Bridge of Flowers 10K – 2016

Bridge of Flowers (BOF) 10K in Shelburne Falls, MA is my favorite race. It’s challenging, but forgiving as well. The spectators along the way are cheerful and encouraging. It’s an extremely organized and well managed race. The water stations are plentiful and the offerings at the end of the race are generous for runners and family members.

The race stands as my 10K PR although that happened pre-Achilles injury and I’m not quite back to that pace. I am working on it and was feeling pretty good going into this years BOF race. I  wasn’t expecting a PR, but I was hopeful that I would beat last year’s time.

By the time we arrived to Shelburne Falls it was clear that Crittendon Hill was not going to be the only challenge at BOF this year. The race starts at 9AM and it was inching towards 80 degrees. My crazy hair was an accurate barometer of the ridiculous humidity level! The start was delayed by 10 minutes because the family friendly 3K race that takes place first was taking longer than usual due to the weather conditions.While we waited I took a couple of photos from the iron bridge where the race starts.

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Already dripping with sweat  when the gun went off, I knew I had a decision to make about my race goal. I know this course well. This was my 5th time running the race. Despite practical running advice to never go out too quickly in a race, I tend to start this course at a swift pace. I’m slowed a little bit right after passing through the downtown as the course goes up a slight hill. I run hard after the hill. I grabbed a water at mile 1 and kept pushing my pace until I reached Crittendon Hill. Now I run hills all the time, not little rolling hills either, but Crittendon is a beast. It is steep and winds up for the distance of nearly a mile.

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A photo does not do Crittendon Hill justice

I tried so hard to run it the first year only to come to a screeching halt about a minute up. I felt defeated, but now I know better. I power walk it to the best of my ability, drink some water and breathe a sigh of relief at the top, and then I soar down the shady backside until my pace evens out around mile 4.

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Celebrating the top!

By the time I reached the hill this year I made a decision to adjust my goal. It was hotter than it’s ever been at BOF. The humidity made it feel as though I was running through a sea of sweat. It was gross. People were stopping, dry heaving, and vomiting. I made a wise decision to run it conservatively without worrying about my time. After careening down the hill the race opens up to a long stretch on open road with zero shade cover. Unlike years past I did not try to make up for lost time walking the hill on this flat road. Instead I stuck to a nice comfortable pace.

The race seemed to fly by. I stopped at each water station and gave lots of thanks to the awesome volunteers standing out in the heat. I ran through every sprinkler kind spectators held out for the runners. I smiled as I reached my favorite sign of the race “last half mile, you’re almost there!” Despite the heat I suddenly felt a surge of energy and I let it all out for the end of the race. I love running over the iron bridge again with spectators cheering as each runner’s name is announced when they near the finish line.

I finished in 1:03:18. I felt great at the end and was excited to cheer for my friends who finished not long after me. One of my friends ran it last year for the first time. She had a horrible experience due to some health issues, but she has been feeling much better and running really well. I was so proud of her for coming back. She ran a much better race this year even in the heat. One of my running partners ran BOF for this first time this year and she did an incredible job. I think the race gave her just the nudge she needed to finally sign up for her first half marathon. She’s been thinking about it and she’s half way there! I’m thrilled for her and looking forward to helping her train for the Hartford Half Marathon this October.

A walk down memory lane…

Bridge of Flowers 2010 (pre-blog) – 1:07:36 (10:52 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2011 – 1:04:16 (10:21 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2012 – 1:01:53 (9:58 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2013 – 56:01 (9:01 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2014 – I did not run due to Achilles injury.

Bridge of Flowers 2015 – 58:51 (9:29 pace)

After the race I took Carlos and his friend to visit friends who are spending the week on the shore in Milford, CT. It was a perfect beach day. We made it down to their beach house around 3:30 and jammed in a full day’s worth of activities. The kids played and swam. My friend and I took the kayaks out for a ride. It was such a great way to unwind  after the race.

 

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