CAPE ELIZABETH — She crossed the finish line, and Erica Jesseman could go no further. So down she went, sitting on the side of the finish chute as other runners passed by.
“I was dead,” she said.
She was also the first Maine woman to finish the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Jesseman, a 24-year-old from Scarborough, went out fast and hard and finished with a time of 34 minutes, 17.6 seconds, nearly 23 seconds faster than second-place finisher Sheri Piers.
The winning time was just six-tenths of a second off the Maine course record held by Piers (2009), the top Maine woman in 2011 and 2012.
“I went out hard, unbelievably hard, stupidly hard,” said Jesseman.
“That’s what I’m mostly disappointed with, the fact that I went out hard and I could have had a better race if I hadn’t. But I was a minute and 10 to 15 seconds faster than I’ve ever run on this course, so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
Jesseman finished second in this category in each of the last two years. With perfect running conditions — cloud cover, mild temperatures, low humidity — she decided to charge ahead.
Even when she knew she was going too fast — she ran the first 5K in about 16:39 — she couldn’t slow down.
At least not until her body forced her.
“I fell apart big-time,” she said. “I really was just out of it by the end.”
Still, she had such a big lead that Piers, who has won this category three times, couldn’t catch up, and Jesseman remained unbeaten on Maine roads this summer.
“It’s what should have happened,” said Piers, who ran a 34:40.2.
“She’s on a roll. And when you’re on a roll like that — and I was on one last year — you just race with so much confidence. It’s good. It’s good to have a young whippersnapper win that race. I’m happy for her.”
The two train with each other — along with two-time Maine champion Kristin Barry, who returned from injuries to race — and Piers knew that Jesseman was going to go out fast. She always does.
“And right out of the gate I was way behind,” said Piers, 42, of Falmouth. “That was fine, because she always goes out fast. But the gap kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Jesseman was so focused on her race that she paid no attention to who was around her, or who might be chasing her.
“I didn’t notice anything,” she said. “I didn’t really see, I didn’t really care, I was just looking for the finish line. That’s all I cared about.”
She said her previous best on this course was 35:30. As far as just missing out on the Maine course record, she said, “I care, but I don’t care. I feel fortunate. God’s blessed me with this ability, I’m young, and I’ve got a ways to go in my running career.”
Like Jesseman, third-place finisher Emily Durgin of Standish and fifth-place finisher Carly Dion of Biddeford were very happy with their results. Both set personal bests on this course.
“The conditions were perfect and the field was great,” said Durgin, who will be a sophomore at the University of Connecticut. “There were a lot of people I like running with.”
For Jesseman and Piers, that includes Barry. After they finished, they waited for her at the finish line.
Barry finished in 37:22.
“It’s the three of us,” said Jesseman. “They invited me in to train with them. We come as a package deal.”