There are so many benefits to running, but this Thanksgiving I’m grateful that running gets me out there in nature. I won’t run through everything, but I have run in some pretty hot conditions, in a Nor’easter, into the single digits, into wind that almost blew me into Lake Champlain, occasionally in snow storms — which is very peaceful unless it’s slippery.
I thought about this yesterday on my run. We had another dusting of snow overnight. The skies were absolutely a hazy shade of winter. The sun was nowhere to be found.
Beauty was everywhere to be found, if you just got out there and looked for it. That dusting of fresh snow clinging to the evergeens and the bright red holly berries. The creeping ice on the lake. The fall leaves still peaking out of the snow. The interesting foot/paw prints in the snow.
I would hole up in my house, barely getting out to walk the dogs, if it weren’t for running, and my days are better for those runs when I do get outside and brave the elements.
I won’t keep you long, as I still have a Thanksgiving dinner to get together, but I will leave you with a few scenes from my run yesterday. I’d love to see what you’re seeing on the run!
Running may push us outside of our comfort zones, but it also narrows down our focus to things we would never notice if we didn’t run. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the things I see on the run. — Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy
Stockadeathon is the only 15k I’ve ever done. I really like the distance — long enough to be a challenge, but ends at about the time I start to get really tired. This year’s race dawned with a dusting of snow, and snow continued to pelt the windshield on the drive to the race, but that’s when it ended and the sun came up, setting us up for a sunny, if chilly race.
Packet Pickup Packet pickup is always easy., and this year was no different. Unlike last year, even thoughI signed up very late (Tuesday, I believe) I still got a race shirt, which was a nice long sleeve tech tee.
One of the sole sisters was volunteering at packet pickup and I stopped to chat with her a bit before leaving.
The weather & dressing I said this about my last half (read about it here), about this race last year — and again, this year! I thought I was overdressed in the beginning. I was definitely warm. When I took off my coat at the end, it was drenched in sweat. But I also got cold towards the end of the race. I probably could have worn a lighter outer layer, but this outfit was okay. At least I didn’t have to drag out the Thermoball to run in like I did last year! It was 36 at the start this year, compared to last year’s 28.
I wore my Skirt Sports Double Take Reversible jacket, my Wonder Wool Tee and Wonder Wool Skirt. Newton Distance on the feet. I also wore a buff around my neck, but I did find that annoying later in the race. I had fleece glittens (convertible mittens) on the first couple of miles, took them off and put them in the back pocket of my coat, but then at the end my hands were so cold! Since I’d lost so much time stuffing everything in there at mile 3, I didn’t want to futz with it again, so I just sucked it up.
My Race Plan No race plan. No looking at last year’s results, either. When you register they ask you your predicted finish time and I actually guessed fairly close to what I ended up running. I don’t know why they ask as there isn’t a corral start.
I parked at a hotel, as I’ve been doing the last few years. It’s about a 10 minute walk over to the Y, which hosts the runners before and after the race. Even though the Y has real bathrooms, the line for them is usually extremely long. So I use the bathrooms in the hotel, and if there is a line, it’s usually quite short.
I went in at about 8 am to use the bathrooms the first time. Then I chatted up a couple who turned out were actually staying in the hotel, and went to use the bathroom one more time. And then I realized that it was about 8:15 and the race starts at 8:30 and I still needed to drop off stuff at bag check and it was about a 10 minute walk to the Y . . . Oy!
So I got my warmup mile (but no dynamic stretching) done as I ran to the Y, passing the Sole Sisters on the way there. I’m really glad I decided to still drop my sweatshirt and jacket off, because I was very chilled after the race and still had that walk back to the car. I made it to the start with a couple of minutes to spare, but I also ended up lining up closer to the start than I should (pace wise) and apologized to everyone around me.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 10:53. You start on a downhill. I do love a downhill, and I didn’t take my first walk break until halfway through this mile because it was too crowded and narrow to stop before then. I briefly saw one of my Sole Sisters running friends (and that was the last time I saw her during the race!).
Mile 2: 11:14. Most of mile 2 is a long, gradual hill. I was running fast to catch up briefly with a fellow Skirt Sports sister. Miles 1 & 2 were faster than last year . . . but no other mile was.
