The Great Bay Half Marathon 2012Posted: April 8, 2012
I just ran my first half marathon on the East Coast! Last year when I was training for the Eugene Marathon, I worked the Race for the Roses Half Marathon into my training schedule and I PR’d for the first time in YEARS! I had pretty high hopes for this race because I knew that my confidence with the 13 mile distance during marathon training had the potential to lead to a great half. Unfortunately, the race website refers to the “roller coaster hills,” but never says “WARNING: THIS COURSE IS SO HILLY YOU WILL DIE.” So I had some unrealistic expectations going into this race.
So here is my mile-by-mile race recap:
Pre-race: I picked Julia up around 8:45am at her apartment. I know, 8:45am! So luxurious. Most races are almost over by then. This race started at 11am, which is good because it was pretty freezing out at 7am. We drove the hour and 20 minutes to Newmarket, New Hampshire, which is a small rural area near the coast. I was feeling really prepared. I think I brought everything I own related to running in the car… OH SHOOT!! Except my GARMIN!!! Which I didn’t realize I had forgotten until we were halfway there. At this point I had a minor almost crying panic attack. Not because I NEED my Garmin to race, but because I had spent my ENTIRE day at work on Friday (so busy at work these days!) reading about a new pacing strategy I was going to try.
We got to the parking area and got on the race shuttle to the start without any problem. Of course, the bathroom lines were SUPER long, so Julia and I grabbed some paper towels and headed out to the woods!
At this point I hadn’t taken the time to calmly think through a new race strategy and I got a little caught up in Julia’s race strategy. She was planning to stick to the 8:00 pacer they had running the race and just try to hold on. So I thought, YEAH, I can just hold onto a pacer. WTF was I thinking (you may notice below that my lovely running partner is about 20 feet taller than me)!! I decided to start with the 8:30 pacer.
Miles 1-4: I started with the 8:30 pacer, but then I felt comfortable going a little faster, so I just decided to go a little in front of him… and then I didn’t know where he was. And then I knew I was an idiot because I had gone out too fast. My whole plan I had developed on Friday at work was to go out super comfortable like a 9 or 9:30 pace and then push at the halfway point or later. I had wanted to try this because I always always go out too fast in a race and then die and all running literature/scientific studies show that this is the worst race strategy ever for having a good time. So pretty much my plan went in the crapper. I started getting really nervous about the moment when the 8:30 guy would pass me. I was worried it would really mess with my head and I would feel like walking or slowing down a lot if I felt really defeated. And then it happened. at around mile 4.5 the 8:30 pacer passed me… and I dropped off immediately. Cool.
Miles 5-9: I kept trudging along. The course was ridiculous. The hills NEVER EVER STOPPED. I mean, this course was 100% rolling hills with some enormous hills dispersed throughout. I got my iPod out when the 8:30 pacer passed me so that I could get the negativity out of my head. I’ve been reading a blog by a woman training for a 50 mile race and she recently discussed the ebbs and flows of a race/training run and the importance of letting yourself believe that the bad times in a run or race will pass. It is so easy to struggle and immediately give in to the race just being “a bad race.” But really that hard time could just last for 2 miles if you decide to let it pass. So I tried really hard to just accept the struggle and not let it dictate the rest of my race. I also started thinking about this saying that I had seen on Pinterest:
I walked up the killer hills and I took an espresso GU at mile 6.3. PS… espresso GU is delicious!!! Coffee frosting in a pouch! I decided to try GU out today because I had a SUPER hard time getting myself to chew on anything during our 20 mile training run and I ended up really suffering during that run.
Mile 9-12: Did I say I liked that GU? WTF was I thinking trying that out today??!! That was all I could think as the promised 2X caffeine in the espresso GU went rolling through my stomach. My portapotty radar turned on and I started feeling really angry that this was actually happening to me during a race. The 9:00 pacer passed me around mile 9 and told me he was on pace. I thought I would tag onto the group running with him, but then I just didn’t. All I could think about was my stomach. But then I realized I was still running pretty strong for such a hilly course, and he didn’t get tooooo far in front of me.
I passed the portapotty at mile 9.75 thinking I was okay for now and there would be another one soon. IDIOT!!! I spent the next 2 miles scanning the bare trees to see if any of them had a trunk wide enough to conceal my bare bottom. No such luck. So I did the penguin shuffle for 2 miles and continued to scan each rock, bush, and house to see if there was any sign of a bathroom area for me. I also considered for a good 5 minutes the diaper capacity of my running skirt. Conclusion: I would really rather not try that today. So there I was at mile 12.25 (SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH!!) and I went into that portapotty. In hindsight, if I had my Garmin on and knew how close I was to breaking 2 hours I would not have gone to the bathroom.
Miles 12-13.1: Even though I had a struggle in the middle of the race, I don’t think I have ever felt so strong in a race from mile 10-13. My legs felt pretty great considering how hard the course was. I realized that during the last mile and I felt pretty proud of myself for having a positive thought. lol. I also felt a lot better because I went to the bathroom, I guess. I ran a strong finish and I started kicking pretty darn early. I was SHOCKED when I saw the race clock ahead of me said 2:01 something. I immediately felt proud of my race and super angry about every moment I had spent in the bathroom or slowing down at all that had kept me from breaking 2 hours. If only I had known, I swear I would have kicked earlier. Think about the damage I could have done on a flat course. I know I would have PR’d. So I finished in 2:01:32. I felt like crying for a good 15 minutes for some reason. I was so mad at myself for not following my race plan. I really want to know how I would do if I started out slow. I guess I am still young, so I have plenty of time to work on new race plans.
Julia PR’d by like 11 minutes or something and finished in 1:46. WTF!!!! Why do I train with her!!?? I liked this race, I’m glad I did it, I will never do it again. WHY would you ever run such a hilly course? not cool. Next weekend I’ll be running 22 miles with that speedster.