Race Report: Half at the Hamptons 2011

Posted: February 20, 2011 in Race reports
Tags: , ,

I apologize for the fact that the couple picks I snapped post-race suck. But I’m not a huge fan of posts without pics and it gives you a sense of the place.

My favorite part of today’s Half at the Hamptons came in the form of a comment from a spectator to me around mile 12.5:

“I’m loving the shorts attitude”

As of last night, the weather forecast for the 10 am start of today’s half marathon was 24 degrees, 16 mph winds and a windchill of 10. I can’t say what it actually was at the start, but it certainly was close to that.

But yes, I ran in shorts.

I ran in shorts because, well, I pretty much always run in shorts. But I view that comment as emblematic of the broader attitude behind the Half at the Hamptons itself. It’s February (so it’s cold), it’s New Hampshire (so it’s cold), it’s a beach town (so the wind makes it colder), and there’s snow and ice everywhere. Screw it, let’s run 13.1 miles!

When life gives you snowbanks, just put your speakers on top of them and host a party race.

The Half at the Hamptons is my first repeat race in New England. Last year, I ran 1:17:56 and placed fifth. I loved the course and the atmosphere. This year, I was looking to beat those marks, as I wrote about on Friday.

I am very happy to say that I did just that, running 1:16:44, which put me in fourth out of about 1200.

I did a fairly minimal warm-up due to the cold, but all systems seemed to be go while I did so. I lined up in the front row and we were off.

Within a half-mile, I was in fifth, last in a group of three: me, “guy in red,” and “guy in orange” (The best part of race reports is making up names for the people you ran with). At one point before mile 1, guy in red asked what times we were looking for. I said sub-1:17:56, and the guy in red responded that he was looking for 1:15. That made me concerned that I might be going out too fast, but we went through the mile mark in 5:52, which was fine.

The three of us were together until mile four or so. We were winding through residential areas during this time, and mostly staying in a line to dull the effects of the wind. I felt like I was the winkest link of the three of us, so it was surprising when the guy in red fell back as we moved on to a nice straightaway in the fifth mile.

And so it was just guy in orange and me. We would run mostly side-by-side for the next few miles.

At mile six, guy in orange mentioned that he was jealous of my decision to wear shorts. Indeed, it had warmed up a bit, and the wind was less of an issue since we weren’t on the coast. I took off my (heavy) gloves and carried them the rest of the way. I didn’t have a target mile pace, per se, but it looked like we were both beating the 5:56/mile pace that I clocked last year in, so I was pleased with that.

I started to gain a few feet on guy in orange around mile seven, but it was short-lived. He passed me by mile eight and began to put some registerable distance between us. My mile eight split was right around 46 minutes, approximately 5:45 pace.

We turned onto Route 1A, which runs right along the beaches and would comprise the final five miles of the race. I knew I had a PR unless things imploded, but it was still definitely a sufferfest for those final miles. The guy in orange was in sight the whole time, but just far enough out of reach.

I hammered the final tenth, crossing the line at 1:16:44, or 5:51/mile.  That gave me a 72 second PR, which I was quite pleased with. I’d also held the fourth place finish. I thanked the guy in orange (it’s nice having someone to gun for, even if they beat you), and set about rehydrating (I typically avoid aid stations at half marathons). Of course, the water bottle I picked up was half frozen.

I won my age group, which meant I got a cool Half at the Hamptons fleece and a pint glass. I joked with the guy in orange that the real reason that I hadn’t caught him was that I knew that I couldn’t have the Smuttynose beer that the top three finishers received, so there was no motivation. It would have been nice to nab that spot just to make things awkward for the race director.

It was great to return to the half after getting into ultras; 13.1 miles is no longer worthy of the word “long.” A lot of people use this race as a tune-up for Boston, and I find myself in that category this year. I’m interested to see how this effort translates. But we have 58 days until I find out the answer.

There’s something special about this race. I referred to last year’s version as my most effectively-executed, tactically-pure race ever, and now this year’s version gets to steal that title.

I’m loving the half marathon attitude.


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