Baystate Marathon. The Recap. Part II.

Thank God Colby updated the world on our epic day at the Baystate Marathon in a timely manner. Had you waited for me, you might think we were still running it 2 1/2 weeks later.

It was a GREAT DAY. This is actually somewhat of an understatement. We were together this past weekend and talked about how it was such a wonderful day – from (oh, so early) start to finish.

First, the Baystate Marathon itself is terrific. I had never run a small marathon before. The race organizers and Expo volunteers could not have been nicer or more helpful. It definitely set the tone for the whole event. (PS – Baystate has continued to impress even after the event finished – we got an e-mail a few days after the race stating that because the race organizers were unhappy with the finish on our medals chipping, they are mailing every finisher a new medal sometime next month. Talk about customer service).

We got up bright and early on Sunday morning and were out the door by 5:30 AM. Had our first massive laugh of the day when we pulled into a Dunkin Donuts in a sketchy neighborhood on our way to the race. Colby and I first raised an eyebrow when we saw that there were “No Loitering” signs at each table that limited even paying customers to 20 minutes. Then, when she asked to use the bathroom, she needed to be buzzed in. Needless to say, once she was released from the custody of the bathroom, we decided to take our orders to go.

We parked – on the street – about 2 blocks from the start. I can’t even do that for local 5K’s. Or my local J Crew, for that matter. Awesome. Plenty of time to mill around and use one of the 8 zillion clean porta potties sprinkled around the area. Bag check took approximately 4 seconds, and there was a warm place to wait inside for the start.

Oh, did I mention it was cold? It was cold. Perfect running weather. Not perfect hanging around waiting to run weather. We were grateful for the warm place to wait.

We headed to the start around 20 minutes before start time but decided not to enter the almost empty corral because there would not be enough body heat there to keep us warm. I kid you not. Had Colby and I taken our places in the corral at that point, we probably could have toed the start line. Instead, we stood next to a building to break the wind and thought warm thoughts. I in particular had a really hard time staying warm, and Bestie that she is, Colby blew hot air into my back as I shivered waiting for the start. Friends don’t let friends freeze to death.

After a beautifully sung national anthem and a chaos free start, we were off. You may recall that I was nervous about this race because I didn’t have time to train properly. Another understatement. Most of my weeks had mileage in the 30-35 mile range. I had only one week where I topped 40. And some lower than 30. Yikes. By the time I got to “taper,” I didn’t know what to do because if I cut my mileage as per the normal guidelines, I would be below zero.

Well, next time I sign up for a marathon, I’m going to train by sitting on my couch and eating donuts, because I felt great in this race from start to finish.

The larger lesson, of course, is that you just never know how you will feel on race day. You can train perfectly and come down with a bug or an ache. The weather may be horrible, or you might get stuck in a bottleneck at the start that rattles you. You might even have a severe allergic reaction to something the night before the race that throws you off your game (Naaah. That never happens.)

I apparently trained “enough,” I guess, given that I had a solid base of training behind me from the two other marathons I ran in the past year, and the race conditions were perfect. Cold, only a little windy, and not too crowded. And the course, as advertised, is flat and fast.

The course was well marked, well supplied with water stations and had some really pretty sections along the Merrimack River. Spectators were strong in a few areas and spotty in most others, but that didn’t bother me at all. Nor did the fact that part of the course was a loop that you run twice. It was a huge loop and only partially overlapped. I definitely did not feel like I was running in circles.

There was not one part of this race where my stomach bothered me or I felt like I was going to hit a wall. I enjoyed myself every moment of this 26.2 mile run. What a gift.

I happily trucked along for the whole damn race.

I happily trucked along for the whole race. I look a little like I may have been speedwalking here – I swear, I wasn’t.

Somewhere around mile 20, I realized that I would likely PR this race. And once I hit mile 24, I let myself really think about it. By the time I saw the finish line, I was already celebrating in my head. And PR, I did!!! 3:42:11, beating my prior PR by over 5 minutes.

That look you get when you finish with a PR! You seriously would have thought we won the damn thing.

