Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap. At least there was beer…

The Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont – I love this half marathon. I really do. It’s stunningly beautiful – you start at the base of a ski field, then run through a pretty town, past farms, through a covered bridge, along a river – I mean, it’s so picturesque it hurts.

What doesn’t hurt is that the start is right by my mother-in-law’s house, which makes any race start time infinitely easier. And when the start time is 8:15am and you have a two-year-old anyway, there’s no mad dash to make it on time.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

Just in case you’re either a new reader, or you haven’t been following this saga, I’ve been training this year to try to take 8 minutes off my half marathon PR, to try to bring it down to 1:45 (and yes, I will take 1:45 and change, for those of you who asked! 😉 ). At the Brooklyn Half two weeks ago I got so so so so close, at 1:46. SO. CLOSE.

Then I got a cold. Then I didn’t run for a week. Then I felt FANTASTIC on the last few training runs before this race and I was (very) quietly confident going into this one. I didn’t feel 100% healthy, but damn my legs felt fast when I ran the last few times.

It was a lot warmer than I expected – it was supposed to be in the 40s for the start, heating up gradually to around 60 when I planned to finish. I’m not sure exactly how warm it was, because my cellphone reception up here is sketchy, but I wore a tank to the start and wasn’t the slightest bit cold at 7:30am.

I ran for the awesome charity David’s House (and raised $800, thank you SO much to everyone who donated! You rock!!), so we had a couple of little luxuries at the start, like a shorter line for the charity portapotties, and food, water, sunscreen etc, whatever we needed before the start. And guess who I met in person? One of my lovely Fit Mama Friday mamas, Lucinda! It was so wonderful to meet her, I only wish we had a little more time to chat! (She also wrote this moving guest post on riding a race in memory of her Aunt).

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

We lined up about 15 minutes before the start (just long enough to realize it was warm), then we were off. I saw Fran, Roman, my mother-in-law Elly, and our friend Susan early on (less than a quarter mile in). I love starting the race and seeing some familiar faces to make me feel comfortable.

And then I started running fast.

Too fast.

Mile 1 – 2: 7:53, 7:58. These should have been around 8:10 to 8:15.

Here’s a prime example of the runner’s version of magical thinking: I tried to slow that second mile down, I really did. But my legs felt fresh and rested, the course was flat and pretty, and I saw my family early on. So in my head, when the second mile clocked in at 7:58, I thought (hoped, dreamed): ‘Maybe I will be even faster than 1:45! Maybe I will crush this so hard and get like 1:40 and that would be amazing!’

This was also aided a little by trying to get past this one guy wearing an ENORMOUS CamelbakCovered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer (so big I could use it as a backpack), which was swinging back and forth as he ran. He had all these toggles on it which were also swinging and every time he pumped his arms, the toggle would slap the back of his arm. I cringed for him on every slap. I wanted to stop witnessing it ASAP, so part of that first mile was trying to get past him.

Mile 3 – 6: Perfect. What I should have started out at: 8:07, 8:07, 8:09, 8:11.

Speedy Lucinda passed me somewhere around the mile 4 mark – she looked great, really strong. She KILLED it with 1:43:52!! Woo hoo! 🙂

Camelbak dude passed me at mile 4 and I spent some of mile 5 getting past him again.

Mile 5 was one of two pretty big hills. I may have sworn as I climbed it. But I was still feeling strong and confident. We had just run through a covered bridge, and through Woodstock, which is a great area for spectators, so there was a lot of crowd support for these miles.

Mile 7 – 9: 8:10, 8:31 (ruh-roh), 8:09.

Way slower than I would have liked. These miles I was hoping to hit between 7:55 and 8:00. I blame mile 1 and 2. Good points about these miles – we ran past a farm and some fields and there were some horses who were running alongside us on the fence-line. The lilacs were in full bloom, so these miles smelled lovely. 🙂 Also, there was a lot of shade here, so we could stay relatively cool.

Around mile 8 I had my Clif Shot Bloks for fuel. I also walked part of a horrendous hill in mile 8. I knew it was there, but I also knew it was short, so I’d hoped I could muscle my way through it. It reminds me of the Queensboro Bridge hill in the NYC Marathon. There’s definitely a point where you may as well walk, because you’ll be just as fast as trying to run.

Could I have pulled off a 1:45 at this point? I suck at working out the math when I’m running  – I base that on glycogen depletion rather than poor numbers skills – and I don’t want to rehash it enough to work out now if I could have done it.

My plan was to see how I felt at mile 10 and try to put everything in to those last three miles. Especially since Camelbak dude was right in front of me again by mile 9. I just started looking at the ground.

Mile 10 -13: 8:39, 8:36, 8:49, 8:46.

There were walking breaks. There were a couple of spots where we ran through spectators’ hoses aimed on the course (thank you for that, dear spectators with hoses). There were several times where I tipped cups of water on my head. It was hot. I was miserable. I knew 1:45 was toast. Upside: Camelbak guy was nowhere to be seen.

