Happy Sunday Funday! Yesterday Derek and I finished the Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler in some pretty uncomfortable conditions. It was cold, sleeting, and wet almost the entire way. Guess that’s what you get for doing a race during February in New England! I think we made the best of it, though, and despite the freezing rain we still had fun.
It was my first time at Martha’s Vineyard, and I really had no idea what to expect. One thing I’ve always associated Martha’s Vineyard with is its history as one of the first deaf communities in the US. I was a deaf studies minor in undergrad, and I was fascinated to learn that the American Sign Language (ASL) used in North America today is actually an offset of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL). Apparently, some of the early settlers of the island carried the gene for deafness, and so it was passed on through generations until eventually 1 in every 4 children on the island was deaf. Fishing and agriculture, both of which were good occupations for deaf residents, prospered on the island and hearing people in the community learned to sign to communicate with the deaf population. In a way, it was a sort of deaf “utopia” where everyone could understand one another and communicate, whether they were hearing or deaf. As the deaf children on the island began to travel to the mainland for school, though, they eventually married and settled off the island, causing the deaf population to gradually decline. Fascinating, right?!?!
For those of you who haven’t been, here are some other fun facts that I learned about the island after googling it this morning:
- filming location for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws movies
- summer vacation spot for former President Bill Clinton and family as well as the Obamas
- Jackie Kennedy Onassis lived in Martha’s Vineyard until her death in 1994
- JFK Jr. as well as his wife and sister-in-law died in a plane crash off the coast of the island in 1999
- only place in the world where you can get tularemia (rabbit fever) from lawn mowing
- the cost of living on the island is 60% higher than the national average yet the average income of island residents (not summer vacationers) is 30% less than the MA state average
And now that you and I know all of this extremely interesting information, let’s get back to the race.
The Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler is a very small race originally intended to “test your Boston readiness.” The other runners in this race were FAST and all business – I felt a little out of my element before we got started seeing everyone in their Boston Marathon jackets from years past. Derek and I decided to run the 20 miler sort of last-minute just to push ourselves to train and continue running after Disney. Between Disney and this race, the longest distance I had run was 12 miles, with a couple 10 mile runs and a few 3s, 5s, and 7s. I did not feel ready AT ALL, but that’s nothing new.
The race started at 11am yesterday, so Derek and I woke up at 6 and were out the door by 7. At that time, it was cold outside, but relatively clear and there wasn’t any precipitation at all during the 1.5 hour drive to Falmouth. We listened to Macklemore the whole way to get ourselves hyped. Once in Falmouth, we parked, gathered our stuff, and caught a shuttle bus to the ferry.
The ferry was definitely the best part of the whole race. I know that sounds awful, but I really had a lot of fun on the ride over to the island. Around 9:15 we got to the Steamship Authority terminal with a few minutes to spare before boarding. Derek made some horrendous tasting oatmeal (love him dearly though) that I brought with me in the car but didn’t end up finishing, so I was pretty hungry by then. There was a little snack bar in the waiting area, so I got a black coffee and a bag of Cape Cod potato chips for me and a bagel for Derek (he’s always hungry). We boarded the ferry and found a seat right away on the upper deck. It was delightfully warm and we had a pretty good view.
We were on the ferry for about 45 minutes and just relaxed and talked about a whole bunch of random stuff. I met a woman wearing a Disney Marathon shirt in the line for the bathroom, and we chatted about how much fun the race was as well as some other races. I always love hearing other runners’ perspectives on races and which ones they recommend. Here are some more pictures taken from the ferry:
After we arrived, we pinned on our race bibs and checked our bags. The start line was literally right next to the ferry terminal which made everything really easy. The terminal was crazy crowded with runners doing last minute preparations and meeting up with family/friends.
With some time to spare before the start, we decided to walk around and try to stay warm. Main Street was only about a block away.
