Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cape Cod Marathon – Part II (a race report)

A little introduction….

Cape Cod wasn't my first Fall marathon choice.  I've been intrigued with Mount Desert Island Marathon ever since it started, but this year, it was run on the same day as the Donohoe 5K race that I volunteer at.  So, Plan B was Cape Cod.  I was looking for something hilly and thus, challenging.  Both races offered hilly terrain with gorgeous water views.  So, Cape Cod it was!

Nobska Lighthouse
Scott and I travelled to Falmouth, MA on a rainy Saturday, just as the Nor’easter started blowing in.  We found a great Mexican restaurant to have lunch at, picked up my race bib and goodie bag, and headed to check out some of the course.  Scott was able to scope out what would hopefully be some easy routes to see me at a few spots on the course to hand me Gatorade and most importantly, to offer me support.  I was able to get my head around the hilly terrain.

By the time we finished our course tour, it was time to check into our hotel.  Talk about the best hotel strategy ever….we were literally a 3 minute walk to the Start/Finish area.  Quick dump of the bags and we were off shortly to dinner.  The Cape Cod Marathon peeps provided great restaurant suggestions, so it was easy to find what we needed.  Chicken picatta with linguini was my “last supper” before the race. 

Sunday morning began with hard boiled egg white and a bagel we brought from home.  I went through the outfit frenzy the night before, so I knew exactly what I was going to wear.  We made the quick walk to the start and I warmed up.  At the portopotty, some guy said to me, “You’re not running that geared up, are you?”  Don’t think I didn’t look for him later to trip him!  (kidding!)   As the race start grew closer, the clouds began giving way to blue sky.  Blue sky, folks.  After all that rain from the day/night before, we weren’t going to have rain (or snow) for our race.  But as I already provided in my teaser post, we were to get lots of wind. 

Let the race begin!

BOOM went the cannon….we were off!!!!
This cannon packed a LOUD punch!

My first 7 miles went something like this –

1        8:34
2        never saw mile marker
3        never saw mile marker
4        25:15 (which means I averaged 8:38’s for miles 2,3, and 4 – TOO FAST!)
5        8:31 (didn’t I hear myself…TOO FAST)
6        8:45 (finally something remotely close to my goal pace of 8:50)
7        8:42 (really Lisa???)

Missing those mile markers made my pace management very difficult, especially given the early miles when it’s hard not to go too fast.  For all I know, the signs blew away!  What I did know was that my first 7 miles at a pace in the 8:30’s and low 8:40’s was not a good start.  The good part of those first 7 miles is that I got to see Meaghan and Sarah twice and Scott once.

I continued on, trying to manage my pace as well as I could.  The hills, I expected.  The wind was a different story.  Back in 2009, I ran Baystate Marathon and had blowing cold rain, some sleet, and major puddles.  So I knew it could be worse and I felt like I was handling the weather challenge pretty well.  However, my energy level seemed to really take a dive much earlier than ever before in a marathon.  I’d venture to guess the wind had something to do with it.  Regardless, I found pace management almost impossible, between the hills and the wind.  Man, I was tired.

Scott had a lot of difficulty maneuvering around the course due to traffic control, but finally caught up to me at mile 11.  He handed me a fresh bottle of Gatorade (I always carry) and an extra GU and headed off to mile 20ish.  He wasn’t taking any chances on not getting to mile 20.  Love that guy J

Somewhere between 19 and 20, I heard a bellowing of “Let’s go Lisa!” and I knew Meaghan was close by.  She had gotten very creative in getting herself through the snow and tree covered roads and down to Falmouth to support me.  Seriously, can you get better friends?  Meaghan was dressed and ready to run me into the finish.  And boy, she couldn’t have come at a better time.  Did I mention I was tired?

Meaghan kept me distracted with lots of stories and I chimed in when I could.  She gave me good dose of “atta girl” and equal doses of tough love to help me through this tough race.  Somewhere in the late 20’s (maybe mile 23?), the head wind was gusting so violently that Meaghan started running sideways with elbows out, trying to make herself big to shield me.  Since my efforts at using drafting behind bigger dudes never panned out, I was left to my own petite frame to battle the winds for most of the race.  Regardless of how effective her shielding was, it sure made me smile.

