Friday, October 7, 2011

Applefest Half Marathon Race Report: Finally!

I totally posted my race report on my family blog and forgot to put it up here! I know it seems like the running blog would be the more obvious place to post it but I like my race reports on my family blog because I turn that blog into a book every year through and I love having my races in our family "scrapbook."

If you follow both blogs sorry for the redundancy. I did add a few little bonuses at the end of this one though to talk about our race wounds and causalities.

Anyway, here's the report!

For the last 6 months I've been slowly but surely working my way back into shape after taking a 9 month break from exercise and responsible eating while I was pregnant . : ) I signed up for the Applefest half marathon back in April to give myself some extra motivation to get out there and run. 

Last year I came with "big baby" (AKA my prego belly) to cheer on Taber, my sister and a bunch of friends that were running it. This year it was pretty awesome to be pinning on a number too.

After watching everyone run it last year I knew the course was insanely hilly with the worst of the hills coming in the back half. Those hills really freaked me out and I was hesitant to set a time goal for myself. But then my running buddy Kendall told me that every time her sister races, no matter what, she always goes after a PR.  I was inspired by that and it made me think of that quote, "It's better to aim high and miss than aim low and hit your target." So I decided to aim high and set my sights on finishing under 2 hours, which means I would need to sustain at least a 9:10 pace for 13.1 miles.

To prepare for race day I ran the Applefest course twice in training so I could get a feel for those hills. Both times I pushed pretty hard but couldn't get it under 2 hours.  I was nervous, but hoped that with good weather and race adrenaline I could get there.

Then the day before the race Taber did something unbelievably awesome. He told me he was going to forget about his own time goal and run as my pacer to make sure I got my goal. I seriously could not believe it. I was literally jumping up and down and squealing with excitment. It was like being handed a secret weapon with superpowers. Once he told me that I was like, "Bring it on you big scary hills! I'm running with The Taber! You got nothin'!" 

Seriously though, knowing that Taber would be running with me was the best confidence booster I could've asked for.  He also volunteered to run with the fuel belt so I could stay hydrated (water stops are only every 2 miles at the Applefest.) I was so pumped to have my own personal one man entourage. Pacer, water boy, motivational coach and even camera man. With Taber by my side it was going to be a good race.

We woke up that morning to cool weather with drizzling rain. Perfect running weather. I ate some toast with peanut butter and banana then we loaded up the girls and drove over to the high school. Taber dropped me off with the girls and their friend and went to park the car. We had only 30 minutes before it started and I still had to drop off my bag, find my friend who was watching the girls to do a kid pass off, meet up with a running blogger friend for some pre-race pics, stretch, and most importantly, do my port-a-potty routine.  Navigating the crowd with 3 little girls who walk slower than worms crawl was going to be a problem. Luckily I bumped into Taber's training buddy Rob and he offered to watch the girls so I could drop off my bag. 

I ran up to the gym and checked my bag, and finally got to meet my blogger buddy Lauren for a quick picture and good luck wishes on the race. I found Lauren's blog through a giveaway and have loved reading about her fitness adventures through her spunky upbeat personality. She is an absolute gem in real life too. I told her I'd look for her after the race, then I  squeezed in a trip to the port-a-potty with not a minute to spare. Taber got the girls situated with the babysitter, we took a quick picture and then we lined up with our friends Rob, Ricky and Joseph near the front.

The race director said "GO" and we took off with the crowd.  Rob, Ricky and Joseph pulled away from us pretty quickly. I could see Rob and Ricky in the distance but Joseph was long gone. I worried that we might be going too slow but Taber told me to hold back and stay with him. We finished our first mile in 8:11, well under our goal pace. Mile 2 brought us to Merrill hill which we plowed up no problem and clocked an 8:30 pace for the 2nd mile. We saw the girls at that point and they were screaming and cheering and reaching out for high fives. We slapped them some skin and the lady next to me said, "Aw! How motivating!"

We finished mile 3 in 8:32 and took advantage of a nice long downhill to pick up a fast 8:08 pace on mile 4. I felt strong, energetic and awesome during those first miles. Taber had his phone and was taking little videos while we ran. He would tell me when to speed up or slow down and do form checks every once in awhile.  He also told me I looked awesome and made it look so easy. I was like, "Man I should run all my races with this guy! I'm lovin' this!"

Here we are at mile 4 all smiles and thumbs up.

We hit a good hill at mile 5 but luckily there was a guy there playing the bagpipes for some motivation. We finished that mile in 8:38 and stretched out our legs to pick up some speed on the downhill at mile 6. Since the worse hills are in the second half our strategy was to run the first half under pace and pick up as much time as we could on the downhills so we'd have a buffer when we got to the big hills from miles 8-11.

