Big Lake Half Marathon - Alton, NH 5/11/2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I missed my last few weeks of training recaps but I got all (but one) of my runs in.  For our last few long runs Alanna and I tried to focus on getting in some hills practice.   It's one thing to practice hills on a four mile run but it is totally different on a nine/ten/eleven mile run.

Anyway,  the race was taking place in Alton, NH along Lake Winnipesaukee.  It is about an hour and a half from my house so my friends and I decided to spend the weekend at my friend's aunt's camp in Ossipiee.  We thought (though we would find out later we were wrong)  that the camp was about 30 minutes from Alton.

We managed to get up there on Friday night without and problems.  We had a big pasta dinner and, using the race as our excuse, all hit the hay pretty early. Luckily just before falling asleep we checked a map only to find out that Alton was actually over and hour from where we were.  Whoops.

The forecast for the race was miserable.  No matter what web site we checked we concluded that we would be getting rain.  Luckily I had brought every item of running clothing I had, but that didn't really help since I had almost no training in rain and wasn't sure what I would actually be comfortable in.

The entire drive to the race it poured.  When we arrived and jumped out of the car and into the school to pick up our race bibs it was still pouring.  When we left the school it was still raining though lightly.  Finally we made our way to the porta-potties.  When I emerged from that the rain had stopped.  It was cool and overcast but no rain.  I credit the magical porta-potty.

My self, Alanna, and Keith (another friend who decided to join us) all made our way back to find out other friends (aka fan club).  We also bumped into my parents who had decided to make a weekend of the race and stay up in NH, too.

The starting line was just down the street from the school so all of us headed that way.  We took some pictures and then split up- Alanna, Keith, and myself towards the start while my parents and three friends went to find a good viewing area.

After a beautiful national anthem we were off!  Keith wasn't going to be running with us but Alanna and I had pretty much the same goal pace.  Every day of training I said to myself, "remember not to start off too fast or you'll burn out."  What did I do? Started out too fast.  The first six or so miles were about a minute / mile under my goal pace.  I really felt great though and I figured I was going to struggle at the end any way so I might was well enjoy it what I can!
Running, waving, AND keeping my eyes open is just asking for too much

Those first few miles were along long rolling hills.  As scary as it was looking into the distance and just seeing a hill for a mile it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Look back at the elevation chart I'm surprised to realize that I was feeling my best during what was essentially a 3 mile uphill run.  I should also add that the first half of the race was insanely humid.  At one point I felt what I thought were rain drops on my arm but it was actually just my own sweat dripping off my head.

We hit the turn around at about mile 7 and it was all downhill from there (literally).  I have been practicing taking GUs but I feel like the more I've used them, them more I dislike them.  I managed to get it down before the turn around but then we hit some steep hills.  The first hill had such a steep drop that it was too hard to actually run down. I stutterstepped down while I watched a woman in front of my zig zag back and forth as if she were on skis. I think the up and down motion of the hills between miles 7 and 10 combined with a GU and a cup of gatorade just made my stomach angry.

My stomach is something I've been battling with since starting running (and through all of life really).  I noticed it after my first 4 mile run and felt it often as we did longer runs each week.  Luckily I no longer feel it for 4 mile runs but by the time I hit mile 9 in the race I was definitely feeling it.  I've dubbed it "Jostled Tummy Syndrome".  It basically feels like my stomach is bouncing around so much that it cramps up and it becomes very hard to run.  For a while I blamed it on dehydration because I wasn't running with water but I was drinking pretty much every two miles on this race.  While it was not ideal to experience during this race, I know that with time and practice the feeling will eventually go away on my longer runs.

At around mile 11 I let Alanna go on without me.  Granted I was actually now just running at my goal pace, but she got some freakish burst of energy so she took off.  Miles 12 and 13 were about a minute over my goal pace but I still trudged along.  I was able to pick it up at the very end and even planted a smile on my face while crossing the finish line.

Overall I was very happy with this race.  Even with the stomach problems and slowing down I still finished under my goal pace.  It was also great to see that I am capable of running at a faster pace for at least the first six miles of the race... I just need to work on that second half.  Because the race was along a major road there were no spectators through most of the race.  I would love to do one where there are because I think that could have a huge impact on the race.  I've also decided that I probably will not be using GUs any more.  Even thinking about them I gag a little.  I've heard that candy is a great substitute so that's pretty exciting.

So, for my first half marathon I finished in 2:27:23 with an average pace of 11:11 (my goals was 2:30 / 11:30).  I am already looking forward to my next race so if anyone has any suggestions let me know!


  1. You're AWESOME! I loved reading this post and it gives me more motivation to get out and RUN! I have been slacking on my training lately.

  2. I always check different websites if I don't like what one says about the weather too! I think it's great that you run and you look great! You look very happy doing it and it motivates me to get out and run! Great work!! Sounds like you had a great time despite the weather!