I had already run a half in MA. The Cape Cod Half Marathon was included in the price of the AMR Retreat. I mean, I’d already paid for it. There was no shorter race. I always thought I’d do a half on Cape Cod, having spent so much time on it over the years. What could go wrong?
Packet Pickup & Expo
We all walked over, together as a group, to the expo to pick up our packets. All BAMRs had been registered at the same time and therefore we were all in the same line to pick up our bibs. And it grew long quickly. Luckily I had the good sense to get into line the minute we got there; I didn’t have to wait long.
The expo is not large, but it does have more than just the basics. Which was nice, as I do a lot of small races and you’re lucky if there’s any expo at all with them. I bought:
- A fleece lined hat with a hole for your ponytail from Her Tribe Athleticswhich I love!
- A Grid foam roller and MB5 Massage Ball from Triggerpoint. I swore I wouldn’t be buying another foam roller . . . luckily I’d already been to the Triggerpoint session and so I knew I wanted one, and the price at the expo was actually a good deal. Fun fact: I bought some Triggerpoint products at the expo at my very first half seven years ago — and I still use them to this day.
- Men’s S (wish they had an XS!) convertible mittens from illumiNITE. You know, the one that’s gloves with half fingers but with a part that goes over so it converts to mittens. One of the things I liked about these was that there is veclro for the thumb so you can expose the tip of your thumb, too. Parts of them are reflective, too. I considered running in them, but I’d brought other convertible gloves (better known as glittens) and ended up using them.
The weather & dressing
I could write a book about this. Because yes, as you’ve heard, it was an honest-to-God Nor’easter on race day.
I wore my Skirt Sports Wonder Wool Tee (Skirt Sports Ambassador) under a Tough Chick Top , Skirt Sports Charmed tight.and Toasty Cheeks Skirt to keep my butt warm, illumiNITE Hat (long bill, great for rainy days — click hereto see it) with my buff over the top of the hat and over my ears to keep the hat on in the wind. Which is exactly what I wore for the Great Pumpkin Challenge (read about it here), minus the buff because although that race was rainy, it wasn’t that windy.
I had already discovered in a training run that using the buff to keep on the hat in windy conditions worked perfectly. I think I had to grab the hat once the whole race and those wind gusts were fierce!
Did that work for me? Sort of. I started the race the first couple of miles thinking I’d overdressed, but as the race went on and I got wetter and wetter (and the rain got heavier) I was very comfortable — except for the fact that the Tough Chick Top soaked up all that water. The Wonder Wool Tee kept my core mostly dry, though, and I was able to store my gloves in the kangaroo pocket of the Tough Chick Top. Along with my phone in a ziplock — which is why I took no photos at all.
I wonder, though, if I should have gone with a raincoat rather than the Tough Chick Top. My running raincoat is somewhat breathable, so I probably wouldn’t have overheated although I also wouldn’t have stayed completely dry; on the other hand, I certainly didn’t stay completely dry with what I chose to wear.
I know that running in a raincoat, even one specific to running, can cause you to overheat, but that’s what zippers are for. Well, hopefully I’ll never run another half in a Nor’easter and won’t have to make these decisions again and sorry for blathering on so long about them!
My Race Plan
I didn’t bother to ask Rachel @ Runningonhappy for a race plan (again; still?). I still had the last half’s race plan. That pretty much went out the window (again) and it was a mostly run-by-feel race.
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 10:58. As we walked to the start & waited to start we all said this isn’t so bad. Yes, it was raining, but fairly lightly, and yes, it was windy. First mile is mostly flat.
- Mile 2: 11:03. There’s a very slight incline here.
- Mile 3: 10:56. Relatively flat.
- Mile 4: 11:09. A slight incline.
- Mile 5: 11:48. Although there were no hills in mile 5, there were two small bridges. And on every bridge, the winds really caught you. Not to mention battling an almost constant headwind was tiring me out.
- Mile 6: 11:32. With the turnaround the wind was finally blissfully at our backs, and that made a huge difference. The other difference? Being cheered on by and cheering on fellow BAMRs in our purple bibs.