Puddle management was also a challenge.  I did pretty well at keeping my feet dry.  Late in the race, I noticed a man running with head completely down, as if willing his feet to keep moving.  Because he wasn’t looking past his feet, he almost ran right into a deep puddle.  I interrupted his focus to alert him of the puddle – crisis averted.  At Nobska Lighthouse area though, the road was completely flooded at one point.  And with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, there was only one way to go – enter slight “trail running” moment up onto the resident’s yard to get us through that flood zone.  I remember hearing Meaghan ask someone, “What, no red carpet to get us over this?”  Another Meaghan induced smile.

And to summarize….

Great day, great race, great experience.  Just the challenge I was looking for.  The volunteers were just where I needed them and supportive along the course. The spectators were fantastic and the number of them was a pleasant surprise, given the weather conditions.  I couldn’t have done it without Scott to support me well before race day, during, and after.  He is my rock.  I heard him yell my name at the finish and was so happy he was there with me.  And Meaghan.  Those last 7 miles were so hard and Meaghan dove right in and did/said whatever I needed to get me through it.  She’d pick someone out for us to pass at mile 23, and once we’d pass, she’d pick someone else out, and so on.  Scott’s my rock; Meaghan’s my rockstar.  Thank you both soooo much.

I have some work to do on my pace management, but plan to have plenty of marathons to practice.  I am very pleased with my race, how I adjusted pace and attitude along the way, and my final time.  I feel like I left nothing on the course, and best of all, I met my primary goal (as evidenced in this picture heading into the finish) –

I finished with a smile J

P.S.  Post race went something like this -

Frozen strawberry margarita accompanied by nachos


  1. Congrats! Wind makes a run so hard. That makes your finish time even more impressive! Hope your ear is better today.

  2. Thanks was extra sweet to see the time at the end. The way I felt didn't (in my head at the time) equate to a 3:57. But I'll take it!!!

  3. I cried reading this. So damn proud of your race. Thank you for letting me take part in your day, I smurf you.

  4. Congrats!! I found your blog through Meaghan. Oh gosh Cape Cod is a killer marathon. What a pace!! !you are a rockstar! Enjoy the thrill post marathon lady! Beware stairs and toilets lol

  5. Thanks Stephanie! I felt the killer-ness today for sure - the day after the day after (owwieeeee).

    I just saw you ran MCM as your first marathon - congratulations to you as well! That one is on my list for sure.

    Happy recovery to you. Can't wait to hear what's next.....

  6. you are one tough cookie! hills and brutal wind - ouch! I noticed your other marathon times - you are so consistent. After reading this, I kind of feel bad for jogging at Mt. Desert, (but it was so fun to do that)

    I already had race fever, but after reading this...I can't a 10k this Sat. will help.


  7. Whoa - you are AWESOME. Way to go on a great race!

  8. Again, great job! I have never run a windy marathon--can't imagine.

  9. I love how you and Scott support one another! Love reading about it. My husband always has to stay home with the kids when I race (so supporting in a different way I guess)and I always wish he was there to cheer me on. And yay for Meaghan for being there for you! There is nothing better than a friend that will run you to the finish!

  10. woohooo awesome job out there!!

  11. Yep, our hubby's definitely are supporting - just in different ways, as you said. This weekend, I'll support him as he does a trail marathon and helps pace his friend on the 50 mile route. Paying it forward, right?

  12. Thanks so much Kim....I'm very much still in the "wooohooo" mode too :)

  13. What a great guy that Scott is....and an amazing friend in Meaghan! From her post she had a blast doing it!! You rocked it!!

  14. Best post-race meal I've heard! Congratulations on finishing with a smile and congratulations on two amazing support people!!! Way to go Scott and Meaghan!

  15. Great job! I find wind to be the most frustrating race condition. It's amazing how it can somehow be blowing straight at you, even when you turn directions LOL.

    Hope your ear feels better soon!

  16. Great race report........... You're very lucky to have such awesome peeps! Bummer about the weather.

  17. Thanks Stacey and MCM Mama :) I read an article today about how the front runners "had very little headwind"....hmmmm, wonder which race THEY were running!

  18. Great job Lisa! Congrats again! And how great to have such wonderful support in Scott and Meaghan!