When I registered for my first half marathon in 2006, I had no idea what to expect. My dad committed to run every mile of it with me as we chose the Hyannis Half on the Cape.
I mean who wouldn't want to run in February in New England along the beaches of the Cape? I mean it sounds tropical. Right? ;)
But it ended up being a decent New England morning with a light snowfall that started right as the race did. My dad in fact ran every step of the race with me and I crossed the Finish of my first half in 2:20:18 (10:43 min/mile pace).
I was on freakin' cloud 9! I was so happy I went ahead and registered for a full marathon for later in that year. Yeah I was that excited. :P
But since that time the stars never aligned for me to return... until 2016.
What is more exciting than celebrating the 10th anniversary of your first half by returning to the scene of the crime... I mean fun! :)
So when I was offered a discount code that brought registration to $34.34 I had to jump on the opportunity! And then I proceeded to gently nudge (ahem push) a bunch of friends to register too! I mean it is tough to pass up a half marathon these days for $34. Right?
In the end there would be a crew descending on Hyannis either the day before or the morning of. YAY! I was ready to run, smile and selfie through 13.1 miles to celebrate how far I've come since 2006. And luckily some folks would be taking that trip with me.
My Tedy's Team teammate and friend Jenn offered to be my carpool buddy. I am one that worries about getting to a race on time so we left the house at 6:30am for a 10am start. I thought it would take about 2 hours to get there.
Yeah there is ZERO traffic heading to the Cape on a Sunday in February so we made it in about an hour and 15 minutes. Ummm oops! Luckily since we were on-site so early, we had primo parking. I mean we were literally next to the Start corrals.
We quickly went to bib pick-up to get our bibs and shirts. Since we weren't ready to twiddle our thumbs in the car, we opted to walk around Hyannis a little to get a coffee and help both of our step counts. Because you know a half marathon isn't enough. Haha! #FitbitAddicts
Once we exhausted our little loop, we headed back to the car to charge phones and wait for the rest of the crew to arrive. Little by little they joined us: Lori, Nancy, Dan, Katie, Stephanie and Page were all hanging around inside and around Jenn's car.
After everyone's final port-o-potty visits, we finally wandered into the corral. With zero time goal, we lined up wherever we could which was around the 10 min/mile pace area. Worked for us.
I was just excited to have folks hanging out with me during this 13.1 mile celebration. Our crew ended up being made up of my Tedy's Team friends (Joe, Jenn and Page) as well as one of my favorite bloggers Nancy of Living The Dream.
Just as we were about to start the awkward run-walk-jog to the Start Line, I spotted speed demon Leah, who I know thanks to social media. It was nice to have a few yards of catch up time before she sped off! :)
Our little 5-person group fell into our pack and started bobbing and weaving through the crowd to find some space so we could more easily run and talk to each other.
The race offered a 10k, half, marathon and marathon relay - which all started at the same time. So it was just a mess of a group of people, but the crowd thinned out pretty quickly as folks fell into their paces.
As we approached the mile marker, I realized I wouldn't be able to do the posing mile markers photos I like to do. Why? Because the mile markers were tiny numbers on the top of tiny little traffic cones. So unless I could get all 5 folks to squat at just the right angle it wasn't happening. So other photo ops would be my main focus.
Mile 1: 9:14
After passing the first Mile Marker, Jenn let the group know it was time for a port-o-potty break. No worries my friend, but way to pick the one with a wicked long line. There was only one. ;)
The rest of us used this opportunity to cheer on the racers as they whizzed by and to help point out the water stop we were standing next to. :)
We saw a few folks that we recognized so I handed out high fives and hugs to all that I could. It was early enough in the race I knew I wasn't interfering with their race plans.
I seriously love seeing familiar faces at race and meeting new ones. I had the pleasure of meeting Megan while running with Nancy.
As we headed straight towards the headwind - I mean the beach - it was time for a photo op.
Look at those smiling faces!
Mile 2: 12:04
It is hard to complain about a race when you have views like this.
The weather gods shone down on us with warm temps (for February on the Cape) and clear skies. You never know what kind of weather you will get in New England in the winter. We lucked out.
Since the weather was so cooperative, there were a good number of spectators along the way! I can't tell you how much cheerleaders help during races. Plus I love the signs that folks make.
This one made me laugh out loud and was an immediate fan favorite.
Mile 3: 8:44
It was refreshing to be out running with the sun shining and surrounded by laughter. The wind was NO JOKE since well we were running along the water the entire time. :P
We started hearing other participants commenting: "Hey it's that group that keeps taking photos." Yes sir yes it is! I asked them to join, but they apparently weren't up for it. :) Next time I'm sure.
Mile 4: 8:30
As we made our way up yet another fun incline (the Cape is far from flat like some people may tell you), I spotted an amazing sign that I had to get a pic of. As I stopped to take a pic, 1) the guy told me there was another sign on the back so I needed to take both) and 2) my crew kept running.
This led to be quickly sprinting up the hill to catch up with them. Let me share with you that this became a theme along the race course. I would stop to snap a pic or say hi to someone then spend the next stretch sprinting to catch up. So I feel like I worked extra hard that day so I made sure to treat myself extra special after. ;)
While sprinting to catch up, I spotted a brief respite (hello downhill) and let the group know we had to stop at the lighthouse. I mean what is a Cape race without a lighthouse pic. Right?
Sometimes I like to take my selfies a la Bart Yasso and only share a small portion of my own actual face. C'mon you folks are sick of seeing me, it's time to show off my beautiful friends... and my Sparkly Soul headband of course.
Mile 5: 9:15
As I followed behind the group, I kept my eyes peeled on the next photo op. There it was. A speed sign. Yes I am that dorky. Yes the group had already run PAST the sign so I made them run back to me so I could get them posed just as they should.
