Over a week later, I’ve finally settled with my race and recovery enough to sit and process my first race of 2016 – the Half at the Hamptons. It was an all around great race, although I’m not sure it’s one I’d do again.
Goals: I was not gunning for a PR at this race, especially with how my February went. However, I did have a few goals. C: Course PR (2:27:XX), B: Sub 2:23 A: Sub 2:20. I hit sub 2:20 just once last year, and the day before the race I spent a lot of time thinking it was a fluke and I wasn’t capable of running it again.
Pre-Race: I drove to Hampton Beach on my own pretty early in order to get a parking spot close to the host hotel, the Ashworth by the Sea. I was there around 8:15, done with bib/shirt pick-up within minutes and then just sat around in the hotel ballroom for about an hour while waiting for my family to come. I’ve been to races alone before, but this is the first time I felt really out of place. Everyone seemed to be wearing Boston Marathon or Ironman garb and appeared to have big groups of friends around, maybe teammates. I just stuck to my corner, hit the bathrooms a couple of times (not porta johns – YAY!), and eventually made my way outside to get accustomed to the temps and find my family.
Start: I separated from my family (really by crossing the street) at about 9:45 (gun was at 10). I did some dynamic and static stretches, and kept reminding myself to start slow. I also took a GU. This is the first time I took one before a race. I was really anxious about the whole ordeal, especially with my nagging leg problems and seeing the super competitive feel. The corral was self-seeded and there were no pace groups. The gun went off right at 10 and we were off!
Miles 1-5: The first two miles were a loop through the streets of Hampton Beach. Once we hit the waterfront at mile 2 the wind hit and it didn’t cease until we went inland at mile 5. I felt really slow, and was socked in for the first couple of miles before I settled in with a group of people that I ran most of the race with. However, I was sticking with my race plan of starting out slow and steady as I wasn’t gunning for a PR. I stayed on plan and had a GU at 45:00, had a sip of Nuun every mile, and got water at the water stops. Mile splits: 10:24, 10:20, 10:27, 10:43, 10:34
Miles 6-10: These miles were inland and provided a nice break from the wind. Mile 6 was a gradual uphill and I was happy to power up it, staying with the man that I had been running with since mile 2. I saw my mom and uncle at mile 7 which gave me a little “oomph” to try and pick it up a bit. I passed the man for about 3 miles, and caught a couple of others that I had my eye on (just to keep me going). There was a sneaky hill at mile 10 before we got inland, and I was happy to keep running when others started walking. Shortly after that we turned back onto Route 1A, bringing us back to the ocean front. I once again kept on with my hydration and took a GU at 90:00. Mile splits: 10:15, 10:23, 10:12, 10:20, 10:34.
Miles 11-13: This is where my race (time-wise) went to s$!t. As soon as I turned the corner onto the main road, I had an awful feeling on my right toe/ball of my foot. Blisters. I never get blisters, not big ones at least. These ones were large (for me) and hurt with every step. I was determined not to walk though. Walking wasn’t going to make them feel better, and it wasn’t going to get me to the finish any faster. I tried not to let it slow my pace too much because otherwise my legs felt a little good. I knew if I didn’t slow my ITB pain wouldn’t get any worse (it was at about a 4/10). However, I did slow. It became mentally hard to keep going, but I kept thinking how sweet it would feel to finish without walking, and how I would be really close to running my second sub-2:20. I saw my mom and uncle at mile 11.5, and my mom said that I looked really strong at that point, unlike other times she’s seen me race. Mile splits: 11:00, 11:24, 11:07
Final Push (.2 according to my watch): This is honestly the first time I finished a half marathon and had some gas left for a final push. Normally everyone rushes by me, but this time only one girl passed me (who I had passed maybe a mile earlier). I felt so strong finishing, and didn’t even have that bad of a “pain train” face! .2 mi split: 1:42 (9:17 pace)
Final time: 2:19:35, 707/863
After I finished I plopped myself down on a large rock and took my shoes and socks right off. I didn’t see any food near the finish line, so I went inside, changed my clothes and went right towards the finish party. There was beer (YAY) but the only food they had was soup. I can’t stand soup, in fact the only time I’ve had it was the first time I did this race because it’s all there was for food. I chugged my beer real fast then I went to a brewery nearby with my family for lunch.
Swag: The medal was super cute and unique, but the shirt was “blah”. It is a comfortable, purple tech shirt with the race name on it, but nothing else. Not even the year. I know some people don’t really care about race shirts, but I do like them and I’m bummed about the shirt not at least having the year on it. When I did the race in 2010 the shirt was really nice and of great quality. I also got a red winter running hat from bringing canned goods, but I honestly haven’t taken it out of the bag yet.
The Course: The course was easy – flat with just a couple of hills. Roads weren’t closed to traffic, but it was only an issue in the last couple of miles. Aid stations were every 3 miles, which were enough since I had my own water/nuun. My family said the map online didn’t match the route – they went to one road that was on the course and there were no runners to be found.
Overall I am very happy with how I ran this race. It was not a PR day for me, but this was my best ran half marathon so far. I was rather even paced for the whole race, and I don’t I would have slowed down as much if it weren’t for the blisters. The course was about easy as it could get and there were enough runners that I wasn’t running by myself.
Would I run this again? I’m not sure, but probably not. I’ve gotten accustomed to running bigger races, and I like them. I like the plentiful water stops, people always being around me, closed roads, the post-race food options, and the swag. I guess it’s good I’m moving to somewhere which has big races year-round.