Sunday, September 18, 2016

Blueberry Cove 13.1 Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

I’ve never been to Maine in my entire life, but kept hearing that you can get lobster everywhere.  So after Irene told me that she was going to do Ironman Maryland and include Timberman 70.3 as a training race, I decided to look at taking vacation in the most Eastern State of the Continential Union.  For months I kept thinking about lobster!
blueberry-cove-half-marathon-bib-pick-upIn between the lobster dreams, I planned the trip to include landmarks and things to do; whale watching, shops, museums, tours, and learn to catch lobster!  However the scene where Forrest Gump runs one ocean then to another ocean, he runs to a lighthouse and turns around to run across the country again got me into running and eventually helping others.  Thank God for Google, with the words, “Forrest Gump Landmarks”  I found the Marshall Point Light, Port Clyde, ME.
It looked not to far from civilization based on Google Maps, so I listed it as a destination spot to visit.  Then I felt like running, so I Googled “Half Marathons in Maine.”  Well it turns out that the the Blueberry Cove 13.1 was near the lighthouse, and even better yet.  It happened to be the following weekend after Timberman 70.3.
So excited, I turned to Zachary and asked if he would like to do a Half Marathon, and he said, “Sure.”  We began to train building up slowly adding a few 10 milers.  I felt confident going into the race and Zachary was at a running camp the week before so he also had enough miles to finish strong.  I expected based on this training that he would probably finish about 1:45 and I was using this race as a build race for the Suffolk County Half Marathon at the end of October.
As we drove to the race start, we saw some early starters.  The race allowed for walkers to start before the official start to give them time to complete the course.  We cheered them on as we passed.
blueberry-cover-half-marathon-bibs-2016We arrived at the course located at the 4H Camp & Learning Centers at Tanglewood & Blueberry Cove with our basic bibs cutout of a bolt of cloth and marked by hand with a blue Sharpee that we picked up the day before.  114 for me and 115 for Zachary!  Surprisingly we found a parking stop near the camp area.  Both Zachary and I did our things with the portapottys, then we walked down to the official start was on Hartsneck Rd.  The race director, thanked us for coming out letting us know that the race fees give kids a chance to attend the camp at no charge.  There were about 200 participants towing the start line.
blueberry-cove-half-marathon-bib-startZachary started near the front of the group and I heading towards the middle of the pack. Irene and Elijah stood around 100 yards down the road to take pictures of us.  My plan was to come in around 2 hours and 15 minutes by doing a 10 minute run at 10:00 pace and a 1 minute walk.  However the cooler than Long Island Temps and drier humidity had me arrive at the first mile marker that was created from a lobster trap buoy in 8:30.  It felt really good so I pushed on until my watch buzzed to remind me to walk, and so I did.  I repeated that
pattern throughout the race even forcing myself to still walk even though I felt strong.
I started running with someone who has done the race many times and we chatted for a little bit about the weather, where we were from.  The basic stuff you talk about, then with a moment of silence, I started to pull away.  about 10 minutes later, my alarm buzzed to walk and so I walked, and he came up with some words of encouragement and I told him I was doing a run/walk for this race and he said, “Great!  Keep it up!” and he passed me.  I later passed him and we did that a few times.
Right around mile 5, I saw someone that looked like Zachary about 200 yards away, but I stayed to the run/walk method as planned.  When I walked, the Zachary look-a-like moved away, when I ran, the Zachary look-a-like was being reeled in.  I was thinking, “I hope that is not Zachary.”   At Mile 6, I recognized the shirt and steps and thought, “I hope he’s not injured because cross country season is next week.”
Around mile 7, I yelled for water, and Zachary looked over his right should as we made the right towards the water.  Even though he looked at me, he did not notice it was me.  He was totally zoned out.
Around mile 7.5, he was coming back from the Marshall Point Light House (Forrest Gump) is then we noticed me coming towards him.  I think at that point he was a little surprised to see his old man so close to him.  I made a counter clockwise movement around turn around point as a volunteer said to go around the cone on the floor.  You can see the Lighthouse on the left.  I said thanks to the volunteer and head towards the finish.  I felt strong!
blueberry-cover-half-marathon-marshall-point-lighthouse-forrest-gump-turnFor several miles, I was holding back thinking I should not pass Zachary.  I wanted him to cross the finish line in front of me, at least his first.  However, I kept reeling in Zachary. For a few minutes, I thought about what was I going to say when I catch up.  Should I ask what is wrong, but knowing him he would not respond to that question, especially as his Dad will pass him in something that he is much faster than him.  At mile 8.25 I pulled up to his right shoulder.  I saw his face grimacing, and I said, “Keep up the great work.  See you in a few minutes!”   And just like that, I passed him.  I did not know what to think because I really don’t want to win or having bragging rights, but I knew this would probably be that last time  I would ever pass him in anything.    I looked back at an emotionless face and I was not sure what to think.  He’s very hard on himself at each race.
My thoughts then returned back to my time watch time and doing the mental math in my head, I knew I was going to cross the finish line under 2:00.  Something that I have been trying to do for 8 years, and I was not expecting to do it until the end of October where I would run the Suffolk County Half Marathon, which is a flat course).
I still kept doing the walk when the alarm beeped, and when the alarm said to run, I did!  I finally make the left on the the dirt road leading back to the camp.  I yelled to Irene who was very confused to see me come in before our son, “Zachary is about 5 minutes behind me.”  There were 2 chutes, one for runners and one for walker.  I moved towards the left chute and raise my arms as the clocked flipped to 01:56:51.  I beat last years Half Marathon time by over 8 minutes!
blueberry-cove-half-marathon-finishThe volunteers handing me my medallion and I walked back to Irene to wait for Zachary.  You can still see Zachary’s non-emotional face and stride as he ran to the finish.  I know he was not happy, and I knew to give him space after a race because I don’t know if he had a good race or bad until minutes later.   So I let him wander around as Irene asked where did Zachary go.  I told her to leave him alone and be patient.  He has the same straight line movements to avoid us at every race, and these moments of time have reduced as he has gotten older.  He think he puts a lot of pressure on himself.
blueberry-cove-half-marathon-blueberry-pie-eatingblueberry-cove-half-marathon-brunch-buffet-after-raceAfter a about 20 minutes we walked down to the water to unwind and laugh.  Then back up to the mess hall where a brunch buffet awaited for us!  During this time, Zachary opened up to let me know he was disappointed with his race, and I reminded him, this is the longest run and he should be proud.  We got to do this race together and have some famous Wild Blueberry Pie. 
blueberry-cove-half-marathon-blueberry-pieThis race is one of my favorites.  There is something about a small unique race that big city races do not have.  It feels intimate that you can relax and enjoy every mile without getting caught up in worrying about getting to the start, finding a place to eat, finding your family afterwards and all the crazy logistical challenges.  Yes,  I still love big races like NYC which I have friend running in November.
The more experiences the better, and I am so grateful to having to share this with my son. As much as I get personal satisfaction with achieving my goals.  I find it more important to have memories with my family and friends.

At the end, I finished 48th Overall, 4th in my age group and Zachary finished with 2;00:32, 57th Overall and 3rd in his age group.  Next stop, Ironman Maryland for Irene!