Happy Monday, friends! Greetings from the happy end of another training cycle. This past weekend J and I ran the Seacoast Half Marathon in Portsmouth, NH–my 13th and his 1st. This race ticked all the boxes of a goal race for me. It’s on the smaller side, it’s reasonably priced, the scenery is gorgeous, and it’s somewhere new but still within a couple hours of home. We decided to “splurge” and spend credit card points on a hotel the night before–Portsmouth is just over an hour from home, but staying up there made for a much more relaxed race morning. An added bonus was that we got to have dinner with some good friends who live in the area on Saturday night. We ended up at Street, which was awesome. I had my traditional pre-race burger and a side of yucca fries, which were AMAZING. I definitely want to go back to Street some time to try out their cocktails and some of the more interesting dishes 😉
Saturday night I had a fair amount of trouble falling asleep, which is typical for me before races. Luckily I had gotten a great night of sleep on Friday night, so I knew I’d be fine for the race. Saturday morning we had breakfast and coffee in our hotel room before heading just a few miles down the road to Portsmouth High School, where the race starts. We easily parked right by the school and grabbed our race bibs and shirts fairly quickly. There wasn’t a secure bag check for this race, but we were able to leave our coats in the school’s cafeteria and just left our valuables in the car. It was chilly, with temps around 30 degrees at the start of the race, so I opted for tights, a warm base layer, gloves, and a buff. I probably slightly overdressed but I hate being cold at the beginning of races! I ended up taking off my gloves and buff by mile 3 😉
After a couple of rounds waiting in the porto potty lines and a very quick warmup jog, we headed up towards the race start. I wished J good luck and scooted up to the 7:30 pacer. Thanks to my race plan from Coach Laura, I knew race starts downhill and I wanted to make a very concerted effort to hold the pace back. The first two miles were light and easy.
- Mile 1: 7:20
- Mile 2: 7:24
By mile 3, I felt good and wanted to pick it up to closer to my goal pace (around 7:10-7:15). My goal was to feel comfortable and steady for the middle miles of the race, while actively conserving energy to be able to pick up the pace near the end.
- Mile 3: 7:06
- Mile 4: 7:08
- Mile 5: 7:18
- Mile 6: 7:08
- Mile 7: 7:04
- Mile 8: 6:56
- Mile 9: 7:11
- Mile 10: 7:10
I had accidentally set my watch with the automatic mile split setting off, so I could only see my overall average pace for the race. This turned out to be super helpful–my focus was just on pushing hard enough to inch my average pace slowly down instead of re-calibrating my effort every mile. I had tucked into a fairly steady group and I decided to stick with them through mile 10. The scenery during this section was gorgeous–lots of quaint old houses and sweeping views of the coastline. I made sure to grab a cup at each water stop and slowly sipped a Gu starting around mile 7.5. At mile 10, I could tell I still had some juice left in my legs, so I started picking folks off as I nudged the pace up.
- Mile 11: 7:00
- Mile 12: 6:51
- Mile 13: 6:55
- .2: 6:15
At mile 13 I was feeling strong, having picked off a couple of other female runners–at that point I knew there weren’t many more ahead of me. I hit the steepest hill of the race at this point, but I gritted my teeth and pushed my way up, knowing the finish line was around the corner. I totally channeled my inner Shalene Flanagan and let loose a “F*$& yeah!” as I crossed the finish line with the pace clock still at 1:34:XX. My official finish time was 1:34:19, which was good for 11th female finisher, 4th in my age group, and 52nd overall. My goals for the race were:
- A Goal: Sub-1:35
- B Goal: PR (Sub-1:36:55)
- C Goal: Sub 1:40
So, I was pretty happy with where I ended up. Jeremy ran an incredible first sub 2 hour half, and is already talking about signing up for his next one. I’ve created a monster!! It was really fun to get to watch him finish for once.
After taking the requisite photos we grabbed some post-race snacks (there was everything from pizza to a Mexican rice dish to squash soup and apple cider!) and then went back to our hotel for a hot tub dip and shower before tucking in at one of our favorite brunch spots, The Friendly Toast. Pro tip–they have an app you can use to skip the wait–our table was ready less than 10 minutes after we arrived! SO necessary.
Overall, this was a fantastic race for me–I felt well-trained, I raced hard and smart, and the course and weather were perfect. I also LOVE the half distance–it’s absolutely where I excel and I think where I still have the most room to grow (looking you, NYC marathon qualifying times!) I have a lot more to say about this training cycle but I’m incredibly happy to have PRed the 5k, 10k, and half this fall! I owe a big debt of gratitude to Coach Laura, who wrote the custom training plan that got me to my goals. More to come on what went well and what’s next–for now, I’m ready for a few sweet weeks of easy running and lots of yoga before Boston training kicks into gear.