This is my first blog post in 6 months due to injuries over the winter. This was also my first race for 2012 so it was a big deal for me. This past June I officially started training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November after a touch-and-go spring. My running friend Jess suggested we sign up for the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire on 9-30-12 which would also be a great training race in preparation for Philadelphia.
This summer we decided focus solely on training for the half marathon and full marathon. We stayed off our road and mountain bikes and didn’t do any extra hard-core trail running that could jeopardize our training. It was a tough decision but had to be done. And it was worth the sacrifice, as I made it to the starting line of the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon last Sunday. However, the week, days and hours leading up the the half marathon were filled with challenges that almost kept me from starting the race. The odds kept stacking up against me! Firstly it was one of the busiest weeks at work with our fiscal year-end. On the Wednesday before the race I started to get a sore throat with some minor achiness. Oh No, I kept thinking! I hardly ever get sick and it was such bad timing. Scott was quick to jump on this one. He jokingly kept telling me “I am going to kick your ass!” Being sick, sore and tired, Scott actually had a pretty good chance of doing just that! I kept joking back that I was worried he might catch up to me in the race and toss me in the ocean!
View of race finish from our hotel room after we finished the race.
By Friday I was feeling lousy enough where I left work at 3:30pm with tons of work left undone. The stress of the upcoming race, work, and now a cold were causing my calf and lower leg to become very sore when walking and running (Stress does this to me). As I walked to my car that Friday afternoon, I was almost fighting back tears wondering how the heck I could race on Sunday.
Luckily that Friday night I started to feel better thanks to the healing thoughts of friend who has become my new training partner at work. I was going to knock this cold after all! But I made the mistake of drinking this green tea for colds that evening. I don’t drink green tea very often and forgot about the caffeine factor! BIG mistake! I was up to 3am wondering if I would ever fall asleep. The next morning wasn’t too bad with only a few hours of sleep. And I was still feeling like I was winning my battle with the small cold and sore throat. We drove down to Hampton Beach and checked into the Ashworth Hotel, a nice historic beach resort right across the street from the ocean. I loved the ocean views right from our window and balcony!
Morning ocean view from our hotel balcony
That evening we were invited to a nice pasta dinner with Jess, Chris, Bob, Kristen and Marty, all very accomplished GMAA runners. They were all staying in a couple condos a short walk down the main drag from us. This was perfect! Enjoying a nice relaxing dinner with everyone was exactly what I needed to ease my mind and nourish my body. Again, thank you all!
That evening after dinner we got into bed around 9m. I fell asleep shortly after reading my book. By 11pm we were abruptly awoken to the terrifying and deafening sound of a fire alarm right in our room! I was completely disoriented and absolutely shocked. “This can’t be happening” was all I could manage to say. There was a wedding going on in the hotel that night, so once we were out on the street everyone was making the speculation that some drunk pulled the fire alarm. But we learned the next day it was a small electrical fire that didn’t cause any damage. Unfortunately I was never able to calm down and fall back to sleep. I tried reading, watching the telly, reading again, and meditating without success. Finally around 4am I accepted the fact that my body was not going into sleep mode. I’ve pulled all-nighters playing music in Ireland. I know my body can handle sleep deprivation. I was about to test myself in a half marathon! My life is never dull
National Anthem is sung at race start
At 6am we were out of bed eating our breakfast and getting into our race clothes. At 7:15am we were out the door and started an easy 1 mile jog to warm up. It was perfect race weather: cool, cloudy and low 50s F with a light mist. To my great relief, my calf and lower leg seemed perfectly fine. And the night before it was sore just walking down the stairs during the fire alarm. Once we got to the starting line, we met up with Todd another fast GMAA and Catamount runner. It was great to see him as we missed out on the summer Catamount races. And then Jess, Chris, Bob, Kristen and Marty met us in the starting line. I was absolutely thrilled to see everyone and so happy to have made it to the start line. So many different emotions were experienced that week right up to the start of the race! Hence the title of my post, “50 Shades” after the notorious book that is currently keeping bookstores in business.
