The plan was to run this race last October. My friends and I rented a house but the race was canceled. We decided to adapt the course and run it on own own.
So when the race was re-scheduled, we knew that we had to try again.
Though many races had been cancelled this year due to COVID, I managed to race three half marathons already: A1A Fort Lauderdale (Feb), Helderberg to Hudson (April) and Race 4 the River (Sept.)
So I signed up for the Smuttynose Half Marathon as my 52th Half Marathon (46th if you don’t count the 2020 virtuals) for several reasons:
- It was a ‘real” race.
- A race-cation.
- Eight of my friends would be running/supporting the race.
- Running along the ocean.
- Flat course.
- Smuttynose craft beer, lobstah rolls, clam chowdah, and live music at the finish line. Duh?
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. But I do run 3 miles several times during the work week. All my weekday runs are mostly group ones.
And on the weekends, I try to do my Long Run. Usually most of my miles are with one or more of my running friends. However, some shorter races did interrupt my mileage (as shown below).
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
My taper consisted of a 5k race + a few more and then an short easy run on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. That meant two rest days before the race. Perfect, right?
We carpooled and left for NH on Friday morning with a stop for lunch, then some jumping (and laughing) on the beach (why not?) and dinner out with a view of the ocean.
Jan and I woke up early on Saturday morning to catch the sunrise. Then we all drove to Kennebunkport, ME to have lunch, and browse the shops before we returned to Hampton Beach, NH for packet pick-up.
We scored some matching shirts for $5 so back to beach we headed to see if our jumping could be improved. lol
We decided to pick up pizza for our carb loading and eat it by our fire pit.
Finally #flatmes were organized and we headed to bed early (though I never can sleep the night before a race.)
Sorry to be a broken record about not training well. But it was summer and my goal for races these days is FINISH happy (that is not injured and ready to do another.) But I did hope (as I mentioned in a previous post) to finish one second faster than my last half marathon.
The race was advertised as follows:
With an elevation gain of only 60 feet, The Smuttynose Rockfest Half is the flattest, fastest and most scenic half marathon course in New England! The course begins with two thrilling loops around downtown Hampton Beach. It then heads north on Ocean Boulevard right along the beach and then turns inland for a loop on tree-lined roads before coming back out to the ocean at Mile 10. It finishes with a three-mile stretch along the beach, ending at the famous Sea Shell Stage for a well-deserved party! This course is very spectator friendly with great views of the runners at the Start, Mile 2, Mile 5, and at the Finish. All miles are marked with mile markers and all corners have at least one arrow. Race marshals and police will be stationed at any confusing corners.
We were asked to arrive at the start area between 6 and 6:30 am to avoid the traffic. And they were right!! We piled into one car and quickly found a spot in a nearby lot (the start was only about 5 min or 2.5 miles from our home.)
We hung out, chatted, used real restrooms and watched the sunrise. We got so lucky with the weather. It was PERFECT!! 50’s clouds/sun and a slight breeze.
The half marathon was scheduled to start at 8 am and the 5k at 8:40.
Soon it was time to head to start and line up by pace/finish times. We didn’t need to check a bag since two of our friends who were not racing held onto our throw-aways.
I lined up with Alyssa at the 2:10-2:20 finish time sign. The others in our group moved farther back…
We headed south to start our two “thrilling” loops. I ran with Alyssa for a while but I knew that I needed to let her go ahead eventually since she was trying for a PR.
Although we started in a staggered fashion, it was very slow going and crowded for the first mile. I had to do a lot of weaving…but at least that kept my pace down. Mile 1 was along the ocean and then mile 2 looped back to the start. It was great to see our two cheerleaders there and I was able to throw them my DIY arm sleeves. I was perfectly dressed in my tank and skirt. It was warm when the sun came out but heading south, we were treated to a nice breeze.
There was also a water stop toward the end of mile 2. I wasn’t really thirsty but stopped for a quick drink and a walk break. Then we continued south again toward the bridge.
