11 03 2014.

race report: moose pond half marathon 2014

I had been waiting for this day for months and months and months. Though I hadn’t yet signed up for a half marathon all those months ago, it was my dream to run my first one with my mom – ever since she and I started our Easter tradition of running 13.1 miles on our own. We finally got ourselves organized and signed up for the half in August and from then until November 1, it was a waiting game. I was so excited to do this. My first half marathon.

Pictured: Nike Element Thermal Half-Zip ($42.00), Illuminite Long Sleeve Top (gift), “Throwaway Gloves”, C9/Champion Leggings (gift), FuelBelt Race Number Belt ($12.45), Flipbelt in Carbon ($28.99), Clif Shot Bloks – Margarita with Salt, Bondi Band Headband ($5).

My pre-race nutrition consisted of a whole wheat bagel with almond butter and a cup of coffee. I don’t usually drink a cup of coffee before a race but figured that since it was a 10:00 start, I had time to drink it.

I met up with mom and we drove to Shawnee Peak together, Darren also tagging along for the moral support. We got there really early and it was pouring and 40 degrees. We were so cold waiting around. We went inside the main building to pick up our bibs and t-shirts, use the bathroom, then waited in the warm car for a bit while listening to the announcer.

Finally it was time to start. We had to walk about a half of a mile from the parking lot to get to the starting line. I was surprised. This was such an informal event (I guess there was a grand total of 226 half marathon runners!) and there was no real “starting line” – just a sign on the road.

To be honest, I was excited that this wasn’t something huge. There was no pressure and that matched my goals going in. I had no time goals. Since it was my first half, any time would be a PR. I just wanted to finish, to have a great experience that would make me want to continue running halfs, and to experience the whole thing with my mom.

It rained from the moment we got there until the moment we stood in front of the starting line, then it let up. Though I don’t mind running in the rain, I’ve never run more than a handful of miles while wet. I was so grateful that the rain had stopped and we’d be running dry after all!

The announcer yelled, “Ready, set…” then sounded his air horn. I could hear others around me scream out in excitement so I did a pathetic woop to add my voice to the mix. The first road was beautiful. We were caught up in the excitement and ran an 8:39 first mile. It didn’t feel difficult. I was full of adrenaline, excited to be running a half marathon. Excited that the rain had stopped. Excited that I was running around in a beautiful part of Maine surrounded by lakes and mountains.

Around mile 2, I started to cramp up. Already? It was on the left side of my stomach. It felt like a food cramp – I had split a banana with my mom 30 minutes prior and was now worried that it was bouncing around in my belly. I rubbed my stomach for a few minutes, ran a little bit taller, and tried to ignore it.

It was around this time that my mom told me that if by the end of the race, I was feeling great, I could sprint for the finish. She said that if the same was true for her, she’d go for it as well. I was dealing with The Cramp at that point, so I agreed to her terms, figuring that I would not be feeling that great!

Finally, around mile 4, it was completely gone. Thank goodness. I was terrified that The Cramp would amount to the same painful, stop-dead-in-my-tracks injury that I had experienced before. I was in luck though. Things were looking up.

Mile 4 was our first water stop. I stopped to take a big gulp, washed my mouth out a bit, then we kept going. I chased the water with a shot blok.

Mile 6 greeted us with a huge hill. It wasn’t daunting at first because it was a hill on a curve – so we could only see roughly a third of it from the base. When we reached what we thought was the crest of the hill, we turned the corner and it continued. Surprisingly, I didn’t really have that tough of a time on the hill. I could tell that my breathing was more strained, but when I trained in Portland, I couldn’t go for a run without having to tackle a hill or two. I was used to the hills and I kind of welcomed them as a change of pace and difficulty. I also loved the reward of running down the hill on the other side.

I was really looking forward to the mile 6 water stop for a few reasons. 1. Mile 6 represented the almost half way point. 2. I had met a few people from the Portland Fleet Feet running group on Thursday and learned that they’d have a tent at mile 6 along with a sign. As we neared the tent, I could hear Victoria’s cheers of encouragement and got psyched. (I finally understand the excitement that seeing a familiar face can bring during a race, even if you don’t know them that well!)

