Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

Martha’s Vineyard Half Marathon: Race Recap

June 8, 2017

In theory, many months ago, the title of this post was supposed to be “Martha’s Vineyard Marathon,” but theories don’t always pan out. I had it in my head that I wanted to use this race to make an attempt at a BQ. The brutally honest truth is that I lost my fire somewhere in the early stages of training, which, coupled with an injury, left me at a pretty low point in my running morale. After a string of good results, which prompted the BQ thoughts in the first place, this turn in the opposite direction felt particularly brutal and there were times when I really just hated running. Nothing felt right, not even the simple act of one foot in front of the other. I eventually came to realize two things: 1. I was not enjoying this process and did not find it fulfilling, as I thought I would. 2. I missed being a triathlete. I missed the biking and, yes, even the swimming workouts. So, I made the decision to drop down to the half marathon distance for this race and put my focus back on tri training. This seems as good a time as any to give a shout-out to my longtime friend, Jason L., who DID accomplish his goal of BQ’ing at the Eugene Marathon. Jason put in an inspiring amount of hard work and miles, and it was pretty awesome to see him crush his goal. Good work, buddy. Now, on to the race.

This was the inaugural running of the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon/Half Marathon. Unlike, as far as I know, all the other races run on the island, this was put on by a national race company, USA Endurance Events, as opposed to locals (see MV 20 Miler and Vineyard Triathlon). While the race did benefit two Vineyard non-profits, it’s my understanding that they did not do much, if anything, to reach out to the local running scene. This lack of coordination revealed itself most readily in volunteer situation, which I’ll address later. Should anyone from USA Endurance Events happen to be reading this, that would be my first note for you. The locals will help, but you need to work with them to ask for it!

We arrived on island Saturday afternoon and headed to the race “expo” in Oak Bluffs. As it turned out, the expo consisted of bib and t-shirt pickup plus a few branded pieces of apparel and some Gu products for sale. What stood out for me was the complete lack of race information readily available. For example, no one seemed to know how to determine which of the three waves you were supposed to run in nor how the pacer situation was being managed. These turned out to be minor complaints in the end, but it also seems like information that would be easy enough to put on the race website.



The race swag included a mesh drawstring bag, t-shirt, and running cap.


After lunch at one our go-to spots, Slice of Life cafe, we headed to our home for the weekend at the Winnetu Resort. Because R had to do work, I passed the time reading my new graphic novel, Lucifer, and I may have also enjoyed a two Bloody Mary’s.


Something something, calming the nerves makes me race better, something something.

Dinner was my now preferred go-to fish piccata (sole piccata to be exact) at Chesca’s in Edgartown. Of course, before turning in I laid out my race kit, which I’d like to think was suitably matchy-matchy.


Brooks Launch 3 for race day.

As it usually does, race morning came way too quickly. After a stop at Espresso Love for an English muffin with butter, we headed to the start location, which was different from the finish location, at Martha’s Vineyard High School. From what I understand, there were also buses that took racers from several locations to the start, but I can’t say how well that system worked. Two things stood out about the start setup. First, there were FAR too few porta-potties for a race of around 1600 people. Second, the guy MC’ing the race (who knew races had MCs?) really straddled the line between fun and encouraging, and simply intolerable. A barefoot white dude with dreads, this guy punctuated every statement with a Little John-esque “YEAH!” If it helps you get an idea of this gentleman, bear in mind that the pre-race music was almost exclusively Rusted Root. I’m serious.

It turned out that Wave 1 meant racers anticipating a sub-8 pace for both the marathon and half. I found the 1:40 pacer, a nice bearded guy named Brian from Beast Pacing, and we set off down the bike path on our way to Oak Bluffs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the path was not as crowded as I thought it might be, given the number of racers. It helped that it was still pre-season for tourists so there were not many bikers out. As for the race itself, the course mostly wound through woods in the middle of the island. There was one stretch of dirt road that lasted about a 1/4 mile, which is not called out by the race. I did hear that the marathon had a roughly 2 mile stretch. Both of these were somewhat sandy, not hard-packed dirt, and the race simply has to make a point of noting these in future course descriptions.

3rd place in my AG. Run Strava

There are no real steep climbs, but several long inclines that seem to go for a while. In fact, the course is net downhill.

3rd place in my AG. Run Strava (1)

The most mentally draining part of this race is a stretch that I have done many, many times, which is essentially the part on the map above from “Ocean Heights” to Oak Bluffs, where the finish was. While it’s a very pretty stretch, often with water on both sides of you, it’s a long, straight shot, and I was really struggling at that point. I did my best to focus on the scenery and maintain as much forward progress as I could muster.