Mile 3: 11:49. You’re still going up. I suspect that when I changed out one water bottle for another in mile 3 I did lose a significant amount of time, causing this mile to be slower than it should have been. I was having trouble getting the full water bottle — which, as it turns out, was leaking, so I’m glad I switched them — out of the pocket.
Mile 4: 11:32. They changed the course this year, and took out the part along the river on the bike path. Which was nice and flat and very scenic. I thought this course was actually hillier, although looking at my stats it wasn’t (it seems to get less hilly each year, and this is the first time since I started running it that the course has changed!); Darlene thought it seemed easier. It seemed to me that every time we made a turn — and there are plenty — we were going uphill.
Mile 5: 11:00. Relatively flat. I saw a couple of my friends, who were course marshals, midway through this mile — they always give me a boost!
Mile 6: 11:30. Running around the lake in Central Park. Still relatively flat.
Mile 7: 11:46. A decent hill at mile 7.5. This was about the only hill that felt not as bad as last year. Yet I still went up it slower.
Mile 8: 11:45. Through the cemetery and mostly downhill. And yet the same pace as the uphill . . .
Mile 9: 11:13. The last mile is really downhill; last year I was way faster this mile. This year I wasn’t watching my Garmin.
Last .41: 9:57. I was hoping the new course wouldn’t run long . . . but it did.
2015: 1:51:32 (an automatic PR — new distance)
2016: 1:49:31 (a most surprising 2 minute PR)
2017: 1:45:09 (crushed it for another PR!) 2018: 1:46:49, 11:28 average pace, 1170 our of 1308, 43 out of ?? F55-59
In 2017 they added the splits for each 5k (probably because you can now run this as part of a relay team), and I had beautiful negative splits:
1st 5K: 35:43
2nd 5k: 35:16
3rd 5k: 34:11 (gotta love a downhill finish)
This year I was just consistent, apparently:
1st 5k: 35:25
2nd 5k: 35:42
3rd 5k: 35:43
I chose to run by feel for the race. On the one hand, I’m glad I did. My piriformis and hamstrings have been complaining for a while. And they were sure sore after the race, too (despite foam rolling before and after and legs up the wall later on).
On the other hand, when I saw I was 1:49 off of my PR . . . I know I could have pushed harder. I know that often when I run by feel, I’m slower (but not always). Could I have pushed hard enough for a PR? Probably. Would it have just aggravated my niggles more than was worth it? Well, we’ll never know, will we. I’m feeling okay the day after.
Was the race well run? Not enough water stops! I say this every year. I bring my own water.Otherwise this race is a well oiled machine with plenty of direction, course marshals, and lots of food and water for everyone post race. Even foam rollers! I really think having the post race stuff going on in the same building we use before the race — last year was the first year they did that — is very helpful.
What I learned
I can leave later for the race, but pay attention to time and leave from the hotel I park at early enough so that I don’t have to run to the start (yes, it’s chip timed, but who really wants to start at the BOTP if they don’t have to?).
I’m still kind of kicking myself for not paying more attention to my Garmin. It doesn’t make a race “less fun” for me when I do. Last year, however, this race wasn’t just two weeks after a hard half. I had 6 weeks in between my half and this race. I’m sure that played into what went down.
On the other hand, for not paying attention to my Garmin, it was actually a pretty decent pace for me. So maybe there still is something to be said for running by feel.
Extremely well organized race.
Hot food inside post race, and enough for all.
Real bathrooms — I didn’t use the bathrooms at the Y. Darlene said the lines weren’t bad, but my guess is later on they were. I’ve never seen them not be bad.
Although a hilly course, most (but not all) of the hills are frontloaded into the first half of the race.
A nice downhill finish.
Running with friends. Running into friends you haven’t seen in a while.
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
The course runs a little long.
Challenging course (some might view that as a positive).
Not enough water stops.
Although parts of the course are very pretty, much of it just isn’t that interesting to me. And they took out one of my favorite parts this year!
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 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 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!
