Monday, March 16, 2015

New Bedford Half Marathon 2015

I made the decision on Friday to take my former in-laws (John's grandparents) up on their offer for John and I to stay with them in Marshfield on Saturday night instead of driving down early. We headed out just in time to miss the snow and made it down by the afternoon. We got invited over to my former sister-in-law's house for a St. Patrick's Day party that they hold every year in conjunction with the Marshfield St Patrick's Day 5K, but the race was postponed, and only a few close friends came. The family is still great to me, but this kind of situation is awkward. Plus, I don't drink the night before races, so it was a little dull. We stayed for awhile, but I couldn't really relate to anyone there. Plus it was just weird for everyone there since I'm now the "ex-wife", so as soon as we finished dinner, John and I were out of there. 
I got up early the next morning, had coffee, took out the dogs and then headed down to New Bedford to get there by 8:30. I thought parking would be tight, but it turned out not to be a problem, and I parked on the street right next to the Y. I was there so early that I got my bib number then hung out in my car listening to music. I met up with Barbara McManus to grab my CMS shirt and singlet so that I would have some team gear to wear for the race. At this point I was antsy so I ventured out for a warm-up. I had a great running tour of the New Bedford housing projects. It was nostalgic, really. Reminded me of the projects from my hometown of Athens, GA and of Fayetteville, NC, where I also lived. Ha ha. I did have to dodge a lot of broken glass, and I never seemed to escape the hood. I kind of got lost as I was running. I was pretty sure I was headed back in the right direction, but after awhile, I wasn't so sure anymore, and the warm-up ended up being longer than I had planned at 3.4 miles. I did eventually realize where I was and ran back to my car to change clothes for the race. I decided on the long sleeve shirt (which I would end up regretting in the first mile of the race, but it wasn't so bad in the wind). I finally left the solitude of my car to run to the start line, but I was there so early that I just kept running around. It was a big crowd, and I didn't see anyone I knew except Scott Mason who was out with his camera. It was finally time to line up. The weather had ended up sunny with blue skies and temps in the 40s. Perfect for race day. I was lined up over to the left, but then I heard the announcer say for the elite women to line up on the right. I stayed where I was. The guy next to me said, "Isn't that you?" I said, "Oh no. Not me," but then I was watching who was lining up and thinking, "I can beat her and her and her... oh hell no. I'm lining up over there." Good thing I did, too, or I would have been stuck back a little bit with the 7 min pace people and without any eye on those women who were lined up in front of me. I lined up right with Apryl Sabadosa, whom I was hoping to meet anyway, and I knew she would be a good even pace with me. There were still a lot of women in front of me whom I knew I could beat, but I planned to go off fast and pass them. And fast, I was. TOO FAST. I had a ridiculous 1 mile split at 5:50/mi. I knew that I was being stupid, but I wanted to get around the people I knew for sure (or at least believed) I could beat. Plus, I always start out fast. I don't like to get stuck, and I'd rather go out at a quicker pace and then cut it back a little in the second mile. My second mile was 6:14/mi, so I thought that was perfect. When I hit my third mile split at 6:32, I panicked a bit. I felt my effort was faster than that and had a feeling this race wasn't going to go down like I had hoped. Fortunately, I was running right next to another woman who was pushing me along up the hill, so I did regain a little. After that was a long downhill, and I gave myself a little push down that and then along the flat all the way through mile 9. I caught up to and passed Michael Narcisi, but that only lasted about 4 miles. We hit the headwind around mile 9, and I started to sink. I had a gel (puke) in hopes of a comeback, but at mile 10, I was hurting, bad. And I can't just blame the wind. My legs felt heavy, and I started getting passed left and right. Michael Narcisi was one of them. He said hi and pushed on. I know he was hoping for a 1:20:ish, so we were both going to fall way short of our goals. We hit the hill at mile 12. I actually started to feel better, but I was still getting passed. My pace was 6:49/mi for this one. Ouch. Finally, I hit the top of the hill and just picked it up to the finish. 18th woman in 1:23:25. I got through the finish and kept walking to my car since I was getting cold fast. I was thinking how disappointed I was in my race. I really thought I could do better than that, but it just wasn't how it played out. It's still my second fastest half marathon time, so it's not like it's horrible, but the disappointment was still there. I warmed up in my car for a little bit, put on some warm layers and headed out for a mile cool down. I ran up the hill to see the people in the race still climbing the last big hill. People were suffering, and I saw full-on tears. I was glad I was done. The cool down actually felt really good and took all of the pain out of my legs. I ended up with a total of 17.5+ miles for the day (I didn't record the extra running to the start and around pre-race). Not bad. I hit up the YMCA gym for the chowder and fish sandwich. It was super crowded, so I just grabbed my food and an empty seat next to random people I didn't know. Chatted them up a bit then went in search of the results. Because I had exited the gym, I had to go outside and all the way around the Y back to the entrance to find out the results had JUST been posted in the gym. Ha ha. On my way over, I met some of my CMS teammates and some of the Western Mass Distance Project people that I've only run into at a few mountain races. It was a huge meet 'n greet. Haha. Kind of cool. I'm used to being an antisocial loner who knows no one at these larger races, so I enjoyed meeting and talking to people.
Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

