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On The Run Half Marathon 2019 Old Orchard Beach Maine

On The Run Half Marathon in Old Orchard Beach Maine was a bit of a haul. But with a group of friends the trip was well worth it. A well organized, low cost race that you might want to check out.

It’s not very often that I drive over an hour to run a half marathon. But I received an email from the race director in November and the On The Run Half Marathon registration was only $32!

The price caught the attention of a lot of people and for about a week I had over a dozen people excited about this race. Ultimately we had five runners from The Melrose Running Club drive to Maine.

The price wasn’t the only reason we signed up. Half marathons in March are few and far between, so you have to seize your opportunities.

Over the past two years I’ve been working to get more club runners to go to races together. It’s much more fun with a group and I hope to get our new members to try racing.

For Dave Bryson, this was his second half marathon. Durm Cahill, Jose Viveiros, Katherine Kulig and I have run a few of these. We really like running halfs though Katherine and Jose do a lot of Ultras also.

On The Road to the On The Run Half Marathon

We estimated the drive time to Old Orchard Beach Maine to be 90 minutes. The race was at 9:00 AM so we decided to leave Melrose around 6:00 AM.

When I looked out my front window before heading to Melrose I was surprised to see snow on the ground! Not a lot, but there was accumulation. When I got to Brueggers in Melrose the snow was still flying! Snow is better than rain, but I wasn’t expecting snow.

And since Maine is often colder than the GBA I worried that we would be running in snow. I’ve done it before, but it’s March 23rd. I’m done with snow.

Brueggers in the snow, Andy NagelinWhen I pulled into the lot Dave was already there. He was our driver because he has the largest car and I had worked out the carpool. Even though I was pretty sure it was Dave it still felt odd rolling down my window to holler and get his attention.

I grabbed my stuff and called shot gun. Durm showed up as I was going into Brueggers for a coffee and restroom break. When I texted Katherine she was walking over and Jose arrived soon after Katherine. With the full crew and the seats figured out, we were off to Maine!

Traffic was light and the snow turned to light rain and then sun peering through the clouds! It looked like it was going to be a good day.

We found the Brunswick Hotel using the wizardry of modern GPS technology. It was about 7:30 and we headed in to get our bibs and swag.

When we walked in it was a bit confusing as the race management company is 5K Sport Race Management, So every sign we saw had a big “5K” on it. It’s not unusual for a half to also have a 5K, so we stumbled around the hotel lobby for a bit looking for the half marathon pick up table. Fortunately the first table I went to was the right one.

It seemed like all five of us were in a bit of a daze. We had all been sufficiently caffeinated but our brains were still cloudy.

5K Sport Race Management had our bib, some promotional literature and our swag all together in a plastic bag. Each of us received a pair of Stickman Sports running gloves and a sport towel. I have several pairs of these gloves and they are Made in USA! They are a nice quality mid-weight glove.

The hotel parking lot was packed and we were told to drive around the block to abundant public parking. Getting out of the tightly packed lot was a challenge, but Dave actually backed about 100 meters to get out. He didn’t use the camera and the warning alarm only went off once!

Getting Ready to Run

Now that we had our bibs and a parking spot, it was time to get ready.

It was still about 33° and there was a good breeze blowing. The forecast said mid 30s with a 10 to 20 mph breeze. I didn’t want to run with a jacket again. But was worried about 10 to 20 mph breezes off of the ocean. That water is still under 40°.

Melrose Running ClubI ended up wearing an old beat up running vest. It blocks the wind and the pockets still zip. The chest pocket is missing but the hole stays closed for the most part.

I had one gel from a brand I’ve never tried and one Shot Block. Not really enough to get through a half marathon, but that’s all I had in the house. My belt held two 9oz bottles of sport drink.

Everyone else went with three layers but I ended up with four on top and three on the bottom. I knew I could un-zip my vest and take off my hat and gloves if need be.

Katherine took off and did some warm up running while the rest of us got ready to run. I don’t warm up before a half marathon. That’s what the first mile is for.

About 8:20 we headed back to The Brunswick Hotel. It was great being inside. Plus they had hot coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts! We hung out for a while, used the facilities and headed outside around 8:50.

