Only one week away from the Sedona Marathon/Half Marathon event, and I can't wait!!! I've never been to Arizona before, and from what everyone has told me, Sedona is an amazingly beautiful place. In fact, that's largely why Andrew and I selected this "warm weather" location for a winter race. From the website of the event, it is clear to see why this race is listed as one of the most beautiful in the country. I can't wait to fill my eyes with the red rock formations all around me as I run. I surely will post pics as soon as I can. I am a little worried about the elevation of this race, however. From the elevation map on the race site, there are quite a few substantial hills, and this on top of the race being at some 4000+ feet high to begin with. We'll see how thin the air is and if it affects my run. My guess is that it probably will. I'm hoping to keep up my streak of sub-2 hour finishes.
In watching the Sedona weather these past couple of weeks, the temperatures are very chilly overnight (20's to 30's F) with warming up to the 60's F during the days. To me, it sounds like pretty perfect running conditions. For that, I am super excited! Not to mention it will feel like a heatwave compared to how it has been here in CT lately.
This week, the taper has been in full effect. I haven't logged many miles at all, but I have been keeping up with the P90 sculpt & abs at least. I'm hoping to get in a couple of decent runs this weekend and maybe a short 5 miler before we leave next week.
I'm looking forward to this race for many reasons. First of all, I'm traveling out there with my mom. This will be the first time she sees me run one of my half marathons. We will meet up with her dear friends, Ruth and Don, who live in AZ. They will all be there to spectate and cheer. I'm excited to run with cousin Andrew again on our first race in the west. Fun! I think I will also get to see Ruth & Don's son, William, who I haven't seen in a million years. It will be fun to catch up with everyone in such a beautiful place.
So with all this swirling around in my head, I have less than a week to prepare and to finish up some home projects that are on my list right now. Refreshing paint in our master bathroom and hallway, hanging pictures on a long overdue family photo wall, and getting various things ready for the family to make things easy on them while I'm gone (groceries, outfits, etc.). Gotta dash...too much to do just now. See you in Sedona!
Monday, January 20, 2014
Race #12, State #12 DE
December 7, 2013
As soon as I discovered that there was a half marathon in Rehoboth Beach, DE, it was a no brainer that I had to run in it. My dearest friend Annie’s parents have a home there, and I have so many fond memories of times we’ve all shared together there. It had also been quite a few years since I’ve seen Carol & Charlie (Annie’s parents), so when I contacted them to see if they’d be open to having me visit, they didn’t hesitate a second to say yes. The great thing about this race location was that my husband and kids could come along and enjoy it, too. We all had fun catching up with Carol & Charlie. We all decided it had been way too long since we’d seen each other. Great fun was had by all.
Race morning was very windy, chilly and a tad bit rainy. Luckily, the rain backed off by the start of the race, which was a nice early 7:00 am. The race consisted of basically two out and back routes, the first of which went right by where we were staying. For any runners who have kids, this is HUGE! My husband and kids were able to sleep in until 7 am, hurry outside by 7:15 to see me run by at mile 2 or so, and then see me run by again a couple of miles later. And for me, it was energizing to have them cheering me along.
This first stretch of the race started in the center of Rehoboth at the gazebo right on the main street. It headed up the main street and then turned right to head back along the beach area out to a protected seashore area where the turn around was. After that we went back toward town, but turned right down another access road then over past the little welcome lighthouse and over the bridge heading toward route 1. We took another right and headed through a newer neighborhood there which led out to some farm fields. At this point, the race turned in to a trail run. There is a walking/biking trail that winds through the farm fields out to some woods. The run through the woods was lovely, albeit muddy and sloshy at times. It was nice to have the race consist of part road and part trail. Little wooden bridges and areas of wetland peppered the trail route, keeping it interesting. The half marathon turn around was at the point where the trail entered in to a fairly new housing development. And the nice thing about the turn around was that it was at about mile 8, so the return to town was nice and short from that point. Bonus!
I felt like the trail running was a little slow because of the wetness and mud. At times the narrowish path was crowded with runners heading in both directions, and we had to run around each other and muddy sections to continue. Once off the trail, I tried my best to quicken my pace toward the finish. We retraced our path back to the main street and by the little lighthouse. As I came around that corner, a car drove by and beeped and waved at myself and the runners around me. The finish was less than a mile away at that point, so I waved, but my eyes were blurry with wind and the driving desire to get to the finish line and see my loving family. (It turned out to be Carol driving by at the exact moment I was running along! We were so excited that she got to catch a glimpse of me.)
My wonderful husband and lovely girls were waiting for me steps in front of the finish line. They really put a smile on my face. I was happy with my 1:47 finish, and I found out later I was 13th in my age division. I was thrilled with that, of course! And, to date, this race boasts the largest finisher's medals. I felt like I just won a WWE belt rather than a half marathon finisher's medal.
Post-race, the family and I took a chilly walk along the beach where the waves were absolutely huge and the wind was whipping. The girls didn't seem to mind very much, but my husband and I were freezing before too long. Still, the beach in winter is starkly beautiful, and we had fun letting the waves chase us up the beach.
I highly recommend this race, as the area is beautiful, and the runners were hands down the friendliest I’ve encountered so far. The only tricky thing about this one is the weather at this time of year. Race day was colder than I was expecting, but luckily any precipitation happened the night before and held off for race day. We did, however, leave the next morning in the beginning of light flurries that turned in to whiteout conditions by the time we hit the Jersey Turnpike. We were glad to be back in CT after that. (I think the Philadelphia area picked up something like 10 inches of snow from the storm! Yikes!)
Many thanks to Carol & Charlie for hosting us and spending such a special time with us. We loved every minute.
Race #11, State #11 MD
November 23, 2013--Annapolis, MD
I really didn’t plan on running this race this year at all, but the flight voucher I had from my Naples half marathon trip needed to be used before the end of the year, so this race fit the criteria: I state I hadn’t run yet, not too far away, direct flight on Southwest from CT. The other thing that attracted me to the TCS Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon was its proximity in and around the Naval Academy in Annapolis. In my mind, this race would be a tribute to my dad who served in the Navy when he was young.
I flew in to BWI, got my rental car and made it to my hotel easily and in less time than I expected. I decided to drive to the Navy Stadium to familiarize myself with the next morning’s commute. It was an overcast day but not too cold. A few raindrops were coming and going throughout the day, but nothing like the originally forecasted 50% rain that was predicted earlier in the week. Thank goodness for that. Navy Stadium was impressive, with blue and yellow colors everywhere and a jet fighter plane parked out in front. I could just imagine the festive Army-Navy rival football matches here on game day. I was officially excited for the race.
I grabbed my obligatory pre-race pasta dinner at a fun little place near the hotel called Squisito. It was sort of like a fast food place, but with really fresh homemade pasta dishes and two funny flirty Italian guys working the order line and register. They clearly are trying to charm everyone who passes through. I had a great arugula salad and big plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It was just what I wanted, and it was yummy! I then headed back to the hotel to get my gear in order for the next morning. Then I settled in to read for a while before getting to sleep early.
I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and checked the weather app on my phone which indicated that it was 52 degrees in Annapolis. Perfect! Or so I thought. I watched the local weather report on tv that kept indicating how cold and windy it was going to be, but I was skeptical, figuring that folks in Maryland must just be used to warmer temps most of the time. I decided not to wear my running tights, instead opting for my running skort and a long sleeved race t-shirt. I brought my outerwear pull over just in case. I decided to wear my baseball cap rather than my knit cap, thinking I’d be too warm.
Upon arriving at Navy Stadium, things were a bit different. It was wildly windy, and the wind chill was making things pretty cold. I stayed in the car for a good half hour, leaving only for a couple of trips to the porta-potties. I also made a group of anxious runners very happy when I shared my package of baby wipes with them after one of the potties ran out of toilet paper! Good karma for the day. :)
The race started exactly at 7:00 am...the most punctual race ever! That was fine with me, as it was way too cold to be standing around shivering. Once I got running, I warmed right up. The first part of the race looped around the stadium neighborhood streets, then branched out in to the very quaint, colonial downtown Annapolis area. We crossed a small river bridge entering in to the downtown area and all through the Naval Academy area. It was so lovely. We entered the Main Street shopping area and looped around and back through another quaint neighborhood on our way out to the Naval Academy Bridge.
