On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Monday, November 1, 2010

White Mountain Milers Half Marathon race report

I'll keep this one short, and illustrated.

Me at the Pierce Manse, in Concord
I love New Hampshire.  I love the White Mountains, I love Concord, I love Franklin Pierce.  The weather in New Hampshire in the fall, while cause for consternation if you're me and haven't run in the cold in months and you didn't pack appropriate clothing, is gorgeous and crisp and the leaves are orange and beautiful and the people are nice.

Believe it or not, that's a cat I'm holding. My friend
Adrienne travels with her giant cat. What of it?
The course?  If the group hosting the race is called the "White Mountain Milers," their idea of a "flat and fast" course might be different from your idea.  I would have called the course "mostly flat," or "flat with a few gentle hills."  It was an out-and-back on a country road with horses and woods.  The roads weren't closed, but the police and the race organizers kept the cars from interfering.

This was an out and back course. Intriguing then that
the second half was hillier. Hm.
How did I do, given that I'm in a pretty bad rut?  I had a little bit of an epiphany while I was out there.  One of those moments you get every now and then, when you're reminded of why you run.  Running up there was so different, and calm, and peaceful, and serene.

I don't feel this same sort of relaxation running in New York, or at least not often.  A lot of it is in my head, but running in New York to me feels competitive instead of relaxed.  Point in case: each of the water stops at this race was manned by a dozen or so volunteers: adults handing out water, making eye contact, and giving us motivation ("Dig deep, you've got this, you're doing an amazing job").  Also at each water stop were high school kids shaking milk jugs stuffed with rocks while yelling their fool heads off.  There was more crowd noise and enthusiasm at this local, 500 person rural race than I've ever experienced in a New York race (I know the marathon will be an exception).

Walkers started before the runners. That's totally why the
guy behind me is walking. Not because I was slow. Right.
That said, it was physically hard.  Very hard.  From my really whiny post last week about my running rut, two particular comments caught my eye: Judy suggested it could be my anemia (I've struggled with low ferritin in the past, and at my last doctor's visit she confirmed that this has led to anemia) and Sarah suggested that I'm doing too many meaningless races and need to scale it back a bit.  The former I can fix with a cast-iron skillet and some iron pills.  The latter is a deeper and more personal issue that I've realized my blog is not going to cure.  I love every single one of you, my five or six readers, but you're way too positive!  I need to have some harsh and honest words with myself about why I run/race, what I expect to get out of it, and what's realistic for me as I finish up this "racing" cycle and move into the new year.

All photos courtesy of my friend Adrienne, who is (as of yesterday) awaiting being sworn in to not one but TWO states' bars.


  1. Sounds like a fun trip, and congrats on getting through a tough half marathon!

  2. Good job, even if it was tough (I freaking hate hills, so I would never use the words calm, relaxing or serene next to an account of elevation!)

  3. Oh, please note that the actual elevation difference is something like 50 feet! Very small and gentle hills :)

  4. I love NH too! Only been a few times but it's so cute and peaceful.

    Maybe once NYCM is all said and done, take a good amount of time off and really ask yourself what you want out of running and why you do it. Perhaps after some time off, those answers will be loud and clear. Just a thought! :)

  5. Oh, man, the low ferritin is a killer. I had that a couple of years ago and just about wanted to shoot myself every time I worked out. Ugh. At least that should clear up pretty quickly, though, once you get on it.

    And, yeah: after the marathon, take some time off until you really WANT to run again. Race less next year. I think that I WAY overraced this year (my first one was in Februrary, and I'd started training for it in October, so, yeah: long season) and while I plan to run over the winter, I'm definitely going to give myself a much shorter season next year. And I'm definitely taking some time to Not Run At All after the marathon at the end of this month which I am SO EXCITED about.

  6. It sounds like that was a great race. I do think the smaller scale ones are better sometimes :)

    Do you think you will take a break from races after the marathon?

  7. Here's the post-marathon plan: short answer is YES, I will be taking time off. First off, I'm doing another race in TN, but that's for fun and I'm much more excited than nervous about it. After that, I have a coupon for a month of Bar Method, a month of Yoga Works, and a month of Bikram. I'm going to do basically whatever I feel like for a while: if I want to run, I will, but I won't feel this same sense of "I HAVE TO" that I've felt through training. I'll be gone for most of January, probably, and then we'll see what happens come February! No plans right now for a spring marathon unless things change, drastically.