The Great Bay Half Marathon and Beyond the Rainbow 5K were run April 12th in the New Hampshire town of Newmarket.
Newmarket is an old mill town that has really made a comeback. The main street is lined with shops and restaurants and the old mill buildings have been restored and occupied. It’s a nice place for a race.
I rode up with my friends Thuy and Mary. We had an uneventful trip full of conversation and arrived at the Industrial Park around 9:30.
As we walked to pick up our numbers, the walk seemed longer than last year. It really wasn’t, but some how it seemed like it.
Club LOCO had people directing us into the mill building to pick up our bibs and shirts. We wound through the complex with a bunch of other runners.
The pick up was quick and easy. I brought food for the food pantry drive and they gave me a pair of black LOCO running socks. Sweet.
As we headed out we found Club LOCO’s shop with many bargains on shirts and some jackets. While the ladies shopped I took off my Under Armor shirt and put on my singlet. It was going to be 55º so shorts and a singlet were all I needed.
I taped my toes. Laced up my shoes and locked the laces in place with my LaceLockers. As I was finishing my routine the ladies were finishing their shopping. Shirts were $2.00. Crazy. But I have bags full.
We went back through the building and went down by the river where the porta-potties were lined up. I had a great conversation with a runner from Vermont who came down for the race. We were both glad the winter was finally over and the sun was shining.
We checked out the sponsor tables and I grabbed a HINT water to take with me for the race. The bag check was in the Newmarket Community Church. The ladies had all ready dropped their gear, so they waited for me.
The church had two tables loaded with baked good and cakes. The races were collecting food for the pantry, but the pantry did not open until Thursday. Since none of the baked goods would be good by then they were giving them away.
It was tempting, but what was I going to do with a birthday cake?
It was a little chilly in running gear so we went back into the mill building for 15 minutes or so. When we heard the announcer giving the 5 minute warning we headed out.
Mary and Thuy were running the Beyond the Rainbow 5K and headed to the 10 minute coral. I sat down on the sidewalk and did some stretching.
OMG, I’m running a Half-marathon?
Physically and mentally I felt unprepared. I have not been training for half marathons and my training has been poor. I figured this was gonna hurt. So I stretched my problem areas the best I could without aggrevating them.
I lined up with the 9 minute coral and felt that would be ambitious. I started my watch and stretched my back. When I checked my watch, I had reception. I also noticed that my heart rate was 90. Not good.
I knew I was tired and maybe a little nervous, but 90? I closed my eyes and meditated a bit. With all of those people and noise it was difficult to tune everything out. For a few minutes I tried to focus on my breath and nothing else. The noise didn’t go away but I stopped focusing on it.
When I opened my eyes my heart rate was down to 76.
On Great Bay
The former Miss New Hampshire sang the National Anthem, live like she often does. Nice touch. We had a quick count down and we were off. It took me about 45 seconds to cross the start and it was slow and packed.
At the first turn onto Beech Street the crowd had thinned a bit but there were eight turns in the neighborhhods with all 738 Half-Marathon runners and 588 5K runners.
As we headed out Elm Street to Main, the 5K runners turned off, but I’m not exactly sure where. It was confusing while we were running. But the crowd thinned as we headed towards Dame Road for the long run out to the turn where Dame Road dead-ends into Bay Road.
As I was running down Beech Street I saw a runner in front of me that looked familiar. Sure enough it was my running buddy Jeff Rushton. I didn’t even know he was running the race. Then we saw Brian Sarro, one of my other running buddies. We talked for a mile or so.
Brian was running the 5K and ran ahead of us. We thought we saw his red shirt heading out for the half-marathon and must have missed seeing him take the turn. We figured the 5K turn must be further down the road, but it wasn’t. We missed him and were a little confused.
We knew enough to keep following everyone else!
Somehow the course didn’t seem as difficult this year. Crazy, I know. The dirt roads had some fresh gravel and were a little mushy but not muddy.
When we came down the hill before the first big hill at Crommet Creek, I told Jeff here it comes, I’m not prepared and feel free to go ahead. He did get up the hill faster than me, but I managed to catch up.
I worried that the extra effort to catch up would catch up with me later in the race. I took a gel at mile 4 and around mile 7 they gave us another one. After that hill, I needed it.
By the time we finished the series of major hills my quads were shredded. At mile 10 I felt like I was done. My goal was 9 minute miles and we had been averaging 8:20 miles. I was way beyond my distance and running at a faster pace than I thought I could sustain to the end.
Jeff pulled ahead a little at mile 10. At the turn around at mile 11 on Cushing Road, I estimate he was about 30 seconds ahead of me. We waved as he headed out and I headed into the cul-du-sac.
I took my 3rd gel on Cushing road and found a trash can about a half mile down the road. We always have some spectators on Cushing Road, but not this year. The Belly Dancers were there, but only three this year. Must have been a tough winter.
Mile 12 and 13 were really difficult for me. Mile 12 was 8:55 and mile 13 was 8:48. Mile 11 had been 8:22, though most of that had been on the relatively flat Cushing Road.
To the Finish
While my muscles were tired, nothing hurt. My joints and hip flexors were fine. I was out of gas but the engine still revved. My goal was two hours and I was more than 6 minutes ahead of that with two miles to go. I had time for a nap.
I knew I wasn’t going to PR, I never intended to. But I couldn’t just let 6 plus minutes slip away. So I went silent, dug deep, scaped the bottom of the barrel and pushed onward.
The in-town parts of the course seemed different this year. The start was further up Main Street and it seemed like we missed one of the last two killer hills between us and the finish line.
As we turned onto Main Street I found a 3rd or 4th wind and passed a few people. It was mostly down hill the last half-mile or so. I got into marathon cruise gear and passed some more people.
About 100 yards from the finish I kicked it into sprint and passed a lady as I hauled ass to the finish line.
I was totally out of breath. I grabbed a 500ml water and kept walking. I didn’t even get my medal. My buddy Jeff found me and asked how I was. I told him I needed to walk. He noticed I didn’t have my medal and had me walk over to the medal folks and he grabbed my medal for me. I draped it over my head
Thuy and Mary were walking up by now. They had planned to cheer me at the finish but I finished at 1:51:46, over 8 minutes early!
We grabbed our gear and headed for the American Legion Hall for some Smuttynose. As we walked up my buddy Derek handed me a beer. Everyone was outside drinking beer in the New Hampshire sun! It was glorious!
There were a bunch of us from the club hanging out telling our stories. Great friends, great beer, great day, Great Bay.
Most years my cardio is in better shape from months of long runs, but my body is tired.
This year, it felt like my cardio was not there, but I averaged 94% of capacity. It’s not unusual for me to average 95% of capacity during a marathon or half-marathon.
I did have a brief spike up to 111% of capacity, near the end of the race. Probably on Main Street when I started passing people.
Thanks to Club LOCO and the town of Newmarket for putting up with us!
Run well my friends,