Holy Bridge! That was the only thought that crossed my mind as we approached the serious hill of the very tall bridge. It was one hill after another from the bridge on out to the turn around at mile 8. Not an easy run, but I pressed on as best as I could. Somewhere around mile 6, a young boy, probably around 10 years old, passed by me. This always blows me away. I wish I had started this kind of running earlier. Good for him!
Of course, once we hit the turn around, it was back through all the hills and back over the huge bridge. Killer. After that, the worst was over, but the streets back to the stadium had a few smaller undulating hills that seemed really tough at that point. The final hurdle was a sizable hill up to the finish line at the stadium. I felt like I was running in cement up that hill. Ugh! But once I was back on flat land, I gave it all I had to finish in 1:49:46. I was disappointed that I didn’t break 1:49. This was my 4th 1:49 finish in a row, and I was hoping for better.
I texted my husband as I made my way to the finish line party and food/water tent to let him know I was done. He texted me back in seconds to tell me my official time and that I had finished 14th in my age category! Instantly, I went from bummed to thrilled! Funny how a quick shift in perspective changes everything. And clearly everyone was challenged by the cold, wind and hills.
The after party was lively, with an Irish band called Dublin 5. it was fun to stretch out and listen to them. Next it was back to the hotel to shower up, then I headed back in to Annapolis for a crab cake at a gem of a place called Chick & Ruth’s Delly. What crazy, crowded, neat little legendary food stop. I had a great lunch there sitting at the counter next to a man and his teenaged son who were visiting the Naval Academy on a college visit. We had a nice chat before all heading out on our respective journeys.
Maryland was a great place to run. I loved the colonial feel and austerity of the Naval Academy area. The shopping district was quaint, but seemed to be lively. I had fun there, and I know my dad was watching over me as I tackled the streets of Annapolis.
Race #10, State #10 ME
October 6, 2013--Portland, ME
It was the perfect time of year to drive to Maine for this race. The trees were in full color, and the air was crisp and perfectly fall-like. It just so happened that the date of this race coincided with an annual meet-up of some of my old college friends in Hampton Beach, NH. Since Hampton was on the way to Portland, I was delighted to be able to pop in and say hello to some folks I haven’t seen in years and years. It was a perfect way to kick off a race weekend.
Once in Portland, the race expo and number pick up was at the University of Southern Maine in the athletic center there. Best goody bag ever. Those folks in Maine really do it up! The long sleeved race shirt was super cute, complete with Boston Strong nod. The bag contained all kinds of sports bars & snacks and even a can of baked beans! Those were going straight home to my husband. One of his faves.
The students working at the athletic center were on the top of their game, too. They were more than happy to provide me with directions to some area restaurants I was interested in, as well as give me recommendations for a post-race lobster roll. My ultimate reward. The USM work study program is clearly well done. I was also able to pop in to the lovely library across the street from the athletic area. It was beautiful, including some nice art exhibits and views from the upper level windows. I’d hang out there.
I walked around the area a little bit to familiarize myself with the start/finish line area, shower facility (can you believe it!!!???) at USM, parking area and the ever important porta potty locations. That night I had dinner in the downtown area at a terrific restaurant called The Corner Room on Exchange Street. The place was very busy, and I had to walk around for awhile while a spot opened up for me at the bar. The pasta was super fresh and the atmosphere was lively. I sat with a woman who worked at USM and was also dining alone. We had a great chat and were happy to have company. Next to me on the other side was a woman who was running the race and her husband, so we all got acquainted and had a lovely dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for an early night.
The next morning, I was up bright and early and on my way. Parking was a cinch at the USM parking garage, and the start was a short walk from there. It was an overcast and cool morning, quite perfect for a 13 mile run. The first mile of the race was along a lovely inlet just down the street from USM. It was a nice way to begin. The route apparently was different this year than previous years due to some construction. Before long, we were heading up and down some sizable hills and in to a more residential area. The route was an out and back with quite a few hills and not much fanfare until the turn around point. The mile or so before the turn around was crowded with spectators which was a nice boost at the halfway point.
