Time to cross off the state of New Hampshire!
That’s right- my mom and I knocked off another state this morning by running the Monadnock Half Marathon. And despite our anxieties about this hilly, challenging course, we killed it.
Quick recap of our pre-race carbo fueling dinner from the night before-
Zucchini pasta with chicken and pesto. Delicious, healthy, and a perfect pre-race meal.
Today, it was another early race morning for us- up at 5:45, a cup of coffee, and a little toast to get us going. My mom also had to put on her “tattoo”. This was her little cheat sheet for where the hills were in the course, where aid stations were located, etc… It actually lasted pretty well through about mile 10, and that’s when the sweat got it. But overall, it was pretty darn helpful!
The only little hiccup we experienced was some issue with the address for the race packet pickup and our GPS. Basically, it told us we had arrived at our destination at some warehouse. There were no runners in sight, and the building was obviously not the Jaffrey Bible Church (where the pickup was supposed to be) so we were confused, to say in the least. My dad even pulled up the GPS on his iPhone, and it also said we were at the address that had been posted in the emails and on the website. At this point, we were starting to get a bit frustrated and anxious. Luckily, we drove down the main road another mile or two, and happened upon the church, so we lucked out and still arrived with plenty of time to spare. We got our numbers and shirts (which are green again! I swear, it’s been the summer of green race shirts for us), and proceeded to hang out for a bit. My mom and I both had a Clif Bar (White Chocolate Macademia Nut, obviously) for a little more fuel and then we headed over to the porta-potties about 25 minutes before the start.
The line had gotten really long, but we ended up chatting a bit with the women in front of us, bonding over our desire for more porta-potties. Isn’t it great when you get to chat with some new people at a race? I also spied on people’s running outfits. My personal favorite were the running tanks that two women had puffy-painted with their race motto- “WTF; Where’s The Finish?” I love a good running pun.
When we finally got out of the line, it was just about time to start.
We lined up… and headed out!
The first mile literally flew by, and felt like nothing. Just after the end of the first mile, we hopped on the rail trail, which was a nice gravel-packed trail through shady woods. This stretch of the race was nice and flat, and my mom and I settled into a consistent pace of 9:52 min/mile. Not super fast, but we didn’t want to risk burning out before we got to the really challenging hills in the course later on. For about 4 miles in this section, my mom and I were behind a group of friends who would cheer and give each other high-fives every time they passed one of the mile markers. It really added to the cheery atmosphere, and their optimism was absolutely infectious!
Around mile 4.5, we left the rail trail and entered a residential area with rolling hills. We passed the one station with a porta-potty… And didn’t need to stop! Yay. Our pace slowed down a bit to 10:28 min/mi. for mile 5, but we picked it up again at mile 6, going back to 9:53 min/mi. Around this time, I had my GU. The flavor this time? Lemon Sublime! And it truly was sublime. It was the first time I tried this flavor, and I loved it! It reminded me of the filling of this lemon tart my mom makes for dessert sometimes. Yum.
Mile 7 was tough, as we came upon… Draag Hill. *insert ominous music here* It was just as bad as the course description had led us to believe, and we went into our power-walking strategy. This worked amazingly well. First off, we were moving about the same speed as some folks who were still attempting to jog- and we were reserving energy. By the time we got halfway up the hill, every single runner that I could see was walking. That’s how steep and long it was.
BUT WE MADE IT TO THE TOP! There was another aid station there with some good signs- “This is a motivation poster!” and “Stop being distracted by this sign- keep running!” were two that I liked a lot.
We entered a section with more rolling hills, but the scenery here was beautiful! We got some good views of lovely farms and green fields, and the air smelled wonderful here. There was a cool breeze and the scent of pine trees was very calming. We cruised along this section, running roughly 10 min/mi.
*As a sidenote, I took these pics while running, which I discovered, is not an easy task! So, I apologize if they are a little blurry.
There was a scary moment just after mile 11. We were running along, and I heard someone yelling, “Lexie!”. Half-wondering if someone was mistaking me for their friend, I turned, and saw a fluffy, white dog hurtling out of a yard straight for us. A car was just about to pass us, and I freaked out for a second that the dog was going to get hit by the car right there. The car passed just in time though, which was lucky because the dog ran straight into the street, heading towards us. I stopped, not wanting the dog to chase us down the road. The dog stopped too and stared at us, tail raised. My mom grabbed my shirt, panicking for a second that the dog was about to attack us. This actually wasn’t much of an overreaction. We have two dogs and generally consider ourselves “dog people”, but this dog wasn’t looking too friendly. Finally, it turned and trotted back to its owner (who had chased it down to the edge of the yard) and we continued on. The whole situation could have ended quite badly, so overall, I guess we were pretty lucky.
In the last 3 miles, we really cranked it up, running our last mile in 9:05. By this point, we were eager to be done. Both of us still felt great too, which was a major change from the end of the Shipyard Half Marathon. We had felt pretty awful at the end of that one and both of us had ended up walking more than planned. I think the breeze, cooler temps, and low humidity played a major role in helping us with the tough course we had today.
Finally, we reached the finish! In just about 2 hours, 11 minutes. A really solid time, and much better than we had anticipated!
We grabbed some watermelon and chunks of banana, but skipped the pizza. My dad, our personal race photographer, managed to catch both my mom and I making a variety of strange faces. Apparently, one’s ability to control facial muscles is also affected by running 13.1 miles. Who knew?
I also got a nasty little blister on my big toe. Sorry for the disgusting photo, but hey people should know the risks associated with running, right?
After relaxing a bit with the other runners, we headed over to nearby Kimball Farm for some ice cream. My dad and I both got “Moo Tracks”- vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls and chunks of Reese’s peanut butter cups. In our professional ice cream connoisseur opinions, it is the best ice cream there is. It was complete perfection after having run for 2+ hours.
Then, it was time to head home. After a long shower, I put on my new race shirt and relaxed with some iced coffee.
It was a perfect race day and SO SATISFYING knowing my mom and I have just crossed off another state! I know we’ll be sleeping well tonight. Good night folks!