I am so excited to have the time to sit down and write this right now, because life has been very, very busy lately. Between teaching, coaching, tutoring, running, and just, like, adulting, the last few weeks have left me stretched pretty thin. That said, writing this blog, even when it’s only a single post a week, is so fun for me.
I love writing, writing’s my favorite!
Okay, so, now on to the actual race recap!
I made a goal last fall, when I first started running post stress-fracture, to enjoy every second of my two deferred races this year. In a lot of ways, having that goal in mind made the recovery process a whole lot easier. Whenever I was struggling to take the rest days I needed or feeling down as I adjusted to the 15 pounds I had to gain in order to re-balance my hormones, I remembered that I was doing it for a reason. I was doing it so I could have a blast running and racing in the future.
The New Hampshire Marathon and Half Marathon happen in the town where I spent the summer growing up. In fact, the route runs right past my parent’s house, so they spend the morning sitting at the end of the driveway in beach chairs, cheering runners on.
I drove up to my parents last Wednesday after work. I took three days off running leading up to the race as a sort of “mini-taper,” so I got some fitness in by taking an hour-long walk with my dad when I first arrived. The fall colors are just starting to show up, which is super cool!
I got in bed early that night (like 8:30) because even though the race didn’t start until 9am, I like to get an early start so that I know my stomach is settled before a race (TMI? NAHHHHH).
I woke up around 5:15. I had some cheerios and a banana for breakfast, along with a cup of tea. I ran out of electrolyte droplets like a noob, so I’d made sure to salt my dinner the night before and just kind of hoped for the best. I brought an applesauce packet and a small bag of dry cereal to snack on when I headed to registration, since I’d eaten so early and wouldn’t start running for a while.
The NH Half Marathon is a point-to-point race, so we had to be bussed to the starting line. Fun fact, the busses we took are the same ones I took for summer camp growing up. A lot of the other runners were there to tackle a 50-state challenge; there’s always a half in Maine or Massachusetts the next day, so many people trying to run a race in every state come to the NH Half and run back-to-back races to knock out a chunk of New England all at once. One woman I met on the bus was running NH on Saturday, Maine on Sunday, and staying in the area for the week to run the Boston BAA Half Marathon the next weekend! 3 halves in one week, woof.
A bridge near the starting line happened to be under construction, which was kind of silly. The starting line was still pretty well organized, though, and the small number of runners (maybe 200) made it so things didn’t get at all chaotic. They even had a food table with water, granola bars and bananas for us!
It was about 45 degrees at the start, so lots of runners were shivering in line for the portas. I was okay because I know the area, so I’d brought an old sweatshirt of my dad’s to throw off at the start, and I’d layered it over a long sleeve and a tank. I chose to wear tight shorts and compression socks on my lower half.
I went into this race hoping for a sub-2 time, but had made literally no plans around pacing. I also hadn’t micro-managed the forecast like I normally do. But I probably should have done both of those things, and here’s why:
As soon as I started running, I started feeling warm. This is in part because I made the rookie mistake of taking off like a bat out of hell and running faster than my 5k pace for the first 2 miles. Like, what was I thinking? I clocked an 8:02 for the first mile and an 8:09 for the second mile. I honestly thought my watch was wrong after the first mile marker, and it wasn’t until that second mile popped up that I realized I needed to make a conscious effort to slow down. I sidled up along a group of runners who seemed to be going at a good clip and checked my watch: 8:45, right where I needed to be. I stuck within sight of them for quite a while.
The fog that had been cooling things down burned off by the time I hit mile 5, and I realized that my long-sleeve was not working for me. The temperature actually reached the high 60’s within an hour of the start, so a long sleeve was just not the right choice. Stupidly (NOOOOOB) I’d pinned my bib to the front of my long sleeve, but luckily I’d worn a tank underneath it. I spent most of mile 5 fiddling to un-pin and re-pin my bib, which slowed me down by almost a minute that mile. But eventually I got my long-sleeve tied around my waist and my bib pinned to my tank, and all was well… except I also got a mild sunburn on my shoulders/back/arms because I hadn’t sunblocked them because I thought I’d be in long sleeves.
And then the hills got real. Which I knew was coming since I have been training on this exact course for the entire summer. I love hills, and I felt great throughout, but there’s no question; those hills slowed me down. This is considered one of the more challenging half courses in New England, and back on the bus and at the start line all the out of towners had asked me a million nervous questions about the hills. You can’t change the course, but you can change the way you train/prepare/react to the course.
The course flattens out a bit between miles 8-11, which I was really happy about. This is also the section of the race that goes past my parent’s place, so I got to give some hugs and high-5s on my was. My parents know that their house is around mile 10, so once I pass them they hop in the car and head to the finish.
I managed to kick it up and push my pace for the last two miles, which is something I am working on. I never used to sprint to the finish, but ever since I watched my students do that at the Providence Marathon last year, I’ve been trying to channel their enthusiasm and push out a fast finish. The last mile has a steep hill, which is kinda rude if you ask me, but I just kept pushing.
The finish line for New Hampshire is hilariously quaint. Just a few flags, a single pop-up tent, and a few dozen people cheering you on. My mom managed to capture this incredibly un-flattering photo of my poor finishing form:
Why are my arms so high? why are my shoulders so shrugged? But I am FLYING in mid-air in this shot which is kinda cool. And I’m smiling! Yay!
She also got this kind of cool shot that includes my finish line clock time. 1:55:56! Not quite a PR, but still a truly awesome time!
After the race I freshened up at the local Middle School, guzzled a protein shake and a protein bar, and then returned to the finish line to help out with timing. I volunteered at a water table for the full marathon last year, so I wanted to help out a bit this year as well. That said, I should have taken a while to stretch and roll before I sat in a chair for two hours calling out finisher numbers with the timing truck people (NOOOOOB).
Despite all my newbie mistakes and all those hills, this race was so, so fun. The views were incredible, the community was awesome, and I just love the chilled-out feel of smaller races.
Getting the finish time that I did on this course also gave me a little more confidence that I can PR in Toronto in a few weeks, just as long as I taper well and maybe, like, make a plan. In fact, based on the number of NOOB mistakes I made at this, my 13th half marathon and my 25th race overall, I’ve created a to-do list for myself leading up to Toronto.
To Do List for Toronto
- Make a pacing plan, and write it on my hand on race day.
- Buy some electrolyte tablets (I’m going to try NUUN on my last long run!) and USE THEM beforehand.
- Check the forecast and dress appropriately, you crazy person.
- Wear your hair in that braid pony again though, that actually worked so well.
- STRETCH and ROLL after the race!
- Sunblock. Everywhere. Always.
Anything else? Probably.
Hope you enjoyed! Let me know when your next race is, and what mistakes you have made/often make before/during/after races!