October was a lot less busy than September, and after a couple of months of travel — mostly fun stuff — I was ready for a slower pace. If you follow me on Instagram here, you know that I did run a half marathon on Cape Cod this weekend. In a Nor’easter.
I was with one of my running buddies — not to mention 50+ of my new best running buddies from Another Mother Runner.
Getting in scheduled runs I did it, but while I was looking for faster paces as Fall finally arrived, it seemed I was slowing down instead. And tired, oh so very tired. And yet there was the 10k PR. 🙂 My half was not a PR, not a huge surprise in those conditions, but it was quite a bit faster than the last time I ran a windy (albeit dry) half, so I’m quite happy with it. I’m giving myself an A+ for sticking it out in those nasty conditions.
Recording my runs Oy! It always seems like Fall gets me. I’m tired because I’m at the end of months of hard training, daylight is vanishing, and all I want to do is go to bed. At least most of the time I get it on the blog.
Grade Earned: C
Dynamic Warmup There wasn’t much of a warmup before that 10k, but there was a little bit — although I skipped the warmup mile; obviously the race didn’t suffer. Mostly I’ve been pretty good about it. I did warm up before my half, because it was a short walk from our hotel to the start.
Grade Earned: A-
I’d say we’re about 90% here. Every once in a great while I do skip it, and then I always regret it. Stay tuned on the foam rolling front, I have stuff to share there eventually!
Grade Earned: B+
Nutrition After months of travel and racing I’m at a weight that isn’t quite comfortable for me. You probably wouldn’t notice anything but I do. I don’t go crazy, but between being short, on the other side of menopause, a stressful year . . . it’s oh so easy to let the pounds inch their way up. I’m fighting it.
One of the ways I’m fighting it is by switching up my snacks. I love sweet snacks. Who am I kidding, I like sweet everything! And sometimes I still do sweet snacks. But I’ve also been snacking half a sandwich on sourdough with canned salmon mixed with hummus. Don’t knock it til you try it!
Grade Earned: B+
Chiropractor Appointment? Yes.
Do I need a hair appointment? Soon. Very soon.
I did an epsom salt foot soak!
Grade Earned: A-
I’ve continued to be pretty strong on the strength training front, but most other cross training is lacking. It seems every time I would normally swim I have a vet appointment or something else in the way of getting to the pool
I have used the stationary bike, but not as much as I should. When it’s a choice between that and actually getting in some strength training, the ST always wins.
Grade Earned: B-
October 2018 gets . . .
. . . an B+. It was definitely a good month, but some things are just not getting done. And I know I’ll regret it later.
Continue to Prehab. Y.As always, something is always better than nothing. Some days I even did it before running and then later n in the evening, too.
Strength train 2-3 x week. Y.
Some extra Core TLC. Y & N.I do work my core, but I think I need to make it more of a priority again. I started out the month pretty strong with it but began to skip it more towards the end of the month. I still work my core, but hadn’t been working it a bit extra.
Foam roll — really foam roll. Y. At least, I thought I was doing good until the Trigger Point class at the retreat!
Chiropractor visit. Y.
Greens daily. Y & N.Almost daily, but slipping a bit here, too. Hello, soup season!
Berries daily. Y. It may be time to modify this a bit. Of course berries are super healthy, but they’re also no longer in season. Frozen is great, of course.
Meal plan on the weekends! Y.Even with a few crazy weekends, I’ve started to meal plan again. I don’t need to prep quite as much, since I don’t work, but planning on the weekend still makes a big difference for me.
Which leads me to November Goals:
Continue to Prehab. As always, something is always better than nothing.
Strength train 2-3 x week.
Some extra Core TLC. I do work my core, but I think I need to make it more of a priority again.
Foam roll almost daily. I’d really like to say daily, but I just know that won’t happen. Can I work those knots out?
Swim! Before it gets too cold & I am totally unmotivated.
Play around with savory snacks (and report back on them!).
Meal plan on the weekends! Much easier to shop and eat well when I have a plan.
There’s a good chance that you’re intimately acquainted with Couch to 5k if you read my blog. You’re probably already pretty active.
But do you struggle with your motivation? Is it still hard to get out the door — to run, to get to the gym, or even simply get out on your lunch hour to walk?
