Big Lake Half Marathon Recap/Need for Speed

I knew going into this race that it was more of a test of my speed vs an actual “race” that I would be aiming to place high in. I haven’t done much speedwork in the last month or two-and I am nowhere near to being as fast as I can be.

The Big Lake Half Marathon takes place in Alton Bay, NH (the Bay is off of Lake Winnepausaukee). It’s about an hour and a half ride from where I live. I have had eye on this race for the past couple years. My wifey’s family owns a home right on the lake and we have SO many amazing and hilarious summer memories from our time spent up there. Whenever I visit, I get up early and go for runs along the bay. I knew the course would feel familiar and I was pretty psyched about that.

Weather for the day called for rain in the morning, but just a cloudy sky for the 8am starting time. I was pretty late-I think I got to the parking lot at 7:30. Normally I like to arrive an hour or morebeforehand, buuuttttt I was super lazy getting out of bed…. it’s extremely difficult to leave your sleeping mate, isn’t it??

Getting there later than planned meant that I didn’t have time to be all negative, make an outfit change(this happens ALL the time) and doubt my running, so maybe it worked in my favor? Negative Nancy usually pays me a visit before the start of every race, no matter what I seem to do. I had about five minutes to hit the porta potty, grab my number and check my bag.

With Five minutes to go, i heard the national anthem being sung, and I found myself booking it to get to the start. Bagcheck was at the actual starting line instead of inside the school where you pick up your number-kind of a cool concept to load your bags right when you start, but about 100 other peeps were as late as me to check their stuff. Bag check was organized by bins ranging from your numbers, so at least it was very quick and easy.

There were A LOT of people who ran this little race and the roads were VERY CROWDED at the start. Honestly, I was late to get there, but I didn’t see any signs organizing the runners by projected finishing times (1:20, 1:25, 1:30…) This would have helped.. I’m not a fan of nearly elbowing people to get by, nor do I like zigzagging back and forth until I am at my own comfortable pace–> but this is what happened. I was like a little bumble bee buzzing around. A quick look at cool runnings told me there were about 800+ finishers. And believe me it felt like way more. It took about three solid miles for the runners to thin out.

The scenery was lovely, and the course is actually the same exact roads that I normally run on when I’m in Alton. BONUS!! Now to force one of my girlfriends to do it again with me next year?! The sky was actually NOT overcast for the run-it poured.. to the point where I literally had my eyes closed because I could not see. With all the dam extra clothes I brought, you would naturally think I brought along a hat, but nope! The race actually had a GU stop during it and I grabbed two-bonus points for that-normally it’s Powerbar and I’m just NOT a fan of their consistency. GU is where it’s at! I actually didn’t stop even once which is very unlike me. The one cup of water I grabbed at mile 9, I managed to drink it-up my nose. I decided it was in my best interest to power through… And I have never not taken a drink at a race. Very weird and UN-Nicole.

My cousin Zachary actually ran his first half Saturday too-I didn’t have time to find him at the start, but his beautiful wife and adorable boys were along the course. Sandie snapped a few pictures of us running by!


(please ignore the fact that I look exhausted and haven’t slept in five days and that my legs look twice their normal size…why I always look terrible in race pictures, I do not know..I’m going to maintain that in these pictures I am already soaking wet and unable to see…)
I was up and down with my pace-I had five 7 minute miles, and majority of the rest of the miles were in the low 8 minute range, with my slowest mile being 8:34. I really didn’t try to sprint at all. Like I mentioned before, this was a race for me to see where my “racing fitness” is at and now I know!

Finish time was 1:46:42. (Garmin said 1:46:44 for 13.2, avg pace 8:05) Ironically, I felt faster than my Moose on the Loose half about a month ago, but I actually was not. Funny how that happens! Because I am crazy obsessed with stats, I always hang around for the times to be posted so I know my “official” ranking. I finished 8th out of 84 in my age.

(Zachary and I at the finish: a 1:45 finish for this guy on his first try! Amazing!!
The finish line area had tons of goodies: coconut waters, protein shakes, pizza, yogurt smoothies, beer…chips, there was LOTS of stuff. I only had a small piece of pizza which I normally wouldn’t do-but it was not and I was freezing from the rain so I had to do it. I didn’t stick around for the beer because I was frozen, and because I wanted to make it home by 12 (I did).
I would do this race again… Probably not solo though, unless I stay in Alton. It was a tiring drive to be there so early in the morning, and on the way home if you had passed me…you just may have seen a girl driving who appeared to be singing at the top of her lungs so she would NOT fall asleep. Yup.
(Free t shirt is so cute, and I love the medal!)

I have another race next weekend-Funky Kingston Half. I truly believe that every day you have the chance to improve yourself. We all know that a PR isn’t magic, and that you have to work for what you want. You have to spend some time running at your goal pace if you want to hit those magic numbers on race day!! My focus for the week will be on some shorter, faster distances.

Even if I improve just a tad next week, I will be psyched. Then I will set my sights on reducing my times for my half marathons that I have lined up over the rest of the summer. Training for Baystate “officially” kicks off mid June-I will be faster by then.

Of course, when I got home-I had to immediately research “how to get faster in your half marathon”. I spent a few hours an hour with the World Wide Web and found a few great articles, like this one and this one that had some great workouts in it. And I bought a book online that my friend/running partner Kristina suggested: Pfitzers Road Racing. (I will be sure to recap!)

The workouts above are what a guy did while training to run a one hour half Marathon. An hour. Wowza.

Why all the focus on speed? Well I have a plan. I am training for Baystate with my running partner, Kristina, and we are designing our training plan soon..we have goal times, tempo runs, and sprint days all in the works to get us ready. But I just feel like this is my year. My year of PRing and training and truly giving it my 100% honest to god effort. To quote my running partner: “I want to run a race this summerthat leaves me destroyed afterwards.” –> THAT. That is what I will have this summer:an honest to god sprinted race that leaves me unable to properly walk afterwards, yup. I’m chasing it, my friends!

Who out there has noticeably improved their times?
How’d ya do it? Share your tips so we can be speedy bff’s 🙂



24 thoughts on “Big Lake Half Marathon Recap/Need for Speed

  1. Great race!! The half is my favorite! I seemed to make some speedy progress when I added in weekly track intervals and weekly tempo runs.

  2. Awesome race! I’m from New Hampshire and I’ve never really explored the Lake Winnepesauke area. It sounds like it would be a cool race to run some day!

  3. nice job doll! great finish…. I totally understand where you are coming from on the speed…. I am in need of a few speed work outs myself, let me know if you see or do anything that helps….

  4. That’s a great finish time, congrats! I can’t believe you are running another half in a week, that’s brave.
    For speed: intervals and tempo runs. Nothing new, I know. 🙂

  5. I love that shirt! Great job on your race 🙂 I’m a big baby about heavy rain so I probably would’ve gone seriously off the rails. My go-to workout to get faster is race pace mileage starting at 3 and building up to around 7 for the half 🙂 adding mileage usually makes me stronger and faster too!

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