I forgot about the bridge… so I guess this was our first hill. As bridges go, it wasn’t bad and the view was gorgeous. We were able as we crossed to see the speedy runners. I even spotted Jenn. At the end of the bridge was our second water stop. I ate my first GU here and walked a bit longer. Eventually mid-way during mile 5, we turned around and headed back. This gave you the opportunity to see the slower runners and cheer them on. I think we passed that same water stop. I don’t remember if I stopped or not but probably I did. We now followed the ocean route back toward the start. I got to see for the 2nd time, our two race cheerleaders. Loved that!
For the next few miles, we were running along the ocean. It was visible at times but often not because of the high walls. There was another water stop around 7.5. I think this was where that in addition to Gatorade and water, they handed out a gel.
Eventually around 8.5, we turned into the neighborhoods. There was also another water stop before the turn and I ate my 2nd GU at this time.
The neighborhoods were a nice diversion but here came the HILLS!! It was very winding… six or seven turns. Each one had a hill… the hills weren’t steep but at this point in the race, my legs protested and I walked a few times on the uphill. Many homeowners were out in their driveways cheering us on. That was really nice!
Finally we left the neighborhoods and the hills and ran 3 miles along the ocean route toward the finish line.
This always where my pace dies…. The only thing that kept me going was the finish line and that the pain in my feet would end at that time (yes, my left neuroma ached the WHOLE race!!!)
The view along the ocean was exactly the same as before. I loved being able to see the slower runners and even high five my friends as they went by.
There was one more water stop around mile 12.5. I walked trying to gather up enough energy to reach the finish line.
It seemed like FOREVER but I finally heard cheers and caught sight of the clock. I sprinted, of course, and heard my friends yelling my name. For the first time EVER, my legs started cramping…OUCH!!
After I crossed, I was handed my medal and a bottle of water. I immediately grabbed a banana and ate it. That seemed to help with the cramps.
Post Race Activities:
We all waited at the finish line to cheer each of our friends in… and they all did great.
It was also cool that all you did was take a pic of the QR code on your bib to get your results and AG placement.
After everyone was done, we headed to the food tent and got our clam chowder and lobster roll. I was starved by this point.
Although we could have gotten two free beers, the line was too long and so we just headed home. I wanted to soak my achy feet in the cold water but it was just too far a walk in the sand.
Additional Race Reflections:
It was so fun to be out there and soak up the racing atmosphere again. It was even more fun to run a race with friends.
After the first half of the race, PR thoughts always run through my head.. but I knew that I had NOT trained well enough for that and just focused on finishing the race healthy. I may never be that fast again…but the good news is that it was my fastest half since May 2019 (Sacandaga) and it was a 2020-21 PR (and almost 5 minutes faster than the last one).
- A Real Race.
- Part of a 4 day race-cation with friends.
- Ocean views.
- Easy Packet pick-up
- Discounted shirts from previous years ($5)
- Post race refreshments – clam chowder, lobster roll, bananas, water, two beers
- Crowd support.
- Varied route – bridge, ocean route, neighborhood loop
- Free Photos
- Instant race results (scan QR code on bib)
- Great swag for AG awards
- Nice fleece and medal provided to all runners.
- Staggered start by pace.
- Adequate number of water stops
- Perfect weather
- Real bathrooms near start and finish
- Plenty of parking.
- Roads closed to traffic.
- Hills during Mile 8-10
- 10 year Age Groups
- Painful foot
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. yes. For all the reasons mentioned above.
Walking definitely slowed down my pace the last few miles. I already mentioned that things usually go downhill for me after mile 10…
My legs were more tired after the race than usual. I attribute that to running those two 5ks and skipping those long runs (but sometimes fun trumps finish times).
I’m still in that age group where many runners are still very FAST (especially if it is 10 not 5 year age groups.)
All in all, I was happy with the results (things considered.)
a 5k …
followed by a 15k and another half marathon in November.
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.