Finally, I made it to Waban Park. The finish was somewhat of a tease, as you had to run up a road parallel to it, then make a sharp turn for a final stretch of about 100 yards on grass to the line itself. Though I’ve finished the Vineyard Triathlon on this stretch, and it didn’t feel too bad, this part of the park felt tremendously awkward running on. Maybe it was just the fatigue, but I couldn’t find a comfortable stride and kind of stumbled to the finish.


Of course, I messed up my finish line pictures by worrying about my watch, but heaven forbid I have an incorrect Strava record!


As you can see from the pace chart below, I was right on target for a 1:40 finish…until I wasn’t.

3rd place in my AG. Run Strava (2)

Still, I learned after the race that I had finished third in my age group, which was my first time placing in my AG in a “real” road race. Though I was a bit disappointed with my time in general, this picked me up a bit, and made me look at the race in the context of my current training and focus, which was not on PR’ing for that half marathon. In fact I’d only run one 10 mile run leading up to it. So, all things considered? I wound up feeling pretty good about the race in general.

Now, for a list of things I hope the race changes for next year:

  • More expansive “expo” featuring MV businesses and races.
  • Many more porta-potties at the start.
  • More water stops.
  • Better staffed water stops.
  • Better trained staff at water stops.
  • I’ve heard the signage needed to be better for the lead runners.
  • No dirt sections on the course.
  • Better stocked post-race provisions.

All in all, a good race with some definite room to improve. I have a feeling I’ll be back again for it next year!


Guest Post: Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC Recap

April 30, 2014

Hello all!  Rebecca ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC this past weekend and did a write-up of her experience as a forum post, so I thought I’d share it here!  Enjoy!

I did my goal race this past weekend: [i.e. the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, the second year this race has been offered as an addition to the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon].

Stretch goal was a 2:15-basically thought it was impossible based on recent training and hip issues.
Secondary goal was a PR.

The wall at Nike Georgetown.

The wall at Nike Georgetown.

There I am!

There I am!

Here is my race report: Weather: Low 50’s and 6-8 miles per hour wind with 50-55% humidity.

Course: Flat-with a half mile tunnel on what I can only believe is a freeway which you do twice (map link: Nike Women’s Half Marathon Map)

Race started at 7 AM so I get up at 5:15, then really 5:30 to shower and dress in my spandex shorts and tank and eat some bread with peanut butter and make coffee I actually get about 5-10 sips of before the race. I get dropped off about a block from my bag check and drop my bag off. I left my pace band in the car when I thought it was in the bag so I go to the bathroom, go back and check my bag and then snuck into my corral without proof I belonged there. This is where the stupidity of the race people continued with the announcer basically saying the most annoying stuff he possibly could about you go strong girl, and just have fun! It was when he started talking about taking selfies during the race and then hash-tagging them that I about lost it. I was at the very front of the corral as I wanted to do 15 seconds faster than the low end of the pace for that corral. I know I said out loud that this was everything I hate about our society. There’s more, but you get the mood.

I made myself only check my Garmin every time I hit a mile marker to see the pace for that mile, since I run best by feel.

I have no idea what happened mile 2 or 3 and why they are so off.

Garmin Data

1 9:52.9 1.00 9:53
2 11:45.9 1.00 11:46
3 9:15.3 1.00 9:15
4 10:43.8 1.00 10:44
5 10:34.8 1.00 10:35
6 10:40.8 1.00 10:41
7 10:34.8 1.00 10:35
8 10:55.2 1.00 10:55
9 10:33.4 1.00 10:33
10 10:42.3 1.00 10:42
11 10:43.5 1.00 10:43
12 10:46.5 1.00 10:47
13 10:30.3 1.00 10:30
14 3:22.9 0.33 10:10

Summary 2:21:02.3 13.33 10:35

My official time is 2:21:02, which is a 5 minute, 44 second PR for me. I’m pretty pleased with this since I went in with a bum left hip that has been paining me severely after running, but not during. It didn’t hurt during the race and very little so far after which is surprising since it hurt like someone was stabbing me after I ran three measly miles Thursday night. My toe continues to be inflamed and painful since I injured it last summer but it’s not keeping me from running.

This race was a mishmash of women who run regularly and train for their races and women who were there for the experience or to raise money for Team in Training.

Mile 1-don’t start out too fast, there’s a downhill here people aren’t noticing. I am a little fast but not breathing hard and my legs feel ok. Yay, my hip doesn’t hurt. Toe, you suck. Downtown DC has a lot of big buildings. WTF are those women dancing next to the marching band wearing. Why would you wear bikini bottoms with Nike t-shirts? Those are some big butts but they can move. Ok, stop looking at the butts and pay attention to the race.

