Normally I get a race review up the same night I run it…you will have to forgive me for the delay.
After last Sunday’s atrocious weather, I can honestly say I was holding my breath the entire week to see what the weather would be. Lucky for us, it was actually an absolutely GORGEOUS day outside. Not one single cloud in the entire sky and although it was chilly before the start, once we got going-we were very warm. Sometimes the “waiting” for the race to start can actually be the hardest part.. don’t you agree?
Parking was easy, the shuttle quick, and the number pickup seamless. Tons of porta potties at both the start and the bag check area-win win. My only complaint about our pre race experience is that from the time we got off the shuttle to the area where we picked up our numbers-it wasn’t clear where we were going. We just followed our group from the shuttle…until they branched off towards a gas station. A cop told us we were going the right way but it was a significant walk between the shuttle drop off to the number pickup…maybe a mile to a mile and a half? Maybe it would’ve felt like less if I had known where we were going?
The bag check/post race area had spectacular views. It was lovely to overlook the water and actually not be freezing our behinds off.
Now is the time for me tell you a brief background story of how our race registration went…We were having a couples night and M and I were about 3 (maybe even 4 ?) bottles of wine deep when I talked my friend into doing one of my “14 in 14” half marathons with me.
Since it was Jan-Feb-ish-i picked the next half off my list-The Great Bay Half Marathon. Wine makes you do silly things: like register for a race and NOT check out the course beforehand. I made my poor friend register on the spot because I was WAY TOO EXCITED to have a FRIEND to RUN a RACE WITH. (I will liken my excitement to how happy your dog is to see you when you get home from work..minus the butt sniffing and licking, of course 😉)
On the website, the course claimed to be a challenge… it was not a lie . Now, My friend and I live in a hilly area…We decided last week that it actually difficult for us to find a flat area to run on since there are SO many hills to conquer.
Once we started to tell people that we were running Great Bay-their response was a resounding “Ooooohh, Uhhhhmmmm…. That one’s REALLY hilly”. It’s not that we didn’t believe these friends..it was that we were training on Passaconaway, Norris Road and Sherburne Road…and if you know those three streets in Dracut, Tyngsboro and Pelham…then I don’t really have to tell you just HOW tall and steep they are. Each one is about two miles long and is as difficult as a hill can be. We headed out the door a couple of times every week to tackle those hills and by last week-we made them our b*tches.
To quote my friend:
I love the feeling of being DONE a hill-how we can get to the top, turn around, flip it off…And keep going. That feeling rocks.
She is one smart cookie because she is right: it feels great to move past a hill..and we all know: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Back to the race….
I was approached at the start by a local runner who recognized me because she follows the blog-thanks, Melissa-that was really cool! I wish now that I had taken a picture of us all!! Melissa totally rocked the race-even without her running partner, which she was nervous about. She did great!
One of the first things Melissa told M and I was that “this course sucks” aka-FULL OF HILLS! Needless to say, we were a little worried.
I could tell you the minute details of every single hill but I think that would bore you. What i WILL tell you is that it is a tough course, we swore
like sailors a lot, our calves screamed, it is extremely full of hills, and I wasn’t surprised by any of this. If I had thought it was flat-i would’ve been in for quite the shocker. We knew going into it that it would be tough and we were ready.
I had so much fun racing with my friend on Sunday.We kept it at about a 9 minute per a mile pace for the whole 13.1 miles. Her goal was to break two hours: we did it in 2:00:45. I am convinced that if we had run a flat half-she could’ve knocked ten minutes off that: she killed it-the hills were HARD and she NEVER gave up. I also chanted “Beer/French fries/beer/French fries” when we were going up the hills. I ask you-is there really any better motivation??
I also think we amused the runners around us with our conversations-which ranged from how gross the texture of powerbar gels are (and what I compare them to-sorry, Mom), what kind of beers we wanted to drink when we finished (I wanted any kind of watermelon beer,she wanted landshark) and onto how-the NEXT time we are wine-o’s and decide to sign up for a random half-we will wait until the next day, let the wine wear off, and check the elevations before hitting “submit”.
The water stops were awesome-every single one appeared to be at someone’s house and the volunteers were handing you glasses of water/Gatorade. The people were all SO KIND-I can’t say that enough. The town of Newmarket was quite beautiful, and the views along those hills were something to see. I took not even one picture-bad blogger… It was so pretty, neat and clean that I tried my very hardest to throw each cup right into the trash verses carelessly to the side. It was Too pretty to mess up!! I was certainly impressed with the organization! And, the belly dancers!
The finish line area had beer, pizza, bananas, yogurt, water…it was so simple to pick up our bags, and we got right out because these girls were HANGRY with the RUNGER. We met our fellas and headed to a place nearer to home for our grub-Fuddruckers!.
I then proceeded to eat All The Food…anything that was in front of me went directly into my belly… If you looked like a piece of bacon or a French fry-I would’ve eaten you too.
M’s husband gave me the extra shake that comes in the metal milkshake glass-and I couldn’t even turn it down (I did try for about 26 seconds to continue to feel guilty and resist, but it was impossible to defy the charms of a peanut butter cup shake.
All in all it was a fantastic day. gorgeous weather, fantastic company, lots of laughs and BEER AND FRENCH FRIES!!!
I WOULD recommend the race to hill seeking missiles …. It’s a course that CAN Be “beasted” but you obviously have to prep for it. I definitely would try it out again!! ;