Running with friends is my favorite! :)
My Tedy's Team alumni friends and I have been trying to find a time to run another race together. But it was tough with varying schedules and being spread out around Massachusetts.
But the stars aligned and we were able to join forces at the Jingle Bell Half in Atkinson, NH.
Now I ran this race in 2014 so I was quick to suggest it as a scenic and challenging course with great swag... and a medal! ;)
It's nice to get something other than a t-shirt from a race.
In addition to Tedy's Team folks, I had gently nudged 4-5 other friends to register for the same race. It was great seeing so many familiar faces out on an uncharacteristically gorgeous New England winter day! Seriously the weather was spot on... especially compared to 2014!
Dan and I had planned on running together and were pleasantly surprised when Jenn opted to join us as well. The more the merrier I say! :) Nate was gunning for a PR and shooting for his first sub-2 hour half. We wished him well and settled into a comfortable pace.
With a lingering cough for weeks, I knew I wouldn't be pushing the pace on this day. My goal was to take the pics, enjoy the company and soak up the scenery.
In the first mile we bumped into three other friends I knew - Heather, Mary and Lisa. It was awesome to cheer them on and run with each of them for awhile.
We started to get into our groove and fell into conversation easily.
Mile 1: 9:34
Mile 2: 8:55
I was all about stopping and walking through all of the water stops - my normal pattern.
Hydrate my friends!
I couldn't remember every turn of the course and was happy about that. I knew there were rolling hills, but I didn't want to waste time thinking about what was coming.
Oh Hi incline! :P
Mile 3: 9:34
Mile 4: 8:44
Mile 5: 9:05
Wow! I guess I was thirsty. What up? Double fisting water and gatorade! I know how to party people.
Yes I then made Dan take an action shot of me so I could get my full costume. No he didn't wait until I actually looked like I was running. Instead you get THAT. I will never hire Dan to be my official race photographer. Gotta leave that to the professional - aka the wife! Am I right?
Running with friends is my favorite way to catch up!
Mile 6: 9:05
Mile 7: 8:51
I needed a port-o-potty stop from the moment we started the race. Finally I made the executive decision that we would be stopping during Mile 8. Not sure if you can tell from the pace change that it is when that happened? ;)
Hey Dan, Jenn and I are going to take a potty break!
Well I guess his face says it all. Let's just say he kept walking while Jenn and I did that. I honestly wasn't sure we would see him again, but thankfully we found him just before the mile 8 marker.
Mile 8: 11:35
Mile 9: 8:30
Mile 10: 8:17
After somehow picking up the pace - don't ask me where those Mile 9-10 paces came from - we were ready for a walk break.
Dan: "Alright let's start running once we hit that telephone poll."
Me: "We are not done snacking yet Dan."
Dan: "Okay then."
Jenn: <<choking on her swedish fish>>
Now if you can't make it 13.1 miles with friends like that, who can you make 13.1 miles with? ;)
We made sure along the way that each person had the walking and snack breaks they needed. I wanted everyone feeling comfortable while we went,
Now as we approached Mile 11, I got a flashback to last year. Oh yeah the biggest hills are in the last 2 miles. Shoot! Do I tell the folks I am with or not. Ummm I will just let them find that out on their own.
I am most upset about missing the chocolate station at around Mile 10.5. How did I miss it? it was one of my favorite spots the year prior. I feel like I let my group down on that.
And just before we ascended the first of the final two hills, we spot the photographer. We grab a shot and I yell "thank goodness you aren't positioned at the top of this beast." Haha
Mile 11: 10:10
Ok guys I promise this hill is the last one... I think!
Look at Jenn power up this beast! Dan and I were right behind her... I swear. This is where my coughing really started to act up and was affecting my breathing. I tried to keep my breathing under control to lessen the coughing as much as possible. But at one point I had to walk. I knew Jenn and Dan wouldn't judge me for that. Another great reason to run with people that "get it."
We powered up the final hill to the best of our abilities and we ready to get that last turn when...
Dan decided he needed one final GU. That's right friends with like a mile left the man needed to fuel up. Phew thank goodness he did. Please note the sarcasm and I only say this to give Dan a hard time because I love him and that is how our friendship works. Please know I want you all to fuel WHENEVER you feel like you need to. Remember that!
I texted the wife to let her know we were about a mile out in case she wanted to come outside and see us Finish. Most spectators waited inside the country club while their friends and family completed the race.
Mile 12: 9:44
I was feeling like crap again. My coughing was taking a lot out of me and I wanted to give it everything I had for my crew. I stopped to quickly adjust my socks - ummm hi Finish Line photo - and we were off.
The final push towards the Finish was on an incline - thanks New Hampshire. I reminded these folks that we started the race on a downhill, which meant we would finish on an uphill. Damn you Earth! :P
Mile 13: 8:22
Don't mind me - just fixing my hat for the Finish Line! ;) #Priorities
Finish Time: 2:00:30
DAMN! Had I known we were THAT close to sub-2 I would've sped up my final snack break. :P But in reality I wasn't upset over time. Pace ain't nothin' but a number.
What I love is that over that two hours I never looked at my watch. Why? Because I was too wrapped up in the company and the scenery. THAT is pretty damn amazing when you are out running a half marathon.
Our boy Nate got his PR and his first-ever sub-2 half marathon. AND his wife Lauren also PRed. Hot Damn!
We headed back into the country club to grab our free Smuttynose beer!!
I also connected with my other friends who rocked the race!
Overall, the race was another success!!! Great course, awesome swag, delicious post-race beer and energetic volunteers! I am definitely going to be back in 2016! I mean the swag is a duffle bag so count me in. I will just block those hills out again until Mile 11. I've had practice... ;)