33 Years and My first 30K

I turned 33 this week.  With any luck, hope, effort, and technology, I'm at the 1/3 point of my life.  Totally optimistic, deciding that I'll live to 99.  But at least I have goals, right?  As birthdays go, it was enjoyable.  Those close to me celebrated it in different ways--showing their affection, care, and love.  I've not been big on birthday nor age for that matter, because it never really means much beyond tracking when I was born.  But if this were to be the 1/3 point (or hell, even the half-way point, I'd take that as well), I'm pretty happy with it.
Lance Eaton's time on his first 30K.

I treated myself to a race for my 33rd birthday.  A 30K race (close to 19 miles). I did the Nahant 30K.  My race results can be found here and while I am pretty much far in the rear of the group.  I'm ok with that.  I did it and there's only getting better from here is how I see it. Today's run was put on by the North Shore Striders, who were very cool and has me thinking I might need to join them in the near future.

I started this running shtick in July, 2011.  By winter, I had participated in 3 runs. All of which I found to be quite rewarding and enjoyable.  As the late spring circled around, I thought more and more about working my way up to a half-marathon.  Given that last fall, I was getting up to the 7 mile mark, I thought it was a reasonable goal.  Little did I know I would exceed it.  So I started running and blogging about my running.  My original high-water mark for the year was going to be the 25K Around the Cape on Labor Day.  But in the midst of making plans for the fall, I happened to come across the 30K.  I thought--what's 5 more kilometers (well, the unqualified answer to that is about 50 minutes).  It was rough, but I'm pretty happy I did it (ask my body tomorrow--hahahaha).  

So how did the race play out?  

Initially good.  The weather was great (cool and warmed up by race's end).   Unlike the 25K, I took to pacing myself immediately.  Nothing more than 10-11 minute miles.  Overall, this helped except where I largely fell apart at the last 3rd of the race.


Lance Eaton after his first 30K
The race took us along Nahant Beach and ultimately into Nahant and all about.   What I liked about the race was that it was one of those where you go out to a certain point and then back, roughly along the same route.  This helped with tracking and determining what kind of terrain lay ahead on the way back.  The path was also clearly marked and had many people along the way to direct you.  This coupled with 3 toilet stops and lots of drinking table, I felt the North Shore Striders did an awesome job supporting their runners.  And of course, the path was absolutely beautiful at times.  There are some great scenic views in Nahant and I will have to return to enjoy them more.

The two most challenging parts about the race were the downhills and the one section of dirty path with rocks.  Downhill is brutal in the Vibrams and I've yet to find a way to adjust to it (particularly later in the race).  I actually like uphills because it's easier to move upward with the shoes.  But also at one point in the race, there is a stretch of about 1/3 mile where there was a dirty path and rocks (which we had to go over twice).

I did a smart thing for this run and joined the Sunrise Start group (they start 1 hour ahead of the regular race, largely, because they are likely to be the back of the herd runners).  I liked getting the early start and not feeling like I was so far behind the other runners (even though I was).  It was also nice because I was surrounded by people who were more likely to be closer to my speed level; so if I began using one as a marker, I wasn't about to be blown away by them or burn myself our in keeping up.

Somewhere around the 2.5 hour mark for me, the first place runner came sprinting by (or what felt like sprinting by).  My gawd did he look amazing.  Long strides, sculpted body, wild beard, moving almost effortlessly at a pace that had him out of my sight within moments.  An awesome sight to behold at mile 12 (or 13--I forget).   I'm pretty sure he won--other runners who eventually caught up to me were easily a mile behind him, it seemed.  I will never be that guy--this I know.  But there is an honor in knowing that regardless, I still managed to do the same course as him (probably at twice the time).

All in all, it was a grueling race towards the end, but one I'm glad I showed up for and did.  It makes me wonder what I'll take on next.



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