I mean LOOK how fast they were running. They were definitely going faster than 20mph. I thought I would be requesting bail money from you all. ;)
Funny? No? Well phewy! I thought it was hilarious.
While I made sure the photo was just right, the group kept climbing up the incline... which meant once again I was sprinting up a hill. Holy speed and hill work during a "fun" half marathon Batman!!
Thankfully there was a group consensus to take a snack and gatorade break when we hit the next water stop, which was just at the top of the hill.
Mile 6: 9:35
After surviving another uphill "chase," I was granted a joyous downhill. :) I was taking in the spectactors, high-fiving the little kids and bee-lining it towards humorous signs... like this gem:
I had asked the girl if I could take a picture with her sign, where she responded: "only if you smile." Oh new friend you have no idea. I will plaster the BIGGEST smile I can on my face. No shame in this game.
Not gonna lie kind of proud of the leg quad muscle I got going on in my left leg. At first I wanted to say look how fat it is, but I think I can admit to myself that that is actually a muscle. :)
Mile 7: 8:23
Can you tell we were facing some wind along the water? I mean look at Jenn's ponytail. ;)
We were near the marathon relay point during this stretch Craigville Beach so obviously we had to stop and take a pic with the Minion waiting to take on the next leg of the race for his teammates.
I mean it's like a Disney race - I made my own character stop. But the guy was happy to oblige.
If you haven't gathered yet, I find myself terribly funny. No one else really does, but I do. So when I saw the Mile 20 mile marker I took the time to actually get on to the ground to snap a pic with it.
I was ready with the caption: "Someone got lost during their half marathon!" To which Jenn or Nancy replied: "You know people would think you actually ran extra for fun." Touche my friends! :P
We took advantage of this mile to have another little walk-snack break. I love running with folks that appreciate a good mid-run snack break! You know?
Mile 8: 10:23
I love that the Cape still has an actual Penny Candy store. It was too cute not to take a picture of.
In case you are not aware, the Cape is known for it's Cranberry bogs!
I did a quick check-in with everyone and we were all feeling good during Mile 9. Everyone was properly hydrating and snacking when needed. Sometimes I feel like a mom when I run with a group making sure everyone feels okay. There can be some risks running with a group. We all knew that if anyone needed to speed up they were more than happy to separate from the group and I would be more than happy to fall back if someone needed a walk break or slow the pace down.
As we were approaching a nice incline, I spotted a familiar face! AHHHH it was Beth and her husband! YAY! So I "stalked" Beth into finally meeting her last January. I had seen her and her husband at a handful of races in New England and finally introduced myself to her at a 16-miler in January 2015. We became Facebook friends after that and continue to bump into her before, during and after races. So I got SUPER excited when I spotted her. She wasn't feeling well during the race so I assured her she had 4 miles to go and to live in the mile she is in. Running with possible food poisoning is no fun... and I've done it before!! Hello RnR Savannah Full. Ugh!
So I asked Beth for a quick selfie before I once again SPRINTED up a hill to catch up with my crew. Thanks guys for really making me work on this fun run. ;)
Mile 9: 9:38
Races can sometimes land you sharing a major road with cars. This race was no different. We were running on the right-hand shoulder of a major throughway. So technically we weren't on an open street since the cars were to our left, but we were pushed to the right shoulder which was a combination of street and dirt. It was narrow so we used this as an opportunity to pull the pace back since we couldn't dart around the folks in front of us.
When we hit Mile 10 and my Garmin buzzed showing off an 8:36 pace, I realized we were picking it up and I don't think everyone was on the same page of that. :P I heard Nancy say: "this is my race pace not a fun run pace." I didn't realize we had picked the pace up either until my watch buzzed.
Mile 10: 8:36
Mile 11: 8:46
Just after Mile 11, Jenn noticed a stitch in her side so we opted to take a quick walk break. But before the break I noticed the familiar shirt of Team Hoyt! If you don't know the incredibly inspiring story of please read more about it here.
With a healthy dose of motivation, we were off to finish the race strong.
As we approached one of the final inclines, Nancy was ready to pull it back and I happily obliged. We were definitely racing faster than expected. PLUS we were both finishing Half #36 and I wanted to finish the race right along her side.
Plus we needed yet another pic together.
Mile 12: 9:55
While we approached Mile 13, I was super happy we were doing the half and not the full. I was in no mindset to do that entire loop twice. :)
Mile 13: 9:31
Nancy and I opted to do my Finish Line leap as we crossed the line, but not one camera guy caught it. Harumph! I was ready to see our awesomeness, but instead need to rely on my mental picture of it.
FINAL TIME: 2:05:13 (9:34 min/mile pace)
Half #36 was officially in the book. So happy to share the experience with so many amazing friends.
After a quick catch-up/hug session, Page, Jenn and I headed to a local Irish Pub for some much-needed food and beer. :)
Overall it was an amazing race morning. I was able to spend a couple of hours with some of my favorite people doing something I never thought I would love. Honestly I barely remembered the course from the first time I ran it (hello 10 years ago), but the course was great - scenic, challenging and full of photo ops! I barely looked at my watch/pace and focused hard on the people I was with, the laughs, the stories, the scenery and the experience. And it was exactly what I needed. The swag was great and there was a good amount of post-race food options. The race did have booze for purchase, but we opted to skip the food/booze at the race and head to a local place instead. There was plenty of parking and it was easy to get to and leave the race. No congestion on our end.
I am also pretty proud that with all the fun we had on the run I still beat my first finish time on the course by more than 15 minutes!!
So I give a final thank you to my amazing crew, to the race and to myself for coming up with idea... ;)
Here's to 10 more years of racing!