Friday five: my favorite races

Hello hello and happy Friday! As we gear up for another snowstorm (yup, happy freaking April to us), I wanted to think back to the warmer days and talk about my favorite racing memories. One of my favorite bloggers/podcasters, Ali on the Run, did an episode this week on her favorite races and it got me thinking about some of my own favorite races and racing memories.

I came up with this list without considering races of different distances, but oddly enough, it ended up including a 5 miler, a 10k, a half, a full, and a relay. I truly loved all of these races for very different reasons, so I’m going to list them from shortest to longest instead of ranking them, which I can’t bring myself to do ūüėČ

Harpoon 5 Miler: This uber-popular race takes place every May, starting and ending at the Harpoon brewery. I had avoided it for years because I can’t drink beer and that seemed like the main reason most people ran (#celiacproblems). But I decided to give it a whirl last year and it was SO much fun!! The course is flat and wicked fast, you can run as part of a 6 pack team (you run individually, but your results count for team awards). I loved this race mostly because it was the first time I felt like I could really run fast, not just long. Also, I got to drink cider afterwards with J and a crew of our pals! Harpoon is the weekend of my marathon this year, so I won’t be running, but I can’t wait to be back.

Tufts Women’s 10k:¬†I think this was one of the first race recaps I ever wrote! It’s also oddly the last 10k I did (back in 2014) so I need to fix that, stat. This is a fantastic, fast, all-women’s race that has been happening for the last 40 years (!) in Boston. I didn’t have a watch at the time, so I ran totally by feel and just enjoyed myself and ran for fun. Everyone was super encouraging and the 10k distance was the perfect challenge at the time. I really hope to get back out for this one soon!

Cambridge Half Marathon: I think this was the first time I’ve ever run an inaugural race, and it was so awesome! I was coming off of the frustration of just missing my goal time in Chicago¬†and went into this local race with no goals other than to run hard and see what I can do. I was SHOCKED to run a 1:36! The course was perfectly varied and not too crowded, and it was so fun to run through a couple of my old neighborhoods. I am crossing my fingers and toes that this race happens again this year!!

NYC Marathon:¬†I’m 1000000% biased on this one because NYC was my first full marathon, but oh my goodness is this one magical race experience! The crowds are wildly supportive and it’s so incredibly cool to run through every borough of NYC. I experienced pretty much every emotion in the book during this race and honestly don’t know if I would run it again (it’s expensive and kind of a logistical nightmare) but I think every runner should have this one on their bucket list. Once in a lifetime for sure.

Ragnar Cape Cod: First of all, a HUGE thank you to my amazing friend Megan for making this happen. She got a group of our coworkers and friends together for this insane, sweaty, exhausting 200 mile relay down the entire length of the Cape. I don’t know that I ever would have thought to do a Ragnar on my own but it was such a fun experience, mostly due to getting to run with an amazing group of ladies. You can read more in my recap, but suffice it to say that if you ever have a chance to do a Ragnar, say YES.

What are your favorite race memories? Got any tips on races I need to add to my bucket list?

Linking up with  Lacey, Meranda, and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0.

Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon Recap

Greetings from the great state of Maine! I’m back in action to recap the Old Port Half Marathon I ran in¬†Portland, ME last weekend. First of all, apologies are in order. I 100% lied about taking this race nice and easy and not gunning for a PR,¬†and I blame it on the weather. For spectators, it was an awful day–rainy and chilly and in the low 60s. But for us runners, this was fantastic! Just enough rain to cool us off without being too chilly.

IMG_9552We arrived Friday to pick up our bibs at the expo, which wasn’t much to speak of but it was a good chance to get a sense of where the starting line was. After a delicious dinner at the original Otto Pizza¬†(zomg the best gluten free pizza–check out this baby with pear, blue cheese, and arugula), we convened to cheer on my buddy Bry’s cousin Travis, who was running in the finals for the men’s steeplechase at the Olympic trials. It was super fun to watch¬†him run and get ourselves psyched up for our race! Bry and I ran the half with her dad, while her sister ran the 5k. Plus boyfriend spectators, we had a nice crew and it was a great pre-race evening.IMG_9553

After calling it a night and heading back to our AirBnB, we got up just before 6 the next morning to head down to the waterfront for a 7am race start. Other than a long bag check line (as per usual), the logistics were really seamless–we were able to zip right into the portopotties (no lines!) and slot ourselves into our corrals. I lined up in between the 1:40 and 1:50 signs, and we were off! The first few miles were easy warmups, and then we hit the hills. Miles 2-4 and 6-7 of this race are really hilly, so I kept my effort at a medium level, although I noticed that without working too hard I was averaging well under my 8-minute goal pace.

race_1770_photo_39029397Given the amazing conditions and the fact that I was feeling strong, I figured I might as well shoot for the moon and give a PR a whirl, especially as the showers picked up and despite the hard effort¬†I wasn’t hot or sweaty. I picked a couple of strong-looking folks to pace behind and held onto decent paces–and then started doing math in my head which led to me believe that a couple of fast final miles would lead me to PR. I dug deep and ran a 7:09 and a 7:03 for miles 12 and 13. Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 3.34.26 PMDespite my watch saying differently, I clocked¬†an official time of 1:40:29–two seconds slower than my PR, 12th in my age group and 45th woman overall. Not PR-ing was a little bit of a letdown, but this race felt relatively easy and I’m pleased to see that I was able to hold onto my time without my brother there as a pacer, like he was at the Hyannis Half Marathon.

After the race, we celebrated with coffee, lots of donuts (from the Holy Donut–the BEST both gluten free and regular donuts) and some extra gf¬†treats from Bam Bam Bakery. All told it was a lovely race in a super fun city–despite the hills and rain! And a fantastic way both to make my official race debut as a member of the Heartbreakers and to celebrate Bry’s big birthday.

Onwards and upwards to more marathon training fun. Sub-1:40 half marathon, this fall you are MINE!

Linking up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run.