Smuttynose ROCKFEST Half Marathon Race Recap

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.)

Race Day:

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.

course map

elevation

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…

Miles 1-3:

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.

don’t I look happy? It was early in the race lol

Miles 4-6

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!

Miles 7-9

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.

mile 8

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!

this road actually led right to our house…but in the race, we turned before we got there

I took these pics on my way down to the beach the next day

Miles 10-13.1

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.

Sole Sisters is what we’ve named out group

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).

Positives:

  • 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.

Negatives:

  • Hills during Mile 8-10
  • 10 year Age Groups
  • Painful foot

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. yes. For all the reasons mentioned above.

Final Stats:

Splits:

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.)

I was 15th out of 41 … a lot higher if it were 5 year groups and 1st if I were 70+

All in all, I was happy with the results (things considered.)

Next Up:

a 5k …

6th Annual Summer Smith 5k Addiction Awareness Memorial Run – Oct. 23. 2021

followed by a 15k and another half marathon in November.

Stockadeathon – 15K Road Race

Nov. 14, 2021

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Nov. 21, 2021


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.

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Weekly Run Down (x2) for 9.27.21-10.10.21: Race-cation!!

It’s catch up time.  I skipped last week’s Run Down since I was away for four days in NH.

  • So Half Marathon #52 is in the books. A great time away with my running friends was had by each one of us.
  • The kitchen is DONE!!! The washing machine and the car are fixed.
  • And I got my COVID booster shot!!! (I hope you all can soon, as well. Let’s all protect ourselves and others!!!!)

Two Weeks Ago:

  • Monday – Fall temps were in the air.  But I had no time to run except after work. Besides it rained much of the day.

After my run, I met friends to walk on the rail trail and then got my nails down.

BTW: The countertops were installed (still no water though…)

  • Tuesday – After work today was the first scheduled Troy Turkey Trot Training Challenge (TTTC) group run. However, it got changed to “Virtual” this week.

So I reverted back to my usual rest day and met my two friends for a walk instead.

And the sink, faucet and dishwasher were connected. Hooray for normalcy (Of course, now I have to put everything back in the cabinets…)

  • Wednesday –  I ran a few miles at lunch…

shocker…I used the Peleton App

because I had to drop my car off at the repair shop after work and then go to my MIL’s to celebrate her 96th birthday.

pizza and ice cream cake…glad we love the same foods

  • Thursday – Last run before the “big day.”  Again I squeezed in a run at lunch so I could pick up my car after work and then met my BFF to walk… and finally pack!

starting to look like fall

Plenty of time to run because the car needed more work than anticipated.

  • Friday – And we were off early to our NH race-cation. We carpooled in two cars and stopped off on the way for a delicious lunch.

After getting situated in our 7 bedroom AirBnB house, we walked to the beach and then had dinner nearby with an ocean view.

the house was built in 1826 (pictured below) and before dinner, we practiced our beach jumping…many laughs were had by all.

  • Saturday – As an early riser, I was able walk down to the beach and catch the sunrise on the ocean.  A longer walk than from our house last year but it was nice to get in some steps.

We then set out to spend the day in Kennebunkport, ME where we had lunch and toured the shops. Afterward we returned to Hampton Beach, NH to pick up our race packets and spend the evening carb loading on pizza by an outdoor fire.

we scored some $5 matching shirts for more jumping pix on the beach.

did we get any better?

  • Sunday – Rockfast Snuttynose Half Marathon!! Perfect running weather for those running 13.1 miles, 3.1 miles or just spectating.

we even watched the sunrise on the ocean before our races began. And everyone had a good race!!

Post race refreshments consisted of clam chowder and a lobster roll so no need to lunch. We relaxed the rest of the day and went out for celebratory dinner.

Last Week:

  • Monday – I planned to get up early to watch the sunrise again but it was raining.  So I waited and when it stopped, I took a long walk to the beach and along the ocean before we left for home.

so sad to say good bye to the ocean….

Since it started to rain again, we decided to leave early. Glad this was a rest day as it poured the rest of the day.

  • Tuesday  – Back to work…sigh! Rained ALL day.

Week #2 of the TTTC had its first in-person meeting. The rain stopped just in time and I met some new people.

I joined the advanced group but we just ran…no drills.

  • Wednesday – I met my friend Deirdre for a run after work on the rail trail.

It was fun catching up since she was unable to go to NH with us.

  • Thursday – I was able to squeeze in a short run in my neighborhood during lunch so I could meet two friends to walk after work.

beginning to look like Halloween in the ‘hood

I also learned today that a local tennis friend who moved to Naples, FL died suddenly…. (Yes, she was a runner also.) She was only 46!!!

  • Friday – Rest day after running three days in a row. Got my COVID booster shot.  Fingers crossed for no adverse reaction that would spoil my 3-day weekend.
  • Saturday – Back to our Saturday Long Runs. 8 miles was on my schedule. The good news was that I felt perfectly fine!! Phew. I ran intervals with Heid, Sherry & Deb and then met Chris, Judy and Jan after for brunch.

this was part of the route for the marathon that was being held the next day…

  • Sunday – I signed up today to volunteer at the Mohawk-Hudson Half Marathon/Marathon. I was there early to set up for the refreshments and then stayed to cheer on some runners. What a great day.  I enjoyed it almost as much as racing.

This Coming Week on the Run– 

  • Monday –   DAY OFF – run, boating
  • Tuesday – TTTC group run
  • Wednesday – rest day, walk with friends
  • Thursday – run
  • Friday -rest day, mah jongg
  • Saturday Long Run
  • Sunday – rest day, hiking

This Coming Week on the Blog – 

  • Tuesday – Smuttynose Half Marathon Race Recap
  • Friday – Big Hairy Goals (pt 2)

I am linking up with Kim and Deborah for

I encourage you to do the same. Grab the graphic, drop your link on the host blogs and play along! Please be sure to always comment on the HOST’s blogs, as well as visit and comment on as many other blogs as you can.

Happy Running! How is your running going? Any in-person races planned? Please share.

Race 4 The River Half Marathon Race Recap

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With most of the local races either cancelled or virtual, Albany Running Exchange had been scheduling COVID Safety Plan approved races.  I completed a half marathon in November 2020 and in April 2021. Both of these races were held in hilly Altamont, NY.

In March I ran their five mile race and then in May a point-to-point 10 miler.  Although the weather did not cooperate, the course was along the river and the bike path, mostly flat or downhill and in Schenectady, NY.

So I signed up for the Race 4 The River Half Marathon as my 51th Half Marathon (45th if you don’t count the 2020 virtuals) for several reasons:

  • It was a ‘real” race.
  • It was local and I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • It was local so I would know a lot of the runners.
  • I was familiar with most of the course as it was similar to the 10 miler than I ran in May.
  • I convinced some friends to run it too.
  • It was advertised as having a Net Downhill Course and FREE BEER, Food, and LIVE MUSIC

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 I mention below).

The logistics were also complicated for this race. Either you parked at the start and got a ride back to your car after the race or you parked at the finish and got a ride to the start (or pay for the shuttle).

My preference was to park at the finish (even though that meant getting up earlier.)

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

Usually on the weekends, I do run 10 miles. But this month I skipped a few in favor of a vacation and racing.  It’s amazing how quickly the endurance that you built up leaves.

I picked up my race packet Friday evening

and carb loaded on the usual pizza and debated about what to wear the next day.

It was supposed to be cooler and less humid than any of my previous races. I hated to jinx it but the weather seemed perfect!

Yup, the usual Skirt Sports tank and skirt with Zensah compression calf sleeves

Race Day:

I got up around 4:15 am on Saturday morning (ouch) and was on the road by 5:15 for my 40 minute drive to race parking.

The race started near Mabee Farms at 7:30 am and ended at Schenectady Community College (SCCC).

I parked my car at SCCC, the finish for the race.  I had almost signed up for the shuttle so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting back to my car after the race.  However, my friend Karen offered to drive me and the others (Alyssa, Sherry, Stan) to the start if someone would drive her back to her car after.  I accepted so that I wouldn’t have deal with masking and walking to the shuttle.

I met everyone at 6:00, left my car in the designated parking lot and we drove to the start which was about 15 minutes away.

There was plenty of parking in the grassy lot.

We were very early so we had time to walk around and sightsee.

It was a little chilly so we hung out in the barn.

We also noticed that in addition to porta-potties, there were REAL restrooms (always a great perk.)

Finally, it was time to head to the start. So we parted with our jackets and checked them at Bag Check. I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle (since it was already hours since my breakfast.)

The race started at 7:30 am. There were no waves, just instructions to social distance.

This was a FIRST annual race so there were no reviews to read. I had hoped that when they said it was a flat/downhill course, they were not lying.

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course map

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and elevation

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.)

Miles 1-3:

The race began near Mabee Farm Historical site. The first mile headed west, mostly on Route 5S. We ran along the road and fairly soon connected with the Erie Canal Bike Path.

In other words, the canal was on our right and most of the race was run on the path with water views. I ran the first mile with Alyssa and Karen. We chatted and chatted. It was great catching up since I don’t run with them often.

My legs were feeling good so I ran ahead caught up to an old friend, Elisa. More chatting which made the miles pretty painless. She is faster but slowed down because she was planning to run about 7 more miles after the race.

