You were good to us Cape Cod
This was a race that Mike and I registered for over 6 months ago. We knew that it would sell out and after wavering between the half and the relay, we went for the half. I also convinced Crystal at Carpe Diem Crystal to run it with us. At the time it was supposed to be her first half marathon, but she ran one in August as her first.
After a quick shake out run at Mike's parents house, we made the drive to Falmouth, Massachusetts and checked into our hotel. Packet pickup wasn't until 5pm so we had a little while to relax. We were supposed to meet Crystal and Joe, her husband, for dinner at Stone L'Oven (but I wondered if we would see them at packet pickup).
As we were walking up to the school which was dubbed, "Marathon Headquarters", to pick up our bibs I saw two people in the distance that looked familiar. I had a feeling that it was Joe and Crystal, and as we got closer I was right! We hugged immediately and it felt like we were seeing old friends, rather than just meeting for the first time.
We picked up our stuff quickly and then headed out to dinner. It wasn't busy at all and our waitress was hilarious. She kept asking us about the marathon and when we told her that we weren't running the half and the full marathon, but that some people were, she called them "over achievers". I said that we were just "achievers".
After eating and talking for awhile, we headed out and went back to our hotel. We relaxed for the rest of the night and then went to bed.
Our alarm went off at 5:50am and we got ready pretty quickly. We weren't too far away from "Marathon Headquarters" but I wanted to make sure we were able to park easily. There were already quite a few people at the school and right after we parked, I saw Crystal and Joe.
We went inside to use the bathrooms, thankfully we didn't have to use the port-a-potties, and then went outside to take a few pre-race photos. Crystal is obsessed, I think I can say that, with jumping photos so we obliged when she asked if we would do one.
Dunkin Donuts should sponsor us, ha!
After stretching we handed our stuff to Joe and then made our way to the start line (Mike used the port-a-potty right before the start). We were probably a third of the way back from the start and right around 7:30am the National Anthem was sung and the canon sounded!
Finish line for the marathon
Mike and I took off, and Crystal was a little bit behind us. We probably should have moved up even closer because we had to dodge some people in the beginning. There was even a point that I was ahead of Mike, but don't worry it was before the first .5 miles.
The crowd eventually thinned out and I fell into a good pace, and then all of a sudden I saw three people with Team Utopia shirts on in front of me. For those of you who don't know, Mike's mom is a runner and she runs with Team Utopia. I ran up to them and said, "Hey Team Utopia, I know Joan (Mike's mom)". They replied with, "your husband just passed us, good luck!". I wished them well and went on ahead of them.
The first few miles went by uneventfully and we were running through a residential area. The course is an out and back with some loops intermixed here and there. I was running sub-9 minute miles at this point and I felt pretty good. At this point I decided I was going for a sub-2 hour half marathon.
As we approached the third mile I took my first energy gel. The first water stop was around 2.75 miles, according to my watch, and I wanted to take some water with my energy gel. Unfortunately, I was denied by the volunteer because he said something about a car and then pulled the water cup away from me. I was a little bit confused and slightly worried because I had just taken an energy gel without water.
I hoped that there would be water around 4 miles because there was supposed to be a port-a-potty there. Right after 3 miles we started running along the coast and it was amazing! The views were incredible and I was just trying to take everything in. At this point my stomach started to bother me, but luckily there was a water stop at about 4 miles.
At this point we turned onto a bike path and ran along this for 2 miles. The first 6.5 miles of the course were flat and this was working in my favor. I kept hitting sub-9 minute miles until there was a slight uphill during mile 6. At one point on the bike path you could see a bridge above you and the realization hit that we would have to get up there somehow (you could see runners on it).
I knew that miles 6.5-9.5 were going to be hilly and I tried to mentally prepare myself. I was hitting slightly above 9 minute miles, but I knew that if I got a second wind that sub-2 was still possible.
I kept pushing and tried to will my legs to go, but at this point I was struggling a little bit. My pace kept slowing but I hadn't hit above 10 minute miles yet. One nice distraction from my slowing pace came around 7 miles. I rounded a corner and the whole reason that we ran this race came into view: Nobska Lighthouse. It put a smile on my face for sure!
Yep I couldn't stop staring at it!
I kept staring at it the entire time that we ran by it, until I couldn't see it anymore. At this point I gritted my teeth and carried on.
Unfortunately at the beginning of mile 9 I knew my sub-2 wasn't going to happen and I also started to have a feeling that Crystal was going to catch up to me. I would turn around here and there just to see if I could see her bright green shirt and right around 9 miles, there she was! I was so happy for her, but told her that all the racing we had done within the past month was starting to catch up to me. I told her to go on, knowing that she was going to kill the race, and as she left me she said, "overcome".
I took my second (last) energy gel at the next water stop and I kept looking for Crystal's husband, Joe. He said he was going to be at around mile 9.5 but I didn't see him. Miles 9-13 (with the exception of 10) were all above 10 minute pace and I just willed my legs to go. I did walk once during the entire race, right after Crystal left me and I did not allow myself to walk again.
At mile 11, I saw a welcome sight. Joe! He cheered me on and said that mile 11 was right ahead. At this point there were some people cheering on the runners and I tried to smile at as many people as I could.
The last few miles I had to do math to see if a PR was even possible. I knew that I couldn't go any slower than I was going and that it was going to be close. I rounded the corner to the finish line and I picked up the pace, as best as I could, and saw Mike, Crystal and Joe cheering me on.
As I crossed the finish line the clock said 2:07:00.
Luckily, I had crossed the start line about 20 seconds after the start and I came away with a brand new PR! 2:06:39 is now the time to beat (and my gun time was 2:07:00 which tied my previous PR).
I got my medal and some water before catching up with everyone else. Mike and Crystal both came away with huge PRs (read Crystal's recap, here). Mike felt great and ran a 1:52:38 half marathon! I was so happy for both of them!
Six-time half marathoners!
The happy half marathoners!
I am happy for myself, but I was so mad at my body for not cooperating with me. I really wanted sub-2 but I realize that I just ran a marathon and an overnight relay within the past month. My time will come soon, though.
Mike approves of this drink
After getting some food, sorry Crystal no clam chowder for me, we went our separate ways, but only for a short while. Mike and I did some sightseeing (more on that tomorrow) while Crystal and Joe prepped their house for Frankenstorm Sandy.
We met up with them for dinner at British Beer Company, BBC, and had an amazing time! Mike and Joe bonded over Fantasy Football and Crystal entertained us with her hilarious kayaking story.
It was hard to leave them and I really, really wish that they lived closer! Have no fear though, we might meet up for another race in February!
Here's to you Crystal!
Overall it was an amazing weekend and we all came away with new PRs, but more importantly lifelong friends!