Being a numbers person who works as a financial analyst, here are the statistics right off the bat:
My chip time was 1:31:42, pace per mile was 7:01 minutes (my goal was 7 minutes or slightly less). This was a PR (personal record) for me by a little less than a minute. I was 16th out of 2035 women. I was first in my age group of 301 women ages 40-44. Oddly enough there were over 2,000 women and only a bit over 1,000 men in this race.
Scott knocked off 13 minutes from his last half marathon and had a PR! His chip time was 1:38:50, pace per mile was 7:33 minutes. Way to go!!
Here are the official posted results: http://www.coolrunning.com/results/12/nh/Sep30_Smutty_set3.shtml
As I said above it was really great weather for racing. Nice cool temps, overcast sky and a very light mist in the beginning which would turn to a light to moderate rain during the race. The overall race course is fun, fast and very scenic. The up hills were nothing terrible and there seemed to be plenty of down hills to make up speed. And the ocean views were gorgeous even if the weather was gray and rainy. This is definitely a course for personal records! Had I been feeling better I know I would have done better, but I am very pleased my story had a happy ending with good results. Here are the details:
The first mile was speedy and very enjoyable. We were all smart to get right up near the front of the race so we crossed over the starting line within seconds. I looked down at my garmin and was surprised to see a fast pace that felt very comfortable (6:37 to 6:45). But I knew that it had been a challenging week and a tough night so I decided to stick with the plan and run the first 6 miles close to a 7 minute mile pace. Mile 1 clocked in at a 6:58 pace according to my garmin which was perfect. It was a thrill and so fun to be racing again after a whole year! I was enjoying the ocean views, flat fast roads and happy to know Jess was right by me. Halfway on mile 3 we turned left and ran away from the ocean. There was a very slight incline that was still fast and I was feeling pretty good. I was keeping an eye on my garmin and took some water from the first station. By mile 4 we were running through these very wealthy and ritzy neighborhoods. There were lots of homemade signs put up to encourage and support the runners. My favorite was “This pain is only temporary”. And I did appreciate all people cheering us on! The neighborhoods were fun to run in and the hills were not feeling ominous yet.
Around mile 6 I was still averaging a little less than 7 minute miles and right inline with my goal. But after a hill that felt tougher than it should have, I realized I was only running on 4 out of 5 cylinders. I was starting to feel the effects of the previous cold & sore throat and lack of sleep. I wasn’t about to give up on my goals so I soldiered onwards. I ran up the hills conservatively and capitalized on the down hills trying to make up the speed. This seemed to work well. Luckily there was a lot of down hill running in this race course! At around mile 8 I decided to consume a GU on one of the descents. I was still breathing hard and almost had to force down the GU. It was not very lady-like to say the least. I must have sounded like a little monster . The GU did give me some extra energy to tackle an unexpected hill at mile 9 and a water station on the up hill. That was tricky but I needed water after the GU.
Luckily I did recover for mile 10 and this is where I should have been able to kick it in for the last 4 miles. While I wasn’t able to increase my speed like I had originally hoped, I was feeling better from the GU and enjoyed a down hill that brought us back to the ocean. The last 3 miles were right along the ocean and were very fun and fast. But they were also very hard for me. Mile 11 and 12 were both a 6:57 pace but I had to dig in deep to do that. At this time I was also passed by a few very strong women which was fine. I was going for time not place so I wasn’t concerned. Mile 12 was a suffer-fest but I was still holding on to my pace. Mile 13 was the longest and toughest mile for me at a 7:03 pace. I could see the Ashworth Hotel in the distance and it seemed so far away. Finally I was able to kick it in the last 1/10 of a mile to go. Crossing the finish line was very sweet and a big accomplishment for me that day! I was overjoyed!
Almost at the Finish!
Scott calls this one “crazy eyes”
After I got my medal and a drink of water, Marty finished next and then Jess. It was so great to see then and know they did well too! Jess said that she saw me for most of the race and that I was pacing myself very well. She also made me laugh so hard when telling me my running shorts are way too big and baggy. She noticed that the whole time. I was in stiches as I know I wear my clothes on the baggy side. But I can fit a couple GUs in the back pockets and those shorts are so comfy!! But after analyzing my race photos, the shorts do look HUGE! Jess and I will be going shopping soon!
