Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Back on February 22nd, I was supposed to run the Half at the Hamptons up in NH.  But, in January it started snowing.  And in February it kept on snowing.  For a while, we were on a one blizzard per week cycle here in New England.  So, not surprisingly, that late February race was canceled.  Stupidly, I went ahead and registered for the Hyannis Half that same week-end hoping that New Hampshire's weather issues would not be the same for Cape Cod.  No dice.  Hyannis was canceled, too.  The Hamptons race was then rescheduled for 3/15.  Also canceled.  Same reason.  So, as you can imagine, I have been both frustrated and itching to race over the past few weeks.  Fortunately, I stumbled on the Run for the Border Half Marathon which was set to take place on 3/29.  I decided it was worth the risk, signed up and then prayed to the weather Gods that I would both get to run and not lose my money yet again.  To spite me, it did snow all day this past Saturday, but when I woke up on Sunday at 5:30am it was sunny and beautiful out.  Sure it was 22 degrees, but I was more than happy to take the cold over the snow.

Winchester, MA

I dragged my 8 year old out of bed and walked her down to her buddy's house where she would be hanging for the day (bless you, Emily).  Then I hopped in my car and headed up to Hampton Beach, trying very hard to wake up by playing loud music and drinking a second cup of coffee.  After about an hour, I found the casino where we were supposed to park, used the facilities and got on a bus which would be taking us out to the start at Wallis Sands Beach in Rye.  The race was going off at 11:00am, but the director asked us to arrive early so there wouldn't be a back up with the shuttles.  The ride up was beautiful.  Since we had plenty of time, the driver took us the long route along the coast.  The sun was coming up over the ocean and surfers were out catching the first waves of the day.  Given the weather and what I knew was likely the temp of the water, I could not believe they were out there.  But, much like a runner, a surfer's gonna surf, no matter what. 

Hampton Beach, NH

Not knowing how long the whole process was going to take, I erred on the safe side and got there for the first shuttle.  In hindsight, this was not the wisest decision.  Live and learn.  When our bus arrived at the start it was just before 9:00am.  Wait...what?  We had a solid 2 hours to do nothing but sit and wait.  Thankfully,  the bus stayed so at least we were warm.  I honestly don't know what we'd have done with ourselves if the bus had taken off.  For the next 90 minutes or so, I debated whether to wear my hat and gloves for the race, went to the bathroom more times than I needed to, ate a small meal, chatted with the other runners, listened to music, and got exponentially more nervous that I should have.  Finally, we started to line up around 10:45.  This particular race is known to be pretty old school and it was clear that this was still the case.  There were no timing chips in our bibs, no mile markers, water stations were sporadic and the start was a good old fashioned "READY, SET, GO!" done by a guy on a cell phone who was coordinating with the timer on the other end.  Initially, I fell into a good rhythm with a small pack of other runners but within a few miles we were already starting to spread out and by mile four I was on my own.  I did my best to just zone out, listen to my music and hold steady at a 6:50 pace, which is what my coach and I had decided on.  The wind was definitely a factor working against us for most of the race; not terrible but noticeable.  The view, however, was stunning and the weather was monumentally better than it has been in months which was such a nice break.  I ate my GU at mile 7, and then decided to try and slowly pick it up.  The upside of running a half in the middle of marathon training is how insanely short 13 miles feels.  Once I got to mile 9 and knew I only had 4 and change to go, I was almost giddy.  Almost.  And then my watch stopped.  Stupid Garmin.  I wasn't really worried about my pace but I had no idea when the finish was coming because we didn't have any mile markers.  I didn't want to go nuts too soon and then crash and burn so I just held on to what I thought I was doing at mile 10 when my watch gave out and hoped for the best.  Finally, I could see a small group ahead of me which I assumed was the lead pack so I knew I was getting close to the end.  For the last 3 miles or so I followed a girl in orange shorts who I knew I wouldn't catch but hoped to just keep in sight.  She was incredibly helpful despite the fact that she was not aware of her supporting role.  In the end, the finish line was a lot closer than I was expecting.  Good because I was done sooner than I thought I would be, bad because I didn't really get a chance to go for it at the end.  Oh well.  All things considered, I felt like it was a solid race for me.

On the bus....again

Once I'd cooled down and grabbed some fluids I headed over to bus that would be taking us back to the finish line.  It felt so good to just sit and relax in the warm bus with my feet up.  Ahhh, more time on a bus.  Shortly after I settled in, the orange shorts girl got on.  I told her how I'd been following her through the last few miles and thanked her for being my guide.  She laughed and told me she was happy she could help.  The bus took us over to the Ashworth Hotel where the post-race goodies were waiting for us.  We were welcomed with warm soup, hot pizza, cold drinks and lots of other various treats including bowls of jellybeans and M&Ms on every table.  Just...wow.


Naturally, I dove right in.  As I ate, I decided I would wait for the race director to get back from the finish so I could see where I ended up.  He came in holding a couple pieces of crumpled white paper and started announcing the overall and age group winners over a microphone.  Again...old school.  I learned that my time...officially, unofficially, who's to know....was 1:28:10 which was good for 6th woman overall and first Master, which I was particularly fired up about given that it was my first race as a 40 year old.  I headed back to my car, tired and a little sore but very happy with the way things had turned out.  I must confess, however, that the word on the street was the timing was inaccurate and likely off by several seconds.  Back at the hotel, I'd asked around while I was enjoying my snacks, trying to get a sense of what people thought.  Some said yes, the timing was off by at least 10 seconds, others thought as much as a minute and several looked at me with a blank stare having no idea what I was talking about.  Thus, I can't with 100% certainty claim the PR.  But, I can claim the place and, more importantly, I can be proud of the effort.  So, I'll bask in that for now.  And then go for it again.  To be continued....

(b/c I'm pretty that there won't be any official race photos)

Listen to this:
Huarache Lights - Hot Chip  

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