Whether you’re struggling with that motivation and family responsibilities, or you want to just get more active in general, Lyn Lindbergh has an 8 week plan that will literally walk you into walking (or running, or swimming, or biking) more!
Read on to find out more about the book and to enter to win a copy for your very own!
Disclaimer:I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my hones review. All opinions are my own.
Book Overview It’s an eight week plan so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s broken down into eight chapters:
The Basics. Check in with your doctor, start slow, be mindful of where your body is at now, not where you want it to be, don’t compare yourself to others, schedule it.
Reach Out. Tell your loved ones why this important to you, make it fun, and don’t forget to thank your loved ones for supporting you.
Breaking Barriers. Where you figure out why you’re not already doing what you know you should be — even advice to just accept that your body won’t be where you want it to be and no one cares but you.
Solve It. Figure out what barriers you can actually solve, how to deal with naysayers (or not, really), and solutions to make sure you will follow through.
Own It. You are an active person — just own it, how you are healing yourself, and why sleep is important.
Radical Change. There’s no surprise — or shame — that there are just barriers to fitness we can’t break through. Work your way through what can’t change, and what needs a major change to have a break through.
Your Next Two Years. Make a plan, consider the times of year when it will be tough to be active, and how to deal with the inevitable setbacks.
Celebrate. You have broken through your barriers and become an active person. We do what we’re rewarded for — so celebrate your success!
There are also recommendations for how to schedule exercise — not the actual exercises, but when to do cardio, strength training, rest, etc. — whether you’re doing this because your doctor says you have to or you’re already very active and everything in between.
There are planners by month (including space for holidays, so you know when something is coming up) and by week.
There is also a list of all the affirmations in the book (there are many!) broken down by chapter.
How it’s all broken down You’re a busy person; Lyn’s a busy person — she gets it. Each chapter is broken down into multiple small sections with short assignments to work through. The assignments would, and should, take some time, but most of the sections are less than five pages.
Lyn’s not just preaching at you, she gives real world examples from her own life and from people she’s worked with — and then she prompts you to work through the assignments — because she knows that just reading about something won’t motivate you off that couch — you have to put in the work. If you put in the work, the program will work! Simple, right?
There are also many affirmations throughout each chapter. I’m personally a huge fan of affirmations and believe that you can never have too many. Don’t just read them — write the ones that speak to you on a post it and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
Who is this book for? Anyone. Whether you’re looking to get off the couch or you just need strategies to deal with whatever is keeping you from exercising or you need to work on consistency and motivation, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
I also think personal trainers might get a lot out of Couch to Active, too.
Win a copy of Couch to Active for yourself! I have one copy of the book to give away. Enter to win here.
This year I got to ride with friends so there was no mad dash to make it to the starting line like last year (read about it here). We had a fairly large group, with most doing the 5k, but this year there were a couple of friends doing the 10k, too. It’s always fun when you have friends cheering you into the finish line.
Packet Pickup We all picked up our packets the day of the race this year, with no issues. Even my friend who’d registered after the tee cut off time got her tee.
The weather & dressing It was fifteen degrees cooler than last year’s race, which would have been fantastic — if there hadn’t also been a cool drizzle going on for pretty much the entire race.
My Race Plan I didn’t bother to ask Rachel @ Runningonhappy for a race plan (again). But Another Mother Runner just happened to run an article about 10ks recently, so I based my plan at that: shooting for an average of a 11:00 mm, I planned to go out at around 11:10 – 15, try to run 11 the next three miles, then see if I could pick up the pace the last two.
I did not look up my 10k PR or last year’s race — but I did know that the hills start when the 10k splits off from the 5k (you all start together).
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 10:58. A slightly fast start but nothing that would come back to haunt me.
Mile 2: 11:09. Relatively flat. So just switch mile one and two and I’m right on track.
Mile 3: 10:39. A slow decline and oops! Definitely way faster than I’d planned to run it..
Mile 4: 10:40. A long decline and a long incline — I guess the decline must have been longer! The hills were already draining my energy.
Mile 5: 11:19. Mostly a long hill, plus quite a bit of wet pine needles and pine cones that you need to be careful on. I got to see Running Buddy J here & shouted some encouragement. Definitely a tough mile.
