*This race report would have been up sooner, but WP ate a draft that I spent a fair number of hours on and I didn’t have the heart to redo it right away.
Name of the race: TD Beach to Beacon 10K
Where: Cape Elizabeth, ME
Date: August 1, 2015
Time: 8:10 am
Terrain: Point to point, rolling hills
Entry fee: $50
Swag: Gender specific tech t-shirt, personalized bibs, free race photos, sunscreen & lip balm stick, & hand towel
Post-race Food: Chocolate milk, watermelon, oranges, blueberries, non-fat Greek yogurt, cheese, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, and water
Performance: Overall: 1520/6595; Gender 461/3646; Age Group (35 – 39) 69/491
Weather: 70 degrees, 73% humidity
Beach to Beacon is a tale of two races. The 10K in August where racers run from Crescent Beach State Park to Portland Head Light and then there’s the registration for the race that happens months before. Like many popular races, Beach to Beacon 10K sells out every year and the sell out happens in record time. In mid-March eager fingers race to fill out the entry forms for one of the coveted 4000 bibs that are available to the general public. This year it sold out in 4 min and 15 seconds, which is a 15 second PR over last year’s time.
I’ve been wanting to do this race for a couple of years and I was determined not to miss out. I set up multiple alarms just in case we slept through an alarm. We were up at 6:30. Our laptops were on and ready at 6:45. Then a couple minutes before 7 am, we constantly refreshed the race website in anticipating of the race registration link. Right at 7, the link appeared and Ben and I tapped away furiously. When we clicked the final button to submit, I anxiously waited until the page confirmed our entries. Although it was seconds, it felt like hours. Finally we were both confirmed as registered runners. A big sigh of relief came out of me. A minute later, all 4000 entries were snapped up and many unfortunate hopeful runners were out.
Bandit got a little vacation of her own while we were up in New England. A former student, who is now a friend, begged to take care of Bandit if we ever went away. Bandit had a wonderful time with her, her family and her dog. They spoiled her like crazy and loved having Bandit. It’s always a relief A couple days before the race, we drove from Brooklyn up to Boston to see my sister, her husband, and their adorable son (my little nephew) and spent the night with them. The next day Ben and I drove to Maine!
We arrived at Port Elizabeth before the expo was open at 2 pm, so we hung out at a cafe that was coincidentally a block away from the high school where the expo was held. Port Elizabeth is so small that everything is really close to each other. While waiting for the expo, we figured out our housing situation. We kinda forgot that we needed to get a hotel or something. All the nearby hotels and AirBnb places were long gone. We were facing the possibility that we would have to stay someplace rather far away. Luckily Ben found a last minute cancellation on a very lovely vacation house a 30 mins away on Craigslist. The owner was desperate to rent it out for two nights and we needed a place for two nights, so it worked out. We got the house for half her normal rate. Sometimes procrastination pays off.
Ben had to do a conference call so I went to the expo by myself. I quickly got our bibs and shirts. I was quite happy to see that B2B gave us personalized bibs with our first names printed on them. I love personalized bibs, especially when you can request what you’d like to be printed on them. For example, for The Love Run last spring, I had “Run Simple” printed on mine, which is Simple Hydration’s motto. After the bib pick up, we drove to the house to check in. We had dinner at a great Vietnamese restaurant to carbo-load on pho and vermicelli noodles. Brian Hock, the founder of SH, is friends with one of the official photographers, and so he arranged for the other SH ambassador and me to get our photos with our Simple Hydration bottles. I texted the photographer to arrange a time and then texted him what I looked like so he could look out for me. He texted back that he would be wearing a lot of cameras.
Transportation logistics is one of the drawbacks of a point-to-point course, but it wasn’t a problem with Beach to Beacon. There’s limited parking at the start line, so there are three other satellite locations to park at. We parked at the high school/expo again because it was convenient. Traffic did get congested in the narrow streets early in the morning as thousands of runners made their way to the same locations (so even though Google Maps tells you it’s only 15 minutes, give yourself extra time on race day). There was plenty of parking available and the volunteers efficiently moved us along. As soon as a school bus filled, it took off for the start line. A long line of school buses moved along the streets until we were dropped off.