The scenery was pretty. The Mohawk river changed to being on the left.

The first water stop was a little after mile 3 at Pattersonville Bike Path parking on 5S.  This was my first walk break.  I used my paper cup (as I did in my previous in-person cupless races).  That waffle kept me going and so I decided to wait on my Gu,

Miles 4-6

Most of the race is a blur. I was feeling pretty strong. Soon Stan caught up to us and the three of us ran together until mile 9. I’m not sure I ever ran a whole race with someone but it was a lot more fun than running alone.

Around mile 5, I finally got hungry so I stopped to eat my Gu (trying to eat and run slowly) and walked again at the second water stop little before mile 6 at Iroquois St/Bike Path.

Miles 7-10

The course was pretty flat and shady for the most part.  The temps were rising. I was glad to have worn a tank and skirt. The third water stop was around mile 8 at Kiwanis Park. I walked again. This time longer.

Around mile 9, some annoying hills appeared. Maybe there weren’t big hills and I was just getting tired. I tried to run up them but it was more like a slog.

At this point, my lower back started to ache and I waved Elisa and Stan ahead.

For the first time in the race, I was running alone.  And I was walking more and running slower.

Miles 11-13.1

The final water stop was around Mile 11 at MH Bike Path lot. I ate another GU – Chocolate Smores.  Ugh! This flavor made me very nauseous!!

Elisa had slowed down and Stan ran ahead. So I continued to run with her.

I hadn’t considered winning an age group award but at mile 12, my competition (Joan) passed me by (She wound up 4th in 10 year AG awards anyway.)  For a millisecond, I thought that I should try to pass her but nah, no reason.

Elisa and I continued together on the bike path until Schenectady Community College.  We raced each other through the finish line…and she beat me!

I was so happy to have finished that I didn’t care.

Stan had already finished. Soon Alyssa and Karen finished. Then Sherry.

And finally El.

So group picture time…

Post Race Activities:

We grabbed our lunches and I headed to my car to change clothes and shoes.

not bad… but unfortunately none of us felt like eating right away.

There was a band, beer, food, etc. at a restaurant nearby. There was a shuttle but since it was only .2 miles, we decided to walk.

By the time we got there, we were hungry.

there was also pizza, warm pretzels, fried artichokes ordered as well

We stayed for several hours listening to the band and chatting…about running, of course.

Additional Race Reflections:

This was a first annual race.  Many of the other local races are still cancelled so this racing company has been trying to hold a few races. I am so glad they are. It was so fun to be out there and soak up the racing atmosphere again.

Positives:

  • Ample parking at the start and finish.
  • Real restrooms at Mabee Farm
  • Bag check
  • Well marked course.
  • Varied scenery including river views
  • Shuttle to the start (if needed).
  • Flat course.
  • A real race.
  • Well organized.
  • A lot of pre-race information.
  • Decent Post-race food.
  • Cool medal.
  • Free Beer
  • A real race.

Negatives:

  • Cupless water stops.
  • 10 year age group awards.
  • No photos.

Would I recommend this race?

Yes.

I liked the course. It was well-organized. I bet more runners sign up next (if COVID ever ends.)

Final Stats:

Splits:

Walking definitely slowed down my pace the last few miles.

All in all, I was very happy with how I ran the race.  My splits were more consistent than usual.  But also the early miles were much slower than usual. Given the flatness of the course, I could have probably run faster but you can’t talk if you run fast. lol

Not expecting a PR and faster than my last five in-person half marathons.  I need to be realistic…maybe those faster half marathon paces will not happen again. (But hey, I’m not giving up…)

Next Up:

Two 5ks and another Half Marathon.


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.

runner-sig

 

Druthers Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon Race Recap

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April 17, 2021

This was NOT a half marathon that I planned on.  I wanted to run this race but on its original (downhill) course. April 2020’s race got cancelled and the race was re-scheduled to August but on a new course. I chose at the time run the half marathon virtually and defer my registration to April 2021 (when I had hoped things would be normal again.)

Instead of racing returning to normal, half marathon after half marathon either cancelled or went virtual. So the RD organized a half marathon (Upstate Classic) in November on this new course.  I decided to run that one. Though not downhill but hilly, I did enjoy the race. So instead of deferring to April 2022, I signed up (Sure, why not? to quote Wendy.)

The restrictions this race were the same as for last November’s Upstate Classic Half Marathon and it had to held on the same course (due to the Pandemic) since its COVID Safety Plan had already been approved.

So I signed up for the Druthers Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon as my 50th Half Marathon (44th if you don’t count the 2020 virtuals) for several reasons:

  • It was a ‘real” race.
  • It was local and I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • It was local so I would know a lot of the runners.
  • Several of my running friends were doing it.
  • With all the restrictions, I knew that it would be safe.
  • I was familiar with the course as it was the same one as the one that I ran last November.

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 solo ones.

And on the weekends, I do my Long Run. Usually most of my miles are with one or more of my running friends.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

The last day I ran was Wednesday so I took two days off from running. Of course, there was walking (I can’t just sit around).

Packet pick up was easy peasy.  Just went to the race headquarters. There was along line of cars waiting to do a drive-by pick up but I just parked across the street. I gave them my bib # and someone masked gave me a bag with my bib and shirt. (NO WAITING!! LOL)

short sleeved women’s tee shirt

I did my usual carb loading of pizza the night before and tried to figure out what to wear.  It was colder than I would have liked but there was no rain or snow so I was a happy camper. I hate being overdressed (and was tempted to even wear a skirt and short sleeved shirt)  But I reluctantly added another shirt and capris plus my DIY arm sleeves and gloves. Last week, my new Brooks running shoes gave me blisters (could have been the socks?) but I decided not to take a chance and wore my older Topos ones (from my October half) and taped my blisters.

My biggest dilemma was what to do about water.  I hate to carry my water bottle but there would be no cups of water provided on the course, only table to fill up your own bottle.

In the end, I decided on a small water bottle. At the last minute, I also grabbed a paper cup, flattened it and put that in my pocket. (I used it last time and it worked great.)

I also knew that I would be cold waiting to start and cold after. Usually there is bag check but now with COVID, there is none so I decided to leave a bag somewhere with old stuff and if it got taken so what? It would have been throwaways, anyway.

Race Day:

I woke up early and ate my race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. My start time was 8:18 and I had to be in my corral by 8:14 am. I left my house around 6:30 am and tried decide what my race plan would be on the 30 minute drive over.

So the plan???

HM PR – 2:06:52
Upstate Classic HM – 2:23:21
Last HM – 2:35:58

Druthers H2H HM – Just finish.  No time goal!! (prediction – 2:30:00)

The course:

A loop starting and ending in the same location.

and not flat… at all:

My last real half marathon was in Florida in February. The course was flat but it was extremely humid and hot.  So with the hills, the conditions would probably equal out.

Although this was a “real” race, there were many changes from a half (organized by this company) that was held in April of 2019:

I understood all the restrictions and I am grateful for the opportunity to race. I was not worried about catching COVID. Besides I had both of my vaccines.

My last concern was my damn foot.  Bunion, neuroma, hammer toe…. I’ve had pain on and off for more than a year.  It’s much better than it had been back late 2019, early 2020 but it still hurts from time to time.  Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little.   You never know and I know there are much worse things to worry about so I run. I walk, I hike.

Anyway, here’s how the race went:

I used my GPS to get to the race location, Altamont Fairgrounds. Last time, I went in the opposite entrance. This time I went the correct way but still entered in a different entrance than the directions. As a result, I did not have to wait in any line.

The parking lot was huge and MUDDY. I parked and texted my running friends Sherry and Judy. They were running late so I just waited in my car to stay warm.

Sherry arrived first and we waited together and took pix.

There were 11 waves. I was in wave 7 and Sherry and Judy in waves 10 & 11.  The first wave started at 8:00 and before I knew it was time for me to enter my corral. I left my bag near the food area and put on gloves and DIY arm warmers (Mistake since they were NOT necessary.)

Masks were required while waiting to start, in the start corral and after crossing the finish line. Since it was chilly, as you can see above and below, I opted for a gaiter (much easier to pull up and down when someone got close during the race.) Groups of 8 started every few seconds. Things happened like clockwork.

just waiting to enter my corral

The only problem was the mud. I mean puddles of mud. My shoes and socks were soaked even before I started the race.

(many of the pics are courtesy of Peter Deal’s FB page – THANKS)

Miles 1-3:

I did wear my Garmin watch this time but I was debating whether or not to use it. I hate the pressure of seeing my time and splits. But I like having stats when the race is over so I decided to use it (and just not look at it during the race.)

muddy start 

The mud continued for a while so at least that slowed me down.

ugh mud mud

Normally in a half marathon, I would run and then only walk at the water stops Usually they are every 2 miles and every mile toward the end.  But at this race, the first water stop was not until around mile 3.2. I would have to try not to walk until then.

