Yankee Homecoming 10-mile and the case of the missing playlist

Yankee Homecoming 10-miler

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
-Bob Marley

This past week got a bit confusing since I switched up my 10-mile long run day to run this race on a Tuesday night. The Yankee Homecoming race in Newburyport, MA has apparently been going on since 1960 with varying distances, but now it has settled to a 10-mile course and a 5K course that runners can choose from. As you can imagine for an August race, it has the potential to be a very hot and difficult. This year was no exception, however I feel like it could have been worse weather-wise. It was warm and the sun was shining brightly at the 6:10 PM start, but the humidity was not too bad.

One of the most important things I prepare for a longer distance race is the playlist. I had wanted to use my last 10-mile playlist – the one I made for the Newport race – with just a few tweaks to add some newly acquired songs. Things had been pretty busy lately with work and other obligations I didn’t have time to edit the playlist so I decided to just use it as is. I scrolled through on my phone a few times…oh crap. It was nowhere to be found. I must have not synced that particular list the last time I updated my phone. I was so sick of my other half-marathon lists, I wasn’t sure what to do. I saw one named “15K” and checked the time on it – 1 hour and 45 minutes. Well that should do time wise at least. I cued it up. Shuffle all.

The 10-mile course takes you on a tour of the town of Newburyport, mostly through residential neighborhoods. The residents are all very supportive and many of them make their own additional water stops and spray willing runners with garden hoses and sprinklers. I ran through many of these as I could feel my face heating up right at mile 1.  Mile 2 starts to give you some nice views of the water, which always calms me down. By mile 3 I realized my face felt like it was on fire with the heat. At this point, the course has stayed pretty flat. I remembered hearing about the hills and then at mile 4, I saw the first major incline ahead of me. My playlist responded as I chugged up…

“Oooga-chaka, Ooga-chaka. Ooga-chaka, Ooga-chaka.
I can’t fight this feeling, deep inside of me…”

Steadily to the beat, I climbed. Luckily it wasn’t a long hill and I made my way through more friendly neighborhoods and through a state park. I was worried about getting tired after the halfway mark, but surprisingly I felt really good. The course was becoming more hilly and my pace slowed down a little bit, but my lungs felt incredibly strong. At around mile 6.75 I started pushing my speed a little more…

“I feel the love, I feel the love, I feel the love that’s really real.
I’m on sunshine baby, yeah!”

It sure felt like it, even though the sun was starting to make it’s way down. Somewhere between mile 6 & 7 I got to take a tiny break from my playlist as a family was playing the song “The Power” by Snap loudly on their lawn as I trudged up another small hill. I tried to entertain this family with my runner dance which is actually just me flailing my arms around wildly while running.

There was some nicely shaded parts towards the second half of the course which made things cool down a bit. I was feeling progressively better, even though the course seemed to be getting harder.

“Make me a liar. One big disaster.
‘Cause you make my heart beat faster.”

I felt like I could go faster. My breathing was strong and I felt no pain. Somewhere around 7.75 miles, I grew wings. There was a hill in front of me that I had to get up, and I didn’t even feel it. Suddenly I had one mile left.

“I can climb the highest mountain, cross the widest sea.
I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burning in me, burning in me.
Just once in his life a man has his time. And my time is now I’m comin’ alive.”

I turned up the heat in my legs. There were still a lot of residents out watching the race and cheering everyone on. I couldn’t believe how strong I felt after running 9 miles. The last tenth of a mile finishes on an incline into the high school driveway and then a decline toward the finish line. It was a tough finish as I picked up my speed to get my PR (by about one minute). That hill nearly killed me. When I finally crossed the finish line, I felt really good, but my rapid breathing and heart rate proved how hard I had worked to get there. I felt really thirsty. A woman at the finish informed me water was one way and showers were the other way. I knew what I needed…

“Son of a bitch. Give me a drink.”

Some people began to talk to me so I had to shut my playlist off. I was pleasantly surprised how well it got me through that run, by sheer accident. I was also very impressed with this mid-week race. It’s tough to get up to northern MA on a weeknight, but if I was able to do it again next year, I would try. The resident support and beautiful course really made the race for me. Not to mention it was a great option for a training run.

Newburyport at Night
A nice drink by the water after a great race.

Song References:

“Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede
“Walking on Sunshine”  by Katrina & the Waves
“The Power” by Snap
“Faster” by Matt Nathanson
“St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr
“S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

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