Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011 New Hampshire Marathon

On Saturday, I ran in my third New Hampshire Marathon.  Previously, I ran in 2007 & 2008 and both runs were new PRs for me.  The course is very hilly with about 1850’ of elevation gain, so it's not one most runners typically go for a PR on.  This race is all about the 50 States Marathon Club and Marathon Maniacs.  With New Hampshire on Saturday and the Portland (ME) Marathon on Sunday, many of these folks come in from out of the area to bag two marathons in a weekend.

I’m fond of this race for many other reasons than just running well.  The race is small in numbers and hype.  It feels like you're walking into a local 5k with zero hassles of a typical marathon.  It also runs around Newfound Lake, which I’ve been going to ever since I can remember and my parents now live on.  But there's more...

In 2007, I ran it shortly after my brother-in-law, Jim, had surgery for melanoma.  He was a part of the race and our family rallied together to support me during the race, but also Jim as he was about to enter the chemotherapy stage of his treatment.

In 2008, my sister, Jim, and their girls returned to support my second running and it was days after the race that we found out his melanoma had spread throughout his entire body.  The race was the last time we gathered as a family before Jim’s memorial service two months later.  Needless to say, there is a huge emotional piece to this race for me.

This year, I coordinated with my long time friend from high school (Brian) and our families met up for the weekend.  Brian ran the half marathon and rocked it having a solid race running injury free!

A 22 year friendship that keeps getting better!

In my mind, I was calling this race “a grand experiment” because I was curious to see how my body would respond to a fast marathon attempt only 6 weeks after running Leadville.  Having never run 100 miles before, I wasn’t sure shooting for a quick pace over 26.2 was a wise idea, especially with no specific speed work and almost no road running.

On race day, I awoke to overcast skies and temps in the upper fifties.  My dad gave me a ride into town and dropped me off about 30 minutes early.  With fifteen minutes to the start, the rain began falling and didn’t stop all day.  I’ve only run one other race in the rain (2007 Denver Marathon) and while it’s not the end of the world, I much prefer a dry day.

Once we got started, I found myself in the top 20, which was not a huge feat considering there were only 227 runners.  I was hitting the low to mid sevens and I kept telling myself that it felt comfortable.  The truth was that I had no clue if it was comfortable or not since I hadn’t trained for a specific marathon pace.

At mile three, I had a bug fly into my eye.  Now THAT was uncomfortable!  I couldn’t get it out, so I just kept rolling it around until it didn’t feel like a rock was lodged in there.

At mile six, I ran by my family.  They were hearty spectators braving the rain to cheer me on.  I blew past and gave a few high fives.  I think I was in 15th place around now.  I kept advancing places because I ran with a handheld bottle and skipped all but one aid station.

More hills followed and the miles ticked away.  After mile 11, you begin a long out & back section that gives you a good chance to figure out where you stand.  I entered the turnaround in 12th place.  It wasn't until mile 17 before I made my next move and hit the top ten!  Then began the long stretch of running solo and continuing the loop around the lake.

At mile 20, I passed a spot that I remember so vividly from 2008.  My family was spectating at a friend's condo and Jim had rushed out on their deck as I ran by.  He was the only one out there hootin' & hollerin' for me.  It was bizarre to look up on Saturday and see him there again cheering me along.  Then next thing I knew, he was running along side me!  Oh man, was that moment surreal and sweet.  No, I'm not going crazy at this point.  It just seemed like I could feel his presence more than ever before.  And boy did it make me want to dig deep and finish this thing strong.

The next six miles included splits of 7:06, 6:43, 7:33, 7:15, 7:23, 6:55.  By far the most consistent I've ever been at the end of a marathon.  I also flew past several more runners that were beginning to struggle and ended up crossing the finish line in 3:11:02 and 6th place!  This was over five minutes faster than I ran it in 2008.

Coming down the chute holding my "paper" bib on.   Mix in rain and it didn't hold up too well!
The wet finishers!
All in all the rain did not dampen another fantastic run in New Hampshire.  It was a treat to get to spend time with Brian and his family.  Mom & Dad once again showed strong support and kept me fueled with Dunkin' Donuts coffee all weekend!  I so wish I could have experienced another NH Marathon with my sister and nieces, but my time with Jim was awesome!

Lastly, I thought I had nailed another Boston Qualifier, but learned once again after the race that I came up short.  The new qualifying standards for 2013 now put me at needing a 3:10:00.  So in 2008, I missed by 12 seconds when I ran a 3:16:11...and now 62 seconds in 2011.  Hmmmm...I think I know what my goal will be for a future NH Marathon!


  1. Nice job with this experiment!

  2. Congrats on a great time at a very tough race - with almost 2k' of climbing! Kind of a sprint compared to Leadville, eh? Nice that you were able to use good memories of years past to chew your way through the pack like that.

  3. Nice job out there, WA. Love the video, too.

  4. Thanks all! It felt like a sprint for sure! I forgot what it was like to run without wildly swinging paces.

  5. Dany, my post didn't go thru earlier. Where are the Hoka's? Great post and nice job on finishing the race strong.

  6. Haha! I haven't strapped on the Hokas since Leadville. I'm saving them up for Bandera where I'm REALLY going to need them.

  7. I'm getting tears in my eyes reading about Jim. Congrats on you great race, Woody!

  8. Thanks Anne! Yeah, I was getting choked up during the run, which is quite awkward and uncomfortable when trying to run a 7 min pace!

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