When I signed up for the Hyannis Half Marathon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A race in New England in February opens up a lot of possibilities, weather-wise, and this year was no exception. In the week leading up to the race a little bit of everything was forecast: snow, rain, 50+ mph winds…you name it.
Because of this, I think I packed as much for this race – a half marathon an hour away – as I did for my last marathon. Which was in Dublin. Anyway, I loaded my ridiculous luggage into my car, picked up my friend, Erica, and we drove to the Cape. When we got there, the weather was better than expected. It was grey and overcast, but only raining. Cold rain, to be sure, but I can deal with rain. I started running in Scotland so…
We parked and collected our numbers, quickly and easily, and we settled into a nearly empty room to stretch and start thinking warm thoughts. At the last possible second, we went out to the start and made our way to the 8 minute mile section of road.
When the gun went off, I settled into a good pace quickly. It was faster than I thought I should go, but I also know I tend to let myself get psyched out by the numbers on my Garmin, so I decided that it felt good, fast or not, and I’d see how long I could hold on. Excellent pacing strategy, I know, but going into this race I didn’t have a specific goal in mind. I knew I had it in me to PR, but I wasn’t sure how the conditions would affect that, so I figured it would be a decent time to experiment and go into the year with a better idea of what I could do.
For the most part, I managed to hold on. I spent a lot of time thinking about my pace, which may or may not cancel out the “running by feel” thing, and the rest of the time, I was on the lookout for puddles, potholes, and anything that might be ice. As it turns out, ice wasn’t a problem, and since I was soaked anyway, I decided to just embrace the puddles. I did manage to pull myself out of my own little world every so often and look up at the course. I’d love to go back on a day when it’s not raining, or when I’m not pushing my time, because it was really pretty. As a Rhode Islander, I’m required to say that our beaches are the best, but the beaches we passed were pretty nice as well.
I made it to the halfway point and still felt good, despite the hills. I don’t know if someone told me the course is flat, or if I just decided it’s flat because I don’t like hills, but there were definitely hills. They were mostly manageable, despite my tendency to consider every incline a MOUNTAIN. Never one to be dramatic…
The real challenge came at Mile 10. For the most part, I think I have a pretty good mental game when it comes to running, but the last 3 miles – of anything – really test me, and this race was no different. I knew I was on track to PR, but I knew I could do it even if I slowed down a little bit. The rain was still coming down. I couldn’t tell if I was hot or cold; I was just wet. And then my shoe came untied – for the second time. And then there was a hill. And…. Well, it wasn’t pretty. My pace slowed a little bit – I’d been maintaining sub-8s (aside from Mile 8 – the first shoe incident, and a hill. You may be able to guess where I’ll be focusing my training from now on…). Still, I started hearing people the finish, and managed to hang on. When I rounded the last corner and knew I was coming up on the end, I stopped thinking and just RAN.
Final time: 1:45:03, for a three minute PR (previously 1:48:17). Hell. Yes.
After the race, Erica and I met, collected our free donuts (I totally run on Dunkin), and scurried back to the car. We fired up the heated seats, and drove back to Boston, where we finished race day by demolishing a couple of plates of French Toast. Perfect.
I’d absolutely do this race again. I don’t think I have ever looked as miserable as I do in the official pictures, but that really wasn’t the case. The race was organized and well run with good amenities and on course support. It took me until the half way point to remember that the course wasn’t closed to traffic, because the course marshals and police officers did that good of a job keeping runners safe and on track.
As for me, this was a good race. I’m still riding high on my three minute PR, and I’ve got some things to work on to keep improving (Specifically hills. And shoe tying.). I’ve got the NYC Half on the 17th, and I can’t wait to see what I can do there.