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.)
Fred Lebow Half
ZOOMA Bermuda Half
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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
- 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
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. But the real thing would have been a lot more exciting, I’m sure.
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.
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.