Mile 6: 10:47. Mostly downhill.
Last .16: 10:45. And a sprint to the slightly uphill finish with my friends cheering me in.
1:07:14 — Official Time
10:50 Average Pace
6 out of 9 in F55-59
249 out of 321 Runners
2017: 1:08:39 — Official Time, 11:03 Average Pace
Yes, it was both a 10k PR and a course PR. I met my goal although I didn’t quite follow my plan. Hills always make it hard for me to pace myself! A really good tune up race for my half in two weeks, which supposedly is rolling hills.
Was the race well run? The race was extremely well marked and there were plenty of course marshals even on a cool, rainy day. There are a lot of refreshments after, but there’s a long line (even though the 5k was long finished!) and we skipped them (I had a protein bar with me). One of our group placed in her AG — I was definitely envious of her pint glass, but I was nowhere near placing in mine, even though there weren’t a lot of us.
Since I’m now a *little* familiar with the race, having run it two times, and went with friends, we had no problems with parking. If you miss the first entrance with the Great Pumpkin sign (we did, actually), do yourself a favor and turn around — you can thank me later. Otherwise you may have trouble finding the appropriate parking lot.
The real bathrooms at the pavilion are always a treat — and there are portapotties if you don’t want to wait on line, too. There’s a coat check, too, which Running Buddy J and I took advantage of. So my throwaway fleece lives to grace another race.
Such a pretty park to run through, especially in the Fall.
A well marked and well directed course.
Nice long sleeved tech shirt.
The entry includes a free raffle ticket — unfortunately I didn’t win anything (again!).
Running with friends.
A PR is always sweet.
Of course no race is perfect. The downsides:
The weather (although it wasn’t that bad).
The pavilion is too small for all the runners! Thankfully it wasn’t pouring.
The paths, for the most part, are quite narrow. And speaking of running with friends, two moms were running with their strollers, keeping together. While I was happy they had each other, I was not happy that they took up the entire path. And with my run/walk, I’d pass them, then fall behind, then have to pass them again . . . and again . . . maybe I was petty, but it was annoying. Then there was another mom pushing a stroller, who stopped to tie her shoe, and the stroller started to roll into the woods . . . runners closer to her alerted her and as far as I could tell her kid was just fine — never saw that before!
What I learned Good question. I guess that I will probably never execute a race plan perfectly. I didn’t learn this, but it’s a good reminder — I really have a lot of trouble pacing myself on a hilly course. And always carry something to eat after the race — you can’t always rely on race food.
I went into this race half believing I could push through the heat — after all, my last two long distance races had been even warmer — and half believing it wouldn’t be my day. If you follow me on Instagram here, you know it was the latter.
Many have assured me of the fact that finishing is winning, don’t be too hard on yourself, yadda yadda (not making fun of your comments, I appreciate them all!). I had wanted to do this race since stopping in Ocean City on my way down to ZOOMA Annapolis three years ago (read about it here — that was one of my hottest — and worst — races — apparently Ocean City is a jinx for me! — but I still love it). In case you’re wondering, I did enjoy my race weekend.
Did I psych myself out? Read on and find out what I learned from this half marathon.
Compared to my last few long distance races this was actually a “large” race — which is to say there were more than just a few hundred runners. Packet pickup was easy, although just a little confusing because it was supposed to be at the Sneaker Shop when in reality it was at the Paint & Sip (not sure of the real name, and being a dry town, no sipping going on) adjacent to the sneaker shop. A sign would have been nice.
There’s an envelope with your tee and your bib and pins and that’s all she wrote.
No expo at all, but as I said, it does take place next to a small running shoe store — you might be able to find something if you’ve forgotten it.
Getting There & Hanging Out We had, again, chosen a hotel within walking distance of the starting line. The Harris House Motel was a very serviceable hotel — nothing fancy, but clean, and met my requirements: able to walk to the starting line, a microwave and mini fridge. There was also a very nice pool, but alas, I never did manage to use it; the hotel was also quite close to the boardwalk and beaches.