Of course, the run back consisted of all those hills that we covered on the way out. So by the last (and largest) one, I was feeling pretty beat. I pushed on to the finish with all the strength I had, and as I approached the last half mile or so, I could hear this runner thumping along behind me. He passed me, and to my surprise it was a very young boy! At the finish I saw him and asked him how old he was and he was 14! i was so impressed. It was his first half, and he certainly beat the pants off my 1:49:12 finish time. So cool. I felt good at the finish line. I did some stretching and took a couple of photos for posterity. The finisher medals were the cutest ever, with the state of Maine on one side and a swivel with a lobster on the reverse.
I headed back to the car to get my gear and hit the USM showers, which I figured would be a mob scene, but to my great surprise, I was the only one there! Pretty nice...a decent finish, cute medal and private shower. Go Maine! Once showered up, I made my way downtown to fit in a bit of waterfront shopping and a stop at J’s Oyster Bar for my victory lobster roll. I hit the road before any rain fell, which was awesome, as my reporters from home were informing me that it had been pouring back in CT all morning. Overall, it was a very nice race, and I loved exploring Portland a bit. I would definitely love to come back for a weekend with the family sometime.
Race #9, State #9 PA
September 15, 2013--Philadelphia, PA
Andrew and I were excited. This was our first real “travel” race. We both had to procure airline tickets to get there. We were venturing out! I thought it was a good omen that our hotel was located on Race Street. We were within walking distance to the start/finish area of the race. It was also our first Rock and Roll series run, the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in Philadelphia.
The pre-race expo and number pickup area was fun. It was full of music and vendors and a fun photo booth where we could mug for the camera. We met up there, as Andrew arrived from the airport via train (such an easy & cheap way to get from the airport to the city center--brilliant Philly!). I had actually arrived before Andrew and already had picked up my number, checked in to the hotel and scoped out the area a little bit. Right across the street from the convention center was the Reading Market...a virtual world of food choices all under one roof. You name the food. They had it. What an amazing place!
That night we walked to an out of the way Italian restaurant a college friend of mine recommended. I was hoping to meet up with him that weekend, but unfortunately he was out of town. Anyway, thank you Mike G. for the terrific restaurant suggestion. We strolled leisurely from our hotel to the restaurant and gave ourselves a little self-guided tour of Philadelphia, including taking in an outdoor festival in Chinatown. When we got back from dinner, it was time to get organized for the early morning wake up time.
The hotel was abuzz with runners the next morning, so much so that they ran out of coffee! Luckily, I never leave that to chance, scouting out a Starbucks and buying my venti brew the night before. All I need in the morning is the hotel microwave. Lucky me! I met some nice folks in the hotel lobby as we grabbed our morning bananas and other breakfasts. Then we were off!
Philadelphia is beautiful! We walked toward the starting area, passing a gorgeous fountain, the Rodin Museum, a gorgeous tree and flag lined avenue, the main public library and all with the backdrop of the amazing Philadelphia Art Museum, complete with the Rocky steps in front. The start area was jammed with runners, and it was the first race where we missed being in the corral at gun time. We were still in line with countless others waiting for our last port-a-potty visit. Luckily, plenty of runners were still in the corrals when we finished, so we just joined right in with them. No real time lost.
The route was really nice. We ran along the river in an out and back route. It was picturesque and there were bands playing music all along the way (hence the Rock & Roll part of the race). The temperature was perfect, a nice cool start with a mostly shade lined route. Everything was going well for the most part. I had a couple of minor mishaps...at the mile 5 water stop, I grabbed a cup from the table that was empty! Oh no! I had to turn back and grab another which broke my rhythm. Then when I went to take my GU packet out of my bra strap, I dropped the GU on the ground and had to stop to pick it up. Ugh! So frustrating to me and to the runners who probably almost tripped on me. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but these two things slowed me down and I’m not sure I ever really got my groove back.