That look you get when you finish with a PR! You seriously would have thought we won the damn thing.

After being wrapped in mylar and medaled, I walked back to the finish because I knew Colby would be coming in any minute and I wanted to be there for The Moment. Because I knew in my bones that she would also PR. And BQ. And it would be A Moment.

A Colby approached the finish, the announcer called out, “And coming toward the finish, with a well-deserved smile on her face…” and I knew it had to be her. As you already know, she BQ’d. I thought, “Announcer Dude – you don’t even know. You don’t even know.”

It took me a few minutes to get to her because she was hugging her new Bestie – some random chick she met at the finish line (WTF?) – but when I finally peeled her away from her new buddy, we both started bawling. Loud enough that a race volunteer came over to check on us. And when she heard why we were crying, she started bawling too. We were messes, all of us. Colby, me, her new Bestie and our favorite race volunteer. A freaking spectacle.

Not sure what else can be said – this was the first marathon we ever ran together, we each had the race of our lives, and we got to spend the rest of the day basking in the glow – together.

Well earned.

Well earned.

It doesn’t get any better. It just doesn’t.

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32 thoughts on “Baystate Marathon. The Recap. Part II.

  1. Congrats! Sounds like you both had an awesome race! I was born in Lowell and grew up right next door in Dracut so the whole area is familiar to me, to the point where I have a pretty good idea of which Dunkin Donuts you went to. Even if I haven’t lived in Mass since 2002, one of these years I will work my way back into good enough shape to go and complete my “hometown marathon”. I need to run one at some point since I had to DNF my last marathon in Vermont in 2011 so it might as well be in Lowell!

    • Awesome! I’m from Newton, so a hometown Mass girl. You should definitely run this one – it is a great race and so well organized. Terrific vibe, a nice size, and a great time of year to race. Put it on your list! I haven’t lived in Mass since 1996, but you can’t take Mass out of the girl (or boy).

  2. Seriously, tears in my eyes reading the end of that post. Congrats on an awesome race! Putting Baystate on my bucketlist…can’t pass up on that kind of race when it’s within driving distance!

  3. That’s just awesome. I love how you were both able to share your PRs together, and that this whole adventure is a set of memories you’ll have for the rest of your lives 🙂 Makes it so much more than just the race.

    • It’s weird – before this, I had only considered big races, because I don’t think I’ll run a zillion marathons and wanted to hit the “big ones.” My tune has changed. I would definitely run a smaller marathon again. The only real con is for people who need massive crowd support, because you are unlikely to find it at a smaller marathon. Otherwise, all pro’s, assuming that the race is well organized like this one.

  4. What. A. Day. I think if I had to say it right this moment: This was our Best Day Ever. And sharing it with you is what makes it The Best. Ain’t nothin’ like doing epic shit with your BFF. As for my Other BFF, she was simply a stand in for the Real Deal. We kicked it in the teeth T-Bone. And we did it together. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES! XOXOXO

  5. Rock the f on. I typically train 32-45 miles per week, and rarely over. I love that you and Colbs took essentially opposing approaches to training–she killed herself and you chilled out throughout. And you both came out on top. AWESOME

    • We sure did! I was on a mission. I had to shave off roughly 25 minutes off of my last marathon. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. Enter: Killing myself. T-Bone is a fantastic runner. FANTASTIC. She’s a natural. We joke and always say that her body works best with less. We may be on to something. Such a great weekend!!! I’m still smiling!!!

      • I do perform better on less training than others do. That said, I was a wee concerned that I may have pushed it too far this time. Wish you were there, Suz- it was a killer day!

  6. Awesome! Seriously. Well done to you both on a great marathon and congratulations on your PRs. You smashed it. I really enjoyed reading your race recap and feel totally inspired to sign up for a small marathon, which just sounds very enjoyable and more relaxed than a big city one. Good luck with your recovery and enjoy 🙂

    • Yes!! Go for the small marathon! As long as you aren’t too dependent on crowd support (and some small marathons do have strong crowds), there really is no downside. Thank you, thank you!

  7. Pingback: New Beginnings – It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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