A Tale of 2 Races
ERICA LOGCHER RICHARDS·MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017
Ever since they brought back the Maine Coast Marathon a few years ago, I’ve always wanted to do it. The course starts at Kennubunk High School, right near where my grandmother and great aunt used to live. It follows the path (well, road) we took driving to my Grannie’s summer cottage in Biddeford, winding along the road we drove down to “make sure the ocean was still there”. The race never seemed to be at the right time with all the other activities going on in my life until this year. But, did I want to run it or race it. That was the question. I ran the Maine Coast Half Marathon last year and loved the gorgeous ocean views so much that I decided to do it again...along with the marathon for my first 39.3 Challenge. Crazy? Yes! But, oh what fun!!
I drove up to the cottage in Wells Friday afternoon, waited for my friend Lisa to arrive from Connecticut, and we drove to Biddeford to the expo to collect our bibs. We picked up Michelle’s marathon bib as well. We drove along parts of the half marathon course and then to Kennebunk for dinner and last minute carbo loading at Federal Jacks. After my turkey burger and risotto, we went back to the cottage to try and sleep. Lisa and I stayed up a bit too late chatting and getting ready for the half marathon but we knew we weren't going to sleep well anyway so why not. Woke up at 5:45am, got ready and left the cottage at 6:30. Parking was quick and easy and right near the porta potties and starting line. We met some other mother runners at the mermaid statue at 7:30 for a few quick pictures, then back to the porta potties and the start. Time flew by and before we knew it we were lined up in our waves, the race director blew the conch shell, and off we went.
I ran the first mile with my new friends Cindy and Joanna but they were planning to run faster than I wanted to so I let them go and tried to slow down. I had 2 races to run so I needed to run smart and conserve some of my fresh legs for the marathon. Mile 1 was a 10:32, slightly uphill on Route 9. Mile 2 was a downhill to the ocean and along the beach and still too fast at a 10:22. We made our way back to Route 9 where there were a few short rolling hills and I managed to slow down a bit with a 10:45. My goal for this race was to finish somewhere around 2:20-2:30. I wanted the race to feel comfortable so I’d recover well for the next day. We turned onto Granite Point Road which is the road my Grannie had her cottage on. It was an out and back section and I was able to see Ilyce, Cindy, and Joanna on my way out as they were heading back. The turnaround was at the beach where I grew up as a child. I stopped to take a picture of the flag waver who was directing us around a cone. I thanked him for volunteering and told him this was my beach as a child. He gave me a fist bump and off I went. On my way out, I ran over my first timing mat. On my way back out to Route 9, I saw Lisa. She looked relaxed and happy. I stopped and took a picture of the Granite Point Road sign and shortly after that, as we turned onto Fortunes Rocks Road, I got a text. My phone was handy so I took it out, read the text, and laughed. It was Anna telling me my first splits were a little fast and that I should slow down. I texted back that I was walking and texting her so that should help. A young woman came up beside me while I was texting Anna and offered me some encouragement, thinking I was struggling. So, we got chatting. It was her first half marathon so she asked me for some advise on fueling and what I did for recover and off she went. Oh, to be young! Mile 5 was an 11:06. Taking pictures, texting, and chatting seemed to be working. Just before mile 6, I stopped to take a few pictures of a cute house that is for sale. Mile 6 was 11:18. At the next water stop, there was a set of porta potties where the doors opened onto the path of the runners so I joked with those around me to be careful not to get car door-ed by a porta potty. Another woman, Lori, and I started laughing and chatting. Turns out she was at the race with a woman from my hometown. Her friend Linda graduated with my sister. Small world! Lori was running a bit fast for me so I said goodbye and wished her a good race and hoped we could meet up after so I could say hello to Linda. Mile 7 was a 10:40. The next stretch was on Mile Stretch Road. Appropriate. It’s a long, flat, and currently unpaved road heading towards Biddeford Pool. The road was hard packed but I felt like I had to watch my footing a bit. Miles 9 and 10 were around the point before going around Biddeford Pool. More gorgeous ocean views.
Photo from about mile 9.
