Tales of Running: The 1st Half--Marathon of the Season: Or, OUCH!

Optimistic at the start.
On Sunday, I plunkered down for my first half-marathon of the season, the Shipyard Old Port Harbor Half-Marathon in Portland, Maine.  It was a brutal run overall but one that I needed to get done.  It's been about 2 months since I last wrote about my running.  And while I've been logging in mileage as best I can, I still haven't upped the running to the point where I feel like I'm at a good training level for tackling the upcoming marathon (now clocking in at 3 months away--gulp!).  Thus, I needed a good kick in the ass like this run in order to get me back on a more serious focus on running.  Granted there have been distractions such as going away in May and having a very busy month in June, but the summer's here in full force and I need to charge ahead!

Onto the Race

What were some of the challenges of the race?  The first was the heat.  It was harsh.  Though the race started around 7:30AM, it was already in the 80s (F) and continued to increase throughout the trek.  The humidity was also palpable and definitely took its toll on everyone.  Particularly in the second half of the race, shade was at a premium and that too took its toll.  I can do heat and humidity but throw in long swats of sun and I'm practically done for.

Hurting, but done
with medal in tow!
There were also two spots of extremely nasty smells.  Early on in the race, we had to pass a large fish market and the smell was stomach churning.  At another place along the path, towards the later half, we had to pass a waste management facility right where they were aerating the water.  Not the most pleasant of smells either.  The worst part about both of these--we had to pass them both because they were parts of loops we were completing.

The final challenge and problem with the race was the herding that took place in two sections of the race.  As the race started, people were herded into a roped off section of road that was maybe 12-15 feet apart and continued for at least a mile.  This was just as the race was beginning so in the first mile or so, we were limited in what we could do.  I didn't mind that this helped slow me down, but I also found myself exerting a lot of energy and attention trying not to bump into the people near me as it was quite crowded.  Additionally, the last 5 miles of the trek took place on a running path around a bay.  This path was narrow at times (especially for the 1+ mile section where runners were going in both directions (it looped back on itself).  At other times, there was just poor running etiquette at work.  People would stop and walk in the middle of the path or if they were with a friend, they would walk side by side, taking up much of the path, if not all of it.  I would think that a general rule of courtesy would be to move to the right if one were walking to give more room for the runners, but many walked in the middle of the path, causing others to have to navigate around (and try not to stumble off the path or bump into others while doing so).

Being both unprepared for the run in general and the harsh weather conditions, I did find myself walking bits of it.  I think in total, I probably walked two miles of the entire race.  In the end, I came in at 2:41:03 with a 12:17 minutes per mile average.  I definitely have a long way to go, but it's a good starting point to work with.

Within feet of the finish line!
Despite any of that, the route itself was beautiful with lots of great views (and two killer hills!) and I did enjoy the different areas of Portland I hadn't seen before.  I also liked the excuse to go up to Maine for the weekend and enjoy some time in one of my favorite cities.

Well, the running season is now in full force.  I have runs every other week or every week over the next few months leading up to the marathon in October.  Here is my updated running line up.  If you see any that sound interesting, feel free to sign up and join me!

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - DONE
Energize The Earth 5K/10K
10:00AM: Beverly, MA

Sunday, May 5, 2013 - DONE
5 Mile Run for HAWC
12:00 PM: Salem Common

Sunday, July 14, 2013 - DONE
Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5k
7:30AM: Thames Street, Portland, Maine 04101

Sunday, July 21, 2013
Narragansett Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  320 Washington Street, Easton, MA 02357

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Triple Threat
9:00AM:  24 Jerdens Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966

August 24, 2013
Color Mob Run - 5K
12:00PM:  Amesbury Sports Park, 12 Hunt Rd, Amesbury, MA 01913

Monday, September 2, 2013
Around Cape Ann 25K
9:00AM OMaley Middle School, 71 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA

September 8, 2013
AppleCrest Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  133 Exeter Rd. | Hampton Falls , NH

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Wicked Half Marathon
7:00AM:  Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, Massachusetts 01970

Saturday, October 5, 2013
31st Annual Applefest Half Marathon
10:00AM:  Hollis, NH

Sunday October 20, 2013
BayState Marathon
8:00AM:  Lowell, MA 01852

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