Heading for The Hamptons
There was snow in the Greater Boston Area Saturday with about six inches of accumulation. Fortunately New Hampshire only received about an inch of snow.
The race organizer, Loco Running, was concerned that the storm may slow down and continue into Sunday. They issued an advisory that the race would be postponed for safety if this happened.
Fortunately the storm blew through, the highway was clear and the roads were in good shape for running.
When we got to Hampton Beach there was plenty of parking and we pulled right in. We headed to The Ashworth Hotel to pick up our bibs and shirts. While there wasn’t much snow on the ground, it was still cold at 8:30 AM.
As we left The Ashworth Ballroom and headed towards the car my buddy Durm Cahill saw that the hotel had a restaurant.
We looked through the door and they weren’t very busy so we decided to go in for breakfast. I ate there once before and the food is good. We both got a double stack of blueberry pancakes and coffee.
Previously I had the triple stack and it was way more than I could eat before a race. We both polished of the pancakes in short order and Durm had a side of ham with his.
Fueled up for the race, we checked out the beach and headed back to Durm’s car for our final race prep.
Hampton Half Marathon Start
I sat in the warm car and sorted my gear while Durm stretched his legs. Around 9:45 we headed for the start.
The roads were busier and there were runners everywhere heading towards the start.
There was snow and ice on the ground in some spots. As we approached the start area we saw them shoveling out the start area! It was only an inch or so of snow but there was a layer of icy stuff left behind.
I was a little concerned about slipping at the start. There can be incidental pushing and bumping in the rush to get across the timing mats. And in the rushed crowd it’s difficult to see the road beneath your feet.
No one was closer than 25 feet from the start and I decided to stand at that point. Durm thought that was too aggressive for him so he headed back into the crowd.
I told him that my plan was to stay put when the race director called everyone to the line. We would be behind 500 people. It was still too far up for Durm.
As I stood there waiting two ladies next to me were talking about the 70° difference between yesterday and today. I thought they must have been from northern Maine. Turns out they were from South Dakota!
They flew in Saturday, were running the race and heading back home. Their goal is to run a half marathon in all 50 states. I was shocked that anyone would fly to New Hampshire in March to run a half marathon, but it made sense.
They also wanted to see a lighthouse and asked if Portsmouth was up the highway. I told them it was and they figured they had time to see the lighthouse and make their flight.
Just before the start they played The National Anthem and we all stood silently with hats over our hearts.
With a “Go,go,go!” we gingerly made our way across the starting line.
The First Half of The Half
The race started just down the street from The Ashworth on Ocean Blvd/Rt. 1A. As soon as we crossed the start we all headed across the street for the first sharp left turn onto Island Path.
Where we turn is a bit of neglected pavement that hadn’t been plowed. The crew had done their best to clear it for us, but there was still ice and snow to contend with. In 2018 they had to shovel this for us also.
The first two and a half miles of the race were through a side neighborhood in Hampton Beach. Most visitors never go there and I’d only been through there a few times for races.
There were lots of turns but I managed not to get bunched up.
We hit mile three just north of where Rt 101 joins Rt. 1A. The road was clear and we were on our way.
The feel of the run
I don’t know if it was the pancakes or all of the clothes I had on, but I just didn’t feel right right from the start.
I felt weighed down by the clothes and my body. I’m a little over my goal weight for Boston and had way more for breakfast than normal.
I wasn’t tired or sore but it was a real effort to move. I had fueled and hydrated properly. For a bit I worried I was having a cardiac event. I have no idea what that feels like but obviously my engine was having a hard time getting started.
I was having a hard time finding my stride. My pace was fairly consistent throughout the race and on target, but early on I felt like a bag of bricks.
At 5K I took my first supplement and that seemed to help a bit.
By the time we got to our turn off of Rt. 1 at mile 5 I was hitting my stride.
Miles six through ten were through the neighborhoods of Hampton and had most of the race’s hills.