I stopped once to take a pebble out of my shoe. Miles 8-10 were 10:57, 11:13, and 11:18. I was getting tired now and my back was a bit achy. I was ready to be done. I saw Lisa heading out and around Biddeford Pool. Still smiling so that made me happy. We went back down Mile Stretch Road before turning away from the beach. As I made the turn, I saw Lori walking and said hi, it’s Erica, lets go! We ran a bit together and then I left her. Miles 11 and 12 were 11:05 and 10:57. The last mile is a series of gently rolling ups and downs, too small to call them hills. I felt strong and when I came up over the last little hill and saw the finish line I was very happy. Mile 13 was a 10:34...a little fast but I was excited to be done. Crossed the finish line in 2:23:18. Just where I wanted to be. Got my medal and water bottle and went across the street for some food.
Ran into Lori and found Linda, took a picture with her to show my sister. Grabbed a banana and a yogurt, found Cindy and Joanna for a quick chat, and headed back to the car. I moved the car closer for when Lisa was finished. I chugged my chocolate milk and then went into UNE for a shower. Nice to be in clean, dry clothes. I went back to the car and then to the finish line to cheer on Lisa. So happy to watch her finish and a bunch of women helped me cheer loudly. We went across the street so Lisa could get some food and then went back to the cottage. After Lisa showered, we went into Ogunquit for lunch. Had half a gluten free pizza and lots of water. When we got back to the cottage, Michelle arrived and we started making plans for the rest of the day and for the marathon the next day. Around 5:30, Rich, Amy, and Anna arrived and cooked us a yummy chicken and pasta dinner. We chatted about the day and talked about the logistics. Since Anna was coming off an injury, we talked about some of the “what if’s”. We wanted to stay together and our goal was to just get from point A to point B but with the weather looking cold, rainy, and windy, no one wanted to be out there longer than necessary. Got to sleep about 11PM, woke up at 4:15 and tossed and turned until I got up at 5:30AM. Got dressed, ate, and packed our bags. Lisa drove us to Kennebunk High School and we arrived at 6:30 and parked near the starting line. The rain was steady but the wind was lighter than expected. Got completely soaked walking to the porta potties but was able to get warm and dry back in the car before the start. At 7:20, we hopped out, found Rich, Amy, and Anna, took some pictures, and lined up next to our goal time. Over the loud speakers, they were playing all sorts of songs about rain. Heard “I love a rainy night” as we passed under the start. Anna said to me, “I can’t believe this is really happening.”.
We left Kennebunk High School and passed the street where my grandmother and great aunt used to live. The duct tape that I put over the top of my shoes was starting to come off so I just let it fall off. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. Mile 1 was a 10:43. We went by downtown and by the Wedding Cake House. As a child, I loved that house but Anna said she thought it was ugly and so did another guy running near us who heard us talking. So, we chatted with him. It was his first marathon, he was from Goffstown, NH, and his wife used to work for the Town of Amherst. Small world! Mile 2 was mostly a gradual downhill and a 10:32. We continued towards Kennebunkport, feeling pretty good. Miles 3-5 were 10:46, 10:43, and 10:48. Just before mile 6, we saw Rich and Amy for the first time. We took a turn to head out towards Kennebunk Beach, hoping the wind wasn’t going to be a huge issue. Mile 6 was a 10:37 and then we hit the beach. Oh boy! Mile 7 wasn't too bad at 11:00 but we turn a corner and got smacked in the face by what felt like 30mph winds. We put our heads down, ran by effort, and were thankful it was low tide or else we would have been pummeled by the surf. We knew the course turned back in towards Kennebunkport so we weren’t too worried. Mile 8 was an 11:17. Mile 9 was a bit tricky running through Kennebunkport with the narrow roads that were also open to traffic. The volunteers and the police did a great job but I was glad when we turned onto Ocean Ave to head out to Walkers Point. Much less traffic.
They told us to lift our ponchos when going over a timing mat. More on the guy in the swim cap later.