- Mile 7: 11:31. The wind continued to be at my back and I got my proverbial second wind, but the damage from battling all that wind was already done.
- Mile 8: 11:47. A mostly flat mile. Don’t know what happened here.
- Mile 9: 11:21. Mostly flat but beginning a climb.
- Mile 10: 11:50. This is the same hill as in mile 4, but of course, later in the race, the wind has worn me down, and the rain is coming down heavier.
- Mile 11: 12:03. Another flat mile but the rain seems horizontal now. My clothes weight about 3 x more.
- Mile 12: 11:53. Right before mile 12 there was a cheering squad of BAMRs led by Dimity, who greeted every runner with “you’re looking strong”. It gave a much needed lift to all our spirits and I high fived everyone in the group. I wish I could say it gave me a third wind, but alas, it did not.
- Mile 13: 12:08. One of my main goals for this race was to do a better job than Ocean City (read about it here). And I did — I never gave up on my run/walk intervals. Of course, when it’s cold, rainy, and windy, you don’t want to spend any more time out there than you have to! I am also happy to report that it was more than 10 minutes faster than the last time I did a windy race, three years ago — and that one was at least dry!
- Last .24: 11:32. Obviously some of my slower miles were more mental than physical — I was still able to sprint it in. On the other hand, often my last mile is my fastest, because I’m just so ready to be done, and the last full mile was my slowest.
2:32:46 — Official Time
11:39 Average Pace
67 out of 91 in F50-59
989 out of 1180 Runners
My last windy, hilly (but dry) half was 2:43:14 & a PR at the time
I was pretty sure when I started this race it would not be a PR. And yet quite a few BAMR runners did PR this race. One woman by 11 minutes! I did want to beat my time from Ocean City, which I did with no problems. I also wanted to hold onto my run/walk intervals the whole race, and I did that too. The cherry on top was beating out my finish time from the last cool, windy, hilly half I did three years ago by almost ten minutes – it didn’t even rain at that race!
Was the race well run?
As far as I could tell, the race was mostly well run. Although support seemed a little scant on the roads, and in fact one person did take the wrong turn. I guess I was always near enough to someone not to have to worry about that.
As usual I carried my own water, but the aid stations seemed well stocked and I was definitely in the BOTP. There was still plenty of food (and medals) when I finished, and I waited for Running Buddy J — the food was still plentiful when she finished, as well. At the finish line the heat blankets were put around you, although the medal was handed to you and the water you had to take from the table.
There were tents set up for the food, with enough space for a fair number of runners to stand around, eat, and chat.
This really is a great little race with a very scenic course, and Falmouth is a cute little town (with the beautiful nearby Shining Sea bike path that goes on for miles). I highly recommend it!
- Running with so many others and cheering each other on.
- BAMR cheering squads! You guys rocked.
- A nice little expo.
- A beautiful course (just wish I didn’t have to see it in the driving rain).
- The efforts to make this an eco-conscious race, with composting for leftover food. For instance, I didn’t finish my chowder, or donut, for that fact, and I could just throw everything into the composting bin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that at a race before!
- No chafing, no blisters.
- A much faster finish than my last hilly & windy half (with no rain).
- A much faster finish than my last half.
- Those cider donuts at the finish. 🙂
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
- The weather. Nor’easter. Nuff said.
- Not much spectator support (not counting our BAMR cheering squads!). Nor’ester. Nuff said. There were some, which is pretty astounding when you think about it. Some marathoners were in a house overlooking the course, cheering us on.
- I missed the girl with the Snickers (or she wasn’t out when I ran by). I love Snickers!
What I learned
I knew this already, but I will always run better in cold weather — even nasty cold weather — than I will in blazing sun. Another thing I already know: being able to walk to and from a race (and use the bathroom in your own room) is so much more pleasant than driving, worrying about parking, and portapotties.
Running with a group and having a way to easily identify other runners from the group on the run was sheer genius and turned what could have been a miserable race into a lot more fun that it should have been considering the weather.
I still need to learn how to push harder when I’m tired. Sometimes I can do it . . . and sometimes I can’t. I suppose that that is to be expected, but I think it is definitely something I can work on — somehow!