Monday, April 24, 2017

Boston Trail Half Marathon 2017 Race Recap

I'm not even sure where to start this post. Boston Trail Half Marathon was supposed to be my race. Flat, crushed limestone course, semi - late start time, small field, pace groups, cool weather, and a solid training cycle. But Saturday was not my day. I still firmly believe I have a 1:52.XX race in me, but that goal will have to be crushed another day.

My race day outfit was the same as Just a Short Run. Compression shorts, compression socks, tank and sunglasses. No Flat Jessie picture because it all slipped my brain until I was entirely dressed. Oops.

Mr. Sass tagged along & Ciara met us at the race to be my personal cheerleader. We made good time (and a few wrong turns) on our way to the start line - but were there just a few minutes after packet pickup began. We snagged a spot within 100 yards of the start line & I snagged my packet, race shirt and bib number.

We chatted, and I took a few port-o-potty breaks, and soon it was time to strip down and get in line to start. Race start was right on time, 8:59 AM start time per my Garmin.


Mile 1 // 8:29, Mile 2 // 8:17, Mile 3 // 8:19

I set off just behind the 1:50 pacer - who I knew from races past. I like his style. The pace felt comfortable. The pace group was a little large for my liking, and made it hard to see the posts in the middle of the trail before road crossings.

We were told that water stops would be every 2 miles, so I was surprised when the first water stop appeared at mile 1.4. I tried to grab a cup, but two folks cut in front of me, and the volunteers only had one cup each in hand. Rather than stop and wait, I skipped the stop and pressed on.

I felt good, but felt like I wasn't quite warmed up yet. Though I was starting to sweat, even in my tank and shorts, and even though the temp was only in the upper 40's.

Mile 4 // 8:24, Mile 5 // 8:26, Mile 6 // 8:40

After my snafu at the first water stop, I started to get myself in position for the second stop. Off to the right side of the trail and a few steps back from the group. When I got to the stop, my plan worked, and I was able to grab a water. Only to find it contained only one sip of water.

I pressed on and kept up with the pace group, but I was starting to feel thirsty, and was ready for the next water stop.

While I knew Mr. Sass and Ciara were there to cheer me on, but since we hadn't talked about a plan, I didn't expect to see them at the turn-around. However, as I approached, I saw them there cheering for me. I had just passed a water stop, and had managed to get a whole cup of water, but instead of feeling quenched, I just felt it sloshing around in my belly. I started to slip behind the 1:50 pacer, but they were still well within my sights.


Mile 7 // 9:05, Mile 8 // 9:16, Mile 9 // 9:42

After the turn I got ready to take my fuel, I had brought a Salt Cap, and a Gu Stroopwafel, that I had cut in half to make it easier to handle. As I approached the waterstop I had one half in my hand and was ready to take. Seeing two volunteers holding cups on the right side of the trail I drifted to the right and called out to see who had water. Both volunteers looked confused and told me they didn't have any water, only Gatorade. I've taken Gatorade in races before and typically don't respond well. When my mouth is dry it makes my throat sort of close up and get sticky. Not the best explanation, but the best I can give.


I passed on the Gatorade, and tried to take my fuel, but my mouth was bone dry, and I couldn't swallow. So I spit out my bite, and carried on. At this point, my legs felt fine, but my mind did not. I was thirsty. I needed to take in fuel. I went to shake out my arms during mile 8 and noticed my skin was an odd red // purple hue.  When I looked closer I noticed that while my skin was an odd color, there was a white, clammy patch around the inside of each elbow. I went to wipe my brow, that frequently drips sweat during races, and found it was bone dry. And that's when my brain gave out.

For all the miles I put on my legs, and all the hard workouts I finished, my brain was not prepared for this.

Mile 10 // 10:08, Mile 11 // 10:40, Mile 12 // 11:18

Then the wheels fell (further) off. I considered walking. I considered stopping. Then I considered walking again. But I knew how mad Future Jessie would be if I walked. So I focused on getting to that next water stop.