We crossed a bridge and started heading back toward the city. The temperature was warming up, and now we were running in to the sun. Somewhere after the turn at the bridge, Andrew caught up to me, looking strong. I shouted some words of encouragement and told him to run. Good for him! Meanwhile, I was starting to fade a little. I kept going as strong as I could, and was glad to see the finish line. My finish time was 1:49:58. I was grateful to still be in the 1:49s, just by the skin of my teeth. I found Andrew in the finish area where he was rested and so excited about his finish. I was excited for him, too. We enjoyed a beer in the beer garden, walked up the Rocky steps and around the art museum where we snapped some cool photos and then did a walk through the Rodin sculpture garden. Absolutely beautiful.
We ended our time in Philly back at the Reading Market for some real Philly cheesesteaks, regular for me, vegan for him. What a perfect post-race meal.
I hope I get back to this wonderful city for some sightseeing and playtime with my husband and kids sometime. I really enjoyed Philadelphia.
Race #8, State #8 NJ
May 5, 2013--Long Branch, NJ
The next race was the Long Branch Half Marathon at the Jersey Shore. I became aware of this race as a fund raiser to help “restore the shore” after Hurricane Sandy completely devastated the area. A college friend of mine lives near there, so I thought of her and the hardship she encountered from the hurricane and knew this was a race I wanted to run. This was also the first time the family joined me for a race. My husband and two daughters and I hit the road on Saturday for the drive to New Jersey. The race start and packet pickup were at Monmouth Park. We arrived there in the afternoon and then met up with my college friend, Maggi, for a quick lunch before checking in to the hotel. We met up with her in the very cute town of Red Bank. It was so wonderful to reconnect with her, as it had been many years since we’d seen each other in person. She met my girls for the first time, and we had a nice chat about life in general. We walked in and out of the cute shops in Red Bank before stopping for a coffee and then hitting the road.
Our hotel was a bit of a hike from the starting line of the race. Due to the hurricane, many people in the area were still displaced, so hotel rooms nearby were difficult to come by. We stayed a good 30 minutes or so outside of the area, which turns in to a longer commute in the morning when the entire family is in tow. At an ungodly early hour. Thank goodness I have a wonderfully supportive husband.
The night of sleep was hard for all of us. I always have some nerves the night before a half, just thinking about getting up early and having all my gear ready, etc. Add to that two restless kids and some snoring, and it makes for a less than restful night of sleep. But, so be it. We all piled in to the car at 5 am or so and got on the road to Monmouth Park.
I was there pretty early, but I’d rather be early than rushing to get in line for porta-potties at the last possible minute. The starting line was well organized, considering this race was right after the Boston marathon bombing. There were lots of rules about checking gear and what kind of bags could be brought to the finish line area. Despite all that, the mood at the start was positive. I wore a blue and yellow ribbon on my Boston Red Sox hat for this race, along with a red and yellow (NJ shore support) ribbon as well. I was ready to go. My only complaint was that the music playing at the start area was exclusively Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Neither favorites of mine.
We were off and running, and I again aligned myself with the 1:45s hoping to repeat my Virginia success. I was fast at the start, and in fact ran the first half of the race much faster than I should have. By mile 8 I was losing steam...fast. Near the end of the race I felt pretty depleted and very slow. I still finished in a respectable 1:49:35, but I could have done better if I’d paced myself. As I came along the boardwalk for the final stretch, I tried to give all I had, and seeing my husband and daughter at the finish line was such a treasure. Everyone was very excited to see me and my medal and share in the humungous soft pretzel I got in the finishing chute. Huzzah! We all piled in the car and headed back to the hotel to shower and pack up for home.
Race #7, State #7 VA
March 17, 2013--Virginia Beach, VA
Andrew’s sister, Liz and her husband and little boy live in Virginia Beach, so when Andrew told me about the Shamrock Race there, it was a no-brainer that we’d run. Liz and some of her other friends were planning to run, too, so it was to be a big old Irish running party. This was my first time traveling to Virginia, ever, and my first time visiting cousin Liz. It was really great to stay with family again and have time to get to know Liz’s husband and little boy better. What a super sweet, super cutie he is! Andrew and Liz picked me up at the airport. It is such a nice treat to have someone pick you up. No worrying about catching a cab or bus or some other mode of transportation to get to a hotel. The other great thing about connecting with locals is that they know all the good places to eat and park. Very important information.