I started out slowly but probably not slow enough.  Around mile 2, it already started to get hard…hills.  Not as bad as they would get later. Now they were just rolling ones. I felt pretty good and actually ran up the hills (at least at the beginning.)

cute sight along the early miles of the course

I was familiar with this course but obviously since we were running on roads, there were cars. You were supposed to run on the shoulder but it was slanted and I found it awkward. So I ran toward the middle of the road until a car came by.  I was more comfortable that way. But the negative was not running the tangents. 😦

Miles 3- 6.2:

I stopped at the first water stop and a volunteer filled up my paper cup.  Best idea ever.  I used that same cup the whole race. I wasn’t hungry yet so I waited to eat my GU. I did drop off my arm sleeves and gloves.  The sun had come out. I could have stayed with my original outfit (one shirt and skirt.) But later, it did get windy so I never felt that over-heated.

best place to buy cider donuts – lots of spectators here.

Around mile 4, we passed by Indian Ladder Farms and the smell of fresh cider donuts filled the air.

The rolling hills continued. Believe it or not, my expected foot pain had not started yet but my lower backache was consistent from beginning to end. It’s always something. I tried to pay attention to my form but it may have been that I was wearing OLD worn shoes.

The hills ceased to roll and started to become steep hills.  Those type of hills where it was even hard to walk up them.  So walk I did but trying to pick up the pace on the downhill.

Just as I was approaching one hill, a spectator handed me some clementine slices. A life-saver since at that point I had not eaten my GU and was way overdue for some fuel.

Miles 6.2-8.75

The second water stop was at mile 6.2.  I re-filled my water cup and ate my GU.  I forgot to mention that I was wearing a newly purchased skirt.  It was a smaller size than I normally wear but it had no drawstring so it was loose the whole race.  But the biggest problem was that the pocket on this older skirt was narrow and it took me forever to squeeze my cup in it each time I removed it.

The big hills seems to be more frequent the second half of the race. As a result, my pace increased.  No surprise and I was totally ok with walking when needed.

Miles 8.75 – 11.1

There was another water stop around mile 8.75. I again stopped and refilled my cup. I also ate my 2nd Gu even though I really wasn’t hungry.

My lower back still ached and now my foot was starting to get painful.  There wasn’t much I could do about it. So I just focused on the scenery which was very pretty (farms, mountain views, etc.), put one foot in front of the other and grimaced up each hill (along with everyone else lol).

The course marshals were very enthusiastic. There were some families camped out in their driveways.  But for the most part, we were running on the roads in the country… not a lot of places for spectators. However, there were many more than the last time I ran this course. I recognized quite a few and they cheered me on by name.

Two of my running friends were volunteering around mile 9. That was a great mental boost, as well.

I am always glad when I get the mile 10 sign.  Only a 5k from the end…. but as you know, this can be grueling and the hardest part of the race (I’m happy to say that this race followed suit.)

Miles 11.1-13.3

More hills. They never seemed to end.  And one last water stop at mile 11.1.  I just wanted to finish so I skipped it. So I never ate my last GU either.

Finally when the hills seemed to flatten, we ran on a road with a lot of traffic. It was annoying since you had make sure you ran on the uneven slanted shoulder (as opposed to the middle which I preferred.)

Mile 13 seemed like a full marathon.  My legs just died. To make matters worse, there was one hill after another.  I walked most of this mile so that I could at least sprint across the finish line and not embarrass myself.

Finally we approached the entrance to the fair grounds. An announcer announced “If you can hear me, you’re almost there! But the mud is even worse than when you started!”

And he was right. It made it impossible to run fast since the mud was very slippery. I did my best and was glad to not land on my butt and to cross with a smile (I think.)

I did check my watch and was pleased to see that I had finished under 2 1/2 hours (but then I forgot to turn it off. Strava had me running a 19 mile race at a 7 min pace lol)

A volunteer handed me a medal (in plastic) and I headed off to find my bag in order to put on my jacket (now sweaty and getting chilled!)

I got my food (a boxed lunch) and sat with some friends waiting for Sherry and Judy to finish.

drank some chocolate milk that I had brought with me and saved my lunch for later

Sherry finished first and though she started after me, we both had almost the exact race time.  That makes sense since we did all our long training runs together.

smiling because we were done

Then both Judy and another friend, Barbara, finished. Judy was running to raise money for Leukemia (in memory of her daughter) and raised $20,000!! Barbara had just completed her FIRST half marathon.  Both were super happy.

Additional Race Reflections:

It may seem that my recap above had a lot of complaints.  But on the whole, the race was a really good experience. I have zero regrets in running it. The race was so well organized. It was great to see running friends again!  Sure, it was a challenge. Aren’t all hard things?

My race pace was nothing to write home about but it was a better than I expected. I didn’t train hard. I did zero speed drills or hill work. That’s not what my running is about right now.  I run to exercise, socialize with friends and get outdoors.

Besides, my finish time for this race was 13 minutes faster than my last FLAT half marathon and a few seconds faster than the one on this SAME course.

Though I am no longer expecting results even close to a PR but I would love to struggle less in future half marathons and have more even or negative split times. (Does that mean I have to train? lol)

I slowed down big time the 2nd half of the race!!

Back to the race itself:

The Good:

  • A Live Race!!!
  • Connecting with local runners.
  • Felt safe with the provided restrictions.
  • Decent post race food. (box lunch of pre-ordered sandwich, chips, apple, brownie)
  • Well organized.
  • Lots of pre-race information.
  • Easy packet pick up.
  • Ample parking.
  • Enthusiastic volunteers.
  • Running it with friends
  • Live tracking for others to follow runners and runners to get immediate results.
  • Free photos.
  • Decent weather.
  • Lots of compliments on my outfit (someone even said that I was the best dressed runner in the race 🙂 )
  • A live race!!!

The Bad:

  • Hilly Course.
  • MUD at the start and finish.
  • No water provided (unless you carried your own bottle).
  • Many restrictions (though necessary due to Covid-19).
  • Not trained for hills or speed (my fault).
  • My sore foot (expected)
  • My achy lower back 😦

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really

The tale of two races – miles 1-6.5 and miles 6.5-13.1:

Would I recommend this race?

Sure.  But I prefer the real (downhill) course without COVID restrictions – 2022??

April 2019 

Next Up:

I signed up for the 10 miler on May 30, 2021

Final Thoughts:

2020 was a crazy year.  Two real half marathons, six virtual half marathons and then one “pandemic” half marathon.  Not how I planned it.

Of course, now 2021 has continued the way 2020 ended.

With all the pandemic restrictions, it was not the race that I would have planned to run but I did it.

Now I am really anxious to run a one without any annoying restrictions!! And fewer hills!


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.

 

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Publix A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon Race Recap

2020 Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K, Komen 6K, Kids Race - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Half Marathon - Marathon - Running

February 14, 2021

It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever (since last February, I believe).

So this year, I did run the Publix A1A Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon as my 43th Half Marathon (49th if you count the six 2020 virtuals) for these reasons:

  • A warmer weather race-cation opportunity
  • I had a flight credit from a cancelled vacation.
  • I had enough points for 4 nights in a hotel.
  • It was held on Presidents Day weekend (one less day to take off from work)
  • It was advertised as a scenic course with ocean views.
  • The race’s COVID-19 plan provided enough safety for its racers IMO.
  • I’ve never been to Fort Lauderdale.
  • I had four friends that lived nearby (for the winter.)
  • I had gotten BOTH of my COVID vaccines.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan.  I ran my last half marathon in November (an in-person one.)  I didn’t wear a watch. It was very hilly and so I was thrilled to just finish.

Upstate Classic HM

As with all my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3 easy miles.

However, I do try to do longer runs on the weekend. I did manage ALL year to run at least 10 miles every weekend.  I even got in one 11 miler and one 12 miler before this race.

Though I did feel somewhat prepared to run 13.1 miles, my goal for this half marathon was still to just finish and to ENJOY RUNNING A REAL RACE!!!

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

Although the half marathon was scheduled for Sunday morning, I arrived (with no flight drama) in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday afternoon. I rented a car there and drove North to Boca Raton where I spent the next two days (staying in a hotel rather than at my friends’ places.)

I got to hang out with my four friends while visiting the beaches, gardens, bird sanctuaries and outdoor restaurants. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there (even wearing a mask almost all the time).

On Saturday afternoon, I left Boca, headed back to Fort Lauderdale to the expo to pick up my race packet, then returned North to Pompano Beach for a Lighthouse Tour (by Boat) followed by dinner across from the Pompano Beach pier. Instead of my usual pre-race pizza, I chose Shrimp n Grits (and hoped that it was an adequate carb loading substitute.)

Finally I arrived at my Fort Lauderdale hotel in time to organize my usual race outfit (tank, skirt, cap) and hit the sack earlyish.

Race Day:

I brought my oatmeal and coffee from home with me and got up around 3:00 am to get ready and have breakfast in my hotel room. I was a little nervous when it was already 78 degrees with 91% humidity – ouch! Not much I could do except leave off the compression calf sleeves and the throw-away clothing.

I had decided to purchase in advance the VIP parking. For $29, it was affordable (hey how many races did I NOT pay to run in 2020?) and piece of mind that early in the morning.  You had to be at the race by 4:30 am!!

The parking lot was at a hotel and very easy to find.  And you were able to use the hotel restrooms (and there were many!) and the race start (and finish) was right across the street. It was a little breezy so I put on my DIY arm warmers but they sure didn’t stay on long.

