Monday, April 8, 2013

Home, Hills, and Half Marathons

"These legs conquered the hills of the Great Bay Half Marathon"

Saturday afternoon, after the Dean women's lacrosse team smoked Brandeis 19-3, Louie, Nick, Brett and I packed up Dory and took a little road trip up to my home state of New Hampshire! I hadn't been home since Christmas, so needless to say I was beyond excited.

First stop was my favorite pizza place in the whole wide world, La Festa in good ol' Dover. (If you're ever in Dover, NH for any reason, go to La Festa. Your life will be changed forever.) We met up with my friend Abby, ordered some pies, beers, and knots, and Abby & I managed to convert all 3 boys into La Festa lovers within an hour. Pretty awesome if I do say so myself! :P

We ventured back to my house afterwards where I was reunited with my parents and puppies after months of not seeing each other. It's always so good to be home! My uncle, cousin, and his hockey teammate were also there, staying over for a weekend tournament they had a few towns over from my house. After staying up and watching the Final Four, we all attempted to get some sleep for our big race the next day.

After 6 hours of waking up from the weirdest dreams ever, I finally called it quits and woke up for the day. After a good stretch and a huge breakfast, we all set off for Newmarket to check-in and get ready for our big race!

Louie, Nick, and I ran the Great Bay Half Marathon, and my mom ran the Beyond the Rainbow 5K (one day I'm going to get her to run a half with me!). My dad and Brett tagged along to take photos and cheer us on! It was so great having people supporting us at the race. During Hyannis (my first half that I ran a few weeks ago in February), it was just Louie and I running it with no one to cheer us on, so it really made such a difference to see some familiar faces at the finish line!

Off we go! :)
The 5K and the Half Marathon runners all started together, and after 2.5 miles the course split. The half marathon route took us into the woods of Newmarket and up and down some pretty crazy hills. Louie and Nick, who both grew up in MA, were taken aback by how steep some of the hills were. Luckily, from growing up in NH, I'm pretty used to running on large hills so it didn't phase me that much.

Along the course there were lots of supporters, which was definitely awesome and encouraging. There were people partying outside of their houses, people giving out Twizzlers, folk bands, belly dancers, and a guy hula-hooping and playing the banjo on top of his car. That's talent right there! We got some gorgeous views of the waterfront and lots of sunshine which I was pretty happy about.

Louie and I lost Nick and my mom almost immediately, and I lost Louie around mile 4 when the hills started to pick up. I was aiming for a 10 minute pace, but I was going faster than anticipated and eventually found the 9:30 pace runner. I thought it'd be a good idea to stick with her for a while, but after about a mile I felt like we were going too slow, so I decided to just run the rest of the race at my own pace. I was really nervous about going too fast and tiring myself out, but I felt really good throughout the entire race. My hips and hamstrings got pretty tight towards the end, but I pushed through it and just told myself it would be over soon. (Mental toughness is key when running a race that long!)

Coming over the last hill in downtown Newmarket was awesome. I could see the finish line and the crowd cheering on the sidelines only made me run faster. I saw Brett cheering me on right as I passed mile marker 13 which made me feel wonderful, and my dad was cheering and taking photos soon after that. Of course I had to smile and wave to him!

I ended up finishing with an official time of 2:01:52, which smashed my half marathon record by 14 minutes and 4 seconds! I was really surprised and excited by my time, and now I have a goal of running a sub-2 hour half within my next couple races! :)

Louie and Nick came in not long after me, and I'm so happy we all finished the race together. I'm excited for our next race together, the Superhero Scramble in June!

After the race, we went back to my house to relax our sore muscles and have an awesome BBQ lunch made by my parents. Louie and I have a post-race tradition of rocking our finisher medals and race tees all day after finishing, so we made nick do the same so we could take awesome group photos (duh).

This weekend was the kind of weekend that made me think of all the positive things in my life. I have lots of wonderful people that make me laugh, support me, and to share experiences with. I have a place that I'm always welcome back to if for some reason I can't make things work on my own. I have dreams and aspirations and motivation to achieve them. All of that is more than some people can say, and I have so much more that I'm thankful for on top of it. It's so easy to focus on what you don't have and forget all that you do have. Although it can be tough, I try to make it a point in my life to not lose sight of how lucky I really am.

Even just being able to make silly faces with this goofball makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world! ;)


On a side note, my application to Bridgewater State went from "Completed - Ready for review" to...

Meaning sometime within the next couple of days, I'll be finding out whether I'll be staying in Massachusetts or moving to South Carolina by the end of July. Whatthewhaaaat?!

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