Well, one down, and one to go!
My mom and I survived the first half marathon in our crazy 2 half marathons- in-2-weeks quest!! I really shouldn’t even use the word “survive” – that conjures up images of us weakly crawling across the finish on our hands and knees – we actually thrived, with both of us shaving 3 minutes off our best times for new PRs! But I don’t wanna skip ahead of myself, so I’ll go back to the beginning – 3 am when our alarms went off.
It was brutal getting up at that hour, but luckily my mom and I were pretty organized, and had packed everything we were going to need (GU’s, race belts, sunscreen) the night before, so we just had to get dressed and get some coffee in our systems before hitting the road.
Don’t mistake my crazy expression in this photo – that’s not energy, it’s a lack-of-sleep induced delirium. I do have to say though, driving at 4 in the morning has its benefits! The roads were completely deserted!
We made great time, and ended up arriving at Iron Horse Boulevard in an hour and 50 minutes, giving us plenty of time to pick up our race numbers and shirts (which are GORGEOUS by the way – definitely one of my favorite designs ever!).
While we were hanging out, waiting for the races to begin, we ended up chatting a little with the ladies of Willow Workout. They’ve designed this neat looking tool to use for resistance training and stretching.
I tried to use it to stretch my legs a little, but almost fell over (not being the most flexible person in the world!). The wooden limbs are designed to bend when you push on them, allowing you to get in some resistance training without going to the gym. A pretty cool and unique concept!
After taking some pictures, my mom and I made our way to the start line. The pre-race photo –
The 10K runners had already left, and the half marathon was scheduled to start 15 minutes later, at 7:45. It was pretty brisk that early in the morning, and my mom and I were both shivering. Finally, we listened to the Star-Spangled Banner, and then… we were off!
Almost immediately, my mom and I separated. I had told her in advance that I was hoping to potentially PR, given the flat course and comfortable temperatures. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to though, as I had taken my last dose of medicine for a sinus infection that morning! But I was feeling pretty healthy and thought it might be possible, so I figured why not go for it. My plan had been to ease into the course and to run 9:30 minutes per mile for the first three miles, just to get warmed up. Well let’s just say I’m a little competitive and have a tendency to get sucked into the excitement at the beginning of a race, and that combination is a recipe for running faster than you’re supposed to. According to MapMyRun, I ran the first mile in 8:50. Oops… After that first mile, I realized I was running way faster than I had planned, but I felt good! The pace felt comfortable and natural, so I completely threw out the little plan I had put together in my head and decided to just run the pace I was running for as long as I could.
(*Note – MapMyRun got a little messed up on the distance, it was 13.1 miles, not 13.4.)
When I wasn’t calculating mile splits and finishing times in my head, I did really appreciate the beauty of the course. It went through some lovely residential areas and past farmland, complete with horses and a very cute donkey (according to my mom… somehow I completely missed seeing the donkey). Boy scouts and girl scouts manned the water stops, and also had water guns that they would splash you with if you gave them the thumbs-up! I didn’t take them up on this early on when temps were still in the 50s, but towards the end of the race, it was super refreshing and a welcome relief!
Achilles International, an organization that brings together people with disabilities and helps them participate in athletic events, was there as well. I ran behind a blind runner and his guide, both members of Achilles for a while, and it was so inspiring! They held a band between them which they used to maneuver past other runners and obstacles. Both guide and runner seemed completely relaxed, and were chatting the whole time I was within hearing distance! One runner’s comment as she approached from behind and saw the two of them – “That’s freaking awesome.” And that seemed to be how everyone else felt too.
The course consisted of a few loops, so that you ended up passing the finish area once around mile 8, before actually finishing. Right as I was coming into this loop the first time, the announcer said over the loudspeaker that the first finisher for the half marathon was within sight, and the crowd really began cheering. While I still had several more miles to run, it was pretty exciting and gave me a nice adrenaline boost (even if they weren’t cheering for me!).
By mile 10, I was definitely beginning to feel it, and while I had done well keeping my pace up throughout the race, I was beginning to feel paranoid that I wouldn’t get my PR. I just tried to keep pushing myself, knowing that I was so close to being done. At mile 12, I passed one of the race clocks that read 1:46, and it was then that I felt pretty confident I could get my PR – I knew it wasn’t going to take me ten minutes to run that last mile. I tuned out the discomfort in my legs, and gave it everything I had in that last mile, and boy, was it worth it! I crossed the finish line in 1:55:23, a new PR, and a very satisfying result!
I grabbed a water and my new medal and went to stand near the finish line, hoping to grab a photo of my mom as she crossed the line. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it!), she ran much faster than I expected and crossed the line in 2:01:36! I saw her right after she had crossed, but wasn’t ready with my camera. Darn it.
My mom and I then checked out the post-race food, and got some granola, a banana, and our choice of either a grilled cheese or hot dog, both cooked by a local boy scout troop. We picked grilled cheese, and I think it was the right choice! I’ve never had grilled cheese at the end of a long run before, but it really hit the spot! Those boy scouts knew what they were doing.
We then took a picture over at the Amica Victory Podium, where we posed with the sign we had made. Connecticut: check.
We had just started to walk away as they were announcing the women’s age group winners. BAD DECISION. My mom got third in her age group, and was so disappointed when she realized she had missed out on the glory of walking up to the front and collecting her prize (who cares what the actual prize is, she really wanted the recognition!). We will have to make it a point from now on to always listen at the awards ceremony!
After switching into sandals and dropping our things off in the car, we walked through Simsbury’s town center a little, but were disappointed to find it didn’t offer much in terms of touristy boutiques or stores! We had been hoping to pick up a little souvenir, but there wasn’t much of anything besides restaurants. It was very scenic though! We ended up getting iced coffee and iced tea at Dunkin Donuts, and then a magic bar at a different little café, and then heading home.
Overall, a very successful (but exhausting) day! I curled up with a blanket, and was bummed when I had to get up to help make dinner.
Now we can just hope that the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon goes as well as this one did!