You were required to wear a mask until you crossed the start line and everyone complied. The runners were so friendly and from all over the US. This was actually the best part of the race….making new friends.

view while waiting to start

There was a staggered start. – 20 runners at a time, 6 ft apart.  You lined up by estimated finish time. I lined up behind the 2:15 pacer.  however most runners around me said that they were slower but didn’t want to wait that long to start. I felt the same way!

This may have been the last time I saw this sign

Eventually the race started with the announcer reminding runners to throw their bib in the trash and not on the course. (You would be given another mask after you crossed the finish line to wear in the finish/food/band area.)

I started around 6:30 am.

I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)

My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU around every 3-4 miles.  I planned to walk whenever necessary and NOT RACE it. It was VERY hot (85 degrees with 95% humidity) and I didn’t want to end up in an ambulance.

looks hilly. but it wasn’t!

I will also try to put a positive spin on my recap. Honestly, it felt harder than it should have. For the first time during a race, I wondered if I would be able to finish. (I didn’t even feel that way during my marathon.)
Miles 1-4:

We started running south (with the ocean on the left) and ran along route 1A and around the point where we viewed some gorgeous oceanside homes.

As always, I felt more energetic during the beginning miles. Unfortunately, my feet hurt from the first step to the last. I was disappointed but was prepared for the pain. I was trying to run at a  consistent pace. I was not very successful at this as the race went on.

I stopped at each water stop as planned. They were at about every 1 1/2 miles which normally would be frequent enough but not when it over 85 degrees.  After the first few water/Gatorade stops, I started taking TWO cups of water – one to drink and one to pour on myself.

Around mile 3, a lady went down.  At that point, I decided to slow down and make sure that it would not be me. Now we were heading north toward the race start (with the ocean on the right).

I was very excited to finally get to see the sun rise over the ocean without clouds blocking the sun. I think it was around mile 4 and I ran over to snap a photo.

Miles 4-6:

As you can see, we were still running with the water on our right.  I was desperately trying to focus on the beautiful views and not on how hot it was and how dizzy/nauseous it was making me feel. I took my first GU at this point and slowed down which made me feel better.

fake smile

I continued slogging along running until a water stop.  But my running felt like a crawl. I used my watch to see what mile we were on. The mile markers were painted on the ground (very lightly and often crossed out from last year’s course).

Miles 6-10:

Although I loved looking at the ocean, it did get monotonous after awhile. Other runners told me that in previous years, it was not a loop and so not as much ocean views but a variety of views including a park.

Many runners were dressed up in their tutus for Valentine’s Day and that was at least a distraction.

I just continued putting one step in front of another. I was determined to finish even if it meant walking the rest of the race.

The turn around which seemed like a marathon away finally arrived around mile 8 and then we did a loop until mile 9.

Then we returned onto 1A with now the ocean on our left.  The slower half marathoners were now heading in the opposite direction (as opposed to the speedy ones that passed me by before.)

Around this time, I ate another GU and started drinking more water and walking longer at the stops. And there was the blister forming on my left foot – ouchy!

Miles 10-13.17:

By this point, I was struggling big time. Not sure why. The course was flat!

The Vaccine? Too much activity on previous days? Not enough sleep?  The heat?  The humidity? My feet? ???

Whatever the reason, I knew that it would NOT prevent me from finishing.  I kept thinking that there were marathon runners completing the course TWICE!!!!!!  I certainly can do it once.

One last GU and I was able to re-energize and sprint toward the finish line.

I crossed at 2:35:58. 

A big PW but I was thrilled to have finished and have “run” a RACE!!

I was immediately handed a bottle of water, a mask and the finisher medal wrapped in plastic.

It took me a while to get up enough energy to move from sitting on that wall.  I first headed to get some chocolate milk and then sat again and chatted with a few runners (all happy but very very hot and sweaty.)

Next I dragged my aching feet to the ocean and boy, did that feel good.

not sure how long I stood there?

Then I decided that I needed to eat. Nothing really appealed to me though there was quite a variety but my stomach felt too queasy for tacos, burritos, refried beans…

I opted for some fruit, cookies, rice and a cold brew. I think I also took some other items and drinks but skipped the beer (before 10 am.)

Eventually, I headed back to my car since my friend Barbara was picking me up at my hotel in order to meet two other friends for a airboat ride on the Everglades.

perfect activity post-race…nice breeze on the boat and I didn’t have to walk anywhere.

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • A real Race
  • 2 day expo with mandatory mask requirements
  • A good number of booths and food/drink samples at the expo.
  • Excellent communication about every aspect of the race before, during and after the race. – FB video on 1-19-21 and many Q & A’s.
  • Easy packet pick-up
  • VIP parking available and city lots (COVID rate) and public lots
  • Sufficient number of port-a-potties at start/finish and along the course
  • Staggered start – 6 ft apart, 20 in each corral (.5 mile area). Each corral started every 20 seconds.
  • Spectators required to wear masks.
  • Sanitizing stations throughout the race.
  • Water stops 1.2-1.5 miles apart – 6 so you could stop 12 times.
  • Disposable masks given out at the finish line.
  • Volunteers/police directing traffic.
  • Pacers.
  • Many racers dressed up for Valentine’s Day.
  • 6 hour time limit for the race (since it included a marathon)
  • Pre-packaged food post-race and safe places to eat.
  • Music (Band) in the finish area
  • Custom Sand Castle
  • Lots of photographers on the course
  • Sunny weather
  • Beautiful course. Water views throughout.
  • Friendly staff, participants, volunteers, residents.
  • A large variety of food (tacos, burritos, fruit, cookies, beer, chocolate milk, cold brew, etc.)
  • Ocean near the finish area (to go swimming)
  • Age groups awards mailed.
  • A real race.

made out of sand

The Bad:

  • Early 5:45 am start time (but probably necessary due to temps)
  • ALL COVID Restrictions (but very necessary).
  • Cooler and less humid temps would have been nicer.
  • Large number of racers (but 50% capacity of the original) – about 2000 runners.
  • No Bag Check –  not necessary if you parked close by
  • Ocean views could get monotonous (but necessary due to revised course and no shuttle to the start)
  • I had no friends running this with me (missed you Cari!)

The Ugly:

  • Nothing 🙂

the dolphins move back n forth

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

It was super well-organized. Special attention was paid to EVERY detail.  The course was scenic. And if the pandemic ends and it returns to the previous course, it will be even better.

Final Stats:

I am so proud that my body can run even when the conditions are not optimal. Yup, pain is temporary. I quickly forgot the next day how much it had hurt.

A far cry from my 2:06:52 PR in 2017 and my NYC qualifying time of 2:11:15 in 2019.

This old broad will just have to be content finishing upright from now on, I guess.

Next Up:

Druthers Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon. (on a revised course – same as the Fall Classic)

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April 14, 2021


There is a link-up organized by Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.


I’m linking up also with this new link-up:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Have you ever been to Fort Lauderdale? Ever run this race? Any in-person races planned for 2021? Please share.

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Upstate Classic Half Marathon Race Recap

This was NOT a half marathon that I planned on nor one I had signed up for way in advance.  It was a first time half marathon scheduled only because ALL other local races had been cancelled. The restrictions were the same for the H2H Half Marathon in August (that I ran virtually.)

So I signed up for the Upstate Classic Half Marathon for several reasons:

  • I hadn’t run a “real” half marathon since February – 9 months!!!
  • It was local and I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • It was local so I would know a lot of the runners.
  • I was curious to see how I would do having run so slow all summer.
  • With all the new restrictions, I felt that it would be safe.
  • I am nuts!!!

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. For 2020, I had the ambitious goal of running 12 Half Marathons – one each month.

During my first two 2020 Half Marathons in January and February, I experienced a lot of foot pain. I ran them but truthfully, it was not fun at the time (except for the fact that I was in NYC and then Bermuda.)

And then the March NYC Half Marathon was cancelled due to the pandemic so I ran that for fun with two friends. The pandemic continued. Races were being postponed until Fall one by one.  I ran the April Helderberg to Hudson and May Steel Rail Half Marathons “virtually” and by myself. Again no fun!!

No more half marathons during June, July, August and September. (I deferred my August half to 2021 and got refunds for both September half marathons when they went virtual.) Eventually my October half marathon as expected went virtual.  But with NO refund or deferral option, I ran another virtual half marathon (however this time in NH with friends).  I also signed up for and ran the ZOOMA Amelia Island Half Marathon as a virtual one.

The difference in the training cycle for this race was that I ran part or all of my long runs solo.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

The last day I ran was Thursday so I took two days off from running. Of course, there was walking (I can’t just sit around).

Packet pick up was easy peasy.  Just went to the race headquarters, drove in, gave them my bib #, rolled down the passenger window and someone masked gave me a bag with my bib, and shirt.

even got my medal BEFORE the race

I did my usual carb loading of pizza the night before and tried to figure out what to wear.  It was forecast to be cold with a chance of rain later in the morning.  I hate being overdressed (and was tempted to even wear a skirt) but with the threat of rain, I reluctantly chose a beanie, long sleeved shirt, vest, DIY arm sleeves, capris/skirt, compression calf sleeves and gloves.

I love their hats and so I bought one

My biggest dilemma was what to do about water.  I hate to carry my water bottle but there would be no cups of water provided on the course, only table to fill up your own bottle.

In the end, I decided on a small water bottle and I squeezed it into my pocket. At the last minute, I grabbed a paper cup, flattened it and put that in my other pocket.

