Mileage, the weekend & a race recap: The Jingle Bell Half Marathon

I had a lot of pretty good runs this past week. Monday, it was really nice out so I ran the track. 1.50 miles w/u, 4 miles of 400s, 1.50 cool down home. 7 miles


Wednesday- 10 mile progression run, 1:15:08, 7:31 avg

Thursday- 7.10 slow miles-9:08 avg pace

Saturday-Jingle Bell Half Marathon 13.10 miles, 1:37:49

Sunday- 6 miles @ 7:38, 45:50.

43.2 miles total, 7:48 average pace for the week

Saturday I ran the Jingle Bell Half Marathon. It was at the beautiful Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson Hew Hampshire. When I saw that this race was on a Saturday, it was a no brainer for me. I kind of have a thing for Saturday races and totally believe all races should be on Saturdays! I was pretty excited about this race because I was going to be running right by my girlfriend’s house! Our plan was for her to meet me at the finish line to do 4-5 more easy miles to wrap up my long run and then hit the country club for breakfast! Runs with a friend + post run Mimosas? Does it GET any better than that?!?

Overnight on Friday, it snowed a little (it is December so that’s not really a surprise) The race directors were debating all morning whether to move the start to 10am instead of 9 to let the roads clear a little , and, it was supposed to warm up throughout the morning to be a balmy 40 degrees (insert laughter here—but 40 degrees IS actually balmy in December, YUCK), but the race ended up starting only 2 minutes late. A win in my book because I HATE waiting around for the start as it is!!

I had known already that this was going to be a hilly course. I don’t really seek hills out, per say, but I do make sure I have at least one REALLY hilly run a week to keep my legs strong. I had a fantastic start to the race-6 minute miles, and I was in the lead for quite a bit of time. I passed my girlfriend’s house early on and she was out in her yard cheering for me and the other runners along with her two adorable girls who made signs for me! That made my heart swell and I kept that happy thought for a lot of tough miles!

The course varied between both main and back roads. The main roads were mostly clear, however I tried to run outside of all cones because the ground behind the cones was full of slush and snow. The back roads were tricky. I lost a lot of energy trying to keep myself on the best paved part of the road, and I was extremely careful with my footing to avoid going DOWN. This meant smaller, restrained, careful steps at a fast pace. Not the easiest of things to do!

I wore my Skirt Sports Go The Distance Tights, and my Brooks jacket over a long sleeve, lightly lined shirt. I also had on my gloves for half the race, a hat, and compression socks under my tights. I’ve never raced with this many clothes on and I felt a little bulky. I heat up REALLY fast when I’m running, but I’m a big fat baby when I’m standing at starting lines. I was hot by mile 2 and wished I was in shorts, but, halfway through the race, the weather turned from a light, cooling mist into bone chilling raindrops and I was soaked. Brrrr….Winter rain is COLD. Once it started to rain, I was extremely glad that they hadn’t delayed the start of the race until 10 am, AND that I was wearing more clothes than usual!

By Mile 7, the hills started to get tougher and I actually lost my 1st/2nd place lead to the girl who I’m pretty sure ended up winning. Shortly after, I got passed a few more times but managed to hold 5th place all the way until mile 12…then my legs decided they were cold/tired/wet/ and wanted to just be DONE already. I ended up finishing in 9th place, which I guess isn’t that bad out of about 900 runners. I wasn’t sad about my time :1:37… my second fastest half marathon, done on a hard, hilly course on a wintery, frozen-mix kind of day. I hadn’t started off with a single time goal since it was clearly not a PR day- so I had nothing to be disappointed about!

Saturday’s half marathon was my 17th (!!!) race of the year. If I’ve learned one thing from this year of racing, it’s that you glean a lesson from every race you run. From Saturday’s race, I learned I need to work on my “race brain” a little bit more. When I was in the lead, I kept telling myself “it’s cool, you’ve got this, keep it steady!” but really, since it took so long for me to get passed, I think I relaxed a little and let down my guard. I have to keep my brain at constant attention and my adrenaline UP if I want to win races. I am going to focus on doing more “race pace” long run workouts because those help a ton. I also know that I lost speed due to the crappy road conditions…it was CRAZY how snowy/icy/slushy they were and there were times I felt like I was skating a little. It forced me to completely focus 100% of the time on the road so as not to lose my footing!

I was sooo excited to finally be done… I was completely frozen and wet!

The medal is a cute Christmas tree ornament!

Post-race, the thought of spending one more second outside in the freezing cold sounded like pure torture, so Erin & I skipped the miles and went straight to the mimosas.

After breakfast, I wanted to check my official results, so we went down to the ballroom where they were posted. There was still a pretty lively celebration going on with beer, hot chocolate, and some other good treats. I was pretty excited to see that even though I had slipped considerably -I was still second in my AG!:) (lead formal won with a 1:33)


i got to pick out an ornament as my prize, too..they had a cute little collection to pick from and I wanted them all!!
how cute are these ornaments??

I picked this adorable snowman…


And he looks great on my tree next to my new medal!


Erin and I at the celebration afterwards!

