Fall in love with racing

I was a bit stumped when I saw that 5 Fall Races was the theme for the  Friday Five linkup this week from Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar from Mar on the Run.

What possible interest would other bloggers have in my local races? And the one local blogger I know knows all the races & has raced most of them, too.

And then it dawned on me: d’oh! I’m trying to run a half marathon in every state. I’ve only been doing this for 3 years so obviously I’m not going to have 5 fall halfs I’ve already done, but I think I’ll round it out with one I’d like to do in the future.

Because it’s easy to fall in love with racing in the fall!

Las Vegas 2011
Las Vegas 2011 – after getting to right timing chip, of course!

RnR Las Vegas
Considering when I ran Vegas it was still in December (now it’s in November), calling it a fall race it stretching things a bit — but technically it does fall in fall.

It is, as they say, the one that started it all. In 2011 it was my first half. I was supposed to run it with 2 other friends I’d met on Spark People, but hadn’t yet met in real life. One didn’t come. The other came, but was injured and couldn’t run.

At the time I was training without a smartphone, without a GPS watch, but with a Nike+ Footpod. I tried to calibrate it, but it left me undertrained. And thinking I ran faster than I actually did. The race also started at night (my only half so far to do so).

I ran into another SP friend while there, and she was a Godsend — she was staying in the same hotel and I hung out with her and her friend before the race, which helped to calm my nerves. And she helped me when I put on my bib and discovered the timing chip wasn’t mine. Thank you Robin!

It was cold. Colder in Vegas than back home in NY. Not kidding. And it took me a full 20 minutes to get to the starting line. Thank goodness for my husband, because I was able to hang out in my nice winter coat most of that time.

The race was very disorganized and many people were disgruntled, but I had a great time. I ran down the Vegas strip at night! I saw brides! I saw Elvii!

I came back the next year, too, and my friend was injured — again. We walked it together.

RnR Montreal
RnR Montreal

RnR Montreal
I ran 4 halfs in 12 consective months that first year (not actually in the same calendar year).

I guess I hadn’t yet decided to run a half in every state when I signed up for Montreal. I actually had a friend who was running this race. A much faster friend. A friend who had family in Montreal.

We had been saying since we lived so close to Montreal we would go there; we used to take day trips there when we lived in VT. So I made sure that we got there.

I trained really hard for this race. It was my first year running with USAFit Albany. And the day before we were going to leave for Montreal, I found out my elderly father had had a seizure, had a brain tumor (presumed to be benign, but we didn’t really know at the time) and would require brain surgery. Oh, and my cat wasn’t doing well and would be diagnosed with lymphoma not long afterward.

To say I was stressed was putting it mildly. I actually contacted the RD and they did offer me my money back. In the end, since my father wasn’t having surgery right away (he did have it, and that was almost 3 years ago now), we decided to go.

It was a tough race. It’s the only half my husband didn’t come to the start with me. It was cold & windy and the race started on a bridge, which was even colder and windier. I ran into my friend right before the start totally by accident.

It warmed up, though, and it was a lovely place to run. Running through old town Montreal felt like running through Paris. The race ended up being a PR for me at the time, although I did suffer some IT pain afterwards (but oddly not leading up to it or during it — that’s how IT problems go for me, they really seem to come out of the blue).

Smuttynose Rockfest lobster roll
Smuttynose Rockfest lobster roll

Smuttynose Rockfest
This is still one of my favorite races of the 10 halfs I’ve run so far.

In the spring I’d had a disastrous half with the worst IT problems I’ve ever had. But I was already signed up for USAFit so I started running again soon after. Wearing a knee brace got me through my runs, but invariably by the last mile I’d be in pain.

I wasn’t signed up for a fall half (not like me). I wasn’t sure I could do it. As I wrote in Who’s Afraid of the big, bad, long run?, by the time our 7 mile run came around, I was able to run without knee pain. And I knew I could do it.

I signed up for Smuttynose, even though I don’t drink. We stayed in a real dive of a hotel but it had a kitchenette and it was steps from the starting line. It was so fun to watch the never-ending line of cars rolling into this tiny seaside town as the runners came to pick up their packets.

It was also fun not having to get up super early or drive to the starting line. This is one of the flatter races in New England (hardly flat, but it was definitely one of the flatter halfs I’ve done). Unfortunately the weather, while not terrible, left something to be desired. It was cold and windy. And it started to rain at mile 9.

But you come in along the ocean and I remember taking out my earbuds (back then I still ran with music) so I could hear the ocean. And even in the crappy weather, my husband was waiting for me at the finish line.

And even though I’m a slow runner (but this was the next PR for me), they still had chowder and lobster rolls. And they were awesome. I’m usually not that hungry after a half, and I wasn’t, but it was cold and the food was hot and we shared it.

Gettysburg Mug
Gettysburg Mug

I swear I am not always injured for races, but yup, there I was with hip problems. Which just started out of the blue in my taper. And there was a 3 hour time limit for this race; normally not a problem for me but injured, and knowing it was hilly, I was worried about finishing within the limit.

I started taping with my spring half — thank God! Taping saved the day. Mostly.

This time I realized I was injured, I went to the chiropractor, I didn’t run a whole lot. And I taped.

Race day dawned warmer than normal for that time of year. As you start there are men in uniforms from both sides of the Civil War lining the starting line, which was cool. The gently rolling hills were really lovely. And the race started well and I felt good.

Until about mile 9. My husband was waiting here to take my photo, I was already in pain. No, not my hips — my knee! Geez. My theory is that the undertraining during my taper meant the race aggravated my IT band.

The good news is I finished within the time limit (just), I felt perfectly fine in about a day (thank you taping), and I got my mug.

Ocean City, NJ
This is the half I’m looking at for next fall. Yes, I said next fall even though it isn’t yet technically fall this year!

We stopped and stayed in Ocean City on our way to ZOOMA Annapolis this year. I was so bummed that I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t get to run on the boardwalk. I’m hoping to rectify that next year.

Unless we decide to do one of the National Parks races (and by we I mean I run, my husband serves as my support crew).

 Do you have a favorite fall race?


26 thoughts on “Fall in love with racing

  1. Love your swag from the Gettysburg race. The mug is really nice. My favorite fall race is the next one on my schedule. I have NYC Marathon as my big fall race this year.


  2. Gettysburg is a race I’m looking to run in the future. I’m originally from about 20 minutes north of there, so for me its as close to home turf that I can get for a half marathon, being from a small town.

    I bet Ocean City would be fun to run. Of course, I tend to think that about any beach based race, haha.


  3. All of these sound like such good memories! Your Montreal race turned out to be great after all of the stressful things leading up to it! My husband was at the finish line of the rainiest half I’ve ever run, with an umbrella. He was a sight for sore eyes, and sore legs.


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