On the drive up to Newburyport we were telling Danny about Karen and how welcoming she is so he didn't have to feel weird about staying in a stranger's house. I happened to mention her cats and noticed he didn't say another word, but I didn't really give it much thought at the time.
We settled into Karen's house Saturday night and dug into our pre-race meal. I made my usual chicken and rice casserole, Karen made baked ziti, and then we had some bread and apple pie. Fellow horseback rider and good friend Laura stopped by to join us!
During dinner Danny started sniffling and sneezing, and then the cat was out of the bag (pun intended)... he was allergic to cats! He took some Zyrtec, washed it down with a beer, and then later took a Benadryl, and washed that down with two more. Meanwhile I was on my third glass of wine and thought this potential overdose was hilarious. In my diabolical mind I was thinking this might be the one time I can beat him in a race. He's jet lagged from coming back from California the day before, and is now stuffed up and full of allergy medicine and beer. Now's my chance.
In the morning I felt my odds at beating Danny were even better when he told us that the air mattress went flat and he spent all night sleeping on a hardwood floor. He was a good sport about the whole thing, but I saw the relief in his eyes when we left the house to head to the race. He could finally breathe, even if it meant he had to go run a half marathon just to get away from the cats! Karen had been nice enough to pick up all of our numbers for us on Friday so all we had to do was basically jump out of the car and wait for the race to start. The temperature was low 50's and drizzle so we wore ponchos until the race started. At 9:35 I headed to the porta-potty line, and didn't get out of it until 9:55! Naturally Ron and Danny had abandoned me by this point (just like Disney!!) so I headed to the starting line alone and never saw them again until the end of the race.
The race itself was great. I love the scenic course that winds its way through Maudsley State Park, past some ponds and classic New England farms. There are hills, but nothing too major. I think all my training runs on the 15k course definitely helped!
The day before the race I posted this picture on Instagram:
|"Now when they say 'nothing new on race day', they don't mean little things like shoes, socks, or nutrition, right?"|
I ended up not wearing those new socks but instead a pair that were used but still in good shape. I went through hell to get those shoes and then the insoles were the wrong size (long story) which I then "customized" with a pair of scissors. I was just hoping I wasn't going to end up like this guy that won the Berlin Marathon a few weeks ago with his insoles literally sliding right out of his shoes:
Not pictured above was my new handheld water bottle. I'm used to holding a bottle while running but the one I had was leaking, so Ronnie picked me up a new one at the store. It held 16 oz so it was a little smaller than my last one. I used half a packet of the tailwind powder as my only source of nutrition. Never having used it, I didn't want to go overboard. Note: I later read the directions (because why would I do that before the race?) and realized the ratio is 2-3 scoops per hour of endurance. I used 1 scoop for 2 hours. Lesson learned!
My race went well for the first five miles except for a very cranky ankle, but then everything started getting harder. Maybe I started too fast, or maybe I shouldn't have had 3 glasses of wine the night before, or maybe I needed some fuel. I plodded along still happy with my pace but not happy with how hard it felt. Seeing Karen and Donna at mile 6 perked me up a bit and I just kept chugging along. By this time I had drank most of my water and realized I really needed some energy, but by the time I got to the fuel station it was completely empty. I was so disappointed to see all the empty gu wrappers everywhere and none left. I may not have been blazing fast, but I would think a 9:30 pace would've gotten me to an aid station before it was emptied out!
Eventually a side stitch hit me like a bullet and I had to walk. I was really hoping not to walk at all because my ankle had been bothering me quite a bit, and I was nervous that if I walked it might seize up on me. But I ended up walking for about 30 seconds or so and stretched out that stitch until it was completely gone. At the final water table I realized I wasn't going to make the last mile without water and I wanted them to fill up my bottle. In hindsight, I don't know why I didn't just take a cup of water. I didn't need my bottle filled up. I'm blaming this on the marathon brain damage I get when I run long distances. Just wasn't thinking clearly! In any case, I thought I'd be super quick about it and unscrew the cap to my bottle on my way to the table and all they'd have to do is pour water and off I go. But I couldn't unscrew the cap! My hands were weak and slippery and I just couldn't get the cap off. So I stopped at the table and asked the guy to unscrew the cap for me. Unfortunately what I said in my head and what came out were two different things. I was talking gibberish, but he figured out what I meant. He unscrewed the cap quite easily and in fact with such velocity that it went flying into a box full of cups. So then he had to dig through the box to find the cap, fill up the bottle, and screw the cap back on. I looked at my Garmin afterwards and found that it took 1 minute and 10 seconds to get that bottle of water. Although that irritates me a bit because I was hoping to beat last year's time, I think it may have saved me from having a stroke!!
The final mile is on the bike path which is lined with cool art statues, and then onto the boardwalk along the water. The finish line was exciting and I saw Donna just before I crossed!
Right at the finish they handed out medals, water bottles, and a green towel. I made my way through and immediately saw Ronnie. Then he told me Danny was getting a massage. I was thinking to myself, how freaking slow was I that they had time to get massages??!
We met up with Karen and Donna and then headed straight to the beer garden. There was a long line to get in (for the ID check), but once in there the beer was very accessible! We hung out there for a while, enjoyed some fresh brews from Newburyport Brewing Company, and swapped war stories from our runs.
I kind of felt a little bad for Karen and Donna. Here they were freezing standing around for a couple hours, and then we come barreling in all obnoxious, high on running endorphins, talking miles a minute about all sorts of running things. I equate this to what happens when you stumble in the house drunk from some party while everyone else is sober. (I'm guessing, how would I know that...)
Once we had our fill of free beer we headed back to Karen's house, showered, ate lots of pizza and watched the Patriots game. This was another great race and is going to make next week's Disney race feel sooo easy!
The bottom line:
Great race, and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a scenic fall half marathon in New England. It's a little on the pricey side, but the course has clocks at every mile, tons of water stops, porta-johns throughout the course, lots of spectators, and tons of volunteers. The free beer and pizza after the race, as well as the live music, really make this a fun event.
Well my plan to poison Danny backfired on me. Despite my best efforts, Danny smoked me with a 1:49 something, and Ronnie was just ahead of him. I casually strolled in at 2:08, making for one of my slowest half marathons ever. I'd like to think I just got my money's worth out of the race by spending as long as possible out on the course! I'm just going to have to think of more clever ways of sabotaging Danny next year. Maybe I'll sprinkle some sleeping pills on his breakfast bagel.