2016 marked the 40th anniversary of the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women! It is one of my favorite 10ks I have ever completed.
On October 10, I toed the line of that race for the third time after setting not one but 2 PRs on this course.
In 2012, I set a THEN 10k PR with a time of 47:31. In 2015, I set my current 10k PR at this race with a time of 47:10. My first ever 10k time was 1:04:33 so I love seeing that my PR is a 17+ minute improvement.
I guess you can say my body really enjoys this race course. And you get some pretty amazing inspiration on the course as a number of Olympians/PROs can regularly be found at the front.
In 2016, however, I knew I would not be in PR shape so I opted to take the race as a fun chance to catch up with my friend Susan of Lifestyle of a Fashionista.
Our game plan was to keep the pace as consistent as possible. Susan was training for a half marathon so we were aiming for around a 9:30 min/mile average pace. Since I am horrible at pacing myself, but pretty good at setting a pace for others I was up for the challenge.
Do you think I was bright enough? Also do you like that I put my Twitter/Instagram handle on my bib?
Susan and I planned to meet at the race since I had to take the train from my house and she would be coming from downtown. The race starts and ends at the Boston Common. There is a huge stage set up and a local trainer gets up and pumps the crowd up and gets people moving with some warm up stretches and zumba.
I picked my bib and shirt up before heading to the port-o-potties. There are plenty, but there always seems to be a line so I try to go early. Even though I usually end up going right beforehand as well... damn nervous bladder!
I quickly ran into the Tufts VIP tent to see if I could see any of the members of the Team With A Vision, who had gotten me access to the tent. I am hoping to get more involved with that group over the next year. The tent, however, was packed and I wasn't able to find anyone. I did see my friend Kelly, who works for Tufts, so it was nice to catch up with her briefly. I grabbed a couple of waters and went to meet Susan.
After taking a once around the pre-party area to check out the vendors, we made our way back to bag check to deposit our stuff. I made my second bathroom run and we finally headed over to the start area.
The corrals aren't roped off, but there are pace signs. Since the street is so wide, it is easy to make your way up to your desired corral. Since you enter around the 11 min/mile mark, it is a fun way for me to bump into friends I know as we weave our way up to our desired pace sign. I love that even with a race with thousands of people I always find a way to locate my friends.
Once in our spot, we did a little stretching before testing out the race's snapchat filter.
I also spotted another friend and was able to quickly catch-up on how her pregnancy was going before the race announcements started.
While I said this is a womens 10k there are some men that register. From my understanding, they are Tufts employees that have the opportunity for complimentary entry through being a sponsor. I am not totally sure if there are any other men that register.
It was amazing to hear the story of 19 women who have run each and every year of this race since its original inception in 1977. Could you imagine making sure you are free, not injured and in town for this race year in and year out?
As soon as the gun went off and we crossed the Start Line, we spotted one of these amazing women. I just wanted to run near her the entire time and pick her brain about her entire running career and soak in some of her motivation and determination. Instead I took this creeper style picture, shouted something fan-girly at her and continued running. I know I crack under pressure and end up being awkward.
I absolutely love running down Beacon Street surrounded by 90% women. You see women of all shapes, sizes, ages and fitness abilities out there smiling, kicking butt and celebrating that they are healthy enough to tackle 6.2 miles through Boston.
Before we even turn right on to the Mass Ave bridge, we have knocked off a mile. Once on the bridge, you can see the other side of the street is set up for the wheelchair athletes and elites to come tearing down shortly.
Mile 1: 9:37
Since I can't pass up a chance to take a picture of this beautiful place I call home, Susan humors me and stops for a quick pic on the bridge.
Well I guess our heads take up a majority of the scenery. Here's one without our noggins.
I mean pretty special. Okay I might be biased.
We made our way over the bridge and took a right on to Memorial Drive. As we took a right, we saw women across from us who had already taken the turn and were heading towards the Mile 3 marker. Susan and I spotted our friend Kristina looking strong and her husband Eric doing some awesome spectacting. We continued on knowing that soon enough it would be our turn to turn around and we would be able to cheer on the ladies behind us heading toward the Mile 2 marker. (I think that makes sense if you look at the course map above, right?)
