This past Sunday I ran the CHaD Hero Half Marathon in Hanover, NH. This race benefits the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. This was my third year racing the half marathon so I know the course well and it is hilly!
The morning started out cold, in the 30’s and would warm up into the 50’s with cloud cover and virtually no wind. Great running weather if you ask me! I usually don’t run in a long sleeve shirt but I was cold on this morning so wore a long sleeve shirt under my batman shirt and cape . . . most runners dress up as superheroes for this race which is cool. The best costume I saw yesterday was Mighty Mouse!
This race is local to me so I ran into a lot of people that I know. I also saw my good blogging/running friend Sarah Canney who does a lot of fundraising for CHaD every year. In the past I have done the Fun Run at this race with my kids but they were with their Dad so it was just me running. I was kind of bummed about this, maybe next year they will be with me? I went inside and got my race number and shirt and then just hung out inside for awhile to stay warm and to just relax before heading out to race.
This half marathon doesn’t start until 12 which is a tricky time to start a race when it comes to fueling. I had had oatmeal and a banana for breakfast but by the time it was almost race time that had worn off. I did not want to eat anything big before the race so I at a nut-butter filled Clif Bar and then had a GU 20 minutes before the race. That seemed to do the trick without upsetting my stomach. After eating a bit I went out for a quick jog and dynamic warm-up to get my legs moving then headed into the race corral. I positioned myself in between the 7:00-8:00 minute pace group and the 8:00-9:00 minute pace group. I did not want to go out too fast like I had done at the Smuttynose Half Marathon two weeks before. It is hard to not start too fast in this race because the 5K and the half marathon start at the same time.
This race started with the National Anthem then the Heroes Pledge and then we were off. I tried to control my pace. The race course consists of three different loops. The first part of the race is flat, then a small hill leads you over to a street that goes around a pond. After the pond the race splits off with the Half Marathoners heading off on their second loop of the course.I was still feeling strong as we headed back past the green again where the race had started. Then there is a big downhill then uphill section. Here I was starting to feel that my legs were tired . . . it was too soon to be feeling this way. I was still keeping my paces sub 8 as we passed through a neighborhood where bands played. At some point during the first 6 miles I had a GU with caffeine but that wasn’t enough energy to make these legs go. We ran back through downtown Norwich and cut off down a hill. IT felt good to stretch out on the hill but I still felt tired. At this point the negative words were creeping in as well which didn’t help anything. I made a decision on this downhill to stop looking at my watch for split times because I wasn’t hitting the times that I wanted. At this point I decided just to focus on the feeling of my running.
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We ran along the river and back across the bridge then it was time to slog up the Tuck Drive which is a hill that brings you through the Tuck Business School campus. My legs felt really heavy on the hill and my breathing felt labored. Just run! That’s what I kept telling myself. I had another GU at the top of this hill but the nutrition and caffeine didn’t really give me any sort of boost. After that you cross the green again and then it’s time to head Up Wheelock Street, another hill and back through a neighborhood where the road flattens out. At this point people were passing me but I just didn’t have an extra gear to pick things up anymore. 3 miles to go and it felt endless. Finally we rounded out of the neighborhood and back up by the Medical school. I just wanted the race to be over. I pushed to the finish as hard as I could, stopped my Garmin and saw my finish time, 1:55. I was pleased to have made it under two hours. This was definitely not my best CHaD. Last year I finished 3rd in my age group and the first year I finished 2nd in my age group. This year I was 10th.
I feel proud of my finish even though it wasn’t a time that I wanted. I wasn’t feeling like this was going to be a good race from about 5 miles in. I really had to challenge my body to finish under two hours. I have been racing a lot this fall, VT 100 on 100 Relay, Reach the Beach Relay, and The Smuttynose Half. I think this was my bodies way of telling me it’s time to take a little bit of rest. So I’m taking a break from racing for a bit. I may do a Turkey Trot but if I do think that I need to run it for fun and not for time (which is hard for me). I am hoping to start working with a Personal Trainer to get back into Strength Training but more focused for running than CrossFit was. CrossFit is currently out for me because I have been nursing a shoulder/back injury for a few months now. I have started PT to address this issue which is helping me. My PT has told me that for strength training I need to do my work making sure I have a neutral spine and that I need to start with very low weights. So that’s my current plan and then we’ll see what comes up next for me as far as racing goes.