First thing, I will get this out of the way; I hate the NB Half. Not just because it has a killer hill right at mile 12 or that it exposes me to way too many parts of the city that I would prefer to keep a mystery or that it seems that they can't get the thing organized properly even though it has been run for 33 years. No, I hate it for all the right reasons. The finisher's refreshments consist of clam chowder and fish cakes. The 10 Porta-potties for 2600 people. The fact that I still suffer a little PTSD from seeing the blood run down my ankle into my shoe last year from the timing chip that was strapped to my leg. The permanent scar said chip left. Being in "beautiful" downtown New Bedford.
Ok, enough of that; here's how the race went. After arriving early and getting our numbers, we headed back to the car where Michael and I took bets on whether anyone would park in the garage spot right next to us. While many cars drove by, none parked. I still don't know why. I then spent the next twenty minutes in line for the Porta-potty while getting increasingly nervous about the impending start time. Luckily they pushed the start out 15 minutes so the 300 people in line behind me had time to go. I got down to the start and ended up in the corral with Maria. We tried to talk while waiting but the amazingly loud speaker next to us overpowered much of our conversation.
Finally the race began and I was pleased to see that there was an actual timing mat that would record our start times instead of the system last year which only recorded the end time. I got in to a groove early and settled down to a sub-7 pace. I figured I would give a 1:30:00 a try and see if I could hold the pace. A ninety minute half has always been a big goal in my mind so I was interested to see if I could do it. My performance at the Foxboro 10-miler had been a positive one and with the weather looking really good I decided that this race would be just as good as any to give it a try. Never mind that I had run a 5K the day before and done absolutely no training for this.
Just after mile one I came up on Dave Reavill and found out that Maureen was up ahead somewhere. Soon enough I came upon her just before the first of the big hills. With that I was not to see another GNRCer for the rest of the run. I passed the time by keeping pace and chatting with other runners. By mile eight I was starting to get tired. I knew that I was running about the same pace as Foxboro but this was three miles longer so I hoped that I could keep it up. Thankfully the wind off the water was light or that really could have derailed my plans.
Mile ten and I began to feel a bit better. At one point I looked at my watch and noticed I was surprisingly doing a 6:11 pace so I reigned my eagerness back in and slowed down. I was confident I would be able to do a 1:30 at this point as long as I could get up that last long hill. More and more I realized that I was looking at my watch, checking my pace. Clearly I was getting tired and was less confidant that I was keeping up. Fortunately I was and it remained steady.
Mile twelve finally arrived and the hill stretched out in front of me. This thing is so long that you can't even see the top from the bottom because it curves. Just when you think you can see the top it keeps going. I just dove into it and pushed forward without a care on pacing. Halfway up my legs were getting wobbly. I expected my calves to be tired but now the top of my ankles were starting to show signs of fatigue. Yipes. Still I forged on! Up, up, up the damn hill until finally I had arrived at the top. Struggling to get my pace back I turned right and saw the final turn to the finish. "3-sixty-something" the guy on the corner called out my place in the race as I ran past. Not a bad performance, just keep it together for the finish.
Last turn and there was the Start sign. Well, it was the finish sign as well but I don't understand why they have it backwards. I kicked it down the final straight and crossed the line at 1:30:31, a PR by over three minutes. If there hadn't been those hills I believe I could have done a sub-90 minute but I was really happy about that time nonetheless. The only thing I may have done differently was to not wear a t-shirt under my singlet, the weather was just too nice.
After a respite on the curb I met up with Michael as he crossed the finish line. We grabbed some water and headed off to the car to make a speedy exit from New Bedford. Naturally I made the walk from the finish to the car barefoot because of the blisters I had on both feet. Might as well keep that New Bedford tradition going.