I’m back! Apologies for disappearing the past few weeks and leaving you hanging on the Half at the Hamptons. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know the race was not really the result I had been looking for and I needed some time to process it. The week after the race, I was traveling for work so writing the race recap got pushed back even more.
But I’m here now. 🙂
So let’s rewind to two weeks back when my mom and I headed up to Hampton, NH for the race.
When I first started weather-stalking the race (ie, checking weather.com every few hours for the raceday forecast), they were calling for temps in the high 40s and sunny. I got so excited I was even contemplating wearing shorts.
As the race drew closer, that high temperature steadily dropped. We ended up having a high around 32 and a very cold wind off the ocean. Not exactly ideal racing conditions.
My mom and I drove up Saturday night as I had decided to book a room in the hotel that was hosting the packet pick-up and post-race party. It was a really cute hotel, right on the ocean. You could tell it was the kind of place that would be PACKED during the summer, but it was very quiet for the beginning of March.
We had a quiet night on Saturday, eating dinner at the hotel restaurant and relaxing with some movies on TV before turning in early. I felt relaxed and honestly I was just excited to race. It didn’t even occur to me to be nervous.
The race started at 10 am on Sunday so I was able to sleep in comfortably. I had my pre-race bagel with almond butter and honey and layered up in my warmest clothes. I picked up my bib easily in the morning and headed out into the cold for a light warm-up.
It became obvious very quickly after going outside just how cold it was. I jogged along the beach for my warm-up and while the views were beautiful, it was kind of hard to enjoy in the wind. Still, I focused on jogging a couple miles knowing how important it would be for my muscles to be nice and warm for the start of the race.
After discussing with Mary, the plan for the race was to go out around 7:45 and to hold that for the first 3 miles. Most of the tempo work we had done during the training cycle was around 7:36/mile, so I knew that was a nice, conservative pace to start with. From there, the plan was to steadily drop the pace, hopefully leading to a negative split. The plan was a solid one, but sometimes even the most well laid-out plans don’t end up happening.
I lined up in the corral with all the other bundled runners and right on time, we were off. This was it. Months of hard work and 5 am wake-up calls were all coming down to this. I was definitely feeling the excitement during the first mile and I had to reign myself in a bit to keep to the 7:45 goal.
Mile 1: 7:46
Mile 2: 7:45
Mile 3: 7:46
My splits were RIGHT ON for the first 3 miles and I was stoked. I felt strong. Then came the straightaway along the ocean. We were running right into a fierce headwind. I tucked in and prepared to dial the pace down a notch.
And nothing. I felt like I was pushing harder than I had in the first 3 miles, but the split on my watch was going UP not down. Mary had advised me not to panic in the event of wind, so I sucked it up and figured I would make up the time in the next few miles once we were off the ocean a bit.
Mile 4: 7:49.
At this point, I still wasn’t too nervous. I thought I’d settle in and be able to work my way down to the 7:30s.
Just as I was thinking this came the hills. I had NOT expected any sort of incline. From what I had been able to find online, the race was supposed to be flat and fast. Well, I overheard another runner say that they changed the course this year so all my research and planning was out the window. I was peeved about the hill, but I sucked it up and did my best to keep running hard.
Mile 5: 7:50
Mile 6: 7:53
At this point, I think I realized that things were really falling apart. Every time the wind would die down and I would think to myself it was time to push, I’d hit a hill and even with the increased effort, my pace would slow. If there wasn’t a hill, then it was the wind slowing me down. I tried to do my gels but I felt like I couldn’t breathe and swallow them at the same time. During my training, I had typically done my gels in between intervals which is all fine and dandy, but when it came down to it, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to take them while running fast. That was a stupid mistake on my part and something I need to think about more for my next half.
Mile 7: 8:16
Crap. At this point, I had really just been hoping to keep all my miles sub-8. So much for that goal.
From there, it was an absolute grind to the finish. I was still hoping and thinking I would finish in under 1:45, but my lofty goal of 1:39 was 100% out the window. Mentally, I just wanted this race to be over.
Mile 8: 7:58
Mile 9: 7:55
Mile 10: 7:58
I felt like absolute crap and knew I only had a 5k to go. I wanted to push. I really did. But we were back at that straightaway along the ocean and the wind was blasting me. I watched the pace fall off on my watch and felt absolutely powerless to do anything about it.
Mile 11: 8:00
Mile 12: 8:12
Mile 13: 8:21
I crossed the finish in 1:45. I immediately felt a sense of defeat upon seeing the clock. Not only did I miss my goal, but I didn’t even break my PR. After all the effort and all the training, I failed.
My mom and I hurried back into the hotel to warm up. It seemed like it would have been a pretty nice post-race party with free beer, soup, and hot chocolate, but I didn’t feel much like celebrating. My stomach also felt like it was tied up in knots, much the way it gets after a marathon.
So obviously, I’m still disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal. But here’s the thing: I KNOW I’m in awesome shape and better trained than the last time I ran a 1:45. I KNOW I’m capable of a faster time. And now that I’ve had some time to let that sting of disappointment fade a bit, I look back and think ‘hey, I raced really freaking well for those conditions.’ My average pace ended up being 7:58/mile and to run that on such a terribly cold, windy day on a course that threw a few significant climbs my way? That’s actually a solid performance.
Everyone has races that don’t go their way. That’s part of the sport. You try to control everything you can in training, but on the actual day of the race, you also need a little bit of luck for everything to come together perfectly. It didn’t happen for me at the Half at the Hamptons, but that’s ok. All it means is that I need to start hunting for half marathon #18 so I can give sub 1:45 another shot.