Harbor Lights Half Marathon (1:44.18)

I do a lot of dumb things.

I tweet when my phone is on 1% battery life…I wear cotton t shirts when I run…

I do half marathons as my long runs 6 weeks after beginning to run…at least I didn’t wear racing flats.

I did all three on Sunday. 

I signed up for the Inaugural Harbor Lights Half Marathon a while ago.  It is a new half marathon put on by J&A (the same race company that won race directors of the year and put on the Shamrock half marathon).   They do such a good job with races that I was devastated when I thought my stress fracture would take me out of this race too (I could argue more devastated than missing my full marathon).

Since we were down in VA anyways, I decided to run the Harbor Lights Half Marathon and see where my foot and my mental state was.  I had no idea.  I knew it wasn’t the best or smartest plan.  I didn’t expect to run a 1:30 half marathon or have an incredible PRing story.  I focused on keeping it smart. I just wanted to run a great race with some of my friends. After wedding cake testing the night before I had my fair share of sugar.  I consider that my carb and sugar loading.  I have no regrets!  I also wore my current  training shoes (Asics Nimbus).

Fast forward to the race start:  

I had no inclination to warm up before the race and I just chatted to friends.  I ran into my good high school friend Lauren and we chatted for a bit.  When I lined up for the start my watch would no sync.  I just gave up and decided to run the race.  It didn’t phase me or upset me at all that my watch didn’t work.

Lauren and I
Lauren and I

I started with the 1:45 pacers and as you can see stayed with the 1:45 pacers.  During the last half mile I decided to see what I had left in my tank (which was basically nothing).  I ended up about 30 seconds in front of the 1:45 pacers.

My reach goal for this race was a 1:45 but my ultimate goal was to finish injury free. 

The race started and we were off.

harbor lights half marathon start

The first mile I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I didn’t have any pain but the race in general it was overwhelming.  I haven’t participated in a race since the one mile race in early August.  In reality I haven’t raced anything on the road since the Pineland Striders 10k in June (and honestly that wasn’t a great race either!).  I have to trace back to the Broad Street 10 miler to find a race I’m happy with.  So long story short, it was overwhelming to be participate in a half marathon.  Even if I wasn’t “racing” or any peak fitness, I found it overwhelming.  I was nervous for what was to come.  I wasn’t worried I would rebreak my metatarsal but it was a general anxiousness.

I found the 3-5 miles to go by relatively quickly.  The pacers, group and I bantered about life and running.  I’ve run with pace groups a few times (not recently) and always found them to be more chatty.  I am a runner who likes to chat while racing so this was nice!  Just after mile 5, one of the pacers said “Only 1 hour to go”.  My feet and legs were feeling decent but I was pretty out of breath.   At that point I wasn’t sure I would be able to stick with the 1:45 pacers the entire race.

I could tell I have a lot of fitness to go.  It is a fitness I know I will regain with time.

We kept a nice even 8 minute pace and hit the 10k around 49:30.  Several of our pack left and surged around the 10k point.  I began to feel more confident around the 10k.

For me it was time to focus on mile 9.  Mile 9 had the infamous Bakers Crust tarts.  For some reason I was the first person who took a tart in the entire race!  Over 200 runners had already gone by but I was the first tart collector!  If I had been racing for a PR I would not have taken a tart but since I was running to run…I took a chocolate tart.  Another reason I was living life on the edge I guess.  Eating tarts in the middle of a run…just because.

It was delicious.  I should have taken a photo of the tart table…but I was running.

The last four miles were the most painful.  I had missed the mile 9 marker so when we hit mile 10 I was pleasantly surprised.  I thought I was just being a baby.

Sometimes I run while I'm sleeping.
Sometimes I run while I’m sleeping.

Mile 11 I began to feel tired.  I knew I only had 2 miles to but it felt like forever.  Mile 10-11 always feels like the slowest mile of a half marathon.  This was no different.  This race had a lot of turns which made me nervous for my stress fracture.  The turns and cobblestone from mile 11 to the end made me the most nervous of any section of the race.  I always worry that a sudden turn will just cause the bone to snap (a pretty irrational fear).  Edit to add: Two days later I feel completely injury free.

At mile 12.5, I just pushed it into overdrive and finished.  I felt accomplished at the end.  I ended up finishing in 1:44.18 and third in my age group.  I was happy (and surprised) with that.  I know I have a long ways to go but I’m motivated to do it.

This was 15 minutes later after laying on the ground.
This was 15 minutes later after laying on the ground.

I really enjoyed the Harbor Lights Half Marathon and it’s a race I would love to do again.  This race was a big stepping stone for me because it was my first run (at all) faster than about 9 minute pace.  It was my longest run and it was my first race back.  I am glad to be injury free and racing again.  The rest of the week is recovery (and turkey eating) then time to begin to regaining fitness.

DadLOLZ and I post race.
DadLOLZ and I post race.

Questions for you:

Do you run races as long runs?

Have you ever run with a pace group?

Categories: Tags: , , , ,


  1. Woohoo! Isn’t it nice to do a race without truly racing? (Side bar: I kinda want to do the Broad Street 10 Miler after having THE BEST time in Philly this weekend.) Enjoy the accomplishment, eat all the turkey, and then hit the ground running next week! 🙂

  2. I am so happy that you are running without pain again. I’m patiently waiting to return to good health and running. I’m giving myself until the New Year to get back to the gym and see what happens from there.

  3. Congratulations on your half marathon and meeting both your goals :). It’s awesome that you were able to complete the race pain free and are feeling better now. Everything I’ve seen about this race online looks like it’s a fun one.