Race Day:

I woke up early and ate my race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. My start time was 9:07 and I had to be in my corral by 9:00 am. I left my house around 7:45 am and tried decide what my race plan would be on the drive over.

For the last few virtual halfs, I have been running 45:30 intervals at around a 13-14 mi. pace. Since then I’ve been running on my own with my usual run until I’m tired and walk.  Much more walking than I used to do.  At times I have run with friends at 4, 3, or 2:1 intervals.  Still at a very slow pace. I have to admit that I have enjoyed these runs.  I never felt tired when I was done.

So the plan???

HM PR – 2:06:52
Last “real” HM – 2:23:21
Last virtual HM – 2:55ish (didn’t wear a watch)

First Pandemic HM – Just finish.  No time goal!! (prediction – 2:35:00)

The course:

A loop starting and ending in the same location.

and not flat… at all:

My last real half marathon in Bermuda (in Feb) was hilly.  Since then, ALL my running has been on FLAT roads.

Although this was a “real” race, there were many changes from a half (organized by this company) that was held in April of 2019:

I understood all the restrictions and I am grateful for the opportunity to race. I was not worried about catching COVID.

so well thought out

My last concern was my damn foot.  Bunion, neuroma, hammer toe…. I’ve had pain on and off for almost a year.  It’s much better than it had been back last Dec-Feb but it still hurts from time to time.  Sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little.   You never know and I know there are much worse things to worry about so I run. I walk, I hike.

Anyway, here’s how the race went:

I used my GPS to get to the race location, Altamont Fairgrounds. Well, it took me to the wrong entrance for the race. It was blocked but luckily they let me in.  That meant I was coming from the opposite direction and did not have to wait in the long line of cars (the ones that entered the correct way lol). And I got to preview the first 5 miles of the course.

The parking lot was huge. I parked and as soon as I was ready to leave my car, it started to rain.  WTH? It was forecasted to rain later!! And then it started sleeting.  I forgot to mention that it was skirt weather earlier this week and this morning it was in the 20s. Brrrrr.

I waited in my car as long as I could.  I saw one of my friends, Karen, and we headed in together.

We were both in the same wave so we hung out trying to stay dry.

There were 14 waves. Karen and I were in wave 13.  I started in position I in my wave and Karen further back. Groups of four started every 10 seconds. The first wave had started at 8:30 am. A littler before 9:00, they called our wave and we headed over.

Miles 1-3:

I did wear my Garmin watch but I was debating whether or not to use it.  As I mentioned above, the start of each wave proceeded very quickly. Before I knew it, I was crossing the start line (around 9:07ish).

Nope. I DID NOT start my watch. I have only run a half marathon once without timing it and that was only because my watch stopped working.  But I just wanted to relax and not worry about my time. I feared that my pace would be so slow that I would get stressed and not enjoy t he race.

The rain fortunately had stopped but it was still chilly. But actually perfect running temps if you dressed appropriately.  I think I did. But I spent the first part of the first mile, rearranging things in my pockets. I had two in my vest and two in the skirt and I kept switching things until I was comfortable.  Karen who started after me, quickly passed me by.  I was not surprised as she has been running fairly fast paces lately.

It was weird looking down at my watch and remembering that I could not tell my pace.  I did get used to it after a while but every now and then, I’d look out of habit.

Normally in a half marathon, I would run and walk only at the water stops which used to be every 2 miles and every mile toward the end.  Here the first water stop was not until around mile 3. I doubted that I could wait until then to walk (and I was right,)

The 5k race started after the half and it wasn’t long before the speedsters were passing me by.  I was glad to get past their turn around point.

I tried to start out slowly but probably it was not slow enough.  Around mile 2, it already started to get hard…hills.  Not as bad as they would get later. Now they were just rolling ones.

I was not familiar with this course at all but obviously since we were running on roads, there were cars. You were supposed to run on the shoulder but it was slanted and I found it awkward. So I ran toward the middle of the road until a car came by.  I was more comfortable that way. But the negative was not running the tangents. 😦

Miles 3- 6.2:

I stopped at the first water stop and a volunteer filled up my paper cup.  Best idea ever.  I used that same cup the whole race. I wasn’t hungry yet so I waited a mile to eat my GU.

Around mile 4, we passed by Indian Ladder Farms and the smell of fresh cider donuts filled the air. But the wind took my mind off of it.  It became insanely windy for the next 1.5 miles.  Of course, we were running into that wind until the next turn. Ugh!

The rolling hills continued.  As expected, my foot was hurting. But it is what it is.  I taped it but that tape seemed to be starting to cause a blister. Oy!

The hills ceased to roll and started to become steep hills.  Those type of hills where it was even hard to walk up them.  But walk I did and trying to pick up the pace on the downhill.

Miles 6.2-8.75

Every now and then I would glance at my watch. Though I had no idea what my pace was, I could tell approximately how long I had been running.  My pace was by no means fast but considering all the walking, it was not as bad as I feared.

The second water stop was around the 10k point and again, I had my paper cup filled.

The big hills seems to more frequent the second half of the race.

The leader of the full marathon passed me around mile 7 and he was flying. (He finished the around 2:30!!)

Around mile 8, I ate another GU.  I never really felt hungry during the race but knew I should fuel.

Miles 8.75 – 11.1

It think there was another water stop around mile 8.75. I’m sure that I stopped and refilled my cup.

The race continued the same way.  My blister was starting to get painful but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I focused on the scenery which was very pretty…farms, mountain views, etc.

The course marshals were very enthusiastic. I knew many of them.  There were some families camped out in their driveways.  But for the most part, we were running on the roads in the country… no place for spectators.

At one point during this stretch, a runner starting talking to me.  He and I were both struggling with the hills.  This was his first race since he ran a marathon like 15 years ago. I tried to encourage him and then ran ahead.

I guess I was running in the middle of the road lol

the guy I was chatting with is in blue walking up this hill

Miles 11.1-13.3

More hills. They never seemed to end.  And one last water stop.  I just wanted to finish so I skipped it. I never ate my last GU either.

I finally saw my friend Jenn who was volunteering at mile 12.

Mile 13 seemed like a full marathon.  The wind picked up.  My legs just died. To make matters worse, there was one hill after another.  I walked most of this mile so that I could sprint across the finish line and not embarrass myself.

And like that I was done.  Of course, the clock showed the finish time for those who started at 8:30 am. I had no idea how I did until I looked on the website (There was live tracking).

 

I immediately got my food – a boxed lunch.

I brought that chocolate milk with me. My favorite post race beverage.

But it was too cold to hang out. I immediately headed to my car while chatting with some of the runners that I knew.

Additional Race Reflections:

It seems that my recap above was a bunch of complaints.  But on the whole, the race was a really good experience. I have zero regrets in running it.

In fact, my time was a lot better than I expected.  It gives me hope that I could improve upon it on a flatter course.

No AG awards but I would have been 4th (see below)

The Good:

  • A Live Race!!!
  • Connecting with local runners.
  • Felt safe with the provided restrictions.
  • Decent post race food. (box lunch of pre-ordered sandwich, apple, brownie)
  • Well organized.
  • Lots of pre-race information
  • Easy packet pick up
  • Ample parking
  • Enthusiastic volunteers (even with the cold weather)
  • Live tracking for others to follow runners and runners to get immediate results
  • Free photos (more coming)
  • A live race!!!

The Bad:

  • Hilly Course.
  • Cold, windy weather.
  • No water provided (unless you carried your own bottle).
  • Many restrictions (though necessary due to Covid-19).
  • No Age Group awards
  • Most of my running friends did not participate.
  • Not trained for hills or racing (my fault).
  • My sore foot (expected) & blister.

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really

Would I recommend this race?

Sure.  But I prefer the real (downhill) course and to have it scheduled in April

April 2019 (11 minutes faster)

and the Stockade-athon 15k to be held as usual this weekend.

Nov. 2019

Next Up:

Hopefully in February, I will run a half marathon in Florida.

Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon

Final Thoughts:

2020 has been a crazy year.  Six virtual half marathons.  Not how I planned it.  Nor would I ever race a half marathon not thinking about my finish time (and not even timing it!!)

With all the pandemic restrictions, it was not the race that I would have planned to run but I did it.

Now I am really anxious to run a one without any annoying restrictions!!

In the sunshine…no hills 🙂


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

with co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running.

Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.

 

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Virtual Smuttynose Half Marathon Race Recap

The Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon & 5k

It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. As with all my big races, I impulsively sign up way in advance (and then often regret it LOL).

So I signed up for the Smuttynose Half Marathon (long ago before the Pandemic) for several reasons:

  • My running friends decided to make this part of a group vacation in NH.
  • It was a flat course.
  • It was scenic. Ocean views.
  • There was great post race food. Beer and Lobster Rolls.
  • Nice swag.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. For 2020, I had the ambitious goal of running 12 Half Marathons – one each month.

During my first two 2020 Half Marathons in January and February, I experienced a lot of foot pain. I ran them but truthfully, it was not fun at the time (except for the fact that I was in NYC and then Bermuda.)

And then the March NYC Half Marathon was cancelled due to the pandemic so I ran that for fun with two friends.