Mile 2: Why do my legs feel weak? What is going on? Why is this hard? My toe hurts.

Mile 3: I feel good, but why are we running through a tunnel underground on a freeway? Why did no one I spoke to who did this last year tell me about it? What do I do with my sunglasses? Oh, good, they stay on top of my head. This band is entertaining and has a good beat. WTF are the giant We Run DC letters and the Nike swoosh doing set up in THE TUNNEL. Why are people stopping in the middle of the race to take selfies with them? WHY? WHY? WHY? Get me out of this tunnel from hell!

Mile 4: This is nice to be outside again. Give me my double caffeine gel now! Yay water stop so I can take it!

Mile 5: OH! Lincoln Memorial roundabout. Look for DH and friend. Where are they? Screw it, I will see them when I have run over this bridge twice and around another roundabout on the other side. Arlington! The bridge again! There they are, remember to wave! I didn’t look in the memorial at all, I was really looking forward to seeing the big guy. Oops. Hey, I feel good and I am running close to my goal pace. Awesome.


Mile 6: ???? Just get to 10K and then it is really only another 10K to go (a nice little lie I know is a lie but I tell myself anyways). Hey, more of those women dancing with marching bands in bikini bottoms and t shirts. What is up with that? More big butts, but again, they can move in ways I just can’t.

Mile 7: Woo hoo, halfway and I feel good. When do I get to the boring island DH’s cousin’s wife told me about?

Mile 8: Give me gel or give me death! No, I don’t want a Luna bar during a race.

Mile 9-11, Oh, this is the boring but pretty island she was talking about. How many trees with pretty pink flowers can I look at before I go insane? Just keep moving your legs or you can’t wear that shirt you bought. Ahhh! Golf cart, whew there is a fence. Why don’t these stupid team in training runners who have these annoying coaches who keep saying go team every time we pass one of them just disappear. Really, now these “coaches” are jumping in to run with their “team members” five abreast. Yes, pass by so close you sweat on the coach. Hah. Now, pick the team members off and see how many you can roadkill. You better finish before the girl who keeps asking every single one, coach, do you have salt? I cannot hear that phrase one more time. Whew, dropped salt girl.

Mile 12: Bridge! That breeze is heaven-sent.

No idea where this is on the course, but, hey, picture!

No idea where this is on the course, but, hey, picture!

WTF? I know someone told me there was a chocolate station in mile 12 but I didn’t believe anyone would actually take it. Oh, none of them ate it, they just dropped the individually wrapped truffles on the ground where they have melted into piles of goo for me to avoid. Marvelous. Just finish strong. TUNNEL AGAIN????????????????????? It is so loud and humid in here. Please let my sunglasses stay on my head. Going to see husband soon. Hey, my hip flexors feel fine!

Mile 13: SO MANY TURNS. My stupid toe has better just fall off. Hey, that is really cool that people’s names are appearing on these big screens with Go ___________! Oh, they have a mat here reading our chips to make that happen! Cool! Hey, the announcer then husband then announcer just said go Rebecca! I better stop shuffling along and pick my feet up. RUN! Oh, there is the Capitol again! Whew, almost done!

Upon hearing The Husband and Announcer.

Upon hearing The Husband and Announcer.

.1: MOVE IT! STOP SHUFFLING! Oh no, I can hear announcer guy being an idiot again talking about selfies.

Whew, done, and watch says 2:21:02! That’s a 5 minute something PR! Yay! Walk, wow, cool, another race that gives us a real water bottle with the race name! Oh, this is where I get my Tiffany necklace from the 19 year ROTC kid in the tuxedo. More people taking selfies. Weave through, get my necklace and bag from bag check and put on sweatshirt. Oh yeah! I did it!


Entire weekend summary:

I flew to DC Friday night with DH. We stayed with friends on their air mattress in their spare bedroom in their East Capitol Hill row house. Friday night we went to get dinner at a combination Jewish deli and Irish bar. You read that right.

Saturday we got up and took their dog Maybe for a walk to get these awesome pretzel bun breakfast sliders then got on their metro to ride in an awesome 70s colors (orange, mustard yellow) subway car to the “expotique” in Georgetown on the water.