I was able to use the bathroom in my hotel room, again avoiding portapotty lines, and run to the start (while Mr. Judy carried over my hydration vest for me). I took off my Skirt Sports bolero, which I no longer needed, donned the hydration vest, and sent Mr. Judy on his merry way to attempt to get photos of me at the beginning of the race.
If you do go, be aware that there is a Bike ride to benefit MS on Saturday, the day before the race. A little synchronicity as we’d stopped to have lunch with Mr. Judy’s cousin, who has MS, on the way down. A large bike ride. They close off half the bridge heading onto the island. It took way longer to get into Ocean City than we’d anticipated. I’d read, but not really noticed, this detail in the runner info. We’d actually driven most of the way down on Friday, but decided to stop about an hour and a half north of OCNJ to stay the night, which just added lots of frustration and time on Saturday.
The weather & dressing The weather is what got me — or more specifically, the lack of clouds. My 18 mile race was actually warmer and more humid, but there was cloud cover almost the entire race — apparently I can do a hot race if it starts early, has cloud cover, or is a dry heat. I’m happy that I had the better weather for my 18 mile race.
My Race Plan I told Rachel @ Runningonhappy that I wanted a race plan (AP = actual pace & RP = race plan), which she provided, but unfortunately I could tell as soon as I started running that this would not be my day and the plan went out the window. The good news is I have one last half this year that I can use the same plan for.
So how’d that work for me?
Mile 1: 11:01 AP/11:00 RP. The start was very narrow and congested and there was just no way to even weave. It did prevent me from going out too fast, because I definitely could have run this mile faster.
Mile 2: 11:03 AP/10:55: RP. Mile 2 began to open up a little and I noted that there was actually shade (about the only shade on the course). I also had pretty much realized today was not going to be my day.
Mile 3: 11:16 AP/10:55 RP. There is quite the bridge here, but I felt I dealt with it fairly well. Oddly my Garmin shows an elevation gain of 2 ft for the entire race. I’m quite certain I gained a lot more than 2 ft on this bridge — what’s up with that? Otherwise it is a totally flat race. On a cooler day that would have been kind to me.
Mile 4: 10:57 AP/10:45 RP. I think this was where I sprinted to catch up with a woman wearing Skirt Sports to chat with her; you also come back over the bridge — the two things together gave me my fastest mile.
Mile 5: 11:37 AP/10:45 RP. I was still in the race. Sort of.
Mile 6: 11:47 AP/10:45 RP. I believe this is where we got onto the boardwalk, and I actually quite enjoyed running on the boardwalk. Although the smell of popcorn (and I love popcorn) was totally nauseating to me by this point.
Mile 7: 11:49 AP/10:45 RP. I think this may have been where the first cooling station was — I was on the right, so stopped to grab a cold towel from them, but they weren’t ready, so I had to go over to the left.
Mile 8: 11:57 AP/10:45 RP. I remember thinking that if I could just have an 11-something pace it wasn’t too bad . . .
Mile 9: 12:29 AP/10:45 RP. . . . and then thinking that anything with a 12 in front of it wasn’t so bad . . . by now the wheels began to come off.
Mile 10: 12:47 AP/10:45 RP. Although I was carrying my own water (and oddly I didn’t drink enough of it), I was stopping at every water stop to grab water and pour it over my head, the back of my neck, my wrists.
Mile 11: 13:16 AP/10:35 RP. Flat. Forward is a pace. Seriously, that’s what I told myself. I think it was at this mile that I grabbed some ice and shoved it down my bra. I wish I could say it made me feel better.
Mile 12: 14:12 AP/10:25 RP. Back on the boardwalk. Not only had the wheels come off, I couldn’t even find them anymore. I was walking most of this mile. Hey, for me a 14 mm while walking is a good pace.
Mile 13: 13:59 AP/10:15 RP. Still mostly walking, but I managed to run a bit more. I absolutely hate it when I give up my run/walk intervals and mostly walk. It wasn’t really that it was a super hot day, but it was warm, relentlessly sunny, and by now it’s after 11 — believe me, there were plenty of unhappy runners walking all around me. See below.
