The Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon was the toughest half marathon I’ve run for a lot of reasons. There was no major event that made it tough but a lot of small things. Before I dive into a recap this is what made the race tough for me personally:
- The Elevation profile. Yes, I’ve climbed mountains, but there was not a section of the race that was flat. It was either steep or downhill.
- There were sections of trails that I wasn’t expecting. With a minute to go, the race director announced: “Not sure if this is the map, but there is some trail to the course. Watch out for loose rock”. I can handle trail, but I wasn’t expecting it, and it was probably some sort of cross country course we ran on.
- There was no Gatorade and minimal water stops (some not even manned). I don’t take gels during a half, but I do take Gatorade at every stop. In the heat, I needed Gatorade.
- The roads were not closed (in either direction), and around mile 7 I was clipped by a car. I didn’t get hurt, or even fall, but it knocked the wind out of my sails. We also had to go around vehicles. The roads are 35-50 mph roads and should be closed. Sure it makes the race more expensive, but it was dangerous. I will pay more, knowing that I’m safer.
That being said it sounds negative and I’m not. It’s just factors that affected me. I would probably do the race again if I were in the area. I’m both happy and proud of my time.
So where to start? If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I pretty much live videoed most of it. From finding the start to after the finish.
The race started at 8 am. We walked from the school to the start which was maybe about a quarter of a mile. It wasn’t chipped timed, and the race director made sure to let us know! I lined up and noticed several people who seemed like they would be fast. They were.
During the first mile, I ran with a few people including another female. There was one female out ahead, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch her. Even though it was only the “first mile” she was booking. Around .5, we turned and went towards East Boothbay. I had gotten dinner in East Boothbay the night before and had actually mentioned, wow it’s hilly here. We climbed, and it was a very steep climb. My legs were not happy. I ran a 6:58 and thought I would be ecstatic if that was my overall pace.
The next mile was me running alone on the trails. It was nice because they were narrow and I had no interest in running fast surrounded by others, through trails with lots of loose rocks.
Despite being on the trail, I ran a 6:35 and 6:46 mile. I think it was because those were probably the flattest miles we had during the entire race. There were by no means flat, but they were flatter.
Around mile 4, I realized how much fluid I was losing through sweat. I rely on Gatorade or on course drinks during races. If I had known there was zero fuel with electrolytes and minimal stops, I think I would have brought a gel.
We turned a corner and headed the way we came and over the pedestrian walkway bridge. The same bridge I had taken a photo with my race bib the day before. They didn’t close the bridge, and we were caught weaving in and out of people just enjoying the harbor. The second water stop came, but there were no trashcans. The woman just said to hold onto the cup until I found a trashcan.
Luckily there was a trashcan shortly up the road. After the bridge came a steep incline onto the streets of Boothbay. The roads were not closed and not flat either. I ran the next couple of miles in 6:44 and 6:46. I was pleasantly surprised because they weren’t easy miles and I was already overheating.
Mile 6-7 is where everything happened. There was a massive climb that I started very heavy breathing. I knew my body was beginning to overheat and at that point, I nearly mentally gave up. I know people say that, but if we close to start, I would have just called it a day. Luckily at the top, we had about a tenth of a mile of flat. I caught my breath, and it was all I needed. I ran mile 6 in 7:20 and one of my slowest half marathon miles in a while.
Then between mile 7-8, a car mirror clipped my arm. The roads weren’t closed, but I also wasn’t running in the middle of the road. The road itself was going somewhere between 30-40 mph. Between the two miles, it was enough to knock the wind out of my sails. I didn’t fall or even stop, but mentally I was like: WTF am I even doing here.
Once I reached mile 8, I knew the race was over halfway done. That always mentally makes me feel better. I focused on making it to mile 10. The next two miles went by without anything significant. There were rolling hills, weaving in out and cars, and hoping I was going the right way. For being a small race and running about 7 miles alone, it was well marked, and I never found myself wondering: am I going the right way?
I reached mile 10 around 1:08 and told myself, okay Hollie, you might be able to break 1:30 if you work it. I didn’t really know what kind of hills the next 5k would bring.
I grabbed water from an unmanned tabled and just trucked along. I ran mile 10 in 6:55 and began counting down the miles. My body was tired. I could feel the effects of the heat and lack of anything with substance. I told myself I had 20 minutes left in me.
Mile 11 seemed to go by without any incident either and all of a sudden I found myself at mile 12. I thought about racing the RnR VA Beach where you turn the corner at mile 12 and can see the finish line for nearly a mile. You are running in the humidity staring at the finish line. I pictured myself doing that. I was a little dazed because when I actually paid attention to the race I was in, I realized we were climbing the longest hill of the entire race. Who designed that!?
After that, we turned onto a gravel trail and headed towards the finish line. By 12.75, I was just focused on me and finishing. I knew the finish line was on the wide open field and I began mentally preparing myself to watch my footing. I would jog it in if it meant not hurting myself.
My husband was on the field cheering, and I finished up. I probably had more left to “sprint it in” but it wasn’t worth it to me, and I focused on my footing in the field.
I saw the clock ticking away and my official time was 1:29.50. I didn’t stop my watch until a few seconds later.
In all, I’m happy with my race and my effort. It was a tough day on a tough course, and I couldn’t be more pleased. As I mentioned, I have typically run RnR Va Beach at the end of the summer anywhere between 1:28-1:31 and I strongly believe my effort on this course was a little quicker than that range.
Questions for you:
What is your favorite half marathon?
How did you celebrate Labor Day Weekend?