Deep in the Middle
Just before mile six I took a gel. As I worked on it, out of the corner of my eye I saw my old running buddy Jeff Rushton. I’ve run so many runs and races with Jeff I can tell it’s him without even seeing his face or all of him. Some people I can ID with just their silhouette.
So I called out to Jeff and we chatted for a quarter mile or so. He said he couldn’t tell it was me but had been thinking that that guy must be hot in that jacket.
I was. I had anticipated winds off of the ocean and had dressed accordingly. Instead we had a 35° day with virtually no wind! I kept hydrating but could only take off my gloves and hat.
A few times I even wrong sweat out of my hat.
Jeff moved ahead and slowly out of view.
We were not quite half way and I knew better than to try and run someone else’s pace. We were deep in the middle of this race with lots of miles yet to run.
I’ve run this course probably six times, maybe more. I know the hills, turns and the roads.
I used this knowledge to run strait lines on curving roads and to push up the small hills. After a 69ft climb on mile seven, we were done with hills.
I continued to skip the water stops and drink the mix I brought with me and to take my supplements at the right times.
By the time we got to mile ten and back onto Rt. 1A, I was ready to kick it in.
On to The Finish
For the next three miles I locked into my pace between 8:33 and 8:45. My legs felt light and nothing hurt. I didn’t feel as good as I did last fall at the Hampton Rock ‘N Roll Half, but I was running a faster pace.
I passed a lot of people those last three miles. It became almost automatic and out of my control that I would run down who ever was in front of me.
Sometimes a runner would try to keep me from passing, then I would and then I’d put some space between us. Most people who were faster than me were already further down the road. I was the spider, I was the one who knocks.
I was running at my capacity and if someone challenged me I’m not sure I could have held them off.
Looking down Rt 1A from about two miles out there is a long curve in the road. You can see the buildings along the beach in Hampton Beach where the finish line is.
It’s probably worse than Boylston Street because you can see the finish area for two miles, not a few city blocks. You run and run and it feels like you’re on a treadmill.
As we got closer to The Ashworth the crowd built. Then we made the last turn and there was the finish! About 200 yards away.
For the last 0.13 miles I managed a 7:29 pace. It took everything to do that!
My finish time was 1:56 at an 8:52 pace. My goal was anything under 9 minutes, so goal accomplished! My buddy Jeff finished a few minutes before me and was still in the finish area.
We swapped stories and walked around a bit. I wasn’t sure where Durm was so I headed for the hotel, our agreed upon meeting spot. Jeff headed for home.
Apre Hampton Half Marathon
After I caught my breath, had something to drink and walked around a bit, I felt okay. The only thing that hurt was where the cuff of my tights rubbed on my ankles. It’s an elastic band designed to keep them tight against my leg which is good. They’re just too tight.
When I got to The Ashworth I was able to walk up the stairs, no problem.
I got a bowl of soup and headed for the beer table. No tickets for this event, just take a beer or two. I took one Smuttynose pilsner and looked for a place to sit.
The soup was hot, salty and good. I took one sip of my beer while I ate my soup. The guy next to me ran a 1:32 and placed in his division about the same spot as me.
After a few minutes I saw Durm walk in and get his food and beer. I caught his attention and he joined me at the table.
He had a pretty good race and ran about what he expected, 2:06.
At one point I looked up and saw Dave McGillivray walking by. No one seemed to recognize him and he was just walking through the crowd like any other runner. He doesn’t know me from Adam, but I always say hello when I see him.
I called out his name and stood up. He came over, shook my hand and we talked about the race.
This was his first half since open-heart surgery last year! He ran a 10:17 pace and walked twice. For a guy who just had major surgery that is very impressive.
I told him my finish time and he asked if I was running Boston. I told him that I was and he asked if I was going to do it in 4:17. That’s a little faster than I was planning, but Dave knows running.
He headed off into the crowd and Durm and I finished our food. Thuy Dang dropped by and sat with us and I had a few more beers. I wasn’t driving.
Thuy is running Boston also and finished the Hampton Half in 2:31. We had a quick group photo and headed for home.
No awards or PRs at this race as far as I know. Just a good run.
Run well my Friends,