Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hills of Gloucester

This morning I ran the Gloucester Seacoast Seven. What originally caught my eye about the race was the prize money -- $500 for first and $100 for second. Previous years' results were not that fast, so I thought I'd have a chance at second place maybe. But then I learned that the race didn't offer prize money in previous years, so this year was sure to draw a crowd of fast, money-hungry runners. No worries, though, as I was still excited to drive (yes, drive!) to gorgeous Gloucester and run my penultimate race in Massachusetts.

All the women were checkin' each other out at the start, wondering how fast the race would go out and who'd be in the lead and who'd try to steal it from her. I hung out with Diona and Jess Blake at the start and we decided to just have fun with it.

Before the race, I asked some of the volunteers what the course was like. I figured it'd be hilly, because Gloucester is chock-full of hills. The volunteers laughed a bit and said, "Oh yeah, it's hilly. Uphill, there and back.

That description of the course was spot on. This was probably the hilliest race I've ever done. It seriously felt uphill just about the whole time! I treated the few downhills as a pseudo recovery and opportunity to increase my legspeed, but before I could take full advantage of the descent, we'd start climbing again. Adding to the difficulty of the race was the steady head wind or cross wind and constant turns along the windy Gloucester roads. The absolute worst was the last half mile -- we rounded the corner into a parking lot near the finish and had to somehow surge up a giant incline to get to the chute. It was hell. I was literally wheezing. Pretty embarrassing.

My time was awful, but I'm not going to pay much attention to it for now considering the difficulty of the course. Winds and hills are not my strong point, but it was excellent training nonetheless. And I guess I better get used to those hills if I want to keep racing in Berkeley and San Francisco!

Next race is the Newburyport 10 miler on July 31. Let's hope for better weather than last year. 90 degree heat and 86% humidity was brutal!


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