Registering for this one was a bit of a lark. I’d just finished the Celtic 5k earlier in the day and was feeling pretty good about myself. So I started noodling around with upcoming Half Marathons (because that’s a thing most people do, right?) and found this one. It’s not terribly close to me but it did fit the parameters of my customary rule (don’t take longer to drive to a race than it will take you to run the race) and the extended forecast seemed like it would be a good running day. I was hung up on the late entry fee and was desperately seeking a discount code.
If I joined USATF, I could get a $25 discount code – membership is $30, so it would’ve been a net increase of $5 which I was considering – but then I happened upon a 501(c)3 charity partnered up with the race organizers: Donate $60 to the organization and get a comped race entry. Perfect. Made even more perfect is that the Arredondo Family Foundation does some really good work.
Their mission is to empower military families in the prevention of military related suicides and to provide support through education, financial relief and support services.
So, on Sunday night with about 30-minutes left in the online registration window, I pressed “submit” on my race entry. I was in. Now, what was I in for?
Well, according to at least one online write up, it is a good course: scenic and flat-ish, but with a couple of “significant” hills…the second at mile 12! Oh c’mon. Known for it’s blustery conditions, they said it can be challenging. Oh great. I then click on over the the course map (who cares, I don’t know what I’m really looking at) at the bottom of which was an elevation map. THAT’s what I was looking for. Kind of a mixed bag for me. Most of the gains are at the start of the race, then about 9 miles of descent or flat streets. I figured if I could just lump my lard-butt past the first three miles or so, I’d be golden.
Which is pretty much how it played out. The weather was just shy of perfect – a bit of a wind, but not often pushing against me, mostly blowing me sideways. The sun was out, it was on the cool side (low 30’s) but overall pretty nice.
A good group of people from my running club showed up and it was nice seeing them along the course. One guy who’d just returned from a European jaunt of what seemed like a couple of months (I mean like back on Friday…jet lag must’ve really been doing a number on him), passed me a couple of times. The first time he informed me that he stopped at a porta potty but couldn’t get anything going, so he wasted that time. About 45-minutes later he ran by me, telling me that he stopped and pooped in someone’s house. Not the usual conversation, but I’ve learned that runners are generally pretty open about such things. What blows my mind about this is that he continued on and finished a couple of minutes ahead of me. He’s a really good runner and was already convinced he’d have a “crap time” (his words, not mine, although it does ring a little true after telling this vignette, doesn’t it?) Funny, his crap time is my personal record, but hey. Everyone runs their own race.
By the 10k split, I was thinking I had a really good chance to PR – that split was my fastest 10k time.by quite a bit: 50:31. I bested my 10-Mile time by about a minute as well, and by that point my internal dialogue was pretty much talking about keeping moving, keeping a steady pace. Mile 12 was pretty much what I thought it would be. That ascent grabbed about a minute off my pace, I slowed down quite a bit, but got through it. I’m quite sure the cold weather helped me out there: at Clearwater back in January, a similar situation at mile 12 really bonked me out. I was much less well prepared for that race than this, but doubt creeps in: that’s why controlling that internal dialogue is so important.
With maybe 0.2 mile give or take, one of my friends from the running club was on the corner taking pictures and saw me. She got all wide-eyed and yelled at me that I still had a really good chance to get 1:50:00. So I pushed just a little harder, and around the corner was a slight downward hill, so I sprinted as hard as I could that last it of distance to the finish. I’m not really sure exactly where I found the juice, but I did.
My gun time was 1:49:19, but my chip/net time was 1:48:57 – either way I beat that 1:50 time with just a little urging on from someone in the right place at the right time. A little further away from the finish and I may not have pulled it off, a little closer and it wouldn’t have mattered. Serendipity and luck combined with appropriate training and a few friends never hurt anyone.
New Bedford Half Marathon: 1:48:57
Clearwater Half Marathon: 1:56:32
Cambridge Half Marathon: 1:57:38
Upton State Forest Half Marathon (Trail): 2:18:01.9
Worcester Half Marathon: 1:51:56
Black Goose Half Marathon: 2:00:48