Guest blog by Leslie O’Dell
Sunday was my first time racing the Boston Prep 16-Miler. This race wasn’t even on my radar until Jim Johnson suggested it last Monday when it was pretty certain that the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race was going to be cancelled. A year ago, I would have had ZERO interest in this race, but it looked challenging and right around the mileage I’ve been training up to, so I was in. By Wednesday, Sidehiller was a definite cancellation, so I actually got excited about Boston Prep and started mentally preparing for it. With Saturday night’s storm, I was a little worried they could postpone the race, but by the time Sunday rolled around, the weather was perfect.
Sunday morning, I got up early since my son, John, was coming with me. I had to get his stuff together and make breakfast. Sunday races are now presenting a new challenge for me since I have John every Sunday. I’ve had to start asking for help (which I hate doing, but I’m learning), and aR teammate, Kathleen Boulter, stepped up to the plate for me in a big way. She lives close by and came over to hang out with John while I raced. We got to the race really early, and while we waited in the gym for Kathleen to arrive, I scoped out the competition. I didn’t know anyone there except Jim and Rich Lavers. I had no idea who any of the women were. They were all dressed “fast”, so I didn’t know if it was for show or the real deal. I, on the other hand, purposely dressed “slow” with a denim running skirt and a non-team singlet (opted for my Level Renner tank).
Once John was all set with Kathleen, I got a decent 1.5-mile warm-up. By the end, I was too warm so I stripped down a layer and got prepared to head to the start. As soon as I turned the corner to the start, I spotted the one woman I knew would be my competition, and sure enough, she was. And the ONLY one. As soon as the race started, I immediately passed every woman who started in front of me, but her. It was good to have her there because she really pulled me along and had me at my max right from the get-go. I never was able to catch her, but stayed consistently about 20 yards back until the halfway point. I could tell by the way she was running that she was taking it easy, so my goal was really just to stay with her for as long as I could, but, man, she had me going hard. By mile 6, my legs were already burning. Every muscle, quads, hamstrings, calves. I actually started to get nervous that I was going to bonk by mile 10. I did lose a bit of momentum when the hills started, and I struggled up them. I’m a good uphiller, but my legs were trashed. I just did what I could to stay under an 8 minute pace for those 3 miles and was surprised to stay in the low 7s for the first two and 7:31 for the third. At mile marker 11, I got a nice surprise when Kathleen and John showed up to cheer me on. It has had to be over 2 years, maybe 3, since I’ve been able to see John mid-race. I loved seeing him there, and it really brightened my mood for the rest of the way. I got passed by two men during those 3 miles, but as soon as the hills were done, I was able to somewhat catch back up with the guy who would eventually finish in front of me. My legs were completely done for the last 3 miles, but I just kept pushing hard all the way to the finish. I didn’t know who was behind me, so I couldn’t let up at all and finished strong as 2nd woman, 20th overall with a 1:45:45, an average pace of 6:37. I had no idea what I was going to run coming into this. My weak goal was a sub-2 hour; my top goal was a 6:45 pace, since I’ve been feeling slow and heavy for the past month. I surprised myself with a strong run on a tough course, so I’m really happy with the run. It’s good to know I’m right where I want to be.
Post-race was a decent spread of food in the cafeteria at the middle school. I won a Boston Prep hoody in the awards. The best awards were the bottles of syrup… like the one Jim won. Unfortunately, my son had a spaz moment and knocked Jim’s bottle off the table and onto the floor, smashing it into pieces. It was awful. I felt so bad, and I don’t think he will let me live this one down… ever. I should have anticipated an 8 year old boy anywhere near a glass bottle on a table as an accident waiting to happen, but I didn’t. I usually move any glasses away from his arms without even thinking about it, but I guess I was distracted this time. Bummer.
So other than that, it was a good day. My next long race is Eastern States 20-miler, with a whole bunch of snowshoe races in between. If I can fit anything else in that looks interesting, then I’m game.
Follow Leslie’s training and racing on her blog Mountain Llama.