Monday, May 4, 2015


"There is a closeness about people who run together.  We become better friends, athletes & better women by the company we keep."
~ Kristin Armstrong

Back in March, my running bud, Kirsten, sent me an email about the Greenstride Earth, Rock, Run half marathon and asked if I might want to do it with her.  As I scanned the race info, I learned that all the entrants received a race tee AND a hoodie.  I wrote her back immediately to let her know that I was in.  Because, well, a free hoodie.  Seriously, though, the date of the race fell at a good spot in my marathon training schedule, and it would be fun to get to do it with Kirsten, who is coming back from an injury and hasn't raced with me since September.  Fast forward to yesterday.  We woke up to a bright, sunny and very warm morning.  Also, the first since September.  Kirsten picked me up and we headed out to Andover, which is about a 30 minute drive.  When we arrived, the scene was buzzing.  In addition to the Greenstride tents, where we picked up our bibs, shirts and hoodies, there were tons of other sponsor tents ie. Whole Foods, Zilco Water, & Stonyfield Farms.  We walked around and checked it all out, both agreeing that we were as fired up about the race as we were about the goodies we would be getting to sample afterwards.  Okay, truth, we might have been a little more excited about the goodies.  So, the race.  After throwing our stuff back in the car and using the port-o-pottys a minimum of five times each, we headed over to the start.
First, we took the obligatory selfie.  Neither of us could see anything because of the sun, so we just smiled and hoped for the best.  Then, as we always do, we began chatting with the people next to us.  We met a cute girl named Carrie who told us that she'd done this race last year and that the course was incredibly hilly, including a monster at mile 11.  Wait, what?!?!  Not that we could do anything about it at that point, but still.  Are they like, rollers? I asked her.  Um...well...not really, she laughed, they are hills and they are big and there are lots of them.  Kirsten and I looked at each other and chuckled nervously.  All righty then, we said, good to know.  Or maybe not good to know.  As I mentioned, it was Kirsten's first race back in months and for me, it was part of my marathon training, so I put my hand on her shoulder and said something to the effect of we're just here to have fun.  No pressure.  Let's just relax, enjoy the scenery and soak it all in.  She nodded in agreement, though I'm pretty sure there might have been a little smirk on her face, too.  With a few minutes until go time, we high-fived, turned on our tunes and got in the zone.  And then we were off.  The entire first mile was uphill.  That sucked.  It took a while to settle in after that, but I finally got into a groove by the third mile or so.  And then the hills started again.  They were steady up and down throughout the entire race; the biggest at mile 11, which was the worst possible time to have a mountain to contend with.

Kirsten ran w/ her phone & took shots of 
all the hills.  Just because.

To my surprise, my good friend, Kelly, who I met last year through running and happens to live in Andover, was at the top of the last hill and gave me some much needed motivation to make it to up and over.  That was awesome.  Needless to say, this was the hardest half I've tackled to date.  I crossed the line in 1:30:20, which is not my best time, but a time that I was very pleased with given the difficulty of the course.  I was very happy to learn that I won the Women's Master division (40+) which got me a spiffy little New Balance backpack.  This getting older thing is finally paying off. I was most excited, however, for Kirsten, who ran a great race and felt really good all the way through, something that hasn't happened for her in way too long.

Taken by our buddy, Carrie, who had warned us
about the hills pre-race.

We were both incredibly happy to be done and ready to treat ourselves to all the well-deserved snacks and beverages that were being offered.  After stocking up, we headed around back to chill out on the grass and enjoy the band and the nice weather for a little while.  We bumped into Gloria, an old friend who we'd run a previous Greenstride race with a few years back and got to catch up with her while we all sat and relaxed.  Once we were re-hydrated and well-rested we decided it was time to head home.  Aside from the brutal course, the race really was fantastic; incredibly organized and well run from start to finish.  I'm not sure I would put myself through those hills again, but I do have to give credit to the Greenstride crew, as they do such a great job with all of their events.  Kirsten and I have been running and racing together for about 6 years.  Since she broke her foot back in September, I've been doing most of my races solo.  Having her with me again made me realize both how much I'd missed her and how much better a race can be when you have a friend by your side.  Most of these experiences tend to be really intense.  Having someone to share them with, not just the race itself, but the whole process - from the early morning wake up to the exhuasted drive home - makes them so much more worthwhile.  Welcome back, Kirst.  GO TEAM BACON!

Listen to this:
Cornerstone - Kid Astray

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