When your training plan has a 12-mile run on the calendar you start combing Running In The USA to see if there are any half marathons nearby. I mean why not tack on an extra 1.1 miles when there is potential for BLING at the end.
Am I the only person that does that?
Well I ended up finding the YuKanRun Fool's Dual Half in Gloucester, Mass. I texted a friend and she said she would run it with me. Sweet! The friend then notices there is a Challenge option. Hmmm... I head over to check it out.
There was a Fool's Dual Challenge, which meant you would run a 5k at 8am and the Half at 9am. I mean you would get a visor for completing both. A visor friends! ;)
Well my friend said: I'll do it if you do.
Twist my arm I was in.
During that week the friend's plans changed and I would be racing the challenge solo. Okay okay I could do that.
Until I spotted the weather for April 3 - snow, rain, hail and real feel temp of 16 degrees.
Oh my goodness what did I get myself into. Friends told me to skip it and stick to my 12-mile plan and just run inside on the treadmill.
But I am a stubborn one and plus I had forked over the entry fee ($90), which was not an amount I would just throw away.
So on race morning I leaped out of bed at 5:30am, ate breakfast and was in the car by 6am. I hit up Dunkin Donuts and was on the road for the 40 minute ride to Gloucester by 6:15am.
See that's the ticket friends - just get on the road before your brain figures out what is going on. Haha!
I was nervous to head to the race completely solo. I rarely run with my car key, especially with impending snow/rain. I tried to plan accordingly clothing-wise: 2 sets of racing outfits, extra layers for the way home, etc. I should've brought a second pair of shoes - that is where I dropped the ball.
You can guess the amount of traffic I hit on the road in the 6 o'clock hour on a Sunday - none. So I flew up to Gloucester and was at the middle school at 7am. I tried to stay warm in the car before heading into the gym to pick up my bib, shirt and visor.
The wind was raw, the snow was starting to fall heavier and the parking lot was starting to fill. I was really curious to see how many folks would show up for the races with the forecast.
As the time neared, I hit up the port-o-potties in the parking lot, which let me tell you was NOT enjoyable. Hello cold wind in places it didn't need to be. :P
I finally tore myself away from the warm car at 7:40am to find the 5k start line. That's right friends. No one was sure where it was so about 5 of us were wandering around the parking lot looking for it. We thought we were headed in the right direction when we were told we had found the Finish Line. Well then... :P We were instructed to turn around and head back up the incline to the area in front of the school. By the time we made it back there, we saw the rest of the 5k participants starting to huddle up.
It was chilly my friends. The wind was going sideways. The snow was falling. I was asking myself what the heck was I was thinking. :P
The crowd for the 5k was tiny, but mighty. I really had no idea how many folks were doing the 5k only and how many were doubling up for the morning.
The race announcer gave us the countdown and we were off. Thank goodness.
As soon as I crossed the Start Line, my foot went into a nice cold slushy puddle. Well no need to try and avoid puddles the rest of the race. Got that out of the way quickly.
I had no idea what the 5k course would include. I figured there would be some rolling hills since I heard that the Half would be full of them.
Honestly the 5k was a blur. I was so focused on not falling or slipping. We went down the first hill and I was basically waddling because I just didn't want to injure myself.
Mile 1: 8:35
I think I just kept repeating to myself: "Live in the mile you are in!" It is a phrase I use often, but I knew in these conditions it would have to be the mantra to get through it. Rarely have I wanted to stop a race this early on. Haha.
I just kept asking myself what I was thinking. But I was in it to FINISH.
Mile 2: 8:35
I was a-okay with folks passing me. There were folks running on the sidewalk and in the street. I tried to run in the tire tracks on the street because they seemed the safest - to me at least.
I wish I had taken more photos, but I was worried about my phone in the conditions. But I had to take at least one ridiculous action shot.
While I ran I wondered if the photographers would even be able to see our bib numbers through the snow, but they did.
I give HUGE credit to the photogs and volunteers that were out on the course in those conditions. I tried to thank each and every one of them as I passed by. At least I was moving - they were all stationary.
Mile 3: 8:38
Oh boy was I ready to be done. Phew! Race 1 was over!
OFFICIAL FINISH TIME: 26:31 (8:33 min/mile pace)
I appreciate the race having free race photos and Finisher certificates!
With about 20 minutes until the start of the Half, I walked over to my car to switch out my Sparkle Athletic skirt and put on a fresh pair of socks. It was this moment I REALLY regretted not bringing a second pair of sneakers. D'oh! You live and learn. My feet were warm for about 15 seconds before I promptly turned around and stepped in another puddle.
I was ready to do a full outfit change, but the only place to change was my car and I had zero desire to try and make that work with the crowd around. :P So I only changed the socks, skirt and buff (neck gear).
I opted to go stand inside between races to grab some water and pretend to warm up. With about 10 minutes to go, I sucked it up and went back outside. :P
There was definitely a larger crowd forming for the Half. While inside the school I checked out the course map and we would be taking an out and back approach with a little circle in the middle to get the distance to 13.1.
Okay brain, I said, we are just heading out for a 6-miler... and go!
Like that we were off again. The wind definitely felt like it was getting worse and maybe the snow was starting the lighten up. I know that it was suppose to stop snowing/hailing by noon. Fingers crossed that it would happen earlier like while I was running for the next couple of hours.