In this time I ended up in no-man's land. Behind the 1:50 pacer, behind the 1:55 pacer, but in front of the 2:00 pacer. The trail was desolate, and there was no one around. I had to get to that next water stop.

I had given up on taking fuel at this point. Instead I walked through the water stop and took 2 cups. Walking a few steps before I picked it back up.

Mile 13 // 11:14, .1 // 9:35

With .6 miles to go, I saw a fellow Pro Bike & Run runner, and another 9:30 group member, Steve. He was back out on the trail completing a cool down, but I called out and asked him to turn around. I needed a distraction. He talked me in, as I kept my eye on the bridge, I knew the finish line was just past it. As we passed the marker for mile 13 I spotted my cheerleaders, and picked it up. I was so damn ready to be finished. I slapped a smile on my face, and ran across the finish line.


I grabbed 3 cups of water and immediately sat down. I had a pounding headache. And I so badly wanted to cry, but couldn't. A full 11 minutes over my goal time, a time that I know I am capable of. After a few minutes I was able to get some food, spill chocolate milk all down my hoodie, and fake another smile for a finish photo with my medal.


Official Chip Time : 2:03.22

know I have a better time in me. And I'm disappointed in myself, which is never a good place to be. I'm trying to move on, and look forward to my next race, not back at one that didn't go my way, except to evaluate what I can do better. Namely, eating breakfast closer to race time, more hydration prior to race start, and fuel that can be taken without water. Namely - Glukos. The size of the pouch is cumbersome, but worth carrying if it means I'll be able to take it sans liquid.


Overall, I think this is a great race, and I can see myself signing up again in the future.

Pros : Great weather, easy parking & race day logistics, small race field, cheap entry, nice t-shirt, & pace groups.

Cons : No gels as advertised, no water despite being at the front of the field.

I'll be reviewing my training plan, and talking a little about my plans for the next few weeks and Pittsburgh marathon on Wednesday.

Linking up with Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights
Linking up with Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the run to share.

Linking up with Steff.

28 comments:

  1. I know you are sad about this race - but I am so proud of you regardless. There WILL be another shot at your PR, & I will FOR SURE be there to see it! XO

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    1. Yes! Thinking I'll have to make sure Buffalo Creek is on my list this year, I love that it's a point to point course!

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  2. I'm really sorry to hear this :-(. I know how hard it is to not be disappointed in a bad race - I've been there. Because yeah, it IS disappointing. It's hard not to be invested in the outcome when you've put in the work, but hopefully you can still be proud of yourself for having a great training cycle and all the work you did. At the end of the day, bad races can happen to anyone, no matter how fit they are. A great training cycle is still no guarantee we'll get the result we want on race day. It sucks, and it's unfair, but that's our sport.

    Just keep your chin up, and most importantly - don't give up!! If PR's came easily they wouldn't be so special. Maybe this means this will be your year to crush Pittsburgh :-)

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    1. I agree - I guess it's just been so long since I TRULY put in hard work like this, that I felt I was owed a PR. But, I'm not. Still a disappointing race, but I definitely learned things. So, I'll come out faster for it on the other side.

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  3. I'm sorry to hear that your race didn't go well! However, you still did pretty amazing!

    You know what will work for you best next time, and as you said here, you are already planning on how to make the changes you need for the next race. You are going to rock your next race!! I can already see it!

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    1. Yes - I'll definitely be making some changes in fuel strategy and just overall! Trying to chew during a race is apparently just too much for me!

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  4. sorry to hear this but there are plenty of other opportunities for races. it's good that you learned a lot from this one so you can carry that forward onto your next races and kill them!

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    1. Yes, for sure. I feel like now that I have some perspective, I learned SO MUCH from this race, and I'll come out faster on the other side.

