Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Hampshire Marathon Recap

 A few months ago I decided to shoot for a fall marathon to see if I still had it in me. My last marathon was Boston 2014 and I felt really burned out after that, so I did shorter races for awhile and switched clubs and coaches. I picked a fall marathon - mostly based on scheduling and convenience. I wanted a marathon within driving distance on a free Saturday. That narrowed the options to one: the New Hampshire Marathon on October 3. I put it on my calendar and started training. One of the perks about being part of the BAA Running Club is that they have great coaches and a well-designed marathon training plan. I followed their plan, modifying it a bit here and there to add hills and work in a few races. I increased my mileage, ran several long runs over 20 miles, and ran hills as much as I could. After I signed up for the marathon, I read about the course and was genuinely scared. It starts with several miles straight uphill, then goes over rolling hills for awhile, then goes downhill for the last few miles. This sounded like a disaster since it's flat around where I live. There are a few hills, but they aren't huge and they are avoidable. I decided to not avoid them, and made it a point to start my runs on Beacon Hill most mornings. One of my long runs I started by doing repeats on Beacon Hill before running out to Newton and running the rolling hills and then subsequent downhill of the Boston Marathon course back into the city. All this is to say I trained very specifically for this course. But I still wasn't sure it was enough. When people asked me what my goal was for this race, I'd say, "Somewhere between 3:10-3:40, maybe more."

On Friday night, we drove up to New Hampshire and stayed with my BYU cross country teammate Ember. She lives close to the course and had even run it before, so she gave me some tips and spoiled my family with a pasta dinner and a slumber party. She made a huge breakfast on Saturday morning. I was nervous but managed to eat a little bit of a bagel, and thankfully the kids did their part in consuming breakfast. We packed up and headed to the starting line. It was partly cloudy and in the high 40s at the start. It warmed up into the 50s during the race, but was really great marathon weather.

The course was open to traffic, so Scott and the kids decided to drive around and cheer me on. Above that would be Phoebe and Oliver near the start. The New Hampshire Marathon is not a big race. Because it is known as a slow and hilly course, anyone that wants to run a fast time (for instance, if trying for a Boston-qualifying time) goes to another marathon: Twin Cities, Hartford, St. George, New York, Chicago are all within a few weeks of each other and are much flatter and faster. There were about 250 marathoners and another handful of 10K runners. We started together in Bristol and the 10K runners turned somewhere after the second mile. The first few miles were straight uphill so I went out very conservative - 7:30, 7:24, 7:20. After the 10K runners turned, I didn't see any women ahead of me.
 I saw Scott and the kids around mile 3. There was a fire station there and they managed to get a tour and sit in the trucks. And cheer me on, of course. I was still heading uphill - 7:28, 7:11, 7:22, 7:19, 7:22, 7:12. I ran with another runner for a mile or two, then he fell behind and I plodded on, keeping the next group of runners in sight.

It took me a few miles, but I finally caught up to these two guys. This is around mile 10, a.k.a. Devil's Hill. This was probably the worst climb of the race; it was steep and the road curved around so every time I thought I was at the top I turned the corner and there was more. 7:50 for this mile - my slowest split of the course. I grabbed a box of raisins at the top from Bruce and kept running, munching on a raisin every few minutes. A few more ups and downs - 7:15, 7:25, 7:41. Mile 13 was a long hill up a country road that led to a turnaround point. I ran with those two guys up until the turnaround. I checked my watch, which had me at about 1:40, and felt pretty good so decided to leave that group behind and venture off into no-man's-land.
 This picture is somewhere in mile 14 or 15. I was enjoying the downhill - 7:19, 6:32. I had Scott bring my phone and headphones because I was actually considering listening to music (which I never do on normal runs since it's almost always dark and creepy), but never got bored enough to demand it when I ran by. I still felt great! I clicked off a few more miles of rolling hills - 7:25, 7:20, 7:34, 7:28.
 This is somewhere around mile 20. The course ran by the western edge of Newfound Lake and was amazingly gorgeous here. The views of the lake and surrounding mountains were spectacular, the clouds and sun even looked amazing, and the foliage was just about at its peak. Add in Bruce's high-five and I was still feeling pretty good - 6:59, 7:12, 7:17, 7:31.
 I passed a few guys who clearly went out too fast. I felt bad for them; I've totally been there to that land of stabbing quad pain when downhills feel awful. 7:33, 7:28, 7:14.
And here was the final 2/10ths of a mile! I managed to pick up the pace and make it to the finish line without feeling completely dead! 3:12:59 for the win! I must admit that winning a marathon was on my lifetime bucket list, so I am happy to check this off. Not my PR, but I felt like it was really solid for this course.

I crossed the finish with blue lips and cold hands, so I went straight to the locker room and got a hot shower and dry clothes. I bundled up with a coat and hand-warmers, which worked quite well. There was a small awards ceremony where I collected my prize ($300 and a medal), then we piled into the car and headed onto our next adventure: Acadia!

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Blogger ellen said...

You're a super star!! See you at Mile 19 in April!!!

12:50 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Way to go Emily! Feels good to win it! Our times were nearly identical for this course. It is a tough one. Great race!

4:40 PM  

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