Victoria was holding the sign: Smile if you’re not wearing underwear. It was great! She yelled, “Kelsey! How are you?” I was shocked (and impressed) that she remembered my name! Seeing the group there was definitely encouraging and amped me up to keep going. We were half way done and my muscles were feeling good, my lungs were great. I was in a good place!

Around mile 10, a volunteer yelled out our time from the side of the road, “1:33!” I looked at my garmin. 3.1 miles to go. I suddenly got really excited to finish under 2 hours. I told my mom this discovery. Her half PR was 2:01, so a sub-2 would be a new PR for her! We picked up our pace a little bit, but we just kept running into more hills! They were small, but after 10 miles of running, they felt bigger.

With one mile left to go, I realized that I really wanted the sub-2. I glanced over at my mom and without even saying anything, she knew. She asked, “Do you want to go for it?” “Yeah.” “Go! You have my permission! Go for it!” I took off and yelled back, “I love you mom!” I was running a sub-8 pace. At first I felt nauseous, but I got used to the new pace after a quarter of a mile. Let me tell you. That last mile felt like it lasted forever. I spotted some cars parked on the side of the road, and, knowing that the finish line was in the parking lot, thought that the end was right there. I still had about a third of a mile to go at that point. I didn’t dare look at my watch. I wanted to believe that I could make that last 1.1 miles in under 9 minutes, but I knew that my Garmin wasn’t synced to the official clocks.

I rounded the final corner and sprinted up the hill: the finish line was. right. there. I heard a bystander yell, “Hurry! You can make it under 2 hours!” That’s when I spotted the clock. At that very moment, I saw 1:59:59. I watched – as I was running as fast as I possibly could – and 2 hours flashed across it. I crossed moments after that, but I knew that I hadn’t made it.

To be completely honest, there was a small part of me that was disappointed. I was frustrated that I had raced my heart out at the end, only to fall short. The thing is, as much as it feels like a failure, it’s totally not! It can’t be. I just spent the previous 2 hours running 13.1 miles. I successfully ran my first half marathon without encountering any problems or setbacks! (Save for The Cramp.) I ran with a smile on my face, chit-chatted with a few other runners, bonded with my mom, and felt great. I had so much fun. I can’t belittle the achievement simply because I suddenly, with 9 minutes left in the race, decided that I did actually have a goal and it was time to accomplish it RightThenAndThere.

I stood by the finishing chute to watch my mom come in – she was only a minute behind me! She finished strong! I’m so proud of her.

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I checked the results on my phone after we changed and found out that she came in second in her age group! We hadn’t been planning on sticking around for the award ceremony, but when I saw that, I knew we had to stay so she could accept her award! She won a porcelain coaster with the half marathon logo on it as well as a one-day ski pass for Shawnee Peak!

We decided to stay for a little bit longer to wait for the burgers to come out (we were hungry!) and the program directors started a raffle using bib numbers. All the sudden, I heard my bib number! I won a Boston Athletic Association t-shirt – so now I look like I’ve run the Boston Marathon! I love the beautiful blue and yellow together.

I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better first half marathon. This was such a positive experience and I can’t wait for the Santa Hustle Half in three weeks!

Splits (in miles)
1 | 8:39
2 | 9:02
3 | 8:59
4 | 9:28
5 | 9:19
6 | 10:23
7 | 9:13
8 | 9:03
9 | 9:30
10 | 8:55
11 | 9:23
12 | 8:59
13 | 7:47
13.1 | .41
OVERALL | 2:00:04

Photos courtesy Maine Running Photos and Darren


3 Comments

  1. You both are awesome! This is such a nice post-so inspiring and positive! Keep it up.

  2. Matthew Crandall

    I saw your post linked to on mainerunningphotos.com. How did you like the Margarita and Salt Clif Shots? I picked those up for last year’s Moose Pond Half without noticing the flavor until race day. They were not what I wanted to taste while racing, so much so that I went without anything this year.

    Congratulations on nearly breaking two on such a hilly half marathon course on such a bad weather day!

    • Kelsey @ Spice & Dice

      You know I actually loved the taste! To me it tastes like a more concentrated lemon/lime Nuun tablet or gatorade!

      Thanks for stopping by to say hi! Sub-2 will happen. I’ll get ’em next time!

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