We saw our friend Kemper cheering at mile 6 and then we saw Rob's wife Darby a half a mile later with personalized signs for us! We clocked an 8:22 pace for that mile and felt good as we got close to the halfway point. Mile 7 was mostly flat and we were well under pace so didn't push hard and kept it steady at 8:47. After mile 7 we downed our chocolate GU's and geared up for the long stretch of hills I call the gauntlet.

The gauntlet is brutal but I had run it in my training and knew what I was up against.  We jogged, we shuffled, but we never stopped to walk. It started raining pretty hard right as we were heading into the first hill but I didn't mind because it kept us cool. At mile 8 we caught up with Rob and Joseph and ran with them for awhile. Joseph hadn't been able to train since he started MBA school at the end of August and even though he flew through the first 8 miles, the hills started to take their toll and he fell behind. Rob fell back too but I knew we had to keep going because if I stopped I wouldn't be able to start again.

The rain made my feet wet and soggy and my legs felt heavy going up the hills. Taber told me to dig deep and started talking about all the people and things that motivate us to run. I blocked out everything but his voice and forced my legs to keep moving. Our splits through the hills were 8:59 for mile 8, 8:40 for mile 9, and 9:35 for mile 10.

When we got to the top of the last hill in the gauntlet Taber was celebrating but I was spent. He was ready to pick up the pace and coast in for the last 2 miles but I was starting to break down.  Mile 11 was 9:15. My legs were so tired and even though Taber said run, all I wanted to do was walk.
"Come on babe, you got this! Just stay with me and you're going to PR!" 
"This is all I got." I told him.  "It's all I can do not to walk right now." 
"15 more minutes of hard running and you're done. Think of why we run. Think about Cam. Don't stop."

That must've done it when he told me to think about Cam because I picked up my legs again and finished mile 12 in 9:02. Then we were back to Merrill hill. The cruelest part of this course is a 75 foot climb on the last mile. I wanted to cry. Taber started to pull away from me and I finally gave into my screaming legs and stopped to walk. Taber was having none of that though. "Stay with me and you're going to like what you see at the finish line, we're almost there, just stay with me!" I grabbed his arm and told him to pull me but he said, "no, you're going to do this yourself." I knew he was right, so I summoned every last ounce of will power and commanded my legs to run. I got to the top and it was all downhill from there. I ran as hard as I could. I heard Taber shouting, "Yeah! you're doing it! YEAH!"

 We rounded the corner back to the high school and saw all our friends and our girls shouting and cheering for us. Someone was holding Cam and ran him out to give me high five as I was passing. Darby took this picture right then. I could see the finish line and knew I was going to PR, I saw my girls and my sweet baby boy, my friends were there cheering for me and I had Taber by my side. It was an amazing moment.

 My official time was 1:56:15. Smashed my 2 hour goal and set a new personal record. My average pace was 8:53 min/mile and I placed 19 out 70 in my age division.  Not bad for my post-baby comeback!

Afterwards I tried to grab pictures with all my friends who had run.

I got to chat with Lauren some more in the gym and Cam seemed to like her (and her medal) a lot. : )

One last shout out to Taber for being the best pacer, water boy, coach, motivational speaker and friend I could ask for. He is my real secret weapon. So grateful to him and the kids for all their support (even though Cam and Brinley don't look super supportive in this picture ; ) I couldn't have done it without them!

The rain was great for keeping us cool but it did cause some wounds and casualties.

Running in a soaking wet sports bra= seriously painful back chaff-ige

My whole back was red but the worst was right here, completed chaffed my skin off and burned like crazy when I got in the shower. Owie!

And the biggest casualty of the race was Taber's iPhone. He had it with him to take video while we ran but the rain got it wet and now the mic that pics up your voice when you talk doesn't work.  I think it works when he puts the phone on speaker but yeah, he was a little bummed.

The good news is he was able to capture some cool clips while we ran and I put it into a little video. Hope you enjoy 2 hours of running in 2 minutes. : )


  1. OUCH! I've totally had that happen in the front before...right below ye old boobies! But NEVER on my back! That looks painful.

    Congrats again on your big finish and excellent time! And tell Taber I'm sorry about his phone... Kevin would probably cry if that happened to him :)

  2. YOU DID AMAZING!!!! And your husband was such a sweetheart to pace and cheer you on. :-) The video is such a great way to remember it all. Isn't it crazy that even during some of our best races we still struggle to finish? Hopefully we can meet up again at another New England race!

  3. WOW! Awesome battle scar! YOur post was so invigorating and inspirational! I loved reading every word. Keep up the AWESOME job! YOU ROCK!

  4. OWWWW!!
    Hey I just noticed that you ran without music, huh? There is no way I could bust it that fast without Sean Kingston radio pushing me along. ;) Extra props to you!

  5. Good job Becca! I'm going through my post-pregnancy weight loss too...ughhhh. I've lost 45, but still a ways to go. The joys of "letting go" during pregnancy ;) It sure was fun (&delicious) though.