The pandemic continued. Races were being postponed until Fall one by one.  I ran the April Helderberg to Hudson and May Steel Rail Half Marathons “virtually” and by myself. Again no fun!!

No more half marathons during June, July, August and September. (I deferred my August half to 2021 and got refunds for both September half marathons when they went virtual.)

Eventually this half marathon as expected went virtual also but with NO refund or deferral option.

So I guess I was running one more virtual half marathon….

The difference in the training cycle for this race was that I ran at least TEN miles every weekend.  For all four months. Sometimes I even ran 11, 12 or 13 miles (until the last two weekends before the race when recovering from an inflamed SI joint. I only ran 8 and 9 miles)

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

The group decided since we had already rented a house that we would go anyway.

We left in the rain on Friday and took the scenic route to NH stopping in MA for a delicious lunch.

Once we arrived at our AirBnB in Hampton Beach, the rain had stopped.  After we got settled in (and the house was amazing), we drove our planned route and staked out the turn around (mile 6.75) and water stop locations (mile 2.75 and mile 9).

Then after sitting in a car all day, we decided on a dusk walk on the beach (with added shenanigans) before ordering in pizza for dinner. (The pizza was a little too greasy for my tastes and too many sweets were consumed but hey it wasn’t a serious carb load meal in my book).

The advantage of this race was that we could pick the day, the start time and the course.

Some of the group did not plan to run the 13.1 miles but walk it. I was fortunate to have some company for the virtual 13.1 miles.

My plan was to run on the other runners’ plan.  It would be intervals. It would be slow but we would enjoy it.  My first enjoyable half marathon of 2020!!

So I planned my outfit (sorry no #flatme) and tried to get a decent night’s sleep.

Race Day:

Although the original race was scheduled for Sunday, we decided to run it on Saturday instead.

I ate my usual breakfast – oatmeal and coffee.  Due to the dinner the night before, my stomach immediately felt off (and continued that way until after dinner…ugh)

We drove to the race start for a modified version of the real course (and we had driven the day before).  It was basically the same but without all the twists and turns.  We would just run straight along the water longer.  This way, hopefully, no one would get lost and we would not lose anyone who was walking. And it would be easier for Chris (our non-running “sherpa” to follow, cheer us on and stop at the planned stops)

Not too much exciting stats to report.  I did not wear a watch. I depended on the others to tell me when to turn around and when to run and when to walk.

Anyway, here’s how it went:

Miles 1-3:

pre-race pic

The two who were walking started first.  They were about a mile ahead of us runners.  I didn’t know at the time but they were walking at a pace fast enough to BEAT the runners! And they were focused on that the whole race.

and we were off..

The runners had decided to do 45:30 intervals the whole way.  Of course, there would be as many photos stops as needed.  The goal was to finish and have fun.

yes, I was the one taking the pics

The course couldn’t have been more scenic.  We ran along the boardwalk or sidewalks for the most part.  The ocean was in view the whole way.

At every beach, there were open bathrooms if needed.

Miles 3- 6.75:

The weather was absolutely perfect for a race (sunny and 50’s)  Too bad it wasn’t a real one.  But it was so relaxing not to worry about finish time and pace.

totally enjoying myself but this was early on. lol

At our first water stop, we shed our layers.

At one point, we lost the boardwalk and had to run along the road.   It seemed so short in our drive the day before but of course, longer today.

It was mostly flat except for one hill (as seen in the pic above).

The mansions along the water were breathtaking.

The route was so scenic that I took umpteen pics (I won’t post them all, I promise).  But when you walk every 45 seconds, it’s easy to take pics.

Miles 6.75-13.1

It may have seemed like forever but finally we arrived at our second water stop and we turned around. I should mention that I thought we would catch the walkers.  But who knew they would be walking at a 15:xx pace because they were intent on beating us.

The way back was the same as the way there. The same views.  Warmer temps but a nice breeze.

I was secretly glad that this wasn’t a real race because I felt nauseous the whole time.  I felt worse when we were walking so on the way back, I ran ahead often.

Then I would wait until the others caught up.

There was one more water stop before we hit the finish line (of toilet paper).

I wasn’t sure when that was since I wasn’t wearing a watch so I stopped and waited for someone to catch up.

Eventually, we stopped at 13.1 miles!!!

No finish line???

Nope, we misjudged the distance (in the car) so we walked until we saw the walkers (who had joyously beat us). The we each sprinted across the “finish.”

So fun. I’ve never had that much fun in a race.

Immediately we took off our shoes and ran into the ocean.

Yikes.  COLD!!!!

Following the our ocean dip, we headed to refuel at a nearby restaurant.  Lobster Rolls & Beer or whatever. We thought we should send our lunch bill to the Race Director. LOL

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • The weather
  • Flexible start time
  • Flat course
  • Scenic (ocean view)
  • Not crowded with other runners
  • No clock, no pressure.
  • Running with friends
  • Open real bathrooms
  • Our own support vehicle
  • Swag (when they ship it to me)

we bought our own matching race shirts

The Bad:

  • No Mile Markers
  • No crowd support
  • No clock at the finish line
  • No Deferral or Refund Option for this race
  • Lower cost for the virtual option than the real race BUT the same swag ($39 vs $90)
  • Not a real race hence no post-race refreshments (beer and lobster rolls) or entertainment or race photos, etc.
  • Generic Swag rather than original awesome swag

does not say Smuttynose nor NH nor half marathon, etc

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. But the real thing would have been a lot more exciting, I’m sure.

Next Up:

On a whim, I signed up for this Pandemic local Half Marathon:

very hilly, staggered starts, must carry your own water…why did I sign up??

Hopefully in February I will run this one in Florida.

Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon

Final Thoughts:

2020 has been a crazy year.  Five virtual half marathons.  Not how I planned it.  Nor would I ever imagine ditching my Garmin and not thinking about my finish time during a half marathon.  I did not record my time for any of these “races.” Good or bad?  I haven’t decided.  Time will tell.


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Have you been training for a big race? Are you running it as a virtual race?  Have you done any Virtual Races?  If so, how did they go? Please share.

 

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Virtual Steel Rail Half Marathon Race Recap

Image may contain: night and text

MAY 17, 2020

It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. As with all my big races, I impulsively sign up way in advance (and then often regret it LOL).

So I signed up for Steel Rail Half Marathon as my 44rd Half Marathon (and 5th of 2020) for several reasons:

(Note: 2 have already been run virtually.)

  • It is a flat course.
  • It is scenic.
  • I am familiar with the course.  I ran it in 2017 and 2016.
  • It is currently my half marathon PR!!
  • It is close after my previous half (4 weeks) so I would be sorta already trained for it.
  • It is near enough so I can sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • There is great post race food.
  • Nice swag.

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon on April 19 (a virtual version of the Helderberg to Hudson Half that was postponed.) It was awful!!

😦 😦 😦

During my first two 2020 Half Marathons in January and February, I experienced a lot of foot pain. I ran them but truthfully, it was not fun at the time.

And then the NYC Half Marathon was cancelled so I ran that for fun with two friends.

And then this half marathon was postponed until October!!!

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t already signed up for the Smuttynose Half Marathon as part of a race-cation with 8 friends!! That race takes place the weekend before.

I really had a tough time deciding what to do.  I really wanted to run this race but I was not sure if it would be a good idea to run half marathons two weeks in a row.

I had to decide in advance to run it in October or do the race virtually in May.  No refund or deferral option.  The silver lining was that if you ran the distance in May, you would still get the swag (shirt, medal, pint glass.)

So another virtual half marathon….

I did my long runs on the weekends…and my weekdays runs as well. I ran alone due the “social distancing” requirement.

I admit that my runs were not as enjoyable as when I could do them with my friends. Slow and easy with tons of walking (and photo stops.)

So again my goal for this “race” was just finishing and not injuring any part of my body!! But I also hoped that this race would go better than the last one.  I don’t care about speed but I wanted to feel good while running it and not just drag myself through it.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

Well, since this was a local race and work days were at my home, there was not much movement the days before.  In fact, I did not run Thursday or Friday.

As I normally do before a big race,  I ate pizza for dinner the night before.

Then in addition to what to wear, there was the decision of where to run. The race organizer published a virtual course for this race but it looked too confusing.

2020 Steel Rail Half Marathon Race Route

I did want to run on the Ashuwillticook Rail trail (in Mass.) so maybe I run the 8k there in October.

But instead I chose the Corning Smith Bike Path since it was pretty flat and long enough to get in the 13.1 miles.

Race Day:

I ate my usual breakfast – oatmeal and coffee. Last Saturday it snowed and today it almost 60 degrees when I got up.

Hooray for my first race in a tank top.

wearing my Skirt Sports tank so I could count this run for their Virtual Strong 5k

My plan was to take it slow. Run and when I felt like it, walk.  As much as I hate to admit it, my feet have been hurting.

Anyway, here’s how it went:

Miles 1-4.5:

The Corning Bike Path is very familiar since I run there fairly often. I started around 9 am and there were only a few bikers (who passed me wearing masks) on the path but that was about it. No runners at all.