The start was in front of the hotel. We could not hear most of the announcements as we stood in the wind. Then at 9:00 AM they played the National Anthem and we all took off our hats and stood silently. The only flag I saw was the Canadian flag!

There wasn’t a timing mat for the start, so I tried to be near the front when the race started.

Moments after the National Anthem they gave the verbal start.

Running The On The Run Half Marathon

There were less than 200 runners, so the start wasn’t crowded. I ran with Dave for a bit but my pace was a bit faster than his.

The entire race was virtually flat. We had a 10ft elevation gain in the first mile and that was the most of any mile. My first mile was 8:28 which was a bit too fast for my plan.

I did notice that my watch chimed one mile right on the one mile marker. Very impressive. For the rest of the race I was usually 0.05 to 0.8 ahead of the mile markers. Still very accurate. My race distance was 13.18 miles which to me is very accurate.

We ran 3.5 miles down Rt 9 through the Ferry Beach neighborhood of Old Orchard Beach and past the Ferry Beach State Park. It was nice to see so much land protected from development. There is a lot of construction going on up there.

At 3.5 miles we took a sharp right on Rt. 9 and continued on Ferry Road. My Garmin shows hardly any hill but it seemed like there were several low incline hills that went on for a half mile or so.

As I ran along I wondered which was better, short steep hills or long slow hills. At that moment the long slow hills seemed worse. They just went on and on.

I like hills but I could tell that other runners were being challenged. This is where I passed most people that I passed during the race.

At 5K I took my one Shot Block. With so few supplies I had to manage what I had and do my best to make it work.

We took a right onto Bayview Road at about 4.5 miles. This took us away from the shore and most of the wind. We hit mile five on Bayview and I told my self that I was one-third through the race. My time was 8:46 for that mile.

I was basically running my 10K pace during a half marathon and worried that I had gone out too fast.

This was my third half in three weeks and I worried that I was becoming complacent and over confident. You always have to respect the distance or it will kick your ass.

Around 5.5 miles we got back onto Rt. 9, Seaside Ave heading East back into town. I began to recognize buildings and marshes that we had run by before.

We hit 10K/6.2 miles before we got back into town. I had run a 53 minute 10K which was about right. I was slowing down. I ran the first 5K under 26 minutes which was way too fast for a half.

At about 7.3 miles we passed The Brunswick Hotel and a few folks out cheering us on. At about 7.5 miles we ran through an intersection with some traffic and got onto East Grand Ave. We were still in downtown Old Orchard but this road would send us out of town to the turn around at mile 10 where we looped through a neighborhood.

Garmin shows miles 7 through 10 to be virtually flat and at Sea Level. But I distinctly recall running one of those long slow hills. It chewed a few people up and I passed a few walkers.

Somewhere around 8.13 miles the lead male runner passed us on his way back. He had a smooth pace and looked in control.

At about 8.36 miles the second place male approached me. Amazingly just as he got to me he broke stride and started walking! I told him he was in second place and to keep going. I have no idea how he did. I was busy running up a hill that doesn’t exist!

I kept counting runners and got to 25 when I saw Katherine heading my way around mile 9. I called out her name and waved. She seemed comfortable and happy.

Bringing it Home

As we looped through the neighborhood the road seemed to keep rising. I could see it and I could feel it.

I kept telling myself that I would be running back down that hill nice and easy just like the lead runners had. But as we headed West back into town it seemed like we were still going uphill.

Again, Garmin doesn’t show this but I sure as hell felt it. Maybe the ocean air was causing me to hallucinate?

I was now down to just my sports drink. Not a lot of sugar but electrolyte infused water. Why do these companies think runners don’t want some carbs in these mixes?

All the way back I was amazed at how many runners were still heading out. I really thought I was about mid-pack.

Around mile 11 I saw Jose in his bright 2018 BAA jacket. He seemed to be doing okay. Then before mile twelve I saw Durm and shortly thereafter Dave. They looked okay also.

My mile twelve pace was 8:48 and my overall pace was 8:41. I really wanted to break an 8:40 pace so I picked it up a bit. We only had 1.1 miles to go.

I didn’t have a lot of energy left and my hamstrings had been sore for a few miles. I drank a bunch of sports drink to at least stay hydrated.

Finally the road seemed to have a slight decline, but not enough to really run down.