We headed out just like we had for the 5k. As we left the entrance of the middle school, we hit the main street in Gloucester and were met with open roads. There weren't really any cars during the 5k so I didn't realize the race would have completely open roads. So as we made our way down the main street of Gloucester, we were in the right shoulder of the road while cars buzzed past us.
Mile 1: 9:04
Mile 2: 8:45
Mile 3: 8:45
As we made our way down the street, we even got hit with sand from one of the city's trucks. That's not something you encounter every day... especially during a race. I am sure it mentioned open streets somewhere in the emails/website, but we know I barely read these things. #BadRacer. Thankfully there was a good police presence so I didn't feel like I was in danger at any point.
It was funny to see so many cars on the street in the poor weather and I am sure most of them knew there was a race. This wasn't a new series.
I distracted myself by focusing on the scenery. I wished it was just a little nicer out. ;) But you could tell we were in a fishing town for sure.
Before the race I knew I would need support so I dedicated each mile of the morning to a Stroke Hero of either a Tedy's Team teammate or one of my own. It was something I knew I would need to pull on for strength and I did... often.
Mile 4: 9:02
The entire course was rolling hills. The course map had said the elevation wouldn't get higher than 100 feet, but with the mixture of wind, snow and mental attitude they felt like mountains on occasion. :P
Mile 5: 9:19
WOO HOO!! I was halfway through my challenge of the morning. I shared the updates on social media to keep myself going. I wanted to stop. There was no physical reason I needed to stop. It was all mental. So I knew it was time with the snow subsiding a tad to take the phone out and work on capturing photos the last half of the race!
Mile 6: 9:07
As we headed towards the little mid-way tangent to get a little extra mileage in, we saw the leaders come barreling back past us towards the Finish. The lead runner was minutes ahead of the rest of the pack. He was absolutely flying and was crushing the course. He looked as if the wind wasn't even phasing him, while I was feeling like the wind was trying to knock me off the course and into the water.
Mile 7: 8:56
I was taking full advantage of the water stops to take a little walk break and to update social media. I mean priorities. I can get seriously bored when running by myself so I needed to reach out to my support crew. Thankfully most of my crew were snuggled warm in their houses and able to pump me up via social media.
While I approached the Mile 8 marker, my runner math started going into effect. Okay so 2 miles then you just have a 5k left. Okay you have already knocked off 11 miles so you have a nice 5-mile cool down ahead of you. Anyone else play those games with themselves?
Mile 8: 9:26
Mile 9: 8:53
I tried to take a snack break and my Luna bar froze during the run. No bueno my friends. I tried to bite into it and thought I broke my tooth with the loud snap I heard when I tried to bite into it. Let me tell you how grumpy one person can get when they wait too long to fuel and then the fuel doesn't cooperate. I think I sent the wife an angry text when that happened. Poor lady probably didn't know what to do with that.
This is when you buckle down and say okay you will have food at the Finish so the faster you move - the sooner you are done! And this portion of the course did not all of a sudden lose color, my fingers changed the filter mid-run and I was too lazy to fix it. ;)
Mile 10: 9:28
I had forgotten to snap some pictures of the water on our way out on the course I figured this was the perfect time to capture them. I think I confused the heck out of the people around me who were not picture takers at all.
I could only imagine how much prettier it would be on a pretty Summer day. But I still appreciated the scenery on the overcast day.
Mile 11: 9:22
As we made our way back I started to get sad that the race was over. Yes I run a gamut of emotions during every single run. :P I always get a little sad when a race is about to end no matter how the race goes.
There were few spectators along the course, but the ones that were there were tenacious! I appreciated a group from New Jersey there to cheer on a girl near me. I told her how lucky she was to have such a great and supportive crew.
As we neared the Middle School, I could hear the announcer and the crowd. I tried to soak it all in and have it give me the extra push I needed to bring the race home.
Mile 12: 9:01
Mile 13: 8:14
OFFICIAL FINISH TIME: 1:57:01 (8:56 min/mile pace)
I was freakin' pumped to still secure a sub-2 hour half despite the roller coaster of emotions, the mental struggle and the weather conditions.
I quickly headed inside the school gym so I could collect my medal, grab food and water. While meandering around and chatting with some of the runners I saw on the course, I went to check out the 5k results which were posted on the wall. It was then I found out I placed first in my division. WOAH! It helps that there were only 99 folks that ran the 5k, but I was still proud of myself given the conditions. I also tried not to diminish the achievement with "well the fast people opted out of the race," etc.
You know what that meant? I actually got to hang around for the awards ceremony. Being solo I probably would've headed right out otherwise.
But instead I was able to hear my name not once but twice for 1st in my age division in the 5k and 1st in my age division for the challenge. CRAZY!!!
It was awesome leaving the gym and heading to my car with the familiar clank of medals. I love that sound when I am at Disney.
Overall, the race was well run in terms of bib pick-up, parking, volunteers, water stops and awards. I wasn't a huge fan of the open course to cars. For the challenge, I would've rather gotten a jacket or buff or something other than the visor. I wasn't that impressed with the quality of it, but it was still a nice touch to give challenge finishers something special. Free race photos are always a plus. Each participant could get a free beer at the Cape Ann brewery, but I was ready to just go home. Had the free beer been on-site that would've been great but I understand we were at a middle school. :P
Either way I felt bad ass for taking on teh challenge despite the weather and finishing!
Did you run the Fool's Dual challenge? What did you think?