Old Port Half Marathon–Portland, Maine Debriefing

7-24-11 mile12 old port half

Mile 12 of the Old Port Half Marathon

So nice to finally have time to write about our weekend! Warning: this is not brief! Scott and I both ran the First Annual Old Port Half Marathon this past Sunday, July 24, 2011 for his birthday! We love Portland, Maine and hadn’t been there since the fall of 2006. Being homebrewers, we have always headed to Maine with a mission to sample the local beer, visit brewpubs, and enjoy the ocean air. So when I discovered this brand new half marathon right in downtown Portland, I couldn’t resist signing us both up. And falling on Scott’s birthday made it extra special Smile This turned out to be an excellent half marathon and very well organized. I highly recommend running it next year if it falls into your race schedule. We might be back if possible!

7-24-11 scott shoreline dr

Scoping out the race course on Saturday: Shoreline Drive (mile 3.5)

We left Vermont on Saturday morning and got to Portland in the early afternoon. It was insanely hot and we saw 100F on our car thermometer right before we checked into our hotel. We picked up our race numbers and tech shirts at the Maine Running Companyon Forest Avenue. This is a cool shop with all kinds of running gear! Lots of great stuff for triathletes too! After picking up our numbers, we decided to drive around parts of the race course to see what was in store for us.

7-24-11 eastland sunset

Saturday’s sunset from our hotel window on the top floor. It was still in the 80sF!

We stayed at the Holiday Inn By the Bay which is right in downtown Portland. We have 7-24-11 sillys pastastayed here in the past and once again we had a great experience. It’s not too pricey and we have never encountered any problems. Plus it’s a 5 minute walk from the Old Port area. For our pre-race dinner we headed to Silly’s Restaurant which was recommended by our friend Jamie. (Thanks!!). This is a super cool place that has a fun retro diner style theme to it. Silly’s is very vegan friendly with many veggie options (gluten-free options too!) We both had the “One Saucy Chick” dinner. We were able to get breaded fried tofu and vegan mozzarella cheese in lieu of the traditional items on this plate. This dinner was excellent and super tasty! A great pasta dish for a little carb loading! I loved the fried tofu and the spicy sauce! This dinner is HUGE! So we took leftovers to go (we asked for a fridge in our hotel room prior to arriving). We heard Silly’s does great non-dairy milkshakes! Something to try on our next visit to Portland! Smile

7-24-11 scott silly's

Inside Silly’s Restaurant

Race Recap:

When we were getting ready for bed on Saturday night, the temps were still in the high 80s and this had me a bit concerned. But after running the hot Stowe 8 miler the previous Sunday, I was ready for the heat. We woke up early and the temperature was already 76F! No worries, I was prepared and had everything I needed for electrolytes and hydration.

7-24-11 prerace scott&me hotel

Before the start of the race in the hotel lobby. We love our Farm Sanctuary jerseys!

When we got to the race start near Eastern Promenade a bit after 7am, it was feeling quite warm. So I did my 1 mile warm-up run rather conservatively with Scott. Closer to the 8am start, the race announcer asked for Scott Holsten and wished him a Happy Birthday. Scott was surprised and I was delighted. I had emailed the race organizer letting him know about the ‘Birthday Boy’.

My goal for this particular half marathon was to run +/- 7 minute miles depending on the heat and race course. Jack thought this was feasible for me. This is my fourth half marathon so I’m still a rookie! Overall my official time and pace was: 1:32:38.9 and 7:04 minutes/mile (A PR so far). I was the 3rd woman overall out of 363 women. Considering it was another hot race, I am very happy with my time and run. It wasn’t quite as hot as Stowe, but warm enough to feel pretty tough the last 4 miles. Here are the results for those like me who enjoy looking at running statistics and race times Smile

The first mile was fast with a small downhill towards the end of the mile, but I was careful and kept my pace just under 7 minutes (it was tempting to run faster like a lot of women in the beginning who I passed later on!) Miles 1 through 4 went very well. There was a thin cloud cover, a nice ocean breeze and a few shady spots. It wasn’t feeling as hot as I expected and I was running well at a pace ranging 6:52-6:57/mile. I felt like I could maintain this pace as long as it didn’t get too hot. The course is not as flat as I expected. There were some small gradual rolling hills but nothing critical. Living in Vermont, running hills are an everyday ritual, so these hills in the first half of the race were nothing to complain about.

Mile 5 took us into the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center. We made a left hand turn onto a gravel road into the Center. Then we ran on a grassy trail that made a loop and came back7-24-11 barn audubon centeronto the gravel road. The grassy trail reminded me of running at Catamount. It was very pretty but it also slowed down my pace considerably. The trail also had some fun rolling hills that made my pace a bit slower in mile 6. But it was a great little section for trail runners! At this point I was still following Ellie the second place woman by a few seconds. She did a much better job at maintaining her pace than me! Miles 5 & 6 were slower for me due to the grassy section of the course and my pace was 7:04 and 7:02 respectively. I wasn’t worried since I was feeling faster once I was back onto the pavement. My next mile was back to a nice sub 7 pace which made me feel confident.

7-24-11 backcovetrail portland

Miles 8-11 were run on the Back Cove Trail above all along the Bay.

