Manchester-Half-By-The-Sea Recap!

One year ago this past weekend, I ran the Applefest Half Marathon(October 5
To be exact).
I didnt really know what I was capable of–I knew i was truly beginning to get faster, but, I didn’t know what to expect. I told myself, “SELF!! If you break 1:45, you can get that pair of Brooks Pureflows you’ve been eyeing!!”

I ended up breaking that time with a 1:43!! I came in 4th in my age group!!! I remember being extremely excited about this PR… Compared to my other half’s, this was nearly a full hour earlier:
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I really am not 100% sure when the drive to break 1:40 started..but I do know that by the time my 1st half happened that I truly cared about my time–I was extremely disappointed. The half I’m referring to was back in July…so many issues…I couldn’t understand how I had so many amazing workouts and couldn’t make myself get to a 1:3x half…. Truly… I was really disappointed, and my confidence was totally shaken: i thought I was going to do a 1:3x half, I really did! So, no wonder that with my 1:45 half time that I was wildly dissappointed.

By now, I’ve done a ton of races. I will tell you that not every day is “your day” and also that sometimes the weather and the course are out of your control. On that day back in mid-July-it was extremely hot and I hadn’t carried my camelbak with me because I hadn’t wanted the extra weight on me, and with a late morning start time-I should’ve known I was “in for it.” The course was also a whole lot hillier than I had expected.

Then there was my next half: The Triple Threat Half Marathon in August. This was the first race I’ve run for the Yukan race company. They did a very nice job with that race, and I knew I wanted to do more races from this well organized team of professionals. The Triple Threat course was one of the most difficult courses I’ve ever done before: it was hills followed by even more difficult hills, but somehow, I managed to smash my 1:43 PR for a new one of 1:41! Yay! This race helped me to see that a half marathon for me in the mid 1:3x range was possible… If the hills hadn’t worn out my legs, who knows what I would’ve done that day!

I am a race researching fiend, I admit it. At any given time, there are about ten twenty races on my mind that I would love to do all at once. Seriously sometimes I wish I could clone me because I love to race so dam much! I found a race in September and registered for it (the Wicked Half Marathon) and told myself this would be my new PR course. At the last minute (literally, that morning) I decided not to do it. I knew I wanted to get in another 1-2 long runs along the course of my next marathon, so I changed my mind and ran along that instead.

So I guess that brings us to this past Sunday! After deciding to pull out of my last half, being disappointed at a couple others, and not really knowing what to expect-I didn’t talk about this half to really anyone. I told my running partner, my husband, and my friend Erin-truly, I didn’t want to jinx anything. Sometimes as a running blogger-it’s easy to feel the pressure to be faster/do more/be the best…and this can wear on you. So this was my little present to myself that I decided I wouldn’t talk about until it was done!

The Half By The Sea was in Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA, about an hour away from my house. It didn’t start until 10-and as someone who does not enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn for a race, I really appreciate late starts! (but i so don’t like them in the summer time, ummm no thank you.) It was PERFECT running weather: a sunny day where we were a little chilly at the start.

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We got to the start for 9, and had premium parking that was super close to the start/finish line… It was great! We were able to go back and forth from the porta potties to our cars as many times as we wanted to, it really made a big difference to be able to keep my sweatshirt on until 9:55 and then go line up in the front.

Packet pickup was a cinch, and although there were not many porta potties, the lines moved quickly. I couldn’t help but notice that this was one of the nicest groups of runners-everyone we talked to was so friendly. After so many hot and humid days, I think that we were all enjoying being out in the crisp fall air!
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Kristina would not even let me think any negative thoughts and really kept my confidence up high! What a gal! She made me go line up front so I wouldn’t be affected by the gun time/net time difference, and before I could wimp out-we were off!

I will tell you that the first few miles were a pity party. my thoughts ranged from:
“I can’t do this!
“I’m going to drop back and just run with Kristina!”
“I can’t keep this pace up forever!”

But by mile 4- I actually realized that I was getting faster. I had told myself that morning that I wouldn’t look at my watch at all. But that went out the window immediately because I glanced at every single split. It totally kept me motivated though! The race was small-only about 215 people were registered for it, and there was a lot of time that I was really running solo with no one to pass. Just before mile 4, I passed the only woman I could see in front of me, and I took my 7:33 time down for the rest of my miles to a 7:16&better pace to put some distance between us. It took me a long time to be able to pass anyone else-I don’t think I passed anyone until mile 8-I passed a man who really encouraged me to keep running strong and that felt so great! (In my experience, a lot of men don’t like to be passed by tiny 5’1 girls!)

The course was an out and back and the turn around chute happened at mile 8 (I think). The leading man blew by me as I was entering the chute, but that was the only person I saw. When I came out and people began to run by me for their own turn arounds, I heard a lot of yelling and cheering -for me. I didn’t know what the fuss was so I started to listen to what they were saying “SECOND WOMAN!!”
I actually thought they must have been saying “Seventh woman” and it wasn’t until the water stop at mile nine that someone said to me “You’re doing great, you’re second woman!” That I believed it. Well actually I think I said “No freaking WAY!”