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  5. No crying my friend... you are AMAZINGGGGG!!!!!!
    I hate loathe DESPISE people that are just rude in water stops - that cut in front or stop or just take up ALL THE SPACE - UGH!!!!!!
    Dont be hard on yourself - you are my running hero - I cant imagine that sort of pace!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca Jo! I was just like umm, hello!? Standing right here, trying to get some water, sigh. Probably the same people who wait 'til the last second to merge in traffic & cut me off. ;)

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  6. So sorry to read this. I know how soul-crushing it feels after a disappointing race. Especially when so much was out of your control with the water stops. I do think you deserve a huge congrats because you really did great with only 1 sip of water & no fuel! I know I wouldn't even have been able to finish in those conditions. And even though you fell short of your goal, your time was still great! I bet you get that PR soon. If you want to try for redemption, the Ghost Town Trail HM in Indiana is next month & the same kind of course.

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    1. I tried to look it up, but couldn't find any good info on it! Do you know the date, or their website?

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  7. Aw, I'm so sorry your half didn't go as planned. Even though it can be uncomfortable, I carry water on my back because dealing with the water stations can be a little stressful. You'll knock 'em dead on the next race for sure!

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    1. I've done that for marathons in the past, but never a half, I have the pack to do it, but it is a little cumbersome. I may have to try it in my race this weekend & see how it goes.

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  8. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear the race didn't go as planned after such a great training cycle. That is so discouraging! It sounds like the biggest issue was lack of hydration & fuel. I can't imagine doing a half marathon without either! Would you ever consider carrying your own hydration?

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    1. I have for my marathons in the past, and a trail race in the heat of summer. It's a little heavier than I like for running fast, so I haven't in a half before, but sounds like I may need to start. I have a race this weekend, so I may try it.

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  9. This is the exact reason why I carry my own fluid. At least I have it when I need it. Look at Deckers Creek in June, I have a recap on my blog, it might be the perfect race to give it another shot.

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    1. Ah, based on your recap it sounds like the perfect race! Sadly I'm already running Ragnar that weekend, but may be one to look at for next year, I love the crushed limestone surface!

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  10. So sorry to hear about all the fueling snafus! I always debate weather I should carry my own water for longer distances or depend on the water stops.

    You still did well regardless. I know you'll crush your next race!

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    1. I have carried my own for marathons in the past, but never had an issue at a half, maybe it's time I reconsider!

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  11. I'm so sorry to hear about this :( It sounds like you had a great training cycle and it's hard to cap it off with a disappointing race. But you did everything you could and pushed through what sounds like a really tough spot. You should absolutely be proud of that. And hopefully the lessons pay off in a future race :)

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    1. Thanks Chaitali! Definitely feel better about my race with a week or two of perspective.

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  12. Your finish time may be disappointing to you, but it still is a decent time. Also, don't beat yourself up too much over this...it sounds like it was of those days when the stars, moons, and planets simply didn't align themselves properly. The lack of hydration is definitely a factor. I seldom ever carry my own water at races...but sometimes have had to stop and wait a few seconds for a cup if the volunteers weren't ready for me....the few seconds of "lost running time" is usually made up when I resume after a quick drink.

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    1. Looking back I probably should have just stopped and waited, since I definitely would have run faster after a sip or two of water, but it never even crossed my mind to do that!

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  13. Sorry to read that your race did not go as planned. I do like to carry my own water for longer more crowded races to avoid some the water stop issues you had. Hope you are proud of your effort!

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    1. It sounds like the consensus is I need to start carrying my own water. Not my favorite choice, but definitely preferable to this last race I had.

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  14. I'm sorry the race didn't go the way you planned. But, you did post a great finish time! I don't understand why some put so little water in the cups. I usually grab two, just in case. Maybe there is another race soon where you can try for your goal again? Thanks for linking, Jessie!

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    1. Apparently I'll need to start doing that. These volunteers just seemed overwhelmed and under-trained for their job, which, like, put water in a cup, but if you don't run races it can be hard to understand I'm sure.

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