I had a long drive ahead of me so I hit the road. I went by Marshfield and picked up John, who had a fun time with his grandparents and cousins, and we started what would be a 5 hour trip home. The snow had already started and just got worse as we headed north. Rt 1 was the worst. Unplowed, piles of snow, 25 mph or slower. Excruciating. I-95 was a little better, and once I got into NH, the snow had stopped and the roads were plowed. All was going well until I crested the top of the bridge into Dover. I first saw brake lights and then a car in the left lane that had gone completely sideways to a dead stop at the base of the bridge. I was in the right lane and able to shift down quickly to slow me down, but as soon as I hit the brake, I realized the road was covered in black ice. We were all sliding down the road. The car in front of me was able to stop. I was able to stop. Two cars in the left lane swerved sideways and ended up parallel to the car that had originally lost control. I immediately looked in my rear-view mirror because I had a bad feeling and sure enough I see this large SUV barreling at us, and there was no way it could stop in time. She was going to hit us directly from behind, and then I was probably going to get pushed into the car in front of me. I knew she was going to hit us no matter what, and I had seconds to figure out how to minimize that impact. I quickly cut to the left as far as I could without hitting the 3 parallel cars. Fortunately, I lined us up perfectly. She ended up hitting my passenger-side bumper and tail light and pushed us forward. I stopped with enough space in between me and the 3 car pile-up. John was asleep and barely even woke up from the impact; it really wasn't that bad. Neither of us (nor my 3 dogs) were hurt. The car that had been in front of me was able to squeeze through and move out so we followed. I was getting the hell out of there before more cars came over the top of the bridge to hit us. It ended being a long ordeal. About 5-10 minutes after we pulled over, another car slammed into the bridge, and the car that had originally caused this whole thing was still stuck sideways on the bridge. The police and rescue crews had to get to them first and then the other car that was probably totaled, so we waited an hour. The State Trooper said there were only 4 of them and 5 accidents already. We saw the accidents once we finally left. 2 trucks upside down into a tree and a ditch. The woman who hit me just happened to be from the Valley, so that was kind of funny. Her car, unfortunately, wasn't driveable, and I couldn't give her a ride since she had 3 kids. She felt bad about the accident, but I wasn't upset with her at all; there was nothing she could do to stop her car on that ice.
The ride home was slow. Black ice was everywhere. Once we finally got into Albany, I passed my street and went right to Almost There for dinner. I hadn't eaten anything except the post-race chowder. I was starving AND needed a beer. I ate my entire hamburger and fries. John ate a bite of his hamburger and maybe a fry. :) We got home at 9:30pm. Longer day than I had expected that's for sure. I'm just glad we weren't hurt and were able to drive home.
Next weekend is my first race-free weekend in about a month and a half. That's going to feel strange, but it will be a good break. Then it's Eastern States 20 the following weekend. 
*I thought I would add a big thank you to the organizers and volunteers of the New Bedford Half. Very well organized!

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