Inaugural YMCA of Metro North Half To Kick Off A Friend's First 15-Miler

Am I being a little too literal with the blog headline here? Can you tell at all what I will be recapping? ;) 

My friend Susan of Lifestyle Of A Fashionista is training for her first marathon and needed a partner for her first 15-miler. I suggested finding a local half marathon then add one another 2 miles either pre or post run. I mean who doesn't like to get a medal during part of a training run. PLUS there would be built in water stops.

We are lucky enough to live in Boston and have a plethora of races to choose from around New England. You can find a race any weekend day of the year.

We both found the YMCA of Metro North Half Marathon, an inaugural half in Peabody (not that far from where we live). I love being part of inaugural races especially small races that benefit a good cause. 

Susan offered to drive, she picked me up and we headed out to Peabody to pick up our bibs. Since it was a race limited to 400 bibs, we hadn't bothered to do early bib pick-up. It was the right call as we breezed through the line. 

Of course I didn't bother looking at the course beforehand (why start now :P) so I took one quick look before we headed to the Start area to make sure we knew when to expect water stops. 

As you can see it looked like the race started and ended along the same rail trail. We found the Start Line, but had no idea which direction we would be heading out of the parking lot it was located in. Thank goodness we weren't trying to win the race so we could just follow the crowd.

While I didn't have a theme to my outfit, it ended up looking like I tried to be as bright and colorful as possible.

We lined up with the rest of the racers - which ended up being about 260+ plus out of the 400 spaces they had. The gun went off and so did we.

The game plan was to try to average a 10:30ish pace if possible. I was really looking forward to focusing all energy on Susan and how she felt during the race. I get a real rush out of pacing/assisting friends on their runs. 

We headed out from the parking lot and immediately hit the rail trail. We would be spending the first 3 miles on the trail. It was a gorgeous trail too. There was plenty of space for folks to space out and get in their own space. There wasn't any bottlenecking at all.

Can I say it was an absolutely perfect New England Fall Day? I mean it would be hard to disagree with these views.

There would be water stops every 1.5-2.5 miles. Our game plan was to stop and walk through each water stop to make sure we stayed plenty hydrated. Plus that is what Susan is planning on doing during the marathon and we were doing the best to replicate her race day conditions.

Mile 1: 9:50
Mile 2: 10:19
Mile 3: 11:43

The mile 3 marker was at the end of the rail trail and we headed out into the Peabody suburbs. I was wicked excited to see the port-o-potty at the Mile 3 water stop and took advantage of it. I rarely pass up an empty port-o-pottie.

After a quick fueling/potty break, we were off. 

From this point out, we had no idea what to expect. The race weaved you through the surrounding neighborhoods. I think if I was running the race alone I would've been bored, but with Susan by my side I was having a blast.

I appreciate the few neighbors that came out to show their support. There was even one woman who we saw at 3 different spots - I really don't even think she had anyone running the race. She just went out to support the runners.

During Mile 4 we made our way up the biggest and longest incline of the race. We decided this was extra training for Susan and it would pay off for race day. She is running the Houston Marathon, which is pretty flat. 

Mile 4: 10:30
Mile 5: 10:05

We were working on Susan's fueling and made sure she was taking in a GU every 4-5 miles. Again this was a chance to find out what would work for her fueling wise.

The race did a great job with signage. It seemed like local high school track or cross country kids were volunteering at the turns/water stops. 

Since fellow participants were few and far between we relied heavily on the volunteers so I was pleasantly surprised with how many were out on the course. 

Mile 6: 10:44
Mile 7: 10:08
Mile 8: 10:56
Mile 9: 10:32

The kids at the Mile 9 water stop really brought their A game. They had a ton of energy and helped us celebrate the downhill we had just crushed. 

But of course what goes down must go up and after the water stop we had a little incline up to the Mile 10 marker. As we approached the mile marker I realized I was so wrapped up in our conversations that I hadn't taken any pictures since Mile 3. For shame... :)

Mile 10: 11:16

Susan and I have both run with folks that listen to music while we run "together," but that isn't our MO. When we run together there is no music allowed. It is all about our conversation and catch-up time.

We took a right just after this picture and remembered it was time to head back on the rail trail. WOO!

But before that I had to take advantage of the character stop... Ms Banana!!! :) Who was WERKING it! Am I right?

We took a right back on to the rail trail and starting counting down the miles. I mean we had run our 10 miles and now we could enjoy a 5k cooldown. ;) Really we were still working on consistency. 

Whenever we started speeding up since we normally do that as we head towards the Finish, I tried to get us to bring the pace on back. One way to do that? Take more pics!

These two guys in front of us were not enjoying our stopping, take a pic and get back to running pattern. Not many people do, but we were having a blast. 

Mile 11: 10:00
Mile 12: 10:18

Oh my gosh how had we not gotten a selfie yet! I was seriously dropping the ball.

Mile 13: 9:56

The final stretch wrapped around the baseball field next to the parking lot we started in. It was an odd ending, but I appreciated the quirkiness of it.

FINAL TIME: 2:16:14 (10:24 min/mile pace)

Since we had to get two more miles in, we quickly grabbed water and a snack and headed back to the car. Our plan was to drive back to my neighborhood and run the 2 miles at Assembly Row so we could immediately get a beer at Slumbrew to celebrate. :) 

The race was tiny and didn't have alot of frills and I was okay with that. The neighborhoods were beautiful, the volunteers on point and the water stops had plenty of water. 

We decided we would totally do the race again.

Now we ended up a little faster than our goal pace, but Susan did a great job focusing on consistency and fueling. I was wicked proud of what she did out there.

We got back to Somerville and knocked out another 2 miles. I loved that Susan left her bib on. Some folks gave us some odd looks. :) 

And ladies and gents she did it! Susan kicked booty on her first 15-miler. 

And we didn't even plan it, but we had the same style of PRO Compression socks on!

Thumbs up to Susan for rocking her miles. Thumbs up to a great race crew that put on a flawless YMCA of Metro North Half Marathon. Thumps up to me for having an awesome morning with a friend.

What do you think of using a race as part of a training run? Yay or nay?