The last part of mile 8 brought us down to the Back Cove Trail which went around the Bay. This was almost entirely crushed gravel. It’s a beautiful section of the course, but it also felt slow running on the loose gravel (after the race other people spoke of how slow that trail feels to run with the gravel). And this is where it also got very hot. The thin cloud cover was almost gone and the sun was blazing. My pace slowed down quite a bit but I still hung onto a 7:01 pace for mile 8. Mile 9 got really tough so I took another electrolyte and then did a high octane gel with some caffeine! This helped out a lot! I felt better and started moving faster. I caught up to Martha and was surprised to pass her. I learned afterward the heat took its toll on her too. Luckily she was able to keep me in sight for almost the rest of the race. It was fun chatting with her afterward and learning that I was helpful in getting her to the finish faster. I hope we run another race together! She’s a cool lady!

7-24-11 back cove trail hill

Mile 11 towards the end of the Back Cove trail. This was a hot tough mile!

At mile 10 I was still doing fine but it was getting more difficult in the sun and heat. Mile 11 was my toughest and slowest mile at almost 7:19! This mile took us out of the Back Cove 7-24-11 e promenade & bridgesection with a few short hills. Normally hills like this would feel easy, but towards the end of the race and in the heat, they were hard! Miles 12 and 13 were absolutely gorgeous along the Eastern Promenade Trail which went along the ocean. They were also a lot flatter and faster. I was still feeling the heat and looking forward to the finish line. I squeezed out a 7:07 for mile 12 and then tried to kick it in a little for mile 13. This was difficult but I managed to run pretty well for feeling so hot and tired at that point. I did a ‘high five’ with one guy at about a half mile to go. We congratulated each other and both kicked it in a bit more. He was faster at the end. With just few more minutes to go, I was so happy to be back in the Old Port with the Finish Line just up ahead on the Maine Pier. I finished strong and was happy to see the cheering crowds!

7-24-11 e promenade &  beach

Mile 12 on the Eastern Promenade trail with beach and ocean views!

Overall it was a very good half marathon for me. I did well in the heat on the last 4-5 miles. It 7-24-11 morning run ocean viewwas tough and the last few miles felt harder than the last 4 miles of the Vermont City Marathon. I still wish I had been able to maintain a steady pace throughout the whole race, but I’m still new at this and need to be easier on myself. Overall I was only 44 seconds behind Ellie who finished 2nd. Had I been able to maintain my pace the whole way, I would have been right there with her at the end. Something to strive for! She was very inspiring, especially being 56 years old young! Go Ellie!!

Scott had a very good race too and I’m so proud of him! The heat was tough for him as well on the last 4-5 miles but he finished up very strong. He had a PR and ran a 1:51:23.5! A super job considering the race conditions and his first summer of structured training! He’s getting faster and faster every day….just like our old bike racing days! Go Scott!!

7-24-11 scott with beer

Happy Birthday Scott! You rocked it!


7-24-11 me&jamie

Celebrating with Jamie and enjoying some Smuttynose beer!

I do have to mention the party afterward with Smuttynose beer was a very nice way to end the event. It was so great to meet and chat with Jamie and her running buddies. We also met a nice man named Craig who started running in his late 40s with his son. The great thing about the running community is people are so friendly and nice. We are meeting so many cool folks at running races! And I want to say the race organizers did an amazing job with the FIRST Old Port Half Marathon & 5K race. We were so impressed with how well everything went. And the volunteers were great! Thank you all so much!!!

7-24-11 me with prize

Love my prize! Smile

Post Race Food and Beverage Report:

7-24-11 dinner at green elephant

Thanks to Jamie’s great advice, we had a wonderful dinner at the Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro, which was a 3 minute walk from the Holiday Inn. This place is 7-24-11 dessert green elephantawesome!!!! We had a wonderful experience! The food was so flavorful, healthy and nourishing. Almost everything on the menuis vegan or can be made vegan by eliminating eggs which were a part of some of the menu items. If you love Asian food, this place is great. They even had some vegan gluten-free menu items. Our waiter was lovely, helpful and friendly. He was great about recommending things. Even the dessert menu was fantastic and vegan friendly! It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to order dessert off a menu in a restaurant! After our desserts we joked about moving to Portland for the food! It’s that good!

7-24-11 portland pier

A walk along the piers on Commercial Avenue on Sunday evening

After walking off our epic dinner and dessert in the Old Port section, we headed to a very cool beer bar called Novare Res. The evening cooled down and we enjoyed sitting outside sipping our beers.

7-24-11 novare res beer

Before heading home on Monday I did a nice 5 mile recovery run along the Eastern Promenade trail from Commercial Ave. It was nice to take some photos of the last few miles of the race which I have posted. We then had a nice breakfast at a neat little café called, Local Sprouts. This was just down the road from the Green Elephant and about 5 minutes from the hotel. We both had a very yummy and healthy tofu scramble with lots of local veggies. This place is very eclectic with a focus on local food. It has a nice ‘crunchy’ vibe. It was fun to ‘people watch’ while enjoying our breakfast. They also bake their own pastries and treats. I brought home some vegan whoopie pies, a vegan carrot cake cupcake and a vegan ginger cookie! It was my first vegan whoopie pie! Maybe my first whoopie pie ever Smile

7-24-11 local sprouts tofu

Overall it was a fantastic weekend and half marathon! I highly recommend doing this half marathon or the 5K and visiting Portland Maine next year! If you love good food, local beer and running, Portland is for you!

7-24-11 old port medals

We received these nice medals for finishing the Old Port Half Marathon!

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1 Response to Old Port Half Marathon–Portland, Maine Debriefing

  1. Amber says:

    Thank you so much for such a detailed race report! I am a Portlander living in Upstate NY. I came across this race last week and am so excited to do it next year, especially after reading this. You did amazing! My husband and I did a race this fall and our bib numbers were 111 (me) and 112 (him). I thought that was funny when I saw the picture of you and your husband with the exact same numbers.

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