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Squeaking By With a New PR at the Baystate Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Posted Oct 22 2013 9:59am
Baystate Half Marathon 2013 Race Recap

I did it!

Half marathon No. 2 — the Baystate Half Marathon — is officially in the books. And I learned one very important lesson. 

I am a very consistent runner.

How consistent? I finished … get this … 4 seconds faster than my last half marathon in May (and that’s not to mention a mere 46 second difference in my 2012 and 2013 Tufts 10K times).

4 seconds.

I’ve apparently found my “comfortable” half marathon racing pace (if such a thing exists). But you know what? Those 5 seconds means … yep …  a new half marathon PR

But even if I hadn’t set a new PR, it was still a pretty incredible experience. Like last Monday’s 10K, it was the quintessential fall day in New England: sunshine, foliage, that crisp smell in the air that just screams autumn.

The Baystate race is a full and half marathon (my first time ever running a race with marathoners!) and starts at 8am — a full hour later than Boston’s Run to Remember in May — but takes place about 45 minutes away.

My friend J and I hit the road around 5:45am, grabbed some coffee and drove about 40 minutes to the Lowell area to pick up our friend L, who had come up for the race and was staying at a nearby hotel.

The race website stressed the importance of arriving early, and after my experience in May, when I was sprinting to the race area 10 minutes before start time because of awful traffic, I didn’t want to take any chances. 

Luckily, parking in the nearby garage at UMass-Lowell was a breeze, and since L had thankfully picked up our numbers the day before, all we had to do was drop off our bags, find our friend K, jump in the porta potty line and stretch.

Like I wrote last week in my Tufts 10K recap , it was so nice racing with friends! Trust me, standing in that porta potty line alone right before a big race (with only your thoughts, nerves and self-doubt for company) isn’t much fun. It was definitely still chilly at 7:40am, so we danced around to keep warm while the line sloooooowly moved forward.

And before I forget, here’s one suggestion for all race directors: Please have designated porta potty lines for runners. I know no one wants to be the “porta potty police,” but we had a number of spectators and other people in our line — even though we were the ones who had 10 minutes to get our business done, jump in line and run 13.1 (or 26.2!) freaking miles. Any other runners experienced this before? <end rant>

We finally entered the corrals, seeded ourselves in the first half of the 9-minute mile group, heard a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and then we were off! The half marathoners and marathoners started together on separate sides of the road and we ran the same route for a few miles before the marathoners veered left and we veered right. 

course map

Half marathon course

I ran a comfortable first mile, finishing around 9:45, which was probably a minute faster than my first mile in the May race, when I ended up at the very crowded back of the pack. This race didn’t feel as congested, which was a welcome change.

K and I caught up to each other around 1.5 miles and it was so nice to have someone to run with! She is a little speedier than me, so running alongside her and chatting here and there really kept us on a good pace AND made the first 5 or so miles fly by and allowed us to enjoy the beautiful views of the Merrimack River.

We cruised to the 6-mile point and I realized we were definitely on pace for a sub-2 race (we even had a few sub-9 miles in there!).

But that’s where things went south.

I decided to do my Clif Shot Gel around 6 miles, knowing there was a water station just before the halfway point, so I was fumbling with my pack as I approached … and didn’t hear that the volunteer I grabbed my cup from had Gatorade instead of water.

I cannot have full-sugar Gatorade when I run. It immediately turns my stomach.

I took a sip without looking, realized my mistake, had to drop the cup and figure out who had the water so I could wash down my gel.

By that point, I had lost K, and I knew in the back of my head that my sub-2 race was likely gone. But I shook it off and focused on my B goal of finishing in or around last year’s time.

Even though that slight delay threw me off, and I never recovered that speedy pace from the first half, I powered through those last 6.5 miles. It was definitely tough, both physically and mentally — much more so than my last half marathon. I missed having the company, I missed my gum that I tossed away during the water/Gatorade fiasco and my legs were TIRED.

There were some definite inclines on this course (which — like sooooo many other races — advertises itself as “flat and fast.” Um, maybe I have a different definition of “flat,” but that was not it) that were pretty challenging in those last few miles. All I could think about was stopping to walk. At one point I thought, Well, my sub-2 is gone, who cares if I stop?

But I shook those thoughts away, shoved a few Clif Shot Blocks in my mouth, and remembered a shirt I had seen another runner wearing earlier in the day. The back read SHUT UP, LEGS! So I kept repeating that to myself over and over. 

By mile 12 I was done and so ready for this race to be over. I tried as hard as I could to pick up the pace for that last 1.1 miles and cruised over the finish line at 2:04:06.

My time in May? 2:04:10.

Of course, like I do after EVERY race, I played a few minutes of the “What If” game. What if I had stayed with K (who finished with a fabulous 1:57 time) the whole way? What if I didn’t have that water stop issue? What if I had trained a little harder?

I allowed myself those thoughts for a little while, then looked at my shiny new medal and smiled. 

Baystate Half Marathon medal


Because I completed not one,  but two half marathons this year. Me!!!! Who would have thought?! 


J and L finished just a few minutes after me (their first half marathons!) and we all hobbled over to the refreshment tent, grabbed some water and Power Bars and bananas, and posed for pictures (and no, we did not plan on the color coordination).

Baystate Half Marathon

After my crash following my last half marathon , I knew I had to do two things post-race: avoid Gatorade and eat protein. I had chocolate milk in my car, just in case, but luckily they had a wide variety of Power Bars with 20 grams of protein.

We were sore but felt pretty good (no tummy issues) so J, K and I walked the few blocks over to Lowell Beer Works to grab what has become our traditional post-race pumpkin beer.

Pumpkin beer time

And I’m thrilled to report that hours later, sitting outside at Buddy’s soccer game that afternoon, I was still feeling all right. Sure, I was sore and navigating the stairs was pretty torturous, but thankfully there were no tummy issues at all. Success! 

Hey, can I say I ran a marathon in 2013 now? Two half marathons make a full, right? :)

In all seriousness, I couldn’t be prouder of myself (and my friends) for this accomplishment, and I can’t believe that the 2013 racing season is pretty much over! 

I am giving some thought to my plans for the “off season” and what my running goals might be for 2014, so stay tuned.

Thanks again for all your support! xo


The post Squeaking By With a New PR at the Baystate Half Marathon (Race Recap) appeared first on Keeping Mommy Sane .

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