This was the dumbest place to have the expo. It’s a half mile plus walk from the nearest subway. It was all outside without bathrooms-perfect for 20,000 runners who all need to pee constantly because they are hydrating for the race. Second, your “expotique” (just call it an expo) was lame. I don’t need you to re-enforce all the terrible stereotypes about women athletes/runners. I don’t want my hair braided in some special way for the race and I certainly don’t need photo ops. That’s all I remember them having except for some area for the special “Team in Training” people. However, I wanted a better piece of clothing from the race so we walked up to the Georgetown Nike store and I braved the hordes grabbing merchandise like it was the last piece of cake  left in the world to grab a nice tech half zip which will be good in the fall/winter here.


Stopping at Nike Georgetown.

A stop at the Georgetown Running Company to grab sunglasses since I think mine were in my stolen running bag and a stop at Dean and Deluca’s and Baked and Wired and we are off to a bluegrass festival on some island where the wind blows dirt into everything and I spent three-four hours in an overcrowded dirt field getting baked by the sun but listening to some good music and having a nice picnic with DH and our friends.

Then back to their place for a watching of the classic movie Coming to America and a pasta dinner and bed.

Sunday: Race and then walking around mall and monuments until brunch at Founding Farmers, then walking by White House to car and back to their house for showers, ciders, dinner and then s’mores on their patio and bed.

Rebecca’s Nose Is Smutty: Smuttynose Half Marathon 2013 Recap

October 8, 2013

My dear wife, Rebecca, has written a race recap of the 2013 Smuttynose Half Marathon!  I’ll have my own coming up, but I wanted to share it with you all.  Without further ado, Rebecca’s Race Recap:

This is a beautiful and pretty flat loop course. It starts and finishes in a rather touristy and typical New England beach town which is empty of anyone but locals and runners because it is October. The race forecast was for mid 50s the entire time and about a 30% chance of rain the entire time. That chance was a reality for before the race and then towards the end with intermittent light showers. Pretty good running conditions actually.

I positioned myself towards the front of the last of 5 wave starts because that’s where my slow self belongs, in front of the walkers but with other less speedy folks. I ended up getting a warm up in when I ran and found a beach motel who let me use their employee bathroom as an emergency pre-run bathroom break was a necessity and made it back to the start with just enough time to encourage a first time half marathon runner.

The first mile or so involves a few turns around the blocks of the center of the beach town. The start was not clearly marked and there was a lot of confusion. Thankfully people ran over the starting mats and that’s how I knew we had started-I ran over the timing mats. I took it slow the first mile and let people pass me, going at a comfortable pace for me. I didn’t want to be breathing hard during the first half of the race because I was just going out there and hoping my injured toe let me finish the race. My toe injury had kept me inside on the treadmill and with three-four runs per week for the last month. I’d still done 12 and a few 10 milers in training but I wasn’t as trained as I wanted to be.

After the first mile and we left the town we had small hills from mile 2-5.5 and I was passing people on the hills. I started following two women with their names on their backs during this time. From this point we ran out of the commercial beach part of town and into some residential areas. The leaves were changing and there were some nice water views and then beautiful residential neighborhoods. I was feeling good and running by feel and not breathing hard at all, including on the hills. I did have to stop and retie my shoes after the left one came untied. I did this as quickly as possible and double knotted them for good measure, right before the 5 mile water stop.

I managed to run and drink without making too much of a mess this entire time. I was still feeling really good. at this point. Around mile 6 I started to wish I had taken a powergel at the mile 5 water stop and started to look for the mile 7 stop so I could take one. They were handing out hammer gels right before the mile 7 water stop so I grabbed a gel with caffeine from my flipbelt-which worked so well for carrying gels-and choked it down and then thankfully had water to wash it down. I wish I had taken one at 5 and one at 9 instead of one at 7 but I had enough energy for the race-barely. At this point I was just starting to breathe hard but I had no idea what time I was at or what pace I was running at because I left the garmin and watch at home. There were no course clocks-which I had been counting on to make sure I didn’t go out too fast and blow up. I figured I would just keep running at a comfortable but slightly challenging pace and see where it took me and if my toe held up and let me finish. It hadn’t been hurting after the first couple of miles so I figured I would hang on. At mile 8 I got super excited-only 5 miles to go-that’s less my normal mid week run now. At mile 9 is where the mental game started with doubts creeping in as more and more people around me started to walk up the small hills we were encountering.
I said to myself that I didn’t do those hot, sweaty, humid runs on the sandy roads of Chappaquiddick all summer just to walk in this race and kept going.

At mile 11 we were getting back into the stretch between town and the residential areas which is beautiful and downhill mostly of sort of marshy stretches of beach grass with the ocean on the side and some deciduous trees that are changing colors right now. This is where everything started to hurt except for the breathing. My legs started to show the treadmill restriction due to the toe injury and that sucker started to throb and my hips were starting to whine. Mind over matter is the only thing that kept me moving, telling myself once we hit the 10 mile mark that I can run a 5K no matter what and I didn’t come this far just to not do my best and keep moving.

