Race Report: 21st Annual Run to the Rock

Perspective can be everything.

perspective

In running, I find this to be especially true. Take, for example, the experiences of two unique runners in the same race:

2runners

The first is Matt, a 32-year-old first-time half-marathoner, excited by the challenge of this distance. The second runner is me, a 41-year old long-time, mid-distance, average speed runner who is – on this day – apprehensive and under-trained for this distance.

We ran the same race. We started at the same start line under the same conditions, etc. But our perspectives colored our individual experiences. Here’s how they lined up:

Pre-Race

Matt:
What can I say; this place had an incredible bathroom area for the pre-race. We’re talking both professional outdoor lake-beach style bathrooms in addition to a complete row of not-too-horrible porta-potties. I had some pre-race coffee to enhance my pre-race jitters and used these facilities at least twice.

It was also a nice place to start, right near the beach of one of the many lakes/ponds found in the Myles Standish State Park Forest. The sea of people filtering down the start road was a nice image enhanced greatly by the beautiful weather.  

Alice:
Why is everything against me on this one? A nagging stomach problem has kept me from really running for the past two weeks; I woke up at 4am for no apparent reason, so I got almost no rest; I got lost trying to actually find the race. I observed each of these things as they happened and gave them a brief moment of consideration – “is the universe trying to tell me something? Maybe I shouldn’t be running this race today…nah.”

Once I finally got there and parked, I had some time to enjoy the super-mellow pre-race vibe. There were no lines for bib pick-up, and the people handing them out were friendly. The race started in the woods – in the Miles Standish State Forest. There were bathrooms – actual plumbing – and picnic tables near a small beach, all of which made for a nice environment in which to anticipate the run. It felt like a pretty small crowd too, which also made for less stress in the air.

The Course

Matt:
Holy crap. Holy. Crap. If I had known that the entire course was basically hills I may have chosen to bring a scooter instead of running the entire way. The scenery in the park was nice. I saw some birds, some sand, several species of trees I’m not qualified to identify, and I think my Mom and Dad popped up a few times. Yes, in case you didn’t know, I’m a 32-year old male whose awesome parents attended my half-marathon.

Back to the hills. The going down part was obviously great and the going up parts a little more challenging. That being said, I felt slightly more awesome at the end for being able to conquer these beastly obstacles instead of quitting and falling asleep on one of them.

The course did temporarily intersect with a major road, causing the runners to race single file; and what I imagine was a slight two- to three- hour complete stop for the vehicles waiting to get by. That was weird.

Alice:
I knew there would be hills since the race started in the State Forest, and I had read somewhere that there would be hills near the beginning. That was a huge understatement. The first 6 miles were just uphill with some level stretches thrown in for good measure. There was no real traffic control and as a result, most runners seemed to be just doing whatever felt right in that moment. Runners on both shoulders, runners crossing between cars, etc. It was all really dangerous, or felt like it was. (universe – is that you trying to tell me something? nah.) 

When I passed the 5-mile mark there was a turnoff (just before another giant hill) that would have led me directly back to my car. For a moment I contemplated quitting mid-race. {What?!! Who am I??} I think I was bored. My music wasn’t streaming, nothing interesting was happening in my earbuds, the scenery was just meh, and there were almost zero spectators to make me feel like a jerk if I quit. And more than anything else, I wasn’t enjoying it. Not even a mile of it. 

The People

Matt:
Honestly, the people were great. I didn’t get a chance to speak with almost any of them, but they all seemed really cool. I did have a pleasant exchange in the parking lot with a lady dropping of her husband and friend in regards to their stylish racing gear. She thought I had some room to expand my style palette and up my game the next time around. I agreed wholeheartedly, although she did mention that my blue headband was pretty cool. 

There were not a ton of people along the course so my dreams of having thousands cheer me on as I completed my historical half-marathon run didn’t happen. But that’s OK, my family was there, and I gave a pretty rad double thumbs-up to the photographer at the end of the race.

Alice:
What people? Honestly, there were almost zero spectators, a few, unenthusiastic folks at each water table, and what felt like a limited number of actual runners.

The Finish

Matt:
The finish was of course at the top of one last dumb hill. Hills are dumb, we all know it, and it’s not debatable, just pure fact. I had really pushed myself during this race, a lot more than I thought I could. So by the end I was bushed, ready to wind it down and relax. But I got passed, it happened in the last two minutes, by someone older and more determined than me. 

And so, as I turned the corner and saw that last hill I fired up the jets and took off. I gave that last leg everything I had left, which happened to be just enough to re-pass that dude that just passed me. It made me feel surprisingly good.

And what’s more glamorous than ending a race at THE Plymouth Rock? I mean, it’s legendary. The view of the harbor is pristine, and a few adventurous bathers even sampled the water with a quick dip to cool off. 

Alice:
I don’t know why but I just never found my groove in this race. I looked at the course map ahead of the race and had my gps app narrating the passing of the miles in my ear, but I still didn’t really have a good idea of where I was on the course at any given moment. When I made what turned out to be the last turn on the course, I had literally NO IDEA that I was so close to the finish line. There was no one giving me false hope that I was “almost there” 2 miles out from the finish line, and no thickening of the crowds to indicate that we might be getting close to where people are waiting for their runners.

I crossed the finish line, giving the photographer my happiest finish face. I picked up my finisher medal and two bottles of water. Then, since the finish was literally at Plymouth Rock, I walked the remaining 10 steps to see it.

The Verdict

Matt:
This was my first race north of a 10K and I had a great time. I’m not qualified to judge it too much because I have little to compare it, too. I do know it felt great to get out and conquer some horrible hills, spend the day with my family afterwards, and relish the fact that I have a shiny new medal to Instagram once a week just to remind people of my accomplishment.

Alice:
I really love the half-marathon distance. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite racing distance. It’s long enough to be a real challenge, but short enough to allow me to play with my pace a bit (when I’m not overtired and undertrained).

THIS half-marathon, however, was my personal worst.  I was slow, unmotivated, and miserable through most of it, and I was really glad to be done just to put it behind me. It didn’t really scratch the itch for me.

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2 thoughts on “Race Report: 21st Annual Run to the Rock

  1. I had a great time and although it was a hard course I’m glad I did it. Thanks for including me in this piece about race perspectives! I think we both did a great job. A 13-mile race isn’t easy and there are a lot of emotions and mental states to consider.

  2. This was so great to read! What a cool idea getting perspectives of two very different people. And as a “runner” I have felt many of the same things. I still can’t call myself a runner without quotes. Why is that? And also, I can vouch that hills are dumb also. Nice piece.

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