The last thing that I cannot forget to mention was my favorite part of the race: when I was in the lead— it was really fun/cool/inspiring. I know I just said that I didn’t really CARE about losing the lead, and I really didn’t…but the cool/great/awesome part about being lead girl was passing the spectators: every time I saw a woman, they would SHOUT to me that I was the first woman—that WILL NEVER GET OLD. Every time I heard “first woman!” I LOUDLY&PROUDLY THANKED whomever said it! And, I absolutely LOVED, LOVED, LOVED passing little girls who were cheering runners on from their front lawns, or the track team handing out water- these girls cheered their hearts out! It made me hope that one day they will grow up to be runners who aspire to be great runners, and in turn, inspire all the young girls around them to kick some butt! Hearing their cheers was my favorite part of the day!

Have a great day, everybody!


31 thoughts on “Mileage, the weekend & a race recap: The Jingle Bell Half Marathon

  1. Oh my goodness, I love the adorable ornament awards! What a cute idea! Congrats on a great race in tough conditions! 2nd fastest half is pretty impressive on such a miserable and hilly day 🙂

  2. So awesome! Congrats! I was also going to tell you the other day but didn’t have time to comment, I am self hosted and I use ipage. They are very reasonably priced and customer service is really good.

  3. Great race! And congrats on the age group placement – in cold December rain no less. I love seeing little girls on the sidelines at races. Even though I’m never in the lead I make sure to wave at them or give them high fives – hoping that I might inspire them to pick up running sooner than I did.

  4. Nice job!! That’s awesome – and with all those hills too! I’ll probably never be in the lead for a race so like another commenter said I will just live vicariously through you 🙂 Congrats!!

  5. that is so awesome you were in the lead!!! so so so cool!!!!! congrats again on being so speedy on such a crappy weather day.

    josh made your screenshot of winners! did you get gloves and a hat too (along with that adorable ornament)?

    the volunteers and spectators were incredible. i would NOT want to be standing out in that crazy rain for a few hours. ick!

    and yes, i agree that the road conditions definitely slowed folks down, and parts were definitely a little dangerous (lots of turns this year).

    yay yay yay for your awesome day. hope to meet you in person at another local race 🙂

    • I did get the gloves and a bag-I think they were out of hats?

      I know I kept thinking the same thing-those volunteers were troopers to be out there for that long, just amazing!

      Lots of turns, and the back roads were NOT easy to run on since they were do slick!
      I hope to meet up soon, too! Congrats to you & Josh for running and finishing on such a crappy weather day!

  6. What a COOL thing to hear as you are in the lead! I can dream 🙂

    I love that the medal was an ornament … they both look so adorbs on your tree! Way to go Nicole, you’ve had quite the year of racing 🙂

  7. That is so cool, I would totally love that adrenaline rush with people yelling that you were the first woman. That will never happen for me, so I’ll live vicariously through you 🙂 I run too many BIG races for that ever to happen. I need to start running some mom & pop races in NH when I come home to visit my family 🙂

    • Compared to a lot of the races I’ve done lately, This was a pretty big race (for a half). But i do love the smaller ones-better parking, you don’t have to leave as early, and you can get your number the same day! I love that!
      There are sooo many good races in nh in 2015!!

  8. You rock, Nicole! It is so awesome that you got to lead for so long – you’ll be winning before you know it! I can totally imagine how running more race pace miles will help you keep the competitive mindset that you’re so good at. It looks like you’ve got a new goal to work towards 🙂

  9. You are amazing! Running a race that fast, in those conditions, after other hard training runs that week..Im glad you aren’t disappointed because you did awesome! I remember I was the first female in a 5k one and it was so awesome as people started to yell “first female”! since I didn’t know that I was…then I got really nervous about holding it! Luckily there were no other females near me and I was able to finish strong! I think that “racing to win”is a whole different kind of racing (which Im pretty sure we talked about before) but just like racing against yourself if just takes practice.

    • Thanks Lisa!:) it was a great day and I’m also glad that I’m happy with it-I don’t like being disappointed in my performance!
      Yes we have talked about it before and you’re right! Racing to win is a whole different ball game! I think it’s soo cool that you won a 5k! What an amazing feeling post race that must have been!!:)

  10. Great job – and that all looks like so much fun! I had a friend I used to work with back in Marlborough who ran that as her first half marathon so I saw a lot of stuff about it on Facebook this weekend!

    Totally agree on all the people you see on the race course – and the appreciation of non-runners at a race is a constant theme for me … the volunteers, our families and friends, and random people who just come out to cheer! I have a friend from work who can’t run anymore due to hip issues but has been out there at almost every race since I started running, just cheering us on!

    Congrats again on the great race!

    • That’s awesome that your friend ran it As her first half! Some races don’t put on as good of a “show” afterwards as the loco marathon company-and this was a great post-race celebration, as well as great race swag so she picked a good one to start with!

      Your friend is awesome, I love cheering my own friends on and I think that’s incredible that he/she still comes to be a part of it running festivities-it shows true love of the sport and a testament to the bonds runners make!

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