Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Race Report: Harvard Pilgrim 10k at Patriot Place

You may remember I won my entry to this race on in mid-June. While I only had a couple weeks to train following my less that fulfilling day at the Patriot Half, I wanted to get the taste of a bad race out of my mouth, and at that point any race would do, especially a free one that ended on the 50 yard line of an NFL football field.

The stadium actually played an integral part in our moving here: When Rachelle and I first started talking about the possibility of moving to Boston, Rach told me that what she knew about Boston came from seeing all the snow on the ground at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots play. She always got very excited at the thought of Boston as a wintry wonderland. She was pretty bummed the past couple winters when Foxboro got all that snow causing school delays and the like while Boston avoided the worst of it. To say we were both excited to go there is an understatement.

We spent part of Sunday at the race expo where we got a chance to meet the Generation UCAN folks and talk to them about their new Canberry Raspberry flavor, and pick up a packet to add to samples I already received. They offered me more of the original flavors, but I didn't want to be greedy. This race had more than it's fair share of healthy food vendors which is great for a couple triathletes on a budget.

The race started in the open air mall that surrounds the stadium and then through the parking lot before heading off into the heart of Foxboro. I started well with a sub-13 minute first mile, but I already figured it wasn't going to be a great day. It was over 80 degrees at the start of the race, with 85% humidity. The first half-mile was mostly downhill, but when we started climbing near the end of the first mile, you could really feel the heat in the air.

My plan coming in was to do 5/2 intervals every other mile, and walk the mile in between. My hope was to average 13's during the running miles and 14's when walking. At mile 3, I was in good shape for a longer race at just under 42 minutes, and thinking I still had a shot at that 10k PR. But mile 4 was a lot of uphill, no shade and it kept getting hotter. Mile 5 got back into the shade but didn't go any faster. Mile 6 I was running again, but I was beyond hot and really slow.

Coming up to that stadium towards the end of Mile 6 is one of the most memorable sights I've seen while racing. You can't yet see the finish line, but you know it's not that far away. I gave everything I had with the last half a mile or so to go, though admittedly there wasn't much left in the tank. I'm still building towards those kind of runs, so I'm happy I was able to "sprint it out" even just a little.

Me, crossing the line & putting the jumbo in Jumbotron
I wound up finishing in 1:31:39 and for the heat and the amount of prep time, I was pretty happy with the outcome. I missed a PR by just under 5 minutes, and beat 15 people in my age group, coming in 2845 out of 3037 total entrants. This race could have been a lot worse; many people were throwing up on course, I saw lots of people dropping out with injuries, and we even saw a man who was being wheeled away on a gurney after due to what appeared to be heatstroke. I'm always careful to hydrate as much as I possibly can, and I even took advantage of people providing cold drinks at unofficial beverage stops. The race organization would do well to have electrolyte beverages out on the course next year, as there was only water available.

My cheering section (consisting of Rachelle) was a great comfort to me, and she even made a sign to cheer me on. I'm sure with the heat she wishes I really had run faster!

She has a real future in motivational sayings
As it stands, next up in our race catalog is Rev3 Cedar Point at just under 2 months away. We've been training daily, and I now have no doubt we're going to get in the training we need to successfully finish the Ironman distance. The only bad news from the weekend is that my Garmin 305 broke in the car on the way back from the race. Thankfully it's covered under warranty, so Garmin is going to replace it free of change. I'm going to buy another one to use while it's gone, and give that to Rachelle when my replacement is received.


  1. It sounds like you had a good day. From what my friends that run that race tell me, everyone had to slow down because of the heat, adding 30 - 45 seconds on their mile average. You probably would have had your PR on a cooler day.

  2. It was brutally hot. I felt strong though until the 6th mile really. Since I've just been working up to this distance in my running, another week or so would really have paid off in terms of prep. And I think you're right, 10 degrees cooler and I would have PRed.