So close to the finish and I passed a young guy walking. I felt bad for him. I’ve been there and it is disappointing.

The entire road back to the hotel was mostly strait and just went on and on. As we approached the hotel I could hear people cheering. My watch chimed mile 13 about 0.08 before the mile marker. So I still had about 0.2 miles to go.

And the finish line was in the parking lot, so I couldn’t even see it!

There were two people with red flags so I knew where to turn. So close.

As I turned into the parking lot, the finish was only about 25 feet in! It looked like the clock had 1:54 on it already. I had to kick it in to finish before 1:55. As I approached the line I saw a guy with a camera on a step ladder. I did a thumbs up and did my best to smile as I strained to cross the line.

Right after the finish someone handed me a medal and I put it over my head. When I looked at my watch it was 1:54:13. Not great, but not bad either.

I walked around a bit and got a bottle of water. The cases were on the ground and I had to bend over to get one. It was surprisingly difficult to do this.

I poured water into my sports bottle to get the left over sports drink and headed inside to get out of the cold. As I walked into the bar I saw Katherine at a table with some food.

5K Sports Race Management had chicken wings and pizza for us! Hot food. They also had plenty of fruit and veggies. I filled a plate with wings.

Apre On The Run Half Marathon

As I ate my wings Katherine told me that she came in second in her age group. She hadn’t expected that! The page with my finish time hadn’t been posted yet. I wasn’t thrilled with my 1:54 finish but didn’t let on about it.

Slowly the gang drifted into the bar. Everyone was tired but seemed satisfied with their time. I got another plate of wings and a glass of water.

Katherine Kulig, On The Run Half Marathon 2019When they started doing the awards Katherine sprung to her feet and headed over. We could hardly hear them from our seat, but she seemed to know what was going on.

I followed her over so I could get a few pics of her getting her medal. There was a crowd and large windows looking out onto the ocean. This made it difficult to get into position to get a good shot. I ended up with an okay photo with a little help from Photo Shop.

Usually we hang out a bit after a race. Today we had a 90 minute drive back to Melrose. It kind of felt like we were on the moon. Having a good time far from home with some urgency to depart before time ran short.

So we steeled ourselves for a cold walk back to the car and did a light jog laughing all the way.

The drive home always seems to take so much longer!

Run well my Friends!


Running Beyond the Rainbow 5K Newmarket NH 2017

Beyond the Rainbow 5K 2017

beyond the rainbow. great bay halfThis is the second time I have run Beyond the Rainbow 5K which is the little sister to The Great Bay Half Marathon. Proceeds from the Beyond the Rainbow 5K benefit the Exeter Hospital Beyond the Rainbow Fund, which provides assistance to families fighting cancer.

These races are part of LOCO Running’sWill Run for Beer” Series. These races are not part of the Melrose Running Club Race Series, but we had 6 runners from the club run the 5K and three ran Great Bay.

I was fortunate enough to get a ride from Cynthia Berger and Diarmuid Cahill joined us for the ride up to Newmarket, NH. The ride is about an hour so it definitely made sense to carpool.

In the past the race bused runners from an office park to the start area.This year the races were smaller so they had us use lots and side streets in town to park. I’m not sure why the race was smaller, but I’m sure no buses helped keep fees from rising. I counted 773 runners between the two races.

As usual the number and shirt pick up were in the Newmarket Mills building. The well restored mill building houses many shops and makes a great place to base a race. They were well organized and the crowd seemed smaller, so pickup was quick and easy.

Durm and I were just running the 5K so we were pretty much ready to go. Cynthia was running the half and realized that she didn’t have any pockets. After triple checking top and bottom she decided to stash some glucose tabs in her phone case.

We headed down to the church for the bag drop and walked down by the river. They had two porta potties and a short line, so I stepped in line.

It was about 15 minutes until race time so we headed up the hill to the start area. Cynthia was doing the half and didn’t want to be near the front and start fast. So Durm and I headed closer to the front. We were still about 50 people back from the front. When I turned around it looked liked thousands behind us.

I took a few photos and did some last minute stretching. They played The National Anthem and started the race.