The post-race party was epic with almost endless amounts of Smuttynose beer and a fantastic 70s funk band called Motor Booty Affair. I’m not into cover bands that much but these guys were amazing and awesome musicians. The energy was unbelievable. And I love 70s funk and dance music! It’s one of my guilty pleasures! We drank a lot of beer and some of us even got out and danced! Jess, you rock and must teach me to dance like that!! We stayed to the end of the party and then got some lunch and more beer at a local restaurant on the main boulevard. We were all in high spirits as everyone did well in their races and were enjoying the beer. Afterward we decided to go jump into the ocean. I wasn’t sure how serious anyone was but I was curious to find out. And yes, most of us ended up in the ocean. I jumped in with my clothes on but next time will wear a bathing suit underneath. The water was surprisingly warmer than the air but we didn’t stay in that long. It was fun and we all laughed so hard. Later that evening we had a great time hanging out at a friendly biker bar called Wally’s Pub. The vegetarian subs were good for us and everyone else enjoyed pizza. It was fun hanging out drinking more beer, playing pool and watching Jess out on the dance floor. She is my new hero!! The local women in the bar loved her. It was such a fun night. My abs hurt on Monday from laughing so much with everyone. Thank you Jess, Chris, Bob, Kristen & Marty. I love you guys! It was one of the best weekends!
The gang after jumping into the Atlantic Ocean!
The sun came out later in the afternoon!
Beautiful orange full moon the evening after our race
Food and Beverage Report:
While Hampton Beach would not be considered a “vegan friendly” vacation destination, we were able to eat in a couple of the local places. For lunch after the party, the cook was able to make us a wrap with salad and veggies with a generous helping of fries. That hit the spot and we were happy campers. And at Wally’s Pub I told the bartender we are allergic to dairy and the veggie sub came with a vinaigrette dressing in lieu of traditional mayo. And it was yummy. We are vegans but not picky vegans when we are out with friends. Life is much easier that way!
Inside the Friendly Toast Diner
That being said above, Scott and I do love good culinary experiences and appreciate delicious vegan food. So on Monday we headed to Portsmouth, NH for breakfast. I’ve read about the Friendly Toast in several vegan foodie blogs so I wanted to experience it for myself. It is a super cool retro-style dinner that has great breakfast food. They also have several well known tofu scrambles that vegans rave about! We had this amazing Mexican style scramble tofu with fresh avocados, black beans, home fries and a bagel. We were still hungry from the race and all the beer so this was a most amazing meal that hit the spot!
On our way home from an afternoon in southern Maine, we stopped in Exeter, NH to visit the Good Karma Café for dinner. I have been looking forward to eating at this 100% vegan restaurant for a while now. They opened in May and we finally made it! The staff was incredibly friendly, warm and passionate about the food and café. We felt right at home. They make incredible cooked and raw vegan food! I am a trained raw vegan chef so this was extra special for me. We had a delicious raw appetizer of hummus, falafel, tabouli, tatziki, and veggies. I was so hungry I also had this raw Asian style creamy soup that was amazing! For the main entrées I had the Asian Tempeh over quinoa and Scott had the BBQ Chik’n pizza with Daiya vegan cheese. It was delicious too! Scott loves pizza so it was a treat for him. We were so stuffed afterward that we were not able to enjoy dessert. So we brought home some muffins and a slice of apple pie. I enjoyed this the next day at work. This café is amazing and I highly recommend it! They are talking about opening up a Good Karma Café up in Burlington, VT!!!! If they do this will be incredible for us.
Overall it was an amazing weekend with lots of highs and lows. It was an experience where I learned that no matter how bleak things may seem, never give up! There were so many times I didn’t think I would make it to the starting line but I did. It was almost a minor miracle to see the finish line but it did happen. Things can turn around so quickly. Pain is only temporary. We are tougher than we think. Life is about experiences which make us stronger and better people.
We highly recommend the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon and hope to do it again next year! The race is well organized and the volunteers were great. Thank you everyone! And thanks to Capstone Photography for good race photos and quick service. My photos were emailed to me the same day I ordered them!
Next up, the Philadelphia Marathon 11-18-12. Stay tuned!