Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, I did it. I beat my goal time. I ran this year's Ocean Drive 10 Miler in under 1:20 -- 1:19:55 to be exact. I only told a few people that this was my goal time. Why? Well, I didn't want to say I'd run a time and then not do it. My goal time was also 16 minutes faster than I ran the race last year.

I wrote about the experience over on my blog -- you can read it here.

That's the "official" version. Now for the out takes:

I headed down the shore on Friday night, making it to Rio Grande Restaurant just in time to watch Terry-Oke, which I'm writing an article about. Saturday morning, I went to North Wildwood to work on another article, then hung around Wildwood and Cape May wondering how badly it was going to rain on Sunday. After a carb loading dinner at Mamma Mia's in Oceanville (YUM), I went out of a drink each at O'Donnell's Pour House and The OD in Sea Isle. I hadn't been to the OD since an ill-fated "no shower happy hour" in 2006. The bar smelled the same, even if there were only about seven people in the bar (and Miller Lites still cost $4.50!)

Drink before a race? Two drinks is perfect. It takes a bit of edge off the nerves, and I conked out as soon as I got back to the house in Sea Isle where I was staying.

Then it was up at 6am and to the race on Sunday morning. I packed a bag full of clothing options because the forecast kept changing. First it was downpours, then rain, then cold rain, then warm rain. I stepped in and out of the car five times in Cape May, a different top/jacket combo every time.

It was cold -- bitter cold -- to start, so I opted for a short sleeve top and the orange rain coat (plus shorts and hat). I figured the coat would keep the rain off and keep me somewhat warm and hoped the hat kept my head somewhat dry.

Yeah, that was wrong. I mean, I was dressed right for when I stepped out of the car. But by race start time (after stretching, using the facilities one last time, and wanting to knock a woman off her bike --- see the article) the temperature started to swing up (it'd eventually hit the 70s by Sunday night), and the orange jacket created a humid envelope around me. So, before I even reached mile 1, I ditched the jacket and my gloves in the garden outside of the Grand Hotel of Cape May. Given the last minute REI trip -- and cost of the jacket (most of my running gear except shoes comes from discount stores) -- the last thing I wanted to do was lose the jacket and my favorite running gloves, but there was no way I'd run a race hot like that.

The race itself was much different than last year, and not just because of the rain. I had a goal in mind this time. To run a 1:20 race, I'd have to keep an average pace of 8 minute miles -- no small feat for me. I put in 10 weeks of training using this schedule, which had made me faster, but with the conditions (those wind blasts were tough), could I make it? The race was like one long, steady burn.

I started to hurt around mile five, and by seven, I wanted to quit. I knew I wouldn't, but the thought ran in and out of my head. I tried to pull back on my time to prepare for the final sprint, but I held steady with slightly over 8 minute miles. It was relief to get into Wildwood where we had people cheering us on, even if I didn't know anyone until the very end when I saw this guy, who won his age bracket, yelling for me on the boardwalk.

I cried through the finish with my mom's encouragement ringing in my ears (she was on the boardwalk at the finish). I'm not ashamed to admit that. I was so close to going over 1:20 that I threw everything I had left into my legs and just made it by five seconds. I finished 72nd overall and 4th in my age bracket -- cut over 16 minutes off my personal best.

What a relief to be over! I cried, hugged my mom and that guy, then stood around for pictures. After the race, a stranger found me in the lobby of the Montego Bay and asked me my pace. He said that I helped pace him -- he chased me the entire way (thanks for letting me know!) As I tried to put on warm clothes in the bathroom, I heard a woman talk about trying to dry her soaked socks on the hand dryer, so I gave her my extra pair. Turns out that she won third in our age bracket (congrats Jillian!)

Here's some photos from the race:

After the race, I had a BLT at Dock Mike's in Cape May, then had my mom drive me back past the Grand Hotel in search of my jacket. There was a lot of discarded clothes on the side of the road, but no jacket, and no gloves. Nothing turned into lost and found. I chose to chalk it up as experience -- I should have taken Rachel Toor's suggestion from the April issue of Running Times and bought clothes from a thrift store that I could throw off and not worry about. Ah, well.

Then it was time for a celebratory drink at Brown Room. A beer has never tasted so good. I like Blue Pig Tavern Ale on a normal day, but after running 10 miles in the rain? Perfect.

On the way back to Sea Isle, we drove back down Beach Avenue. This is what I saw:

To whoever found my jacket, tucked my gloves in the pocket and hung it up on a parking meeter: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I can't even describe how loud I yelled when I saw that jacket flapping in the wind. Finding it was a great cap to the race -- and I don't feel like I literally threw money away.

I'm also glad I decided to start a visual tradition of the races. Behold, the pigs:

After last year's Ocean Drive 10 Miler, I bought a stuffed blue pig at Congress Hall. This year, I did the same, a now the years and times are written on their tags:

How am I feeling today? Sore. Very sore. Stairs are difficult. Ibuprofen is my best friend. Hopefully I'll have worked some of the kinks out tomorrow because I'm headed to Atlantic City to research a story, and I plan on running on the Boardwalk tomorrow afternoon -- but not quite at 8 minute/mile pace!

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Anonymous said...

Congrats on finishing the race and beating your time. I'm thrilled that the whole race event ended on a happy note with your recovering your jacket!


joyRuN said...

That's a HUGE PR!! I'd love to come in under 1:20 next year.

Did you see Cecily Tynan's sick pace?

Jen A. Miller said...

Thanks Leah! The frugal part of me was crying about losing that jacket. So happy to see it again.

Joy, thank you! I'd never done intervals and tempos before this run, and it worked! I thought I was flying along until I saw Cecily's time!