Then the road was suddenly lined with the finish line spectators on either side, cheering, screaming, jumping up and down, yelling for us to finish strong. I saw my main men cheering me on – Roman yelled “Go, Mama, Go!!” So I did.

Last 0.19 miles: 7:28

Where were you when I needed you earlier, sub 8:00??

Official Time: 1:49:26

Fran thought I was such a running nerd when I told him after Brooklyn that “I left it all out there.” Much fun was had at my expense. However, I need to use it again –  I really did leave it all out there.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

There were some HUGE, HUGE upsides to the finish (apart from the not-so-hot finish time): one was free massages!!! They’re free to everyone (there are good reasons why this is my favorite race of the year), but charity racers got waaaay shorter lines. I didn’t even have to wait. Roman was intrigued.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

Also, free beer for the racers. I went and grabbed a beer (not pictured because 2 year olds are not welcome in the beer tent). I chit chatted with a couple of fit mamas from the area who didn’t train at all and ran a 2:18. Pretty awesome. They also told me that when kids get to about 15 years old like theirs are, the 6am wake ups are pretty much over, so I have that to look forward to, which is nice.

I’m not going to lie, guys, I was super bummed with my time. I may have cried a little bit with my face in Roman’s hair before I pulled out a smile for the camera. What I can be happy about was that my PR for this course was 1:56, so I took 7 minutes off that record, at least.

But, I do try to look on the positive side, and we are having a lovely time up here in Vermont. Also – we are taking the rest of the week off for a quick break down in Florida, so I’m so excited for some beach/pool/sunshine time.

Covered Bridges Half Marathon 2014 Recap - at least there was beer

My next race is the Oakley Mini 10K all women race in Central Park in a couple of weeks, then I’m not sure when I will do my next half. There are a couple in October I want to run, so we’ll see if I can pull out this magical 1:45 this year.

Do you ever travel for races? Got a favorite?

How long do you stay upset when you don’t meet a goal?



  1. Sorry to hear it did not go how you wanted Carly. You know I was feeling that after the Brooklyn Half…..I know I should have been happy with my 3rd place, but instead all I was focused on was the time I missed. I sulked for a few days, and then realized that life is too short. Speaking of that, are you sure your body was rested enough? Check out my post today….maybe your body was still recovering as it was only a few weeks ago!

    You learned a lesson today, one I have learned many times too. It is incredible to see just what a huge difference going off conservative at the start does for your racing. You learned, and next time you can remember this feeling to keep you under control. I know you will get there 🙂
    Tina Muir recently posted…Secrets of Success: 8 Reasons You Should Take A Break After RacingMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I think what made it worse for me was that I *knew* I was going out way too fast. I don’t know what came over me. Reading your post about taking a break after racing made total sense to me and actually made me feel better, so thank you! 🙂

  2. I’m sorry this half marathon didn’t go your way! It looks like a great half-marathon, I love free post-race massages! My favorite half marathon is The Other Half in Moab, UT. I travel to it, but not far, I live in Park City, UT. I am traveling to Minneapolis in October for the Twin Cities Marathon, my fiancé and I have family there.
    Irene recently posted…I’m Running!!My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks, Irene! I’ve heard great things about the Twin Cities Marathon, I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time!

  3. If it makes you feel any better, I still think you did an amazing job and are way faster than I ever could be!! Plus, the race looks like a lot of fun!

    I’m not a big race person but one of my favorites I have ever done is the City to Surf in Sydney…mainly because I got to have the ocean, beer and oysters at the end! 🙂

    Also, I love your pink capris!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Jubilant JuneMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I did the City to Surf as well, back in 2008! I loved that race, what a great course it was. Even Heartbreak Hill – the views were just spectacular. I went to Balmain with some girlfriends right after that and we had beers followed by Thai food – it was awesome. 😉

  4. Oh, Carly – I’m sorry the race didn’t go the way you were hoping!! But, still, knocking 7 minutes off your previous course PR is awesome!!!
    I think the fact that after the cold and everything the past 2 weeks you still ran such a great race is something to be very proud about!!
    Enjoy your beach time!!!
    Kim recently posted…Turning a Negative into a PositiveMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thank you, dear Kim! I did not sulk too long and I’m so glad we had that trip booked right afterwards so I could relax and enjoy some time off.

  5. There’s nothing better than easy race logistics–especially if you can SEE the start line from where you’re staying!
    Sounds like a tough race, especially with the heat! Sorry you didn’t get the time you wanted. I’ve flopped a few races (though I would NOT consider this one a flop!!) but I tell myself that it was still a good workout/tempo run, which is a better workout than I would have gotten if I didn’t run the race
    Karen recently posted…Wedding weekend and my new summer workoutMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      That’s exactly what my coach said – that it turned out to be an awesome long tempo run for me. I’ve flopped races way more spectacularly than this one, that’s for sure. I was just putting all sorts of extra competitive pressure on myself! 😉


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