Mile 11-12 was definitely the worst physically and mentally. I couldn’t yet tell myself only a mile to go and that I can do anything for a mile and everything hurt. I started to have to pee and that was a motivating factor to just move faster!

Mile 12-13 was just that I could tell myself I can run a mile and don’t quit. I still had no idea of my time and whether I would reach my goal.

In mile 12-13 at the beginning the lead marathon runner passed me and it was so motivating.

Hitting the marathon 26 marker was awesome, because only a quarter mile and RUN!

Mile 13 marker and it is spitting rain and I am so wet and I can just taste the ocean air of the finish and I just want to get there and get my clothes and get warmer and dry and use those real bathrooms and the delicious handwarmers which I knew gave out really hot air which would feel so good on my frozen hands.

I picked it up and passed a couple women who looked to be around my age and saw DH and our friend cheering me along the side and crossed finally and then promptly was elbowed aside by a woman who finished after me but couldn’t wait to turn off her iphone tracker until she wasn’t going to clock someone standing still. Got my space blanket-it was cold and wet-and found DH, got my bag from the check-almost couldn’t get clothes on and thankfully got my calves rolled out and stretched by the PT’s volunteering because I have never had my calves seize up like that after any run.

The reward for all this? 11.5 minutes PR in the half from last year and a toe that was mostly healed which is now resembling a sausage again.

Boston’s Run To Remember 2012

May 30, 2012

On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Rebecca and I ran Boston’s Run To Remember Half Marathon, a race honoring fallen law enforcement officers.  I set this race as a goal race to see where my fitness was heading into training for the Hartford Marathon and came away happy with the results.  To skip to the punch line, I ran a 1:50:33.  Put against my 1:56:50 at the Providence Rock N Roll Half Marathon and 2:02:45 at the BAA Half Marathon in August and October 2011 respectively, I am really pleased with the performance.  My run pales to Rebecca’s though as she took an amazing 24 minutes off of her Providence time!  As important as the time though were the racing techniques I was able to work on during the run, as detailed below

1.  Don’t let a crowded start ruing your race.

A last minute run to the restroom made it impossible to try and position myself in the proper pace corral for the race and I ended up around the 10:00 group, about 1.5 minutes slower than I ran for the day.  Often, when I find myself in that situation, I get caught up in trying to escape the crowds and waste a lot of energy weaving in and out of people.  I also end up running faster than I want to.  This time, knowing there was plenty of ground to cover, I decided to settle in at the pace of others around me and move up where I saw clear opportunities without expending energy dodging people.  I knew that I could make up a slow start over the course of the race and resolved not to blow everything by starting too fast, which would invariably catch up with me in the later miles.

2.  Focus on the present

In a race of any distance, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about how many miles you have left to run.  This problem is obviously magnified the more miles there are to go in a race.  Hoping to avoid this, I focused on a new mantra: “Just run Mile ___” or “You can only run mile ___.”  I concentrated on the fact that I could only run the mile I was running at the time and could not worry about what the next mile would be.  This approach really helped me not get discouraged if I was feeling tired or worried about my ability to maintain my pace.  I also made a conscientious effort to not start thinking about how much distance remained in the current mile by not checking my watch to see where I was in each split (i.e. if I was 4 minutes into the mile I would know I was roughly halfway done).  I actually managed to avoid doing this up until mile 12 when I was really starting to feel it.

3.  Avoid losing too much time on water stops

By comparing my splits on miles without water stops to those with them, I was able to get a sense of how much time I was losing by taking water, roughly 30-40 seconds by walking through them.  For races over 10K, I usually walk through the stop to try to get more hydration rather than trying to dump water in my mouth at pace.  Later in the race I moved to a jog and only took water every other stop.  I tried to be aware of how I was feeling and not take water just to take it.

Of course, there are plenty of things I still need to work on when racing.  In particular, I need to be able to maintain focus and drive when presented with a seemingly never-ending home stretch.  This is something I’ve known since high school XC races but have never mastered.  I tend to get discouraged when I know the finish line should be coming up, but isn’t in sight and I need to just keep pressing on.  That actually segways nicely into my only gripe about the race (other than the fact that it was a pricey race and the t-shirt was just a unisex cotton one).  The starting line was not marked in any way and there were multiple timing strips, making it impossible to know when you had actually crossed the start line to begin your watch.  Not a big deal, but easy to fix.

All in all, I really liked this race and would definitely do it again!