Liz picked up our numbers and race packets early for us which gave us time to just relax and hang out when we arrived. It was fun to chat and catch up and play with the baby. Babies are the best! Liz selected an off the beaten path Italian restaurant for dinner that night where we met up with her other friend who was running. We enjoyed a lively and delicious dinner as we got out our last minute jitters. It was early to bed that night for everyone.
Morning came early, and it was cold out! Not what I had expected for Virginia. Everyone met at Liz’s house, and she graciously drove us to the starting area. (She decided not to run after all, opting instead to run the 5K race offered the day before). With a little dread, I realized while we were driving in the car that I had forgotten my iPod and sports watch back at Liz’s house! Oh the horror! I always have my watch and my music on me when I run. Realizing I didn’t have it put me at a complete loss. I had no idea how I would keep a strong pace without my music. Oh drat.
We got to the starting line up and jumped and bounced around with all the other runners as we tried to keep warm. The Shamrock Half Marathon offered pacers again, so again I lined up with the 1:45s, figuring I’d give it another try. To everyone’s dismay, some kind of issue with the timing delayed the start of the race, so we all froze for about 15 more minutes as that got worked out. It was a very chilly wait, but once things got worked out and we got underway, the cold subsided a little. Maybe it was just that the exercise was warming us up.
The route was a loop up the main artery in Virginia Beach. There wasn’t a ton of scenery on this stretch, but it was interesting to see the different kinds of beach vegetation growing along the way. The road led us out of the Virginia Beach area, and we turned and ran through a military base which was strangely desolate, but cool. There were some water stations within the base that were manned by military personnel. We ran past some kind of laser shooting range and then past a light house. Then it was the turn to head back to the beach area and the finish line.
To my great surprise, I was still with the 1:45s at mile 7, mile 9 and mile 11. I didn’t want to jinx myself, but I was smiling pretty large on the inside. At mile 12 and a half or so, I let one of the pacers in on my thinking...this race was going to be a new PR for me! No music, no watch, cold delayed start. Must’ve been the luck of the Irish that day. I finished in 1:45:20, crushing my old PR of 1:48:23 in Hartford #2. What a race!
Finishers were given fleece blankets along with medals and plenty of food at the finish line. The blankets were the best things ever on that chilly race day. We all reconvened at the finish line, but decided to skip the finish line party in favor for a warmer retreat. We found a local restaurant and had green beer and brunch. Now that’s a great way to celebrate St. Patrick. We enjoyed hanging out together and hearing everyone’s race stories. Back at Liz’s place, we showered up and just relaxed on her big sectional couch taking in the cuteness of our littlest cousin. Andrew flew home that night, while I opted for heading home the next morning.
Race #6, State #6 FL
January 20, 2013--Naples, FL
When Runner’s World magazine published a list of top half marathons last year, I was thrilled to see Naples, FL on the list. My in-laws live there and the thought of running a race in January in southern Florida sounded pretty swell to me. This was my first long distance trip for a race, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Things got off to a nerve-wracking start, as my flight ended up being delayed several hours due to some kind of mechanical issue. The good news about that was that the airline issued everyone $100 flight vouchers to use on future travel. I figured that would help with one of my future running excursions. So I arrived much later than I had hoped, but my wonderful mother-in-law made some inquiries on my behalf and was able to pick up my number and race packet for me. That was a relief! We wouldn’t have to rush around taking care of that business after arriving so late. We enjoyed a late pasta carb-load meal and it was off to bed for the early start time.
We got to the starting line in downtown Naples before dawn which felt weird, but the temperature was perfect. The race began just as the sun was coming up and brought us from the downtown area in to an amazingly beautiful residential area. The homes were huge and lovely, right along the water, although you couldn’t see the water from the road. I noticed early on that the roads in Naples hump up in the middle to allow for rain to drain to the sides more easily. That being said, there wasn’t an easy flat surface on which to run. The best I could do was run along the side in the drainage area which wasn’t exactly flat but wasn’t as slanted as the road either. I knew my legs and feet would be feeling it when I was done.
