering on the countless strangers. Many a time that extra high five from a little kid has picked me up enough to push through to the next mile.
Mile 8: 8:27
Through Mile 8 we were making our way back towards the Franklin Park Zoo and the final climb to the Finish. I hadn't run the race since 2012, but the course came back to me as the miles passed.
I was coughing more, but seeing friends I knew on the course kept me pushing forward, but I needed help from my social media crowd to push through the final 4 miles, which I knew were hillier than the previous 9.
A call to social media meant I needed another selfie.
Mile 9: 8:17
Just after I took the Mile 9 selfie I noticed the boyfriend and the fiancee of two of my Tedy's Team teammates. They didn't know how much I needed those smiles and high-fives. Again, it motivated me forward.
It was time to start playing the mental games of "Oh you only have 4 miles left" and "You ran that with Sarah yesterday you can do it now."
The Mile 10-11 stretch is an out and back with a hefty incline attached to it. I remembered this portion in 2012 seeming never-ending, but this year it wasn't as tough as I recalled. I guess that means I feel stronger now or I built it up more in my mind. You decide. ;)
Mile 10: 8:39
10-Mile Check-In: 1:26:41 (8:40 min/mile pace)
Mile 11: 8:19
Just after the Mile 11 water stop comes the biggest hill of the race. THIS was what I had apparently blocked from my memory. Ha. As we took the right to start the ascent up, I noticed a bunch of spectators walking up the hill to the left. I asked a few if they wanted to tap in and finish the race for me, but they just laughed at me. Apparently they didn't think I was serious??? :P I also asked a group of spectators if I was running in the right direction for the beer. Again just laughter. Well at least I could entertain them, right?
Can we tell I have a little fun while out on the course?
After the incline we are treated with a mile through the Franklin Park Zoo. How can you be angry when you get to run through a zoo during a race?
I tried to snap a picture of the birds, but it didn't come out very well.
Also it was a little BS that I couldn't buy some mid-run Dippin Dots for fuel.
I do regret not going back and attempting to take a mid-run selfie with the Camel in the Zoo. I feel like I let myself down there, but I didn't spot the camel until I was well past it. Next time I'll be more aware! I promise. :)
Mile 12: 8:39
The crowds were thick as we came out of the Zoo and headed to the Finish chute. We finish along the track within White Stadium, which is pretty sweet since the stands are full of spectators.
Mile 13: 8:18
I decided I wanted to up my selfie game and snap one as I crossed the Finish Line.
Now I am just waiting to see how it looked from the MarathonFoto photographers' angle. :)
Official FINISH TIME: 1:52:58 (8:37 min/mile pace)
Besides my Garmin saying 13.34 miles the finish time was spot on. I beelined it to my friend Greg, who was handing out Finisher's Medals. I had promised him that we would take a selfie together after he hung my medal around my neck.
Greg is an unbelievably motivating person who kicks ass on the running and triathlon fronts. Plus he let's me bother him with my asinine training questions. :) Thank you internet for brining Greg into my world.
Following the Half medal pick-up, I had to grab my Distance Medley medal.
Oh hey hey pretty bling!
After you pick up your medals, you are directed right into the post-race food area: protein bars, bananas, bagels and additional snacks from B.Good. I went STRAIGHT to the bagels and was psyched to see Chocolate Chip bagels. I have never seen Chocolate Chips bagels at the end of any other race than a BAA one.
Mmmm worth every Weight Watchers Point.
The only downside is BAA races don't offer post-race beer. We know that is a must for the races I sign up for. So this is an exception.
Overall the race was a great experience as always with clear directions/signage, tons of volunteers and great spectator support. Plus the bling is pretty sweet.
My second distance medley was in the books and I think I will keep adding it into the mix every couple of years. It is hard to commit in January when sign ups occur to be home each of those weekends in April, June and October.
I highly recommend the Distance Medley to all of my friends. But if you aren't up for that the BAA Half is a great first half for any of my friends/readers ready to take that next step in their racing.
Have you ever done a race series challenge or the Distance Medley itself?