The Beach to Beacon is one of my favorite MAINE races to run. It’s super organized, is small-ish (8,000 runners), has a mystique to it (since you have to get in via lottery), and has the most stunning scenery. It isn’t necessarily a super ‘fast’ course (that last hill kills me), but I wouldn’t consider it ‘challenging’. This was my third time getting into the race and second time being able to run it.
I had followed the Endure Strong training plan (thanks for the opportunity to try them Bib Rave!) and had hopes of running a 10k PR going into the race. With school being super crazy and coming off of my 50 miler, I didn’t have the greatest training cycle. I followed the majority of the ‘speed sessions’, but reduced down my ‘longer runs’ to between 7-9 miles. So, sufficient to say I thought maybe breaking 50 minutes was within my reach for the 10k, but anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.
We picked up our bibs the Thursday before the race (it started Saturday morning at 8:12am) and I HIGHLY recommend going this if you can. The crowds are not overly crazy and the expo isn’t anything ‘extra’. It’s got the things that you need, you get some AWESOME swag (T shirt is always amazing, $10 LL Bean giftcard, $3 Dunkin’ giftcard, and $10 Olympia Sports gift card). Definitely the best race I’ve ever been to in that regards.
We were able to be dropped off at the race start at 6:45am (recommend doing this if you can to avoid the shuttle craziness post-race). I had oatmeal and brought a banana with me to eat just before the start. I had big plans to run a few miles before the start, but it was a bit too busy so I decided to just go with the flow. I did some stretching and got into my corral by 7:45am (recommend this as well). I wanted to negative-split or at least TRY to so I seeded myself around the 8:00 min/mi pace. There were a few gaps in the corrals, so when the gun went off there were a bunch of runners just pushing their way into the start in front of us. This was probably the one thing that I think the race organizers could do better because it did inject a lot of slower runners into the mix before they should have been.
Once I was off, I started out WAY too fast (i.e. first mile was low 7:00s) -> good thing I started where I did in the corral! I was able to get myself back under control in miles 2 and 3 and then hit a bit of a tough point around miles 3-4. The hills started to show up and I had to really focus on moving my legs and keeping my effort the same on the hills (at one point I had slowed to above 9:00 pace). This is one of the things that I’m really thankful I did a 50 miler before this because it helped me realize that I can still push myself and move my legs when they’re completely exhausted.
The weather was pretty perfect with mostly cloud cover and low-to-mid 70s during the race. The only thing missing was just a little bit of wind. I guess we can’t always have perfect weather conditions! Around mile 5, the race drops you down along the shore before you start to climb the last set of hills and I remember thinking how absolutely gorgeous it was. Also, can we talk about what a fantastic race photo I got?!? (race photos are also FREE!)
I had definitely started to slow down in the last mile (that last climb is HARD). I thought that I had one last climb before the finish chute, but I finally realized that I didn’t with 0.2 left! I pushed HARD this last bit (6:43 pace) and crossed the finish line in 49:16 and a 6-minute PR.
I was really proud of my effort for this race because I didn’t GIVE UP. I kept pushing through the pain and even when I slowed down, I was able to regain my speed. My splits were: 7:34, 7:47, 7:53, 7:53, 7:58, 8:38 (that one HURT), 6:43 (for the last 0.22). How does the saying go? Positive splits for positive people? I learned a lot from this race and when I finished, I didn’t feel overly depleted—> that tells me that I definitely could’ve pushed my speed quite a bit more. This race made me more excited for the next race I get to tackle and hopefully play with my speed even more!
The finish line area is really beautiful (it’s a point-to-point and finishes at Portland Head Light). They had FREE Dunkin Iced Coffee (YUM. best thing post race EVER!), Eli’s Root Bear (their Blueberry Pop is amazing), and an awesome food tent. You do have to walk ~1/4 mile to get to all of the post-race festival activities, so keep that in mind. I can’t wait to hopefully get in next year (we’ll see what the lottery says come Spring 2020!) and cheers to hoping that the race has even BETTER weather!