First off, my bib number was also the number of my placement in the race, with my net time.  How weird is that? And when do you think that will ever happen again?  I finished faster than  the last half-marathon I did, in Maine, and this was definitely a hillier course, with a killer hill during the last half mile or so, and another at the very end, which was shorter but pretty steep.  So it was 2:18:41, a good 2.5 to 3 minutes faster than before. 

My goal next year is to do at least 2:13 if not faster.  Oh, and I need to learn to run the tangents more – I ended up running 13.24 miles, not 13.1. That brought down my per minute pace to 10:28.   

In case you are wondering, Lis, my running partner and friend since this summer, didn’t run today. She decided yesterday to hold up the white towel and submit.  She knew that if she started with the walkers, she just wouldn’t be able to stop herself from running and at this point, she really wants to get rid of her injuries. I think that she did the smart thing honestly, but I also know she would have just loved that course today.

I earned the nickname of “chucklehead” this morning. Even though Bill and I got to the Portsmouth High School (site of the start and finish of the race) about 8:05/8:10, I still found myself having to find the bathroom twice before it started! So as they were playing the National Anthem, where do you think I was?  Yep, running toward the start line!  So that really meant running up a hill.  I literally started behind the back of the pack, but that’s ok, I had a chip on, so my race would start when I hit the mats. Luckily they had much wider mats than they did at the Tufts 10K – literally, you had to take two or three steps on each one.

So anyway, this course was pretty beautiful, as some of the pics that Bill took below illustrate. You ran from Porsmouth into Rye, NH, and then back into Portsmouth. Rye is where those beach images are taken from.

I saw Bill four times throughout the race – first when he drove right next to me (they didn’t close the roads, really) and said “hey, do you want a ride?!” and then again at about 3.38 miles, when he had pulled over.   Luckily for him, I was not too sweaty yet when I ran up and gave him a kiss! I saw him again at about mile 5.8, and then he had a hard time trying to find me again, finding a place to park, finding his way back to the course.  I did see him right before the finish line though!

They had competitions amongst the 5 water stops (the third one had GUs) which the runners were to vote on.   Each of them was manned by a different non-profit.  The winning water stop would get $500 for their organization. In my mind, number 3 won easily.  They were well-staffed, had the extra responsibility of GUs on top of water and gatorade, and were great at energizing runners. A whole bunch of them – at least 12-15 of them stood in a line before the water area, and slapped hands with every runner that ran by them.  The folks at water stop 2 and 4 (or was it 5?), I think they just didn’t have enough staff or they didn’t expect so many of us to descend upon them at one time.  I felt bad for them; it was clear that they also felt bad in not being able to keep up with demand. At the second stop, I literally had to stop and wait for them to pour the water.  Oh well, if that’s the worst thing that happens to me in my life, I’m pretty blessed.  It’s not like I was racing to win or anything.

Today was one of those days I just felt good. When I saw the 3 mile point, I couldn’t believe I’d already gone that far. Mile 6 felt pretty awesome too. The only time I felt tired was around 8.98-9.09, and that’s when I did one of those GU Roctanes, pictured below. They really do pack an extra kick of something amazing.  In fact, at mile 10, I was like, “we only have a 5K left, alright!!”

I am happy that they didn’t enforce the headphone rule as strictly as I feared they would.  I did run the first few miles without them, and then I realized I had seen a few people running with them.  I asked one girl if anyone had said anything to her, and she said, nope, but tons of people had buzzed by her wearing them. She said she didn’t think she could have gotten as far as she did without them. So I did take mine out when I took off my windbreaker, and then just shoved them down my shirt occasionally, and did take them off during the last mile as well. Bill told me I was not the only one who did.  But, you know, the first two miles without them were alright – there were lots of people around me and that’s what I concentrated on.

Part of this course was an out-and-back and part of it was a loop. The good thing about the first part was that we got to see the leaders who at this point were way ahead of us!  Unfortunately, the out-and-back/loop also meant we had to cross over one of those open-grate bridges, not once, but twice. That I could have done without as it scared the crap out of me.  It was pretty windy and of course all that wind came up from below.  You basically had to walk or run very flat-footed. I am just grateful that it was not raining as it would have caused probably large human-pileups every time we crossed them!

Things I thought about today – Lisa’s advice before my full marathon last month, to be sure to talk to people you never met before, and also to thank the volunteers.  I also thought a lot about one of Kara’s recent posts, on gratitude.  I felt, I think the word is, blessed, at being able to do something I love so much.   For being healthy enough to do it, for being able to afford to do it (because buying all these running clothes, paying entry fees, and traveling to races is certainly not cheap), for having a husband willing to go on all these weekend escapades to watch me run, even if it’s only for a few seconds at a time.  That is what I am grateful for today.

It’s pretty amazing but they already have some photos up on the race website from earlier today. The individual ones will likely be up later this week, is my guess.

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes on the race, and as always, run happy. I’m going to take tomorrow morning off from running, I have a physical therapy appointment!