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.
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).
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.
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 Camelbak (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.
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.
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.
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?