Ben wistfully wished for some coffee and like magic, there was a hospitality tent with free coffee for the runners. The line for the port-o-potties were long, but the wait time wasn’t bad. The sun was out and it was looking to be a beautiful day. We searched for Kevin Morris, the photographer, and after a couple false alarms, we found him. He took some great photos of me with my Simple Hydration bottle and one of me and Ben that we both absolutely love. These are some of the photos that Kevin Morris took:
After taking some photos, Kevin went back to documenting the race and Ben and I talked about our race strategies. The corrals were on the honor system. Ben moved up to a faster corral and I moved back to find the 8 min corral. Later on, Ben told me that he stood right next to Mary Wittenberg, the former head of NYRR. The start for each corral was staggered to reduce congestion. It was still crowded, but manageable.
The race is really fun because of all the great crowd support. There wasn’t a single portion of the course where I felt there weren’t any spectators. At around the first mile a restaurant set up a muffin and coffee table for the runners. If I hadn’t been running for a good time, I would have loved to stop for a freshly baked muffin and coffee. That’s one of the perks if you run for fun instead of time. Pretty much throughout the course, there were lots of cheering. The course is tough in that it’s relentless rolling hills. As soon as you’re done with one hill, you have another one. The hills are gentle, but it never ends. At one of the steeper hills, I appreciated having music on at full blast. I used its vibes to propel me up the course. I don’t think there was a single flat section except for the start. The sun was out in full force and the unshaded sections were tough to run. There was some shade, but not a whole lot.
Another fun aspect were the costumes. There weren’t a ton, but there were a few. I ran behind a guy who was dressed in the colors of the French flag and wore a red, white, and blue wig.
After a couple miles, I settled in to what felt like a good pace. Suddenly I heard someone say to me, “Nice water bottle.” I looked over and it was the other Simple Hydration ambassador. We exchanged greetings and ran a few yards together. He slowly pulled away and as he did, I yelled, “I like what’s in your shorts.” (He had his own bottle tucked inside). I don’t let the fact that I’m married stop me from having some fun on the side (*wink*).
The last mile was tough because the full sun was taking its toll on me. I kept running and when we entered the park, I knew the finish line was near. The last stretch before the finish line turns into a cross-country course because you’re running on grass. I mustered up the last bit of energy to run fast and not fade. As usual there are no photos of me crossing the finish line. Sads. The best I found was the photo of me in the background as I was approaching the finish line. Ben, as usual, had a ton of photos.
My time was 50:39, which I’m rather happy with. I ran well and at a pretty even pace for the most part (I did slow down considerably for the last mile).
- 6:47 (for the last .2 – hey, I found my kick!)
After the finish line is crossed, all the runner are directed to climb up a mountain. No, seriously, a mountain. Or at the very least, it was one super steep hill. We were promised by the booming voice from the sky (or the race announcer) that food and water were waiting for us beyond the hill. Under the brutal rays of the sun, we trudged upwards. Ben found me and we made our way to the post-race celebration.
I have to say I really love a good post-race spread and Beach to Beacon does not disappoint. I really, really, really love having chocolate milk after a hard race AND there’s nothing better than a refreshing slice of cold watermelon on a hot day. B2B provided us with tons of food; I had a hearty breakfast after the race. After we rested and ate, we walked around to enjoy the gorgeous surroundings.
The race ends at the Portland Head Lights, which is one of Maine’s iconic lighthouses. The area is simply beautiful. There’s a nice little walking path, and several racers took advantage of it to take photos of the ocean, the lighthouse, and to walk over to the lighthouse. No one was in a hurry to leave. We all wanted to soak in the New England seascape.
Eventually we had to go. We got in a long line to get on a bus back to the satellite parking lot. We did wait, but B2B is very well organized. Constant announcements were made so that people were in the correct lines. The lines moved efficiently. They loaded people quickly and the buses were sent off. I had experienced much worse in other races, so I was very pleased with the logistics. I think we waited a half hour, which is nothing considering how many people they had to move.
If you are thinking of doing Beach to Beacon, I highly recommend this race. Maine is worth a visit and the Portland/Cape Elizabeth area is beautiful. I love the point-to-point nature of the race and B2B is a well-oiled machine so the race logistics are manageable and efficient. The course is a lot of fun and the post-race atmosphere is one of nicest that I’ve experienced. The timing of this race makes it difficult to PR, but it was perfect for me because I had to do a tempo run of 6 miles that week. I swapped the days where I do the tempo and long run, so it all worked out.The hardest part of the race was getting in. If you want to do this race, make sure you know when registration opens up in 2016 (mid-March) and be ready to tap way at 7 am.