Here are a few pics of the scenery that I took while I was running/walking:

I started at the boat launch along the Hudson River

there was a highway along my left (you can drown out the traffic noise with headphones) and the river always in view on the right

you can see how empty the path was

at times, the the trees even block the highway from view

you pass under various highway overpasses too

very pretty when the trees are in bloom

The weather was perfect and the route so pretty with the trees and views of the Hudson River. It would have even more enjoyable if it weren’t for my damn painful feet.  But it is what it is (neuroma on the ball of one foot and bunion on the other).

I was planning to turn around at the end of the bike path and then continue back in the opposite direction (past my start) until I reached 13.1 miles.

But I was afraid that when I reached my car, I would be tempted to quit so I just plodded on into town.

What about fuel and water?? I do not carry water and I was ok.  I had carried energy gels and Honey Stinger chews.  I did not eat any of the gels and munched on the chews while I was walking. (That was new since I am a gel person but I wanted to save the gels for a real race..)

Miles 4.5-8.5:

This was definitely not a scenic part of the run. Old apartments on one side and the highway on the other.

I dragged myself 2 miles and then turned around to return to the bike path.

no one outside so very quiet.

noisy highway on the right – ran in the road (cuz I hate sidewalks) but there was very little traffic

I get it but are we safe to yet?

not a #518rainbow…it’s from a paint store

Miles 8.5-13.1

The last part of my virtual race was the same as the beginning.

finally heading back onto the bike path

There were, however, now more people on the trail. But everyone was respectful. Walkers and bikers were wearing masks. I moved over as runners passed me by.  I always felt safe.

At one point, I bumped into a former student. We chatted and then went in different directions.

a social distancing selfie

This run was hard. It was painful. But I did it and earned my medal!

So five half marathons so far for 2020. Three virtual ones. I was planning on running a half marathon every month. That was before my foot neuroma and now the pandemic. So I think I’m done. Best laid plans lol

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • The weather
  • Flexible start time
  • Slept in my own bed the night before
  • Flat course
  • Scenic for 9 out of 13 miles
  • Not crowed with other runners
  • No clock, no pressure.
  • Great Swag (when they ship it to me)

The Bad:

  • No water stops
  • No crowd support
  • Running alone
  • No mojo to run fast
  • My achy feet

The Ugly:

  • Everything listed in Bad

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. But the real thing would have been a lot more fun. Or if I could have run it with friends.

Next Up:

Not sure.  I think I’ll skip June and July.

Hopefully I’ll be back to a real half marathon in August.

The Good News | My First 5K and More...


Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).


I’m also linking up here:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Have you been training for a big race? Are you running it as a virtual race?  Have you done any Virtual Races?  If so, how did they go? Please share.

 

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United Half Marathon VIRTUAL Half Marathon Race Recap

Image result for united new york half marathon 2020

March 15, 2020

It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever.  I got a guaranteed entry last April based on my finish time at the Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon (2:11:15).

66 so that was helpful as you can see. May get to run it again when I turn 70.

I was hoping to run the race when the course was only through Manhattan. (As of last year, it starts in Brooklyn.) And I had entered the lottery several times in the past but never got in.

So I signed up for the NYC Half Marathon as my 42nd Half Marathon for several reasons:

  • I got a guaranteed entry.
  • I love NYC.
  • I had enough pts for a free hotel room.
  • I ran it last year while recovering from a calf injury and wanted a do over.
  • I had friends running it.
  • They kept last year’s course which got rid of most of the Central Park hills at the end.
  • It’s such a prestigious race. How could you not?

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan.  I ran my last half marathon on February 16 in Bermuda with LOTS of foot pain.

happy to have survived the pain!!

I skipped or shortened runs and sought the help of PT who used CBD oil, massage, ART, heat ultrasound, laser therapy and every trick in the book. No relief!

My PT recommended that I see another podiatrist who gave me a B12/cortisone shot and a metatarsal pad.

Pain GONE! (mostly)

Do I wish I had gone sooner to her? Or was it not the shot but a combination of all of the treatments?? Who knows?

Though I don’t usually care much about my short runs, I do like to get in a 10, 11 and 12 miler before each half marathon.

For this race, I obviously did not. A few short runs each week and a longish one.  All with some foot discomfort (until recently).

Yes, I was nervous that I was not prepared for run 13.1 miles and I was nervous about my foot pain returning.

So the goal for this half marathon was finishing!! If my foot started to bother me, I would just grit my feet and finish.  It’s a BIG race, There would be many runners finishing behind me.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

And then it happened. As you know, the RACE WAS CANCELLED!!

Over 25,000 disappointed runners.

I ran it last year. I felt so fortunate.

running down Times Square was truly amazing!!

But I was still bummed.

You had the choice of a refund or deferring to next year with no refund for this year and having to pay again for the race. I opted for the refund.

Most runners will not get their shirt or medal because of some greedy persons (who took extras and are selling them on eBay) but I had a friend in NYC who grabbed mine.

So the race was not happening, but I felt guilty about getting the medal and shirt and I wanted to run the race anyway.

I contacted my friends and two agreed to run 13.1 miles with me.

We decided on our normal long run day which is Saturday and planned to meet at 8:00 at the Nisky Bike Path.

running at Nisky Bike Path (on a warmer day)

I worked all day (standing) the day before but relaxed at mah jongg after my usual pre-race dinner of pizza.

Race Day:

I got up early and had my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.

I checked the weather it looked to be in the 30s and heading up to 40 and a little windy. I didn’t have to worry about bag check and could just leave extra clothes in my car.

Our plan was to run 4 miles in one direction and turn around, make a stop at our cars for water or to remove layers.

As you see, I tried to incorporate some NYC in my outfit: last year’s half shirt, LeBow hat and NYC calf sleeves.

Sherry and I run about the same pace but Stan runs considerably faster. He was nice enough to slow down. I insisted on walking every 2 miles to simulate a water stop (and to catch my breath.)

The course we chose is fairly flat. It was actually warm running with the wind at our backs but then a little chilly running into the wind (but not bad as the trees protected you on this path,)

At the 4 mile turn around, I ate a gel and then had water at our mile 8 stop. I changed to lighter gloves, from my Hokas to my Mizunos, and almost shred my vest. Stan changed hats.

Then we continued in the other direction.

I was getting tired and struggled to keep up. But it certainly helps to have someone to talk to the whole way and we stuck together.

Again we walked every 2 miles and I had my second gel at mile 10.5, our second turn around.

Then we headed back to the car.

We bumped into another friend Chris who was running as she headed back with a cowbell to cheer us on.

And we finished…13.1 done!!

So no crowd support or bridges or parks or Times Square but we did it.  Thanks to Sherry and Stan! I earned that medal and this:

Additional Race Reflections:

We finished at 2:31:39. Our average pace was 11:34. It felt faster but then we walked slowly and for longer than necessary and we chatted a lot. No regrets on that pace.

I am unbelievably happy to have run without that awful left foot pain.

But yes again the bunion on my other foot hurt while wearing the Hokas. (I’m returning them.)

I may go back to my Mizuno Wave Inspires or try something else.

Yes, I am sad that I could not run the real United NYC Half Marathon.

Maybe when I am 70, I’ll be able to run it again.

The Good:

  • The weather
  • flat course
  • friends to run with
  • slept in my own bed the night before
  • view of Mohawk river
  • great post race meal

The Bad:

  • tired legs
  • no water stops
  • no crowd support
  • bunion pain

The Ugly:

  • Nothing 🙂

Would I recommend this race?

Sure but only if you cannot run the real thing!!!

Final Stats:

Next Up:

A local race. The second year for this race. A downhill course. Lots of running friends. Should be fun… IF IT IS NOT CANCELLED!!

Image result for helderberg to hudson half marathon

Update: it was postponed until August 29, 2020


There is now a link-up organized by Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with these ladies.


I’m linking up also with this link-up:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Was anyone else planning to run this race? If so, did you run it virtually?  Would you run it virtually, if your race were cancelled? Please share.

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ZOOMA Bermuda Challenge Recap

Image result for zooma bermuda

It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever (since last spring, I believe).

So this year, I did run the ZOOMA Bermuda Half Marathon as my 41th Half Marathon for these reasons:

  • A warmer weather race-cation opportunity
  • Cari agreed to do it and and be my roommate.
  • I had enough frequent flyer miles for a free flight.
  • Only 1 1/2 hour flight from JFK.
  • It was held on Presidents Day weekend (one less day to take off from work)
  • I found out that fellow bloggers Erika and Marcia were also running it. And I’ve never met Erika.
  • It was advertised as a scenic course with ocean views.
  • An all women race… who can argue with that?
  • I’ve never been to Bermuda.
  • Two races = 3 medals (BLING!)

Half Marathon Training:

If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan.  I ran my last half marathon several weeks before in NYC…with foot pain.  The foot pain continued and I considered downgrading to the 10k.  But I am stubborn and decided to tough it out. (I mean I just ran a HILLY half in NYC in the freezing cold…)

As with all my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3 miles. However, I do try to do longer runs on the weekend.

So after 13.1 miles on January 19, I did manage to complete 11 mile and 9 mile training runs. I skipped the 12 miler in favor of a 4 mile race + 5 more miles after.

The goal for this half marathon was finishing!! Not to race it, not to get injured and not to make my foot pain worse!!!

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

Although the half marathon was scheduled for Sunday morning, Cari and I arrived (with no flight drama) late Wednesday night.