Mile 2: 9:32
Just after making the turn there was the first water stop of the day. We thanked the volunteers for coming out, grabbed a water and took a quick walk break. I appreciate when running with Susan that she enjoys taking the walk through the water stop like I do.
The field was looking strong. I love running without headphones and listening to the laughs of the women around me as they share stories with their running mate or a new friend from the course.
As we made our way towards the underpass where we cross under Mass Ave and continue on Memorial Drive to our next turnaround.
It was around this time that I shared with Susan how I had to take a bathroom break during the race in 2015 right around this time and thankfully spotted a construction site in the median and they had a port-o-potty. Looks you gotta go when you gotta go. I got some odd looks from the people around me, but I felt 1,000 times better.
Luckily no need for a bathroom break at this time. :0)
There were a good number of spectators out enjoying their Columbus Day and cheering on the racers.
Mile 3: 9:24
Just about a 1/4 mile past the 3-mile mark was the next water stop. It was great being able to see the other racers coming back towards us. I know not everyone likes an out and back type turnaround, but for the most part I do. Especially on this stretch. I love running along the Charles River so I am happy to do so whenever I can, but it also gives me so many opportunities to cheer on the other participants. To see their smiling faces. To see some struggling, but digging deep and pushing towards their goal. It is inspiring and motivating the entire stretch.
Right around the 3.5 mile mark, it is time to switch directions and make our way back to the Mass Ave bridge. I get sad around that turn because I know the race is almost over. :( Yes I get sad during many races when they are almost over.
But spending time with this lady always makes me smile. :)
I appreciate the race having 5 water stops on the course. It is just under 1 per mile and they are spaced well apart.
Mile 4: 9:41
We were cruising and crushing our average pace. Every so often I like to check in with whoever I am running with to make sure pace is going well. I am prone to say "If you want to go faster feel free to leave me" on the regular. I don't know if I feel people don't really want to run with me or I don't want people to hold their pace back to run with me. I am always worried I am holding someone back. I know people feel that way with me sometimes, but I am always happy to run with any friend at whatever pace they need. But Susan said she was having a great time so we got back to business.
Once we came back over the Mass Ave bridge, all I could think about was the Mile 5 water stop.
Why? Because it is the men of the TMIRCE (The Most Informal Running Club Ever) dressed in tuxes. And this year my friend Barry would be one of them.
Can you tell Susan was excited for the men in tuxes?
And all of a sudden... there they were!
Awesome job Barry and all the guys!
Mile 5: 9:24
We took a turn on to Arlington and I always get a punch in the gut. It was on this stoop that I sat and waited for my family after the bombings in 2013.
All of the emotions coming flooding back whenever I am near that area.
As quickly as we came on to Arlington we were off of it and making our final two lefts towards the Finish.
Mile 6: 9:14
We could see the Finish Line in our horizons as we turned back on to Charles Street. We had 0.2 miles to go. We certainly gave it a little kick at the end.
FINAL TIME: 59:18 (9:33 min/mile pace)
Just after crossing we saw 7-year old Maddie who had also just finished. I remember seeing her on the course last year as well. I love her energy and her pink pushrim wheelchair.
Susan and I followed the flow of the Finish chute to grab our water and free snacks.
I wish there was a Finisher's medal, but I have never received one at this race.
We headed over to the Tufts VIP tent to use it as a meeting point to find the other Slumbrew Happy Soles running and my coworkers.
Once everyone had freed their bags from bag check and made it over to the side of the VIP tent. We broke up into multiple cars/ubers to head to the Slumbrew brewery for lunch and a celebratory drink.
What a fine looking crew. Am I right?
Overall the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women was a well-run and motivating race. Great volunteers. Plenty of water and gatorade. I just wish they had medals, but that is a personal preference of every race. :P I do like the race shirt they give each year.
Have you ever run a race every year of its existence?