Monday, February 22, 2010

Hampton Half

Well it was this past Sunday. The half-marathon at Hampton. What a great weekend! For me: great food before and after, a great day for a race, and a great finishing time. I completely surpassed my goal of 2:00 and came in at 1:55:52, for an overall pace of 08:50. I am very pleased.

Jenni's sister Sarrah was nice enough to let us crash at her place in Newburyport, a charming little coastal city Northeast of Boston that features a vibrant downtown life. Our time in Newburyport featured visits to: Cafe Di Siena, Fowles Cafe, Ten Center and Agave. Loved the sweets at Cafe Di Siena. The exclusive Ten Center is highly recommended. Agave was the perfect post-race spot for margaritas and their delicious Ceviche.

OK. Enough about fabulous dining.

The race started at 11 on Sunday. I got to the start around 10:30 and warmed up for a few minutes, jogging up and down the course, getting acclimated to the wind. I hadn't yet decided whether or not I was going to wear my outer layer (wind shell). After a few minutes outside, I decided to ditch the jacket and just go with my base layer + wind block layer, with a race tee over the top. Tights and running pants on the bottom.

In the midst of making my way back to the start, I bumped into Chris Russell, of Run Run Live podcast fame. Didn't exchange much but a hurried introduction and hand shake. But it was great to meet one of the guys in this welcoming running community that I admire. Mad Dog!

11 o clock approached, and I took my place toward the back of the pack. The gun sounded and we were off. The first few minutes were very slow, as 1100+ people made their way out of the gates. I noticed I was behind the 10:00 pace runner, and decided to pick it up a bit. By the time I hit the first mile marker, I was running around an 08:40 pace. I totally missed the mile 2 marker. Somewhere between mile 3 and 4, I found the 09:00 pace runner, who was admittedly a bit above pace. I passed him and vowed to stay ahead of him, acknowledging that if I encountered him again, I'd really pick it back up.

The next 5-6 miles were a steady, dare I say, comfortable 8:35-8:45 pace. As I cruised past mile markers I checked the watch. I was averaging anywhere between 2-4 minutes "in the bank". Running about 2-3 minutes below the 9:00 mile pace. Here's a picture from about 1/2 way through the race (I'm the runner in red on the far right)

The last 4 or so miles of the course took a turn and led between large estates and the vast ocean. The last 4 also featured the worst of the wind. All the while, I checked my watch at the markers, and kept plugging along, pretty happy with my progress. As I approached the mile 12 marker, I realized that I had enough time in the bank and enough gas in the tank to come in well under my goal of 2 hours. The last mile was euphoric. I knew I could practically walk the last bit and still finish nicely. I just ran at a comfortable pace, with an ear-to-ear grin, as I knew I was about to shatter this supposed stretch goal.

Here I am, with a photo finish -

Afterwards, I had to get out on the beach. First, to walk on something soft. Second, to stare out at the Atlantic in total awe of both it's beauty, and what I had just accomplished. Last year on race date, I weighed 252 lbs, and couldn't dream of finishing a half in under 2hrs. What a difference a year makes!

Post race, there were bananas and smoothie drinks and soup and Smutty Nose. After all that, here I am, with my medal.

Today, it was in the mid-40s. I know. I said I'd rest. But I just couldn't resist getting out for a recovery run. Ended up going around 5 miles at a 10:00ish pace. Quads were sore at first, but loosened up toward the end. Tomorrow morning, I return my pre-dawn 5k ritual. Stu's 30K is two weeks away, and I need to keep moving.

Until next time: run, run, run.

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