Sunday, June 15, 2014

Runners World Heartbreak Hill Festival - Day 4 | Hattrick, Sarah & The Elephant in the Room

The final day of the event and my time in Boston.  Today was the Half Marathon and the last race of the Hat Trick.

I texted my husband and my Running Bro that morning to let them know my plans to run with Sarah and I thought I would finish after the 3 hour mark.  I didn't want them to panic that I didn't text them around my usual finish time.  Now, keep in mind - I had no clue what Sarah could run on a Half. I had no idea if she was faster or I pulled 3 hours out of the sky.  

As I was walking by the parking garage and with the crowd of people, I see someone dressed in black come out of the parking garage. I didn't pay much attention to it until the person was right next to me.  I turned to see who it was and it was Sarah.

Ironically, she has no idea I was next to her, either. 

So, once again - same as the doggie race, we were right next to each other, without any planning.  We giggled about that all the way to the start.  

She said she wanted to run a 2:20, as her PR was 2:08 and she had run this course before on Boston Marathon.  2:20 sounds fine, but I would of ran with her, even if she wanted to run in 4 hours.  

Of course, Sarah is a rock star in the athletic world and every few feet, everyone wanted to have their picture taken with her.  She is a pro and graciously stood for all the pictures.  I love her spirit and heart, it showed through all she did.  

Arrival at the start and I had a few more potty breaks and we were finally into our corrals.  I told Sarah she is in the lead and sets the pace.  I know a 2:20 is about 10:20, so I watched my Garmin to make sure we were on that pace.  We were holding steady until about Mile 1.  

Sarah says she is sweating so much (already) her prosthetic leg is slipping off.  Oh dear. 

We made our way to the first medical tent, so she could towel down.  I could see she was quite confused as she ran Boston and that never happened to her.  

Back onto the course. We had to walk the inclines, because her running leg does not bend well at the knee.  No problems, we were chatting away and I was enjoying her company.  I think at first, Sarah felt bad and she was holding me back. I explained to her several times, I didn't come to HHHalf to set a PR.  I came as a guest blogger and share the experience with others, this is the perfect way to end the weekend.  

The more we walked and ran, the more we sweat and sweat.  Sarah jokingly said, "I am having a bad leg day!"  The humidity appeared to be much higher than Saturday.  I was soaking wet by Mile 3.  At that point, we had already stopped 4 or 5 times to wipe her down.  The next medical tent, they gave us towels to carry with us on the course. This way, she didn't have to wait until the medical tent.  I can imagine this was very uncomfortable for her.

We did stop for one picture. I had to get one in front of the famous Newton Fire Station.

Keep in mind - she didn't NEED me to run with her.  I was available to help her, as I am with any runner, but this woman is an IRONMAN.  She is in better shape than me and didn't need assistance.  But, I am glad I was there to lend some moral support, smiles, laughter and good conversations.  

People ask me what did Sarah and I chat about. Everything in life.  You know, the typical girl stuff. 

This is a screenshot of one of the official RW photos for their website.  It's of Sarah, I and her friend around Mile 12.  

We finished in 3:11:##.  Yes, you read that right, I was in the back of the back, and I couldn't of been happier to be there with her.  

I did not give up anything to be with her or run this pace, I gained more than anyone could of imagined.  

Sarah's and I's post race picture

With my Hattrick HAT, medals and Ladybug's ball

5k, 10k and Half Medal

Sarah and I went out separate ways, after a nice good bye and me, saying a THANK YOU many times for the luggage.  

A perfect way to end my Boston trip and experiences. address the Elephant in the Room.

This past week, a fellow runner and blogmate posted about her back-of-the-pack experiences at HHHalf.  Her race recap sent a flood into my email box asking for my input, my opinion and "what happened at Heartbreak Hill?"

I will answer those questions, right now.

First, my blogmate was very ill that morning, I mean very ill.  How many of you have been ill and have a great attitude?  I surely don't.  In fact, I am quite cranky when I am sick.  I think I would even be cranky if I won the lottery while sick.  Keeping that in mind, she was not in the best of attitude that morning (and understandably so).  

Like me, she is use to being in the front of the pack.  That's our home. That's where we belong.  I am not sure about her, but I have been in the back of the pack, by choice.  I have paced many who have ran a 3+ or even a 4+ hour half.  I have finished my race and ran back to others to run them in.  I know what the back of the pack is like. I have seen the empty aid stations.  I have seen the crowds widdle away.  I honestly do not know if my fellow blogmate had ever seen the back of the pack.  It's an eye opening experience for any runner.  Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

My blogmate finished 20 minutes behind me.  The picture of Sarah and I (and her friend) was taken at Mile 12. The aid station were not being torn down nor did it appear they would be, any time soon.  Here is the picture, just in case you don't want to scroll up.  Sarah and I finished at 3:11, and my blogmate finished in 3:31. 

Could it have changed after our Mile 12?  Of course, it could of, but I didn't see any evidence of tables being torn down while we were running by.  

I don't know what happened with my blogmate, but I am very sorry she felt she was abandoned and unsupported.  I experienced something completely different, but that is my viewpoint - not hers.  
In my opinion, this event was one of the most organized & most supported races I have run.  In the overall execution of the event, I don't have one complaint.  Not a one. If I did, I would say something - you all know I would.

One person's experiences does not speak for the entire race nor for all the participants.  The same for myself, my experiences do not speak for all the racers, front or back of packers. 

I hope that answer your questions. 

In closing, I would like to thank Runner's World for including me in this event.  I would do it again & any other RW event, if the opportunity arises.  If you are local to their events, please consider registering.  You will not be disappointed.  

I left Boston a changed runner & person.  I saw a different culture vs the West Coast racing.  I ran on holy ground, I ran Boston.  I cannot wait to go back in to run the Boston Marathon in 2016 and hopefully HHHalf in 2015. 

*Disclaimer:   I was an invited guest blogger to the Inaugural Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half Festival in Boston.  The views, reviews and opinions expressed are my own and not influenced by the organizers nor sponsors or any other company/individual affiliated with the event.

(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-14
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Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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