Running Beyond the Rainbow 5K

We were across the start line in no time. The race starts on a down hill, levels out and then goes up a hill before our first right onto South Main. The crowd was pretty tight with all of the 5K and half marathon runners starting together.

beyond the rainbow 5k, newmarketDurm took off up the hill and I decided to run my own race from the start. You can really feel a hill early in a race. We did very little pre-race warm up which is always a mistake in a 5K.

Our next right was onto Beech Street Extension and into the neighborhoods. There were a few people out and it was great to see and hear the little kids. Kids love a parade, so seeing a bunch a runners come down their street must be really fun for them.

The race winds up and down the streets to get our distance. Most of the way through this loop we hit mile one and my watch said 7:19. Not bad considering the start, hills and the crowd you always get in the first mile of a race.

At about a mile and a quarter into the race we left the neighborhood and turned left onto Elm Street. This is a main road in town and joined up with Main Street just after we hit mile two. Mile two came in at 7:47. There were a bunch of hills in that mile, but I was beginning to feel my laziness.

Soon after we hit Main Street we crossed the Lamprey River and headed towards Dame Road. Dame Road is where the 5K runners would split off and the Half Marathon runners would head out into the Great Bay Reserve.

As we approached the turn onto Lamprey Street I was glad to be making the turn, but a small part of me wanted to go for the long run. We looped back onto Main Street and crossed the bridge. As we were making the turn I saw a few people that I knew were running the half.

We were almost done and they were just past the two-mile mark. It really surprised me at the time. But we were running under 8 minute miles and they were probably running 9 or 10 minute miles. I had also started near the front.

After we crossed the bridge there was a small hill. By now the crowd had really thinned out. I pushed up the hill as hard as I could and began to look for the finish. I was ready.

I crested the hill and saw the finish line. It looked so far away. I gave my last kick to the finish and watched the clock as I approached. I was going to get under 23 minutes! My official time was 22:46 for a pace of 7:20.

The course was short again, 2.96, and my Garmin gave me a pace of 7:42. Another runner said his watch recorded 2.98.

In 2015 I got my 5K PR on this course with a pace of 6:50. The race was also short, so I have to consider that a course PR because I’ll never come close on an accurate route.

After Running Beyond the Rainbow

For many of us, this race is about the party. I’ve run the half three times. By the time I’ve finished, the party is mostly over. For the 5K runners it’s a fantastic party.

I saw Durm sitting on some steps resting and my buddy Brian Sarro was sitting on the curb catching his breath.

Durm came in first in his age group with a time of 21:37. Brian Sarro came in 34th and I came in 35th. Durm also set a 5K PR. I did trade places with Brian twice on the course. We were running so hard neither one of us said a word!

Beyond the rainbow, great bay half, Henniker BrewingThen it was off to the party at the American Legion Hall! Our friends already had two tables going. After saying hello and dropping my gear I headed for the beer table.

Henniker Brewing Co was the sponsor and they had an IPA and an Ale. I only had a dollar and some change for the tip jar. I sheepishly dropped it in the jar and and said it was all I had. I grabbed one of each beer and headed back to the table.

My friends Derek and Lisa Hentschel had just returned from a vacation in Jamaica. Both of their kids are now out of college and this was their first vacation in years. They both looked happy and well.

Slowly the half marathon runners came in. Cynthia Berger looked a little tired but had a pretty good race. The hills are always challenging out there. Jeff Rushton showed up and had a few beers with us also. It was almost like old times.

I had a few more beers than usual, but we had a designated driver. We all take turns. On our way out we walked around a bit and picked up a few left over Cliff Bars. It was good to stretch the legs a bit before our drive home.

Maybe next year I’ll run Great Bay again. This year the Beyond the Rainbow 5K was enough for me.

Run well my Friends!


Spring in New England?

In 2014, spring begins with the vernal equinox on March 20 at 12:57 P.M. EDT.

With forecasted highs in the 50’s in some parts of New England it feels like spring today. While you run your errands and drive the kids to practices today you are sure to see many runners out. This is a day we wait for.

Just like motorcyclist – “Watch out for runners – look twice, you might just save a life”

I’m running the New Bedford Half tomorrow. For me today will be time to catch up on my UMaine Class Notes, work on my business and rest. No running. Some stretching, rolling and perhaps some time in the hot tub.

The New Bedford Half web site says they will have race day registration at the YMCA from 8:30 to 10:30AM.

running, races, new england

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