Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wallis Sands Half Marathon Race Recap

What a wonderful weekend! I think this was the first race where I was truly relaxed for the two days leading up to it. This race was important for me due to recent events, but also due to the fact that I missed out on my last half due to injury. I had to start from scratch after Thanksgiving with the Couch to 5K .... and man was I s-l-o-w back then.

Anyways, I ran the Wallis Sands Half Marathon in Rye, NH while my family worked the water station at mile 9. As our rental home was an hour away, I awoke at 5 a.m. to pack, clean, and ate breakfast en route. Thank god for strategic placement of port-a-potties! I don't have any pictures of this whirlwind, but I was awake and eager to start. This is where the race took place.....

My first oceanside race! As I was alone for the hour before the start, still no pictures. This was my first distance race running solo and I was a little nervous to begin. Compounding that anxiety was the fact that my wave didn't start until ten minutes after the gun! This race has a cap of 1,000 people as they leave the roads open to traffic and it is a small town.

As my third half marathon, I absolutely loved this race. It's just large enough for the excitement of a big event, but small enough that I kept calm and found a sense of community in other runners. My goal pace was 9:10 and I held steady for the first 8 miles. As my breathing became more labored during mile 9, I found I wasn't enjoying myself as much and reined it in a little bit. After all, this is only my first big race and I have many more events to get my goal of 2:00 finish. I ran into my cheerleaders at mile 9 and felt a sense of renewal afterward - definitely a big help!

Just after this water station is where I met the man who helped me keep up with my goal of a 2:00 - 2:05 finish. Him and I had ran alongside each other and talked for a bit around mile 4, and I told him he would catch up with me soon enough. We had similar goal times and, though he says I kept him going strong, I would have slowed way down if I didn't have a companion. Basically, we talked for the last 4.1 miles and maintained a steady 9:15 to 9:25 depending on water stops. At the end I had conserved enough energy for sprinting, and you can see him cheering me on in the back here...

My finish time was 2:02:03 which is a new PR! My first half was in June 2010, with a time of 2:07, and I would have been happy simply beating that. But training and racing on my own, I am pleased with the time that I achieved and think that 5 minute advancement accurately reflects how much training I put in. I'm weary of speedwork (hips) so my training has simply been small & mid pace runs, and long slow distance...with plenty of cross-training.

After finishing, I immediately chugged a bottle of water - it was hot under the sun - and was surprised by Tim! He ran to the finish line to catch me and I'm so glad he did. We took off for the ocean where I  gladly iced my legs. See - happy to lose feeling up to my knees!

I think the most exciting part of this entire experience is that it motivated others to dream big. Other than my running partner, nobody else I am close with has been in a distance race atmosphere. My mom and stepdad are now planning on running this race next year! And my boyfriend made me stop at the mall to get running gear - before I even ate lunch! He even went out and ran a speedy mile that same day. Another bonus, the awesome ladies cut tech shirts. You can see a little bit of it here...

I am very pleased with my experience and am so glad I decided to take the plunge early on in the year. I have never before maintained my fitness throughout the winter and it feels so great to be at this place in April! I have never had cheerleaders before and really enjoyed sharing my moment with others, including my impromptu running companion. My love for running is continually re-affirmed, and I am so glad I have carved my own little niche in the running world. I am happy with what I have achieved and thankful I have the downtime and health to continue working on my goals.

Next up? The Westfield Wave Sprint Triathlon in June........

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