Race Report: Hampton Rockfest Half Marathon
I signed up for the Smuttynose/Hampton Rockfest half two days after I finished the Run to Remember half marathon (my first!) last May. This race was going to be my goal race, the one I trained for and ran hard, so that I could run my next half—The Other Half in Moab, Utah on October 21—relaxed enough so that I could take a million photos along the way with my mom, who’s running it with me.
This summer saw my long run paces creeping ever upward, though—anywhere from 15 seconds to a full minute per mile slower than my long runs before RTR. So when I woke up yesterday morning after four hours of sleep, I decided that I would run by feel and not stress about time. If I PRed, great, and if not, whatever, at least it’s a pretty beach.
The rain started as a drizzle about half an hour before the race did, and then got progressively worse. I wrapped my long sleeves around my freezing hands, kissed D goodbye, and headed out. The first mile is a little loop that takes you back across the starting line in the opposite direction, which was pretty cool—we got to see all the spectators again, and D ran alongside me for a minute taking photos.
The next eight-ish miles wound through various (gorgeous) neighborhoods that, despite the rain, had an impressive number of race cheerleaders/signs. I kept my watch covered, tried to keep a moderate pace—easy but not too easy—and enjoyed the sights. Around mile 4 I heard two women who were doing the full marathon talking behind me about a woman up ahead who “looked great” and was “chillaxing” and “looked so easygoing with her snack,” and how their goal was just to keep up with her until the course split.
I looked around and realized they were talking about me and my Clif Bloks. :) I couldn’t resist peeking at my watch then, which was when I realized my “moderate” pace was around 10:45—a full minute per mile faster than RTR, and far above what I had planned/hoped for. This, along with the chatter behind me about how my stride looked comfortable and I looked strong (random women: thank you! hope your marathon was awesome), gave me a confidence boost that carried me through mile 9 and the subsequent glorious downhill that leads runners back to the coast (side note: this is a phenomenally beautiful course).
Things flattened out for the last 3.5-ish miles along the coast into the finish line. I realized on this run that straightaways suck: it’s easy to feel like you’re getting somewhere when you can check off turns and set your sights on the next curve. This last stretch, by comparison, was sort of awful.
I felt strong through mile 10-ish, and then I was sick of looking at the beach and of being soaked with rain and, oh, also of running. Despite the trudging at the end, though, I still managed to cut 12 minutes (!!) off my first half time. New PR: 2:20:29 (10:44 average pace).