Eastern States 20 Miler
SALISBURY, MA - Another weekend and another road trip preparing for Boston led us to Maine for the Eastern States 20 Mile Race. The Eastern States 20-miler starts in Kittery, Maine, and goes through Portsmouth, Rye, North Hampton, Hampton and Seabrook, NH, before arriving in Salisbury, MA, for the finish. This is usually a beautiful scenic run along the seacoast. However, rain, headwinds for the first seven miles, puddles and water continuously dripping from your hat made it hard to appreciate the beauty.
Six Striders, Pam Morin, Sue Besse, Dave Jefska, Annajean McMahon, Linda Fitzpatrick, and Mike Pelletier, were prepping for Boston. Sean Kay and Melissa Behl were just attracted by the chance to run a long race.
Instead of making them take the shuttle bus from Hampton, NH to Kittery to get to the start, Armand Claveau drove Linda Fitzpatrick and Mike Pelletier to Maine where they met up with the rest of the group in the Traip Academy gym.
The Wildwoman had sent along a bag of throw-away warm-up pants, just in case someone needed them. Sure enough, Sue had misunderstood the forecast and thought it was going to stop raining at 11, so she was ready to run in shorts and a light shirt under her singlet. Pam and Annajean finally talked Sue into at least starting out in warm-up pants. Sue selected a pair of pink Adidas warm-ups after they assured her with straight faces that the pants were definitely not "too girly."
During the race, Annajean kept looking on the side of the road for Sue's discarded pants, but never did see them because when Sue took them off at five miles, a gust of wind blew them into a marsh.
Sue, Melissa, and Pam, started together at the front as did Sean Kay. Annajean, Linda, and Mike were further back in the pack, but ahead of Dave Jefska.
By three miles, Linda dropped off the pace in a seeming strategic move. Later it became apparent that she had little choice, given that she'd been sick all week with flu-like symptoms, a recurrence of shingles, and a toothache which would require a root-canal within a few days after the race.
Around three miles, Mike's left knee started hurting in a new, different way. When he stopped at a porta-john at seven miles, he could barely walk, so he did the only thing possible and resumed running. By this time Dave had caught up to Annajean who had slowed down while Mike made the pit-stop. As soon as Mike caught up to them, Annajean picked up the pace and Dave dropped away. Finally, at ten miles, Mike told Annajean that he couldn't maintain that pace and he slowed to a more comfortable pace of about 9:20. Annajean, on the other hand, picked up the pace and ended up beating Mike by 10 minutes over the last 10 miles, so she was probably running 8:20 miles.
Armand was supposed to be waiting in front of the Ashworth at 17 miles and Mike was thinking about dropping out there, but when Mike didn't see Armand, he had no choice but to run to the finish and collect his bag.
At the finish of this race there is no shelter. Finishers stumble 100 yards to two school buses where they stand in line to retrieve their bags while they are hammered by the wind off the ocean. Once a runner has his/her bag, he or she can head into the wind and stagger a block to a shuttle bus which takes runners back three miles to the Ashworth Hotel for the post-race party. When Mike crossed the finish line in the best imitation of running that he could manage, Annajean was nice enough to get his bag for him and point him in the right direction. It seems that as soon as he stopped running, he could barely walk. And then, trying to walk one block into the wind toward the bus had felt like the Bataan Death March.
Meanwhile, when Linda had arrived at the 17-mile mark, Armand, on an impulse, had joined her and had run with her to the finish, clad in jeans, shoes, and a winter coat. It shows just how much Linda was hurting that Armand was able to stay with her through 3 miles of running.
Once back at the Ashworth, everyone loaded up on hot soup and fresh pizza so that by the time Annajean went up to accept her award for 3rd Senior Woman, we had recovered enough to be able to applaud.
It's interesting to note that all five Striders returning to this race managed to run faster than last year. The last thirteen miles with a strong tail wind must have trumped the first seven miles of headwinds. However, when one looks at finish-line photos of individual Striders (available at a secret location the eight Striders have pledged to never reveal) one can see that despite the faster times this year, this was not exactly a walk in the park. Congratulations to all eight Striders on a job well done!
Full results at Cool Running.