Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beach Run

Sunday was the Wallis Sands Half Marathon in Rye, NH. Early Sunday morning I got up and went out to my porch to check the weather. It was warm and sunny! Perfect! I threw on shorts and a tank top and made myself some breakfast - two pieces of rye toast with crunchy almond butter, banana slices, honey and cinnamon. This is one of my favorite combos!

I also wore some beach-themed earrings to psych myself up - anchors!

Pat and I set out for the beach - running late, as I always do for races. I got there with just enough time to pick up my bib, eat half of a GU, and wait in the always crazy porta-potty line to pee. It was a lot colder on the beach than it was in Nashua so I threw on a long sleeved shirt I'd packed and then met up with Callie to start the race.

Our "warm-up" shot

At 10am we were off...

A lot of the course (the beginning and ending few miles) are right along the ocean, which made for a gorgeous run. The blue water reflected the shining sun and looked like a sea of sapphire. The wind was blowing hard, but after a couple miles it was warm enough that I took off my long sleeved shirt was able to catch a little sun on my pasty white limbs. This run was mostly flat, which was a welcome change from the extreme hills in Charlottesville. As I ran I just kept thinking how lucky I was to be on such a beautiful course, and how much I wished I had my camera with me so I could take pictures of all of the beautiful landscapes. When I looked through the pictures on my camera after the race I realized that Pat had been doing just that, walking around the beach and taking pictures. Here's some of the ones he took:

The finish line - and the Vita Coco van (one of the race sponsors)

After my eleven mile run on Easter, when I completely enjoyed every minute, I wanted more. I set out on this race with one goal - to enjoy myself. I wanted to get that same feeling again, to remember why I loved running so much and how great it makes me feel. And that's what I did. Its amazing how much your mind set impacts your performance and your experience. The miles quickly passed as I focused on the beautiful surroundings and how good my body felt. Usually during training runs and races I'm looking at my Garmin watch constantly to check my pace or mileage. During this race I only looked at it a few times to check my distance, and never looked at my pace. I didn't want to pressure myself to speed up if I saw a number I didn't like. I also had a realization - no one forced me to sign up for this race. Its not something I have to do. I chose to sign up for the race, I wanted to do it. So why do I so often put all of this pressure on myself to run hard and just get through it? Since when did I start looking at running as a chore? I run for fun, I will never be the fastest or the best out there, so there's really no reason for me to do this other than for the joy I find in it. When I realized that, I felt strong and full of energy, and I completely enjoyed this race - more so than I have in a long time. I'll admit, there was a half-mile stretch of road at mile 12 that seemed to go on forever, but other than that I loved this race, loved the course, and loved the fact that I could enjoy it for what it was, without the distraction of just getting it over with. It also reminded me of when I ran the Boston Marathon last year. On the back of my shirt I wrote my last name in capital letters: "BLESSING." Somewhere about halfway through the course a man was running up on my left side and said "Running this is a blessing. You are truly blessed." For a moment I wanted to laugh and say, oh yeah, I'm having the time of my life on these hills - but then I stopped and thought about what he was really saying. There are so many people that would love to be able to run and can't, and the fact that I was there, running Boston, was something I should appreciate and be thankful for. So I'm reminded of that again, and the fact that I shouldn't run because its good exercise or I feel like I have to, I should run for the pure enjoyment, and I should appreciate that part of my life.

Okay - sorry for going on about that, but it really felt like a breakthrough for me and made me love every step of the course. When I finished I felt great - bursting with energy and so happy.

On the home stretch (I'm all the way to the right).


Callie finished up just a few minutes behind me.

I ended up finishing in 1:53:23, for an average pace of 8:39/mile. About the same as my previous two halves, but this time I finished feeling really good, instead of feeling sore and cranky. 

Pat and I sampled some of the food at the after-party, which included melt-in-your-mouth steak tips, pizza from the Upper Crust (one of my favorites) and cookies the size of my head. I also had a mango flavored Vita Coco drink, which I really liked (I tried a plain Vita Coco the other day and didn't care for it).

Portsmouth Brewery and we were excited to finally use it.

For an appetizer we split the beer battered fried chicken tenders and got sides of the BBQ sauce and the hot ale mustard sauce. Both were delicious.

Pat ordered the pulled pork sandwich with fries for his main meal and reported that it was very good.

I went out on a limb and ordered the tempeh wrap and wasn't very impressed. I don't blame it on the restaurant, I just don't think I like tempeh. So note to self - when you're starving, don't order something that you've never tried before and only have a 50/50 chance of liking. I asked the waitress about the tempeh and she said that she's a vegetarian but doesn't really like tempeh - that should have been the red flag to order something else. I went with chips and salsa as my side (I love that this was an option) and those were just perfect!

Since I wasn't able to eat much of my lunch, dessert was a necessity (and would have been regardless if I'd cleaned my plate). We walked around the downtown area a bit, admiring the boats and the water...

...until we came across an ice cream shop.

Annabelle's! This is definitely a place after my own heart because they have every kind of candy topping imaginable (including Haribo gummy frogs!).  This also makes decision time very hard because I wanted about 12 toppings. I decided on the wild berries and cream, which is vanilla yogurt swirled with fresh red raspberry sorbet. I got a cup of Reese's pieces on the side to dip the cone into. Pat got cookies and cream. We both got waffle cones because that's really the best way to eat ice cream, no?

The ice cream made up for my less than appetizing tempeh, and I was a very happy girl. Then we went home and took long couch naps for the rest of the afternoon!

Do you run because you love it, or for some other reason? What mind games do you play with yourself during races?

What is your favorite kind of ice cream and toppings?


  1. Emily, awesome post. It is so easy to get caught up in the mileage, pace, PRs... but in the end we all run because we love running, and we need to remember that more often.

    Games - I count the people I pass after a certain point (i.e. the last 5k of a half marathon), and I love it.

  2. What a beautiful place to run a race! Such a great attitude to have going into a race or really anything at all. Enjoy it!
    The great time must have been because of those awesome anchor earrings!

  3. wow so speedy for someone not trying to run hard! Sounds like a great race!

  4. I reeeaallllly like vanilla ice cream, or chocolate. But one of my favorites is cappuccino chocolate chunk :D.

  5. Inspiring post. I feel that way about cycling and its so refreshing to read about someone else enjoying the sensation :) That mango vita coco drink also sounded very intriguing. Well done!

  6. What an awesome race Emily! Great job! It looks like such a gorgeous course, I may have to run it next year! :)

  7. That course sounds incredible! I especially love the anchor earrings!

    Most of the time, I'd say that I run because I love it. But, sometimes it doesn't feel that way...

    My favorite kind of ice cream is Moose Tracks. No toppings necessary!

  8. YOU DID ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! Girl, you are SO SO beautiful!! LOVE all the pics you took along the way. I need those chicken strips and ice cream now!!! I am LOVING pb flavored ice cream so much right now with every topping possible!! LOVE running but not usually during ha!

  9. WOW! Awesome race. I love the scenery and all the goodies. Definitely a fun time! The Vita Coco van looks awesome. I might have stalked that for hours. Love coconut water!

  10. AWww, you're AWESOME!! What great race scenery!!!! and you look awesome for just finishing that run!!


    COngrats onanother race!!!