The scenery in Naples is stunningly beautiful, and the race had its memorable moments. Like the little wooden church we ran past where the priest was flinging holy water on the runners. Or the guy I saw wearing a t-shirt that said something like “I run for WW points.” Cute, right?! The race finished back in the downtown area where I found my mother in law waiting for me. My finish time wasn’t my fastest (1:52), but overall I was pleased with the run. And the finisher medals were super cute and colorful. After a quick stretch and change, we headed back to her house for a shower and some rest. That evening we had a nice dinner out, and I treated myself to a celebratory cosmopolitan. The return trip home was easy, no delays, and I thought of how this was the first of many trips that will allow me to connect with friends and family all over the country. Hooray for that!
Race #5, State #5 NH
November 25, 2012--Nashua, NH
The Wolf Hollow Half Marathon was the race I chose for New Hampshire. It was a first-time race, but it sounded pretty cool because it featured some trail running, and the date fit in well with my schedule. I also liked the fact that part of the proceeds of the race went to support the local cross country teams. This race took place a few days after Thanksgiving, and my family and I had just spent a week in Florida visiting family, enjoying the holiday and celebrating a special birthday at Walt Disney World. Needless to say, my diet and workout regimen hadn’t been stellar in over a week and I was pretty worried. I drove up to Andrew’s house and stayed with him in Cambridge the night before the race. It was an easy drive up to Nashua, NH where the race was located. The morning was super freezing cold, and we were grateful that the local YMCA allowed us to hang out indoors until the race started. The race started at the Y and passed the local high school on the way to the running trail which looped around a pond. It was a wide, well-established path, thankfully, as I am not very confident on unpaved surfaces. The run through the woods and around the water was a nice change from running on roads. The scenery kept things interesting and helped keep my mind off of the cold. The course turned off in to an athletic field complex where we ran a loop and back in to the woods for some hills and another loop around most of the entire course. The finish brought us back to the area where we began. My finish time wasn’t great (1:55), but I was just happy to have finished a half marathon right after our mega-vacation-holiday-birthday trip. Andrew and I both enjoyed the run, as it was a nice departure from the big road races we had done previously. Small town(ish) run=fun! The drive home was the toughest part of the day. Three hours back to CT with tired legs on the pedals. I was ready to put my feet up when I got home.
Connecticut (Hartford) Again
October 13, 2012
Okay, this one technically doesn’t count or it supersedes my previous Hartford ING half. Either way, it doesn’t matter. This time around, cousin Andrew joined me for the half. It was a very chilly morning but became just the right not-too-warm, not-too-cold temperature once we got underway. I noticed this time around that Hartford had pacing groups, too, so I decided to get with the 1:45s again to see if I could better my previous best time. Andrew never found me at the start, so we just wished each other well via text and said we’d meet at the finish area. The Connecticut State Library was directly to my left as I stood waiting for the starting gun to go off which I took as a good omen. I only stayed with the pacing group until about the halfway mark in the race. I tried to at least keep them in my sights, but the 6 thru 9 miles were exhausting this time around. Once I got in to Elizabeth Park, I managed to get some energy back, and on the downhill exit of the park I saw my friend Maureen who cheered for me and gave the spark I needed to power to the finish. Despite losing the pacers, I finished again in 1:48 which was terrific! Andrew was right on my heels and we found each other in Bushnell Park. I love this race due to its hometown proximity and supportive crowds. Maybe when I finish my 50 states I’ll commit to running this every year.
This race was the first one that left me with a difficult recovery. I blame the “sample” power bar I ate just prior to starting. It was a freebie in the race packet, and it was a huge mistake. I got home, showered, and laid in bed for the entire afternoon with piercing cramps in my midsection. I was very worried because I had tickets to see Peter Gabriel that night at Mohegan Sun. I basically just tried to relax as much as possible, and after several real and false alarm trips to the bathroom, I finally felt ok. The first and last time I ever eat anything unusual before a race. And sorry for the lack of pictures...I just didn't get around to taking any this time.