Last .18: 11:32 AP/All out sprint RP. Don’t ask me how I managed to pull myself together to sprint to the finish line.
2:40:47 — Official Time
12:14 Average Pace
22 out of 53 in 55-59F division
813 out of 1107 runners
A slower average pace than my 18 mile race! Not my best, not my worst. Overall solidly BOTP, but in my AG solidly MOTP. Actually one of my best hot races, so I can’t complain too much.
Was the race well run?
This is a relatively small town race (although quite a bit larger than the last couple of long races I ran), but it’s extremely well run. I had read nothing but good things about it and seriously they’re all true — my problem was with the weather, not the race — although starting a half marathon at 8:30 am when it’s sunny and warm is just way too late.
Weather at the end of September can swing in many directions: beautiful Fall days, hurricanes, cold, or quite hot. You know you’re in trouble, though, when the RD sends out an email the week before saying they’re adding cooling stations. They said they were adding two, but in fact I think they added four.
One of the reasons the race starts late, I was told, was that bikers like to bike on the boardwalk early (I personally think it could accommodate both). We spent quite a bit of time running on the boardwalk, which is not closed, but I never had to deal with people just walking in front of me — I’ve definitely dealt with that in races before.
The course was clearly marked with signs and also spray painted numbers (which for the most part I didn’t notice) on the boardwalk, and there were ample course marshals, too. Results were emailed to you the same day as the race. Although I didn’t need the aid stations to drink water, I used them to frequently grab water to pour over myself — they were always well stocked and the water was cold. Nothing worse than sipping warm water during a warm race. Plenty of cooling stations (where they handed out icy towels or even just ice) were available.
Food was also still plentiful when I finished, although there were runners who finished two hours after me! You get a goody bag with local treats — caramel popcorn, a soft pretzel, salt water taffy, orange slices — and pizza, bagels, fruit and I think it was monkey bread were also available at the finish — I think there may have been some other things available to grab, too, but I don’t remember. I didn’t see chocolate milk (not my thing anyway), but did see cartons of iced tea.
My one very tiny quibble with the food is put the napkins before the pizza (which I didn’t take, as I’m not ready to really chow down directly after the race, but who wants to pick up sticky monkey bread with their hands? It was tasty, though).
There were photographers along the course, although I didn’t notice all of them — which shows in my photos — the photos were up on the Website by the next Thursday (the race was Sunday). You do have to pay, but they also offered a 25% discount.
There’s also a bunch of pretty sweet prizes that are raffled off and sent to you if you’re not local. Darn it, I didn’t win anything.
Staying at a hotel close enough to the start/finish to walk (and use the bathroom in my hotel room — again!)
Also some real bathrooms near the start (although I didn’t use them)
Running on the boardwalk
Running near the ocean
The cooling stations were so appreciated
A very well organized race
Never wondering when/where to turn
Personalized bibs — and volunteers often encouraged you by name
Great goody bag of local foods post race
The late start
Too hot & no clouds/shade
The race shirt is kind of meh but not bad (although it does run large)
I only drank half the water in my hydration vest. Which is very unlike me and probably didn’t help my race, although I doubt it would have made a big difference, but I’m sure I would have felt better if I’d been better hydrated (and not had some cramping going on). I think I focused way too much on pouring water on myself to cool down and just forgot to drink.
What I learned
I thought I had conquered the whole heat thing. I’ve set PRs in some pretty hot (to me) races. So I learned that a late start with no cloud cover causes me to fade in the second half of the race. Maybe someday I’ll be able to overcome that, but for now I’m not really sure what I could have done differently.
I actually don’t think I went out too fast. In fact, I majorly adjusted my paces in the first half of the race from the plan, and my first half wasn’t too bad. Would starting even slower have prevented me from walking so much in the last two miles? I don’t think so, but I guess we’ll never know.
This is a great race and I highly recommend it — just be warned about how uncomfortable it can be on a hot day. I wouldn’t do the half again, but I think I’d enjoy the 10 mile race — I didn’t feel too bad until about mile 9 — and I really enjoy Ocean City, NJ: a great place to walk along the ocean, enjoy good food (or boardwalk food, if that’s your thing), some cool shops and really, just relaxing!