Time for my occasional running report. Despite lingering heel pain, I decided to push myself and train for the brutally hilly Around Cape Ann 25K (15.7 miles) on Labor Day. So I spent much of the summer starting in late June building my endurance, including four long runs on the Around Cape Ann race course in Gloucester and Rockport. On race day, I was ready for the hills, but not for the 80-degree humidity, which kicked everyone's butt. I managed to slog through the race in 2:18 (with three of those minutes taken up by a Porta Potty stop at mile 8) with plenty of walk and water breaks. Still, I did it and my heels didn't bother me too much.
Eleven days later, it was time for my sixth consecutive Reach the Beach relay. Our team captain had to drop out at the last minute, which meant I had to take on the added task of picking up van 2 the day before the race. The van rental company helpfully moved the pickup place from Waltham to Allston and also didn't allow us to leave our cars there, so I had to get a ride to the place and then Deb had to follow me when I returned (fortunately, we've already found a more convenient, and cheaper, place for next year).
One huge difference this year was our start time. We started the 207-mile journey at 8 a.m. Friday, as opposed to 1 p.m. last year. Van 1 went up Thursday night so they could do the check-in (along with one of the van 2 runners) and then the rest of us in van 2 met up Friday morning and then went straight to the first transition area at Attitash. I was the third runner in the van and started my 6.4-mile leg a little after 3 p.m. Unlike last year, I wasn't suffering from a miserable hacking cough and I was prepared for the RTB hills. I finished the hilly leg in 49 minutes and felt pretty good.
After we were done our first legs, we grabbed some food at the transition area and just headed straight to the next one, where we settled in and tried to get some sleep. We were one of the first vans there at around 8 p.m. I maybe got an hour or so of sleep. Finally, van 1 arrived around 10 p.m. and their last runner arrived a short while later. My second leg was a brutal one: 8.5 extra-hilly miles at 2 a.m. in the pitch darkness. I wasn't particularly fast, but I finished in 1:11 (oddly, exactly the same as last year). We were done and transitioned to van 1 around 5 a.m.
The past five years, we always took a detour at this point and went to breakfast at the Airport Diner in Manchester. We decided to skip this tradition in favor of getting to the next transition in Kingston (at my old high school) and getting some sleep, and also because no breakfast places were open at 5:30 anyway. Once again, we were one of the first vans in the transition area. We got about four hours of rest (again, I might have gotten an hour of sleep) and then left our first runner to wait for van 1 while we headed to the next transition two miles down the road.
I started running my last leg around 10:30 a.m. Recently, I had written a column about the new trend of so-called maximalist shoes, which have extra cushioning. I interviewed the owner of New England Running Company in Beverly, who hooked me up with a pair of Hoka Cliftons to try out. I only picked them up two days before RTB, so I decided to use them for the first time on my last leg. It was 4.1 miles through Exeter, with a gradual hill and then a flat finish. The shoes felt a little strange at first as I got used to the cushioning, but I had a great run and finished in 30:34.
We crossed the finish line around 1 p.m. We ended up finishing in 28:47:56, an 8:20 pace. We finished 136th out of 500+ teams.
The following morning, I rousted myself at 7 a.m. after 10 hours of sleep and headed to Gloucester to run the Lone Gull 10K. Normally, I never would have done such a thing, but it was part of a race series I was doing and I figured I'd run it slow. It was a beautiful morning and I wore the Hokas again, and I felt good. It's a hilly course, but I powered through it and finished in 48:03 (47:43 by my watch), which was a hell of a lot faster than I expected.
I've got no more long races on my calendar for the year, just a few 5Ks and 5-milers, so I'm going to try to get a little faster. My heels are still sore, so I'm contemplating shutting it down and possibly doing PT again. I might do that after January 1 and then try to get back to do a late spring half marathon. All things considered, I'm 47 and still running at a decent clip. I'll take it.