Race #4, State #4 RI
September 16, 2012 Westerly, RI
The Surftown Half was the race of choice in little Rhode Island. I read online that it was flat and fast and great for establishing new personal records. Why not? A stunningly beautiful morning greeted the runners as we lined up alongside Misquamicut beach where the starting line was located. A carnival complete with rides and a petting zoo had been set up there, too, so there was plenty to look forward to at the finish. This was the first time I’d noticed pacing groups at a race, and so I decided to try keeping up with the 1:45 group to see if I could push myself and maybe get a PR. The course started on the road that lines Misquamicut Beach and went up in to a small neighborhood along the water. We circled through that area then back by the beach on the way to the Watch Hill section of the race. Watch Hill is appropriately named, as a giant hill looms at mile 11 (just when you least want it!). The homes around there are magnificent and were a great distraction on the last part of the run. I felt good for the whole run and even happened upon my neighbor along the way as he was running the race. Coming through the finish line I was tired and wanted to push more, but I finished with a new personal record of 1:48 which thrilled me. I saw my neighbor and fellow runner, Dave and his wife, Karen at the finish line and hung out with them for a while before hitting the post-race food and beverage area and of course, the petting zoo. Thank you Rhode Island for a spectacular run! I would absolutely run this one again sometime.
Race #3, State #3 MA
May 27, 2012--Boston, MA
This next race excited me very much because I used to live in Boston and because I’d be running with my cousin Andrew. I told Andrew about my hope to complete half marathons in all 50 states when I saw him at Christmas time. He thought it was a cool idea and said he’d be up for joining me in Boston. The half we ran was on Memorial Day weekend and was in support of the Boston Police department. Boston’s Run to Remember (official name) began out on the waterfront near the World Trade Center and snaked through the financial district area on its way out over the river to Memorial Drive. It was an out and back course along the river, with the last part coming through Beacon Hill, Back Bay and Downtown Crossing on the way back to the waterfront. The race began with an exciting fly over of police helicopters and was very crowded for the first couple of miles in those narrow downtown streets. It was a very warm day, making the run feel slow and heavy for me. Additionally, my iPod ran out of steam, and I was plagued by a guy who snuffed, coughed and spit up phlegm (or something) for the entire first 10 miles or so. Yuck. I finally lost him when we got back across the river in to the city. The finish line was crowded with spectators all around (and above) which was very motivating. The thing I loved most about this race was seeing areas of my former home that I hadn’t experienced on foot before and running past places I’d been a million times before but seeing them as a runner. Andrew had a great race, too. It was his first half, and he rocked it! His family met us at the finish line, and we celebrated later that day in Cambridge over lunch.
Race #2, State #2 NY
March 24, 2012--Queens, NY
This race came to my attention through my dear cousin, Chris. A friend of his actually put the race on her to-do list and recruited him and his husband Dave (and some other friends, too, I think) to get involved. I hadn’t yet thought about running all 50 states, but coming off of my excellent run in Hartford, I readily joined in. Winter training is not my favorite thing, but I managed to get through it thanks to a membership at Planet Fitness to get my through the snowy and super freezing days.
By the time race day came around, Chris and most of the other folks were out for various reasons, leaving only Dave and I to brave it out. It was his first half marathon, and he was feeling pretty unsure about it all, having only run about 9 miles or so on his longest run. I convinced him to lineup with me at the 2 hour corral, assuring him that he’d do well and likely be right around that time.
The race was in Queens at the Flushing Meadows Park and was part of the 13.1 series. The official name of it was 13.1 NYC 2012. We lucked out on the weather which was cool and a bit breezy but not nearly as windy as it would be the next day. The race looped a few different times around the Flushing Meadows Park, former site of the World’s Fair. It was cool to run by the retro “futuristic” relics still there. For me, the best part of the race were the local cheerleaders, drum corps and bands from the area schools. They were great motivators along the way. The worst part was having to run up and over so many curved footbridges. By the end, those “little” hills were killing me. The finish line featured a disco themed dance party, complete with discoball men and a drag queen. I brought my pink wig along for the after party and felt right at home. Dave and I both finished within the 2 hour goal. My time on this race was better than last 1:52:43. It was after this race that I started to entertain the idea of running the other 48 states. Thank you NYC!