After a couple of minutes we headed over to the race start and jumped up and down/ did modified dance moves to stay warm until we got running. Looking around, I saw very few people my age and everyone looked really, really serious. I felt a little intimidated and questioned what it would feel like to come in last. Someone has to be last in every race, right?
Once we got running, I realized that I had made a major mistake by wearing the Gap capris I had spoken so highly of in a previous post. They kept falling lower and lower until the crotch felt like it was almost at my knees. Since I was wearing gloves, I couldn’t get a grip on them to pull them up. It was a mess and I was being pretty nast’ about it. Derek really wasn’t into my whining so he ran ahead and took this lovely photo of me:
See how there’s about 2 inches of space between the end of my capris and my shoes? There really should be like 6 but I was having some serious crotch sag going on.
I caught up with Derek for a couple more minutes until we realized we weren’t talking and I was not motivated to run his pace for the next 19 miles. He ran ahead, which gave me the opportunity to take pictures of him from the back. Not too bad for me.
See that little blue man? That’s Derek! He was hauling a$$…this is the last time I saw him during the race.
This is where the freezing rain started. Alone, cold, and kind of bored, what did I do to distract myself?
This 20 miles was tough. Obviously, with being just 6 miles shy of a marathon, it would be tough on any course, but the weather really made it unpleasant. I was a little sad that I didn’t get to fully appreciate the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard because there were tiny frozen water pebbles in my eyes most of the time. I’ve also never run a race of this distance alone before, and it was challenging for me to keep going when my mind was telling me to stop and I didn’t have much to distract me. I tried to think of all the songs on my running playlist, but it just wasn’t the same. I also tried to mentally break the race into chunks, and that helped a little. I told myself I could only stop at water stations and only long enough to drink my cup of water – no dilly daddling. I stuck by this and only stopped at mile 18 to walk while sipping my deliciously purple gatorade.
During this race, I also learned that I really need to figure out my nutrition for training. Since I’ve been eating vegan, I’ve been feeling great, but on longer runs it’s been hard to eat enough calories to support the distance. I was so so so so hungry during this 20 miles, so much so that my stomach was burning and I felt like I had no energy by the last few miles. The Gu I brought wasn’t helping much either. I’m definitely going to follow in the footsteps of my dude Scott Jurek and bring some bean burritos or peanut butter & jelly roll ups in my pocket next time I do a long run.
During the last stretch, I knew I was nearing the end of the course but not sure when. I heard Derek do his “Yuuuuuuuuuuup” war cry and saw him running towards me, and honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. Ok, the end of Boston 2012 was probably the most happy I’ve ever been. I gave Derek my camera and sprinted for the finish line. To my surprise, I came in just under 3 hours.
I haven’t run a sub 3 hour 20 miles in months. I was shocked that I did this with a long run of only 12 miles 2 weeks prior. With the Eastern States 20 miler coming up in March, I can’t wait to see how much I can improve my time between now and then. Derek finished in 2:51 which was AMAZING. I’m so proud of him and how he pushed himself. He barely trained and still smoked me.
At the end of the race we got our medals and went into the elementary school to get some hot food. I got some minestrone soup and some fruit.
After eating we changed into warm clothes – except we both forgot extra shoes and socks: FAIL. With our dry clothes and wet shoes, we got on the shuttle bus back to the ferry.
The ferry ride back to Falmouth was even more glorious than the ride to MV. It was not delightfully, but DELICIOUSLY warm inside. We took advantage of the heaters to dry our wet stinky shoes.
Derek fell asleep and I harassed him without him knowing. So rude.
We finally got back home around 6:30 where Chuie licked our faces off before we took him out for a walk. We ate a massive amount of takeout, watched Donnie Darko, and went to bed. A long but successful day.
Have you ever been to Martha’s Vineyard? want to go?
Have you ever run a 20 mile race?
Do you know any sign language or someone who is deaf?
Do you think this post was extraordinarily long? I do, so it’s ok.