Short stories from long runs

This blog about my run and training

This weekend marked the inaugural Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival, a 5K, 10K, and half marathon run on the Newton hills out of Boston College in Chestnut Hill. My cousin Leigh had run the “five & dime” — back-to-back 5K and 10K — at the Runner’s World Festival in Emmaus, Pennsylvania this past fall and was eager to come to Boston to run the half marathon this spring. Her husband and sister jumped on board and since the race is so close to home for me, I was happy to add my name to the list. Of course, days after registering and paying for the half marathon I found out I was pregnant and as race day grew closer, it was increasingly apparent that running 13.1 miles through hills in mid-June might not be the most responsible decision. Luckily, the folks at Runner’s World were completely gracious in swapping me over to the 10K, which was run Saturday morning.

It was one of the toastier mornings we’ve had so far this spring and while hot, it was a perfectly beautiful morning. I was running a little late to meet up with my friend Kaitlyn, who agreed to run with me to celebrate the last race of our 20’s, but number pick-up was very well organized and quick at the BC hockey arena and we were in the start area with a couple minutes to spare. Between my inclination to run cautiously these days and Kaitlyn’s recovery from a recent knee injury and general dislike for warm-weather running, we were a good pair.

Actually, running with Kaitlyn anytime is one of my favorite pastimes, generally, and one we’ve indulged more often over the past year. What better way to catch up with a good friend than while plugging along a race course or riverside trail taking turns sharing stories, opinions, and laughs?

The 10K course was out-and-back, which meant rolling hills from start to finish. There were a pretty decent number of people running, though hardly anyone cheering from the sidelines, but at this point I’ve run a good number of races both ways and for something so short, didn’t miss having cheerleaders.

Miles 1 and 2 clocked in in the low and mid-9:00s and sometime before we reached the mile 3 mile marker, we saw the race leaders bounding back towards the finish. Incredible! The runner in second had a grin from ear-to-ear, which I simply cannot imagine, and soon after we saw Shalane Flanagan striding up Heartbreak Hill (the second or third female, I believe) with her beautiful, effortless stride.

Sometime around mile 3, Baby P announced it was time for a bathroom break. I felt bad to hold us up, but knew that since we’d be heading back uphill for the next 3+ miles, it would be better to do so without otherwise contributing urgency. A quick wait in line… in, out, and on our way.

With that, it was time to hit the hills. Luckily, the back portion of the out-and-back included quite a bit more shade than the way out, but by that point, we were also feeling the heat more than the first few miles. We trekked on, nonetheless.

Full disclosure: miles 4 and 5 were a bit slow. We walked, we jogged, we jogged, we walked. Still, it was a gorgeous morning and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I especially enjoyed how familiar the route was and the deep sense of gratitude that I was running 6.2 miles instead of the 22 I covered last time I took a jaunt down the Boston Marathon course.

Then came the much-heralded Heartbreak Hill and the knowledge that we were almost there. We made it to the top, back over into BC, and took the turn onto campus, where we saw my cousins cheering us on. With the finish line in sight, Kaitlyn and I took off, passed a couple of people and finished with a huge high five, collected Baby P’s first official race medal, and headed for a quick search for some Gatorade.

I stopped my GPS for the bathroom break (there was a line!) and somehow managed to run 6.5 instead of 6.2, with a finishing time of 1:06:46. My official clock time was a minute longer: 1:07:47.

As you can tell, we were just a bit steamier at the finish than the start, but our smiles were just as big and our friendship in tact. Here’s to even more races in the next decade, lady!