What: Half marathon
Who: Me and Co-Worker J, with Drew, the Bairn, and J’s boyfriend for moral support
Splits: (according to Simon)
Mile 1: 10:49
Mile 2: 11:11
Mile 3: 11:35
Mile 4: 11:52
Mile 5: 11:32
Mile 6: 11:53
Mile 7: 11:50
Mile 8: 12:55
Mile 9: 12:59
Mile 10: 12:07
Mile 11: 12:10
Mile 12: 12:54
Mile 13: 13:13
Mile 13.1: 2:52
Race day finally happened! I feel like my training for this half was slightly more consistent than trainings past; training for my second half barely counts as training, and my first… I at least got up to 10 miles for my long runs, but don’t remember doing a lot of other running or cross-training (besides soccer and kickball). So I felt relatively ready!
Race day dawned bright and hot. Hotter than I was prepared for. The Worcester Running Festival Half was in late June and I knew it was going to be a scorcher, so at least I was mentally prepared. J and I liked the sound of this September race because we figured it would be coolish. (Cue climate change laughing in our faces.)
Bib pickup was pretty easy. We managed to snag one of the last spots in the parking lot on-site, and getting my bib and race shirt took no time at all. We could pick what size we wanted there, which was cool, and they had men’s and women’s sizes, which was also appreciated!
Another cool thing was the tiny playground near the start/finish, so the Bairn was chuffed and entertained while I pinned my bib, waited in portaloo lines, and posed for pics with other Shammies who were running the race:
J and I posed for more pics once she arrived too, and I have to say I’m partial to our nerdy librarian pics!
We lined up near the back of the pack, both agreeing that we’d take it easy and walk when either of us needed to. I’d originally wanted to try for a PR in this race, but due to a) the heat, b) my not feeling well thanks to an ill-timed visit from everyone’s favorite Auntie Flo, c) this being J’s first half, so I wanted to stick with her and be moral support – I changed my goal to just finishing and having fun. (And, let’s be honest about point C up there… the moral support totally went both ways!)
We cruised along pretty decently for the first few miles. It was hot, and we were both questioning why we signed up for this, but it was okay. We were going a little faster than I had started out in my other halves, and I worried a bit that I’d flag sooner and do a massive positive split, but tried to quiet the nerdy voice in my head and just run and see how it went.
The first mile or so was in the town center of Manchester-by-the-Sea, and was quite pleasant. After that, we ran a long stretch by the highway, and it felt pretty boring until we hit some pretty lakes. We kept the chatter up for the first half of the race or so, commenting on the scenery and whatever popped into our heads.
Several miles in, I started feeling like I had at least one blister forming. I had Body Glided the crap out of my toes before the race, but the heat and the fact that I didn’t wear the best socks in terms of blister prevention (love my Legend compression socks! But now I know they’re better suited to distances 10k and below for me… at least on hot days) combined to work against me. My toes hurt more and more as the race went on, and our faster-than-expected pace at the start began to catch up with me. Somewhere around mile 6 or 7 or something (it’s all a blur), I told J I might not be able to talk anymore because I needed to reserve my oxygen. I was trying so hard not to be done, but I wasn’t optimistic!
Interestingly, moments when I was wanting to quit, J was feeling decent and was a fantastic motivator. When J was hitting a wall, I had a second wind and was able to drag her along for a bit. We complemented each other nicely! However, by the last few miles, we were both just done and it was so hard to keep going. Honestly, the only thing preventing me from stopping was the fact that we had to get ourselves to the finish line somehow, so might as well keep running.
Closing in on the finish, we welcomed the sight of civilization once again as the desolate and boring roads were replaced with the town center, and our cheering crew! They were a sight to behold, as were the familiar sights near the finish… except that when we saw the finish line itself, we realized we had to run a big loop around to get to it, rather than the merciful straight line we both expected. J had it at that point, and we had to stop for a walk break. It was pretty disheartening, but once we rounded the curve we were able to run it in:
We finished in just shy of 2 minutes over my PR, which was really amazing considering the heat and my super painful feet, but also a little disheartening to be so close and not quite doing it. I kept thinking, if only I hadn’t taken that walk break… or that other walk break… or that other one… but really, given everything, it was a very good time. And we were both so happy to be done.
Our bibs came with beer tickets, but to be honest, I don’t even know where the beer was. There was some kind of after party, but not at the finish, and god knows my brain had melted and it was all I could do to remember to stretch and drink some water. Drew and the Bairn did take me out for ice cream at Captain Dusty’s afterward, and a sugar cone of my favorite White Russian Chip is better than beer any day!
So, to sum up, I’m pleased enough with my performance. It wasn’t ideal conditions for several reasons, and to come that close to my PR given all that is pretty great, even though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about missing a PR. Running a half with a friend is way better than running a half alone, PR or no PR!
The race itself… I didn’t love it. Even though the course map wasn’t a secret, I thought there’d be more “by the sea” than there was, and the course was desolate in places… though not as bad as the Worcester half. The course could have used another portaloo or two; there were 2 about 2-3 miles in, that we didn’t come back to until mile 11 or so (does that math add up?), and I could have used one more in the middle somewhere. The aid stations were okay, with two offering Gatorade as well as water, and one offering Honey Stinger gels. The race site made a big deal about free race photos, but J and I didn’t make it into any. Browsing through, it’s like the photographer took a few of the fast runners and then got bored and left to shoot spectators and police bikes. Not a huge deal, but kind of lame. I definitely thought Green Stride put on a better half in Newburyport, but I wouldn’t rule out doing another YuKan race in the future.
And hey, my inner map nerd is psyched to add two new towns to my maps! 🤓 So that’s something.
I did get all philosophical about half marathons and my running future – mostly inspired by the ghastliness that befell my toes during this race – but that’s a topic for another post, because this one is long enough as it is.
For now, I just have to heal my feet and pray I don’t lose any fitness I may have developed in the meantime, because Oxford looms! Stay tuned…