I kept my pace strong and held to my low 7 minute miles. The course was really thinned out and I had to at least keep the dude in front of me in my sites so that I wouldn’t get lost-truly I’m glad I did because I know I would’ve missed a turn or two because the race signs were extremely small and not that easy to notice. (This is my only complaint.) Miles 9-13 are kind of a blur between dirt roads, traffic, and trying to stay on the course. I would love to tell you how pretty I thought the course was, but I’m not even a little bit exaggerating when I tell you that I didn’t even notice it. I was trying to really stay “in the moment” for this race and keep my pace solid. I think when I was almost at mile 11-I looked down and saw that I was at about 1:19–in my head I did the math-I was going to hit about 1:34-1:35!!!

Before I knew it, I was rounding the corner towards the finish line (and passing my conveniently parked car). I kept hearing over all the walkie talkies “The second woman is coming” and I cannot even describe to you how cool it was that that girl was me. The announcer was calling my name and placement over the intercom and people looked so excited to see me–it was very, very cool! After I finished, one of the men I had passed came up to me and told me how fast I was going and how he tried, but couldn’t keep up with me—> wow. Cool feeling.

I’m actually tearing up a little while writing this. (geek!) I think that sometimes, you can do all the training that you want to to accomplish a goal, and there are times when it just doesn’t seem attainable. You kick your own butt trying to reach your goal. It always feels right there within reach yet you can’t seem to grab it. On Sunday I grabbed that goal and squeezed it tight. I knew I was capable and I finally proved it.

I am living proof that a slower runner can become a faster one. I’ve never had a running coach, or been on a team, and I wasn’t body snatched to become a totally different runner. It was something I managed to do all on my own and I am quite proud of that little fact. It’s hard work, lots of effort, and some kick ass dedication. Never give up on whatever your own goal is-whether it’s to BQ, or if it is simply to run a mile without stopping. If I can do it You Can Do It.

We stuck around for the awards ceremony and I even got to stand on a little podium:
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I got a sweet gift certificate to a local running store and a frame that says “2nd Overall Woman” on it–I will treasure it forever!

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The funny thing about my finish was that even though I took 6 minutes off of my last PR-I wasn’t really that sore. I had a lot of gas left in my tank and I definitely think I could have gone faster. But since I do have a full marathon that I aiming to BQ at in only two weeks, I’m pretty happy with this time!
So, until next time, 13.1… ….Sub 1:35-I’m coming for ya!

And just one more picture…the top is my worst half-the bottom is my latest half…IMG_3723.JPG

Never. Give. Up.

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39 thoughts on “Manchester-Half-By-The-Sea Recap!

  1. Nicole, congrats on this amazing accomplishment!! What an inspiration you are! I ran this race too. It was my first half for me. I don’t race. I turned 40 in May and decided thus race was my gift to myself and I had all summer to train. I didn’t want to tell anyone I was doing it because it was so unbelievable that I could do a half. But I did and beat my goal time. The day, the route, everything was perfect. What an amazing feeling. I can’t imagine how you felt flying through it, but nice job. :).

  2. So I didn’t get to see this recap until this weekend due to my vacation, but I thoroughly enjoyed catching up! I’m so happy for you!!!! 😀 Huge congrats on your super PR! You really are an inspiration to me. It’s amazing to see how far you’ve come as a runner and how much of a passion you have for it. Best of luck on your marathon coming up, but I know you won’t need it! You’re going to beast the course 🙂

  3. this is absolutely awesome. the increase of speed over time is amazing and you should be so proud of yourself. definitely gives me motivation and inspiration as a middle of the packer – i have been racing triathlons for years, and the half-marathon is 100% my nemesis. thankfully i just hired a new running coach and hoping to break some PRs this year! congrats again. well done!

  4. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I totally cried reading this (someone even came in my office and was all “why are your eyes all bloodshot, do you have pink eye?). This is why we set goals for ourselves, to do better, to be better, to run better. Way to go!

  5. You never cease to amaze me! It must have been the running skirt yeah … yeah that’s your secret weapon for speed haha lol 🙂 and I’m a race fiend too. And ummm 1:35 but didn’t crush that already??? Oh, that’s just my sub conscious mind informing me about what it already knows you are going to do lol 🙂 congrats on your current epic half mary and 2nd overall female finish!! 🙂

  6. This is just so amazing!! I mean I am not at all surprised at your super fast time because I know you have put in the work. But like you said sometimes it can just be difficult to actually get the time you deserve in a race. It is stories exactly like yours that inspire me so much (Which I wrote about today!!) and help to keep me motivated even when a race or run doesn’t go as planned. I am so excited to see how you do in your marathon and your next half!!

  7. This made ME tear up a bit! Congrats girl. And again, every time you mention how much slower you used to be, and then how far you’ve come … it gives me so much motivation! Keep killing it out there second woman 🙂

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