    I led a pace group last year, but I haven’t run one with a pace group! The year I ran the Charleston half for myself (2013), I ran a 1:50. There was a 1:45 pace group and 2 hours, but both are pretty far from 1:50 and I knew 1:45 would be a reach for me. Now, I ran a training run in 1:44 recently and the fastest pace group for the half is 1:45. I definitely see big advantages in running with a pace group, whether it’s for a personal record goal or like you did, just to have people to chat with and enjoy the race.

    I love that they had chocolate tarts in the race and you took one. That’s one fun thing about doing a race for fun and as a long run. I probably wouldn’t do that if I were *racing* because it’s a new food and I’d be too scared, but if I did this as a long run I’d take one too!!

  4. That’s awesome! I was tempted to sign up for this race but didn’t have the money/time to travel down for it! Glad you had a good & pain-free race!

  5. Love the pic of you and your dad. It’s so great you can race together…or at least go to races together:-) I pretty much hate pace groups because they take up so much real-estate and I’m usually right behind them! arrrgghhhh.

  6. Congrats on your first race back! I tried to run with a pace group at the marathon but that just didn’t happen. I love how your dad ran too!

    1. Yeah! Dad has been running much longer than I have. He actually runs a lot more races then me 🙂

  7. I’ve basically had to run every race I’d signed up for as a long run since May this year 🙁 It’s really put into perspective the difference between running something, and truly racing something. I’ve tried to run with pace groups a few times (London 2012 I was with the 3:30 group and also I tried to hang on to the same group at York this year) but it’s never worked out very well. There’s so much crowding, pushing and shoving that I really don’t like to get too close to the pacers. I think I’m always too ambitious with the times I try to stick with as well, but the next one back is always 3:45 and I really don’t want to end up running that :/

    You should explore the world of ultra running – stuffing your face during the run is half of the experience 😉 A chocolate tart does sound lovely though…I would have probably tried to stash it somewhere for after the race and then ended up with chocolate in rather unfortunate places 😛

    It’s really weird how that course looks just like the harbour I’ve run along for the Liverbird Marathons, even though we’re obviously in completely different countries…I did a double take at the paving in particular, because it’s so similar to the course in Liverpool (I compared it to the pics I have from my race recap: http://onestepclosertothedge.com/2013/01/01/race-details-liverbird-marathon-double/ – I am that weird person who notices the patterns in paving before anything else about a race photo…


  8. And now I’ve noticed that I forgot to close a bracket in my comment. That’s going to annoy me for a while!

  9. Good job on completing your first real race post-injury without getting a new injury! You were very disciplined with your pacing and it paid off.

    I usually run one or two races per marathon training cycle as training runs. They keep me in check! I have never run with a pace group, although I’m considering doing so at the Eugene Marathon next spring.

  10. I totally want to lead a pace group some day. My ONLY running talent is consistent splits, so I’d love to use that to pace a 2:30 half-marathon group or something.

    Woo racing!

  11. I would love a tart while on the run, but I can’t imagine eating one (even when running slowly) while running. I love running with pace groups, but I’m not a chatter even when I’m running very slowly and comfortably. It’s the opposite of my fiance would loves to talk up a storm. One of my favorite running partners is a guy who likes to run as quietly as me. My fiance finds it unnerving that the two of us could run so stoically for so many miles without saying a single word.

  12. I like all these photos! You look so happy! Congrats on your first long run since being back! I’m sure it’s nice to get out there again and be able to run! The views look really great too! I love being near the water! I don’t know if I’d eat a tart if I was running but I would kill them at the end! I hope they took all the leftovers for after!!!

  13. I read this post and am commenting now with 1% battery life on my phone! I’m actually impressed it’s still going – here’s hoping this comment makes it through before my phone dies. 😉 Congrats on a strong start to regaining your fitness! It’s hilarious that you are a chocolate tart in the middle of the race!

  14. I have never ran a race as a long run but that’s such a great idea! I always get nervous when signing up for races, but then really enjoy them. My last half marathon I started out with the 2:00 pace team (because I had not raced in over a year and did not know what I was in for) and ended up coming in around 1:30…I think I can be more ambitious next time ahha. I also like starting back further because passing people later in the race makes me want to go faster!

  15. I’ve only run 3 half-marathons and 2 of them were injured (yes, I’ve learned a lot and it was stupid lol). I’m starting to realize I’ve treated all my races as just another run. Perhaps I need to start racing them and see what I can do 🙂 thanks for a refreshing look on things!

    Also, you’re amazing! I would kill to run a 1:44 half-marathon and you werent even racing! Glad to hear your injury didn’t flare up again 🙂

  16. Really enjoyed reading you describe your nerves, doubts, and the whole thing because I could just imagine feeling all those things. Congrats on a great race and time! And good for you for eating a treat during a race!

  17. I really wanted to run this race (before we moved). I’m not a fan of the twists and turns (like the end of the CHKD 8k), but J and A races are always a good time. Glad you’re still feeling injury-free… it’s a little scary at first. I always panic whenever I feel a twinge, like oh no I’m broken again. So dramatic, huh?

  18. Congrats on your first race back and injury free! I love the picture you have with your dad. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to coordinate a mini Oiselle meet up (this is @jenniferunning from the twitterland) – next time for sure!!

  19. Woot woot! Nice job hun! I’m glad the race went well and even more glad that you’re feeling good a few days later 🙂 I haven’t run with a pace group before, but that is in my future for shamrock for a bit. I hear good things about the pacers for those races 😉

  20. Dude, cotton long-sleeve ts are my go-to when the weather is 40 degrees. technical shirts be darned!
    If youre ever in the mood to run a slower half, I would love to run into you during a race, I am crazy chatty when I run, people think I’m weird but I swear it makes it so much easier haha! I’ve never run with a pacer, that’s awesome they were so great

    That’s awesome your feeling injury free still, wohoo!

Comments are closed.