The April Fools Half race is typically one of my favorite races of the year. I PRed in 2014, won in 2015, and as most people know last year wasn’t my day. Even though last year wasn’t my day, I enjoyed how well the race was put together and seeing friends.
Moving forward, not running well in 2017 meant I was hoping to run better in 2018. I wanted redemption (for myself). As the race drew closer, I found myself having similar burn out symptoms as 2017. A few weeks ago, I took several days off and focused on rest and recovery. It was what I needed, and when the race drew closer, I felt more ready.
Like many racers this past weekend (People that ran Boston are awesome!), the conditions were not pleasant. It was spitting rain, and extremely windy. For me, I would rather it rain or not rain. The change in weather made it difficult to prepare for.
Racing in torrential downpours is different than running in a dry 45 degree. While driving down, I noticed we were going to deal with direct headwind and tailwind. In 2016, it year it was Gail force winds, but crosswinds. You never got a direct headwind, just sidewind down the shore. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was better than racing through a headwind. This year it looked like you would run fast going out, then get your face smacked with the wind coming back.
And that’s exactly what happened.
I was between 5 different outfits depending on if the rain held off but ultimately decided to wear my Goretex jacket and shorts. I was happy I did. Between my half marathon and Boston, it’s amazing to me, how many people are embarrassed to race in a jacket. Race smart, and put some clothes on.
We got to the start around 6:45, chatted with friends, then lined up at 8. By the time I knew it, we were off! When the race started, I immediately found myself running alone. I remained alone for the entire race. I was within 15 seconds of one male, but for the most part, I ran alone.
The first few miles went by quickly. We had a significant tailwind. I ran between 6:15-6:17 and hit the first 5k in 19:26. I felt good and better than I have in a while. Of course, the wind helped, but mentally I felt good.
The next few miles left the boardwalk. I began counting down the miles. It’s never good when you start counting down the miles at mile 5.
I hit the 10k in a wind-aided 38:13. It was just under PR pace. I’m not one to take my races out fast, and the pace was faster than my PR at Phoenix. I didn’t suddenly think, today I would PR because I knew the headwind would be nasty. I did, however, feel good. ]
At 6.55 miles in, we turned around, and that is pretty much where all of the “race action” happened.
Immediately, into hitting the wind, I thought omg this will be rough. We were running into an unblocked 35 mph headwind. Which we did for the remainder of the race. You could see the waves crashing on the shore and birds basically going backward. At some points, I would stop dead in my tracks. I had no one to draft off of, no one to commiserate with, just me and my thoughts (which mostly consisted of 4 letter words).
I knew it was important to run for the conditions and forget about pace. I ran mile 7 in 6:27. The next two miles were two of the hardest miles I’ve run in my life (behind mile 16 of the New York City Marathon). The wind was blowing straight in your face.
We were tucked along the shore, and the buildings didn’t provide a lot of protection. I began passing racers going the opposite direction who were cheering. I recognized many and tried to cheer, but it was difficult to hear anything over the wind blasting in your face. I ran mile 8 in 7:15 and mile 9 in 6:58. Two of my slowest half marathon miles in a long time, but I didn’t care. I knew what the conditions were.
At mile 9, I told myself okay 4 miles to go. We entered the unprotected boardwalk. The shore was right there, and along the coast it gets windy. I’ve never run in 35 mph headwind for a race, let alone along the waterfront. Before the race, I had thought maybe a jacket was too much, but at mile 9 I was happy with it. I had purposely only put 2 pins on my bib in case I wanted to delayer, but I was cold the last 4 miles.
I kept plugging along, and the miles slowly started ticking away. My legs felt great, but the headwind was still there. The miles went by without a lot of excitement.
Around mile 12, a woman darted across the boardwalk. The boardwalk is wooden, and with the rain the boardwalk was slick. The slickness is what caused me to wear the more cushioned Nike Zoom Fly, versus a racing flat. Coincidently, I chose the shoe so I wouldn’t slip and fall.
When the cyclist saw the women, he told her to get off the course. I, not as nicely, said to move. She didn’t, and within a second we collided and were both on the ground. I fell directly onto my tailbone. There was nothing more the cyclist or myself could have done to prevent that. It stunk, but it happened.
I layed there, on the ground at mile 12 of the race I desperately wanted to finish strong. The adrenaline kicked in, and before I knew it, I was up again. My adrenaline was pumping, just telling myself I had 7 more minutes of running. At that point, nothing hurt. The cyclist asked me if I was okay and I said yes. All I could think about was finishing the race.
The last mile was tough, to begin with. It’s a straight line, down the boardwalk. It was windy, I had just fallen, and wanted the race to be done. Finally, I saw the finish.
Like 2015, they weren’t able to inflate the blow up this year due to the wind. Then I saw I was going to break the tape.
Every emotion came out. The previous night’s makeup was running from the rain, I was smiling, and I crossed the finish line in 1:26.08.
After the race, I was asked about my back. I chose not to cool down, because of my tailbone. I talked with friends, including my good friend and local runner Erin.
I did get an X-ray which didn’t find anything broken. In my personal experience, x-rays have never shown small fractures but if anything, I know it’s not shattered. I’ve never hurt my tailbone before! That being said, I’m still cautious. Due to where I hit, I got a few other tests done including a spinal tap to make sure nothing around my brain was bleeding (which it isn’t).
While 1:26.08 is “only” 9 seconds faster than the previous year: the weather was much more difficult (the weather was almost ideal last year), but most importantly, I crossed mentally feeling good.
Questions for you:
Did you race last weekend? How was it?
Have you ever fallen during a race?