We had planned to stretch the legs and get used to the hills and humidity on Thursday morning. But instead we mostly walked the beach, the hilly railway trail and climbed to the top of a light house. Not much running but lots of steps!

The rest of the day was spent reading and relaxing at the hotel pool

and exploring Royal Naval Dockyard in the evening.

On Friday, both Cari and I got itchy to run. Finding a non-hilly route was a challenge. We tried the golf course. NOPE! And then we finally settled for looping the hotel.

Thanks to a ZOOMA Bermuda FB group, we able to communicate with many of the runners who shared their plans and ideas for their stay on the island. We decided to take a ferry after our run and spend Valentine’s Day touring Hamilton.

We returned in time for the first race event – the Welcome Party (at our hotel):

  • Pick up your race bib plus your welcome gifts!
  • Attend the course talk with ZOOMA race staff
  • Drinks, music and appetizers courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority

We met some familiar faces and lots of new ones.  Sara, the ZOOMA Race Series Owner, gave us tips on running the race. She warned us about the hills and the narrow winding roads and reminded us to run with traffic on the LEFT side of the road. (Yes, this is a British island.)

We also met the pacers for the race (many of whom were on our flight.) They made sure to chat with every runner in order to help them finish at their desired pace. (My pace = ????)

Unfortunately our beautiful Bermuda weather ended.  We woke up to wind, rain and chilly temps on Saturday. But it didn’t really matter because we had the OFFICIAL GROUP EXCURSION scheduled:

  • Round trip transportation from hotel to Crystal Caves + Swizzle Inn
  • Entry to both of the Crystal Caves
  • Lunch reservation at Swizzle Inn

Both Crystal and Fantasy Caves were breathtaking and our lunch delish.

After our trip to the caves, we hung out in the hotel and relaxed before getting ready for the Lighthouse Run.

The 2 mile course got changed to 1.5 miles and the rain and wind lessened as we walked up to the Lighthouse start but then re-started with a vengeance.

The race started at Gibb’s Lighthouse and ended at Horseshoe Beach.

Brr!!!

With a half marathon the next day, we decided to walk the race. And we got soaked.

running in the rain is better with friends

Still we had fun.

took off my poncho to sprint through the finish line…followed by Cari & Marcia (and a few others)

We ate some popcorn but didn’t stay too long at the beach (even though there were FREE drinks.)

We’re done!!!

1.5 miles. PR since I have never done this distance LOL (FYI: Barbara is from NYC and a Skirt Sports ambassador)

After the race, we took the shuttle back to the hotel from the beach, changed our clothes and had dinner in the hotel – Pizza for me, as usual. Carb loading complete!

first medal of the weekend!

I organized my usual race outfit (tank, skirt, compression calf sleeves, cap) and went to bed around 10 pm.

Race Day:

I brought my oatmeal and coffee from home with me and got up around 4:30 am to get ready and have breakfast in my hotel room..

It was NOT raining…hooray but still dark and a little chilly.  I put on some throw aways and packed a bag for after and headed to the shuttle.

The shuttle left promptly at 6 am and we arrived in Hamilton at 6:30…still an hour to wander, take pics use port-a-potties.

foil sheet and throw away shirt did not last long.

I checked a bag with those throw aways, a down jacket and flip flops)

Before we knew it, it was time to walk UP to the start.

It was a small race (110 or so) so no corrals. The Half Marathoners lined up first so we had to say good bye to Marcia.

DIY arm warmers did not last either

As I mentioned, we had met all of the pacers at the Welcome Party. Now was the time to confirm whom we wanted to run with and line up with them.

so supportive and helpful…more like friends than pacers

I initially thought about running with the 2:15 pacers but as I told them, I was not running for pace and would most likely finish around 2:30.

I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)

My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop.  I planned to walk whenever necessary and NOT RACE it.

Here is a very cool interactive map: https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1004724

scenic, right?

not flat!!

Anyway, here’s how the race went:

Miles 1-4:

10:01, 10:01, 9:59, 9:54

As always, I felt more energetic during the beginning miles. I started running with the 2:15 pacers. Unfortunately, my foot hurt from the first step to the last.  I was disappointed but prepared for the pain.

Because I knew that I would slow down, I was actually (as you can see from the photo) ahead of the pacers.

smiling (not sure why) and ahead of the 2:15 pacers

There were hills from beginning to end.  No road is flat on this island.  No road is straight.  Curve after curve…blind curves but we ran single file and with traffic. It was a little scary at times but the drivers were very courteous and moved over for all runners.

still ahead…

I stopped at each water stop as planned. I drank my water quickly because I did not want to litter on this beautiful island.

From mile 2 to 3, I think, it was starting to drizzle and then the rain got harder and harder. I was thinking that it would be a repeat of the night before but I wasn’t prepared for the rain. There was NO rain in the forecast.

Luckily it stopped.  I was soaked which turned out to be a blessing. The sun came out, the humidity rose and the air got warmer and heavier.

And wet socks = blisters (I got a big one that didn’t hurt and a small one that did.)

Miles 5-8:

10:58, 10:17, 10:22, 11:14

The biggest hill was at mile 4. I walked/ran up all the hills (which I guess was the whole race lol).  I finally ate my first one of the three gels. I followed what worked in my last half and full. Different brand of gel for each stop. (Honey stinger, e-gel, Gu)

they’re gaining on me lol

and the pacer passes me

I did smile every time I saw a photographer…even if I was running in pain.

I’m sure I’ve lost them by now

Foot pain continued but I focused on the course which was breath-taking. I lost the 2:15 pacer which was to be expected.

However, my other foot started to hurt (It has in the past = bunion!)

Miles 9-13.23:

11:03, 11:40, 11:42, 12:19, 11:30, (.23 -11:00)

I continued the same pattern except that my hill walking got longer and longer.  I started to feel the humidity and almost wished that it would rain again.

My calves started cramping. This has NEVER happened to me before. Very painful!!

I could NOT sprint across the finish line.

I crossed at 2:23:21. (2:23:16 -Garmin time)

I was immediately handed water and two big medals and luggage tag.

I grabbed a needed drink (or two).

Dark n Stormy = my new favorite drink

Then headed to get some food to go along with my drink(s). Then off to bag check to retrieve my flip flops for my poor feet. (Down jacket?? What was I thinking??)

there were also tuna & egg salad sandwiches

They gave out age group awards but only to FIRST place in 10 year groups.

8 out of 9 – no chance even if I was not hurting

I met up with Marcia and then Cari. Everyone was happy with how the race turned out. Kudos to ZOOMA (and the ONPace runners!!)

We had planned on heading right back to the hotel (on the shuttle) but they encouraged us to stay for the Gombay dancers.

Then we chatted with RD, Erika. and watched the Pacers and last runner finish.

first time meeting a blogger that I have followed for years

Of course, no race would be complete without goofy beach/medal pictures.

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • Half Zip, Tank, Bag and map mailed to runners ahead of time.
  • Excellent communication about every aspect of the race before, during and after the race.
  • Transportation and excursions organized by ZOOMA
  • Easy packet pick-up at the hotel.
  • Welcome gifts. Luggage tags & makings for a Dark & Stormy drink, key chain.
  • Welcome party with appetizers and opportunity to meet the other runners and pacers.
  • Shuttle to and from the start
  • Sufficient number of port-a-potties at start/finish and along the course
  • Sufficient number of water/Gatorade stops (7) – 1 had Gels (I think) but I missed it.
  • Bag Check. Easy drop off and pick up.
  • Well marked course – mile markers and police directing traffic.
  • Free Massages at the finish.
  • Pacers. Great group. Personal attention given to each runner.
  • Planks given as awards.
  • Very cool medal(s) (and luggage tag).
  • Soup, sandwiches, popcorn, bars, fruit at the finish.
  • Gombay Dancers entertaining at the finish.
  • Lots of photographers on the course (ZOOMA and Professional)
  • FREE photos. Many many of each runner. In the FB group and on results page of web site.
  • Open bar…unlimited drinks at the finish.
  • Great weather. (except for the 1.5 mile run and one mile of the half/10k)
  • Beautiful course. Water views throughout.
  • All women’s race.
  • Friendly staff, participants, volunteers, residents.
  • Discounts for many Bermuda Activities (Dolphin Excursion, Caves, etc.)

The Bad:

  • 10 Year age groups and award given to First Place only.
  • Hills and winding roads with no shoulders and blind curves (but that is Bermuda).
  • Running with traffic (but there was no other way to have it.)
  • Rain/wind during the Lighthouse Race (but can’t change the weather.)

The Ugly:

  • Nothing 🙂

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

It was super well-organized. Special attention was paid to EVERY detail.  The course was scenic. Bermuda is beautiful.

I am now considering other ZOOMA races because of my experience at this race.

Final Stats:

I am so proud that my body could run. Yup. pain is temporary. I quickly forgot the next day how much it hurt.

My finish time was 3 minutes faster than than my previous foot pain half in NYC (so a foot pain HM PR lol).

Racing with friends is the best way to race.

Next Up:

NYC Half Marathon…my 2nd time running this race. Going for a foot pain PR!!

Image result for nyc half 2020

March 15, 2020


There is a link-up organized by Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner).

Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.


I’m linking up also with this new link-up:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Have you ever been to Bermuda? Ever run a ZOOMA race? Please share.

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