Mile 10 felt good. No wind in our faces with only an occasional cross wind. 10:49. Then we turned the corner just before Walkers Point where the Bush Compound is and the wind was once again in our face. The guy in the green swim cap was ahead of us and stopped to get ready for his photo op (free race photos!) so we passed him. When we did, I told Anna he was they guy we met at the Eastern States 20 Miler. We were sitting inside waiting for that race to start and we got chatting. I recognized his accent. So, when he caught back up to us, we chatted and he said he remembered us too. Small world! Miles 11 and 12 were through Turbats Creek with a few rolling hills and somewhat protected from the wind at times. Anna and I starting walking up some of the hills to conserve energy. Miles 11 and 12 were 11:18 and 11:27. Just before mile 13, Anna got a side stitch so we slowed up and tried to get that sorted before we reached the turn for Route 9. We saw Rich and Amy again just after the halfway point and at the start of a long section of Route 9. This section has a few hills but we walked when we needed to and ran when we could. Miles 13-15 were 11:25, 11:24, and 11:10. As we came into Cape Porpoise, we got a “bonus stop” for Rich and Amy. We weren't expecting to see them until mile 18. I showed them how I was ringing out my mittens every mile or so with what felt like buckets of cold water so Amy switched mittens with me. Kept my hands dry for about a mile. Then the ringing out of the wet gloves continued, lol! The next section of Route 9 was curvy and the road was very slanted. We couldn’t run in the middle where it was less slanted for fear of getting hit by a car so this section was probably my least favorite. The wind was back in our faces again and there were times when we just put our heads down and ran. Miles 16-18 were 11:22, 11:02, and 11:32. Saw Rich and Amy at 18 as we turned off Route 9 (YAY!) to head towards Gooserocks Beach. I got a little overly excited to be off Route 9 and sped up a bit. Mile 19 was 10:40. The houses along Gooserocks Beach were beautiful and we ran along the street with not too much of a headwind. There was a short out and back section where the road had flooded so we carefully walked through the water in the center of the street. After we made the turnaround, we waded through the flooded section one more time before making a turn back towards Route 9. This mile was mostly uphill. Miles 20 and 21 were 11:37 and 11:35. Saw Rich and Amy one last time before they drove to the finish line to meet us there. Once we got back on Route 9, we resumed our walk up the hills and run down pattern. We ran past Granite Point Road and took a right onto Fortunes Rock Road and I knew we were going to be fine. Miles 22 and 23 were 11:58 and 10:48... ok so mile 22 had lots of hills and a headwind. Mile 23 was heading back out to the beach, no hills, and no headwind. By now the wind was strong and when it was in our face, it was hard to talk. Mile 23-24 was our most challenging with headwinds around 30mph. When we got to the turn to head away from the beach, the stop sign was violently shaking back and forth in the wind. Mile 25 was 11:27. When we hit that last water stop at mile 25, we took off our rain ponchos. They had served us well. We never expected to wear them the entire race but the extra layer of protection from the elements was needed. Now, with the stronger wind, they were getting annoying and we wanted our finish line photo to be without them. As we turned the corner for our last mile, Anna started getting emotional. We still had to run another mile so I kept telling her to breathe. Mile 26 was a 10:54. When we went up and over a small hill, we could see the finish line. We heard Rich whistle. Then I started to get choked up. Hyperventilating, crying, and running is difficult. We crossed over a little bridge, joined hands, and ran through the finish chute together. Final .36 of a mile took us 3:29 so we still had some legs left.
When we crossed the final line, some Army reservists put medals around our necks, gave us a blanket and our water bottle, and Anna and I hugged and cried. Marathon training is a long journey and we were both happy, relieved, and proud that we had made it to the finish line.
Final stats (although I wasn’t running for time):
Half Marathon 2:23:16, 10:56/mile, overall 1043/1372, female 687/974, F50-54 44/63
Marathon 4:53:43, 11:12/mile, overall 495/642, female 250/342, F50-54 12/22
39.3 Challenge 7:16:59, female 19/35
We all went back to the cottage for a nice hot shower and dry clothes. We munched on leftovers and chatted about the day and weekend. We took some final pictures and then everyone left. I had decided to stay another night and spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and recovering from having run 39.3 miles. I loved every minute of the weekend and was so glad that I was able to share it with so many friends. While I don't think I’ll do another 39.3 challenge again, I’m not ruling it out. It was a blast!!