I went home last weekend to run my second (annual?) Run to the Rock Half Marathon. It held incredibly special significance for me because -- although I was running as part of training rather than to PR -- it was my 10th official Half Marathon.
The race began in Plymouth's Myles Standish State Forest where my fan club showed me off at the starting line.
There were 469 runners that completed the Run to the Rock -- definitely a different experience than the 25,000 or so that run the NYC or Brooklyn races.
The day could not have been more gorgeous. Perfect sunny weather (better to get sunburned by, my dear) and a lovely course route through America's Hometown.
|Am I a photographer? Or a Marathoner? I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE.|
After mile 4 we left the forest and I spotted my parents. See if you can do the same:
They were so cute! And I could tell the other runners really appreciated their cheering when the alternative was silence and only the sound of our pounding feet and breathing.
I personally loved that silence, though. I'm so often inundated with noise and stimulation in NY races and runs in general! I didn't put on my headphones once in this race. I just enjoyed being where I was, in the moment, feeling healthy and pretty awesome.
However, amongst the zen and the awesome I couldn't help but think..... OH MY GOD, THE HILLS! WHEN WILL THEY STOP!? Answer? Never. Not at all for 13 miles. It was an incredibly hilly run, but since I wasn't racing for time? And wasn't being insane like last year and adding 5 miles to the run? I wasn't concerned.
The course did get a bit "iffy" at points aside from the hills. Like a two mile stretch on a somewhat busy two-lane road where we had to stay right of these cones in the gutter of the road. Single file racing is a bit weird. And when you pass someone you took your life into your hands. Keeps things interesting I suppose.
|Do you want to live? Or to win? Your choice.|
Other parts (for most of the second part of the race) went through pretty residential areas. Decidedly not a New York City experience.
My Dad snapped some pretty good photos at their FOUR cheering spots that really captured how I was feeling, which was a perfect mixture of "YEEEHAAAWWWW" and "WOOO-EEEEEE!"
Lifelong cheerleaders Val and Rob were standing outside of their house in the back half of the race, holding a sign and cheering me on. It was so great to see them! My good friend Andrea was also with my parents their third race stop around mile 9.
There were just a smattering of spectators the entire route up until the final stretch to the finish, so it almost got awkward that my parents were there cheering incredibly loudly for me. Four times. And Val and Rob. And Andrea. Loudly. Shouting at me.
Almost awkward. But instead it was TOTALLY AWESOME. I had the biggest fan club ever and it was AMAZING! It made me smile like this:
|I'm gonna run fast!!!|
The route took us through forest and by a random farm. It took us on windy residential roads and hilly highways. I ran by the streets where my friends lived in high school and the streets where some of them live today. It wove past my favorite breakfast place and the hospital where I was born and where family members have been treated when sick.
The whole time I was running I kept thinking this is my house. Boom. I was running this Half Marathon through the town I grew up in! I knew those [incredibly hilly!] roads and I know the people that live here. I'm gonna run FAST. Big, multi-thousand person races are amazing and I do recommend them as a good experience for a runner. But this? This was something else.
I entered the downtown area around mile 12 and really turned it up as I approached the finish line. A.K.A. Plymouth Rock. The mystical stone where the Pilgrims landed. Which seems very counter-intuitive that they would aim for this small rock after sailing across the Atlantic. Instead of just going to shore like every other boat that ever has sailed to a beach.
Nonetheless, I turned onto the Waterfront (where the Rock lives) and sprinted to the finish. On the way I passed Diane (from last entry fame) and her mom, and my parents.
I hadn't looked at my watch the whole way, and didn't set it to track my pace. Despite that, and despite the hills, I had beaten my time from the year before by 10 minutes and had gotten my 3rd best half marathon time ever at 2:00:10.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE POWER OF THE ROCK!
|Mom, Diane's Mom, Me and Diane at the Rock!|
|Hey. Cool rock.|
No one knew you had running super powers, you crazy Rock. You can be my new mascot.
|The best, most supportive fan club in the whole wide world.|
My town also had a free barbecue for runners (small donation for family) at the end, which was just so cute and nice! My Dad and I hung out there for a while after.
All in all, an amazing day fueled by amazing friends and family. I felt so great after that I couldn't help but think:
Until next time...I leave you with the greatest running photo of all time: