The Eastern States 20 miler is the first pillar of racing year, every year. Except for the one year I missed it, I've run the event five out of the last six years. The distance isn't typical, the course is lovely, and the timing of the race means that the New England weather is often unpredictable.
I trained pretty hard through this winter (keeping my run streak alive, but also striving for a goal I will talk about in a later post.) This led me to a bunch of weeks where I was running 40 miles -- quite a bit more volume than I usually do in the lead up to the ES20. I had not covered this kind of distance in one run, but I've run the event a bunch of times so I was trusting that my mental toughness would offset that.
Woke up early the morning of the 24th and drove up to the high school. Have to say I love the new parking space at Winnacunnet HS. Ample parking, less exposed to high winds where we used to park near the Casino in Hampton. Had my pre-race breakfast of polenta and poached eggs, loaded up my gear and my check bag, boarded the shuttle.
The shuttle took awhile to get going. Always a thing because by that point I want to go use the bathroom. Anyway after awhile we got going to the Traip Academy. Checked in, went through my pre-race routines. Brought a bottle of water for my hydration tabs, and then a slow release carb shake. I brought a few gels with me, which I was a little concerned about because I hadn't been training much with them.
Race got going at around 11 am. It's a late start for a race so I download a couple of audio books for the wait. Last year, listened to Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" and this year, Shakespeare's "the Tempest". Felt pretty strong in the first few miles, and I wasn't really looking much at my watch. I have a history with this race (because it's a 'heavy lift' as the first race I do every year) of not caring much about the time. I always expect to cover the distance in a little under 3 hours.
Felt strong through the first fifteen or so miles, with a couple of walk breaks injected here or there. I was pretty impressed that as I started running out of those walk breaks I felt pretty fresh. I was able to cover the last mile with more consistent running than I usually get -- which led to a whole bunch of PR medals on Strava.
This year I covered the distance in 2:44! Which is my fastest time at the race. I recovered quick, too, and the streak has continued. Feeling strong this year, and looking forward to seeing what else I have in me performance-wise.