Sunday, September 16, 2012

1:57:57 (Aka Maybe Connecticut isn't all bad)

It's sort of a running joke, no pun intended, among me and my running friends. CT sucks. The traffic sucks, and often times there's tons of traffic for no legitimate reason. It's also a really big state. I mean, have you ever tried to drive through it to get to MA? It just takes for-ever. Especially with the traffic. And CT is really hilly. Have you ever run the Fairfield Half? Sweet Jesus. Why couldn't they flatten some of the town?? But I think this past weekend, I might have found something sort of okay about the town.

I ran a 1:57:57 in the Sam Elpern Memorial Half Marathon in Norwalk, CT.

Who are all those other people? Who cares. LOOK AT ME!!
 Also, they corrected my results after the fact. give me my 13 seconds!
I must say, for a race that has a $15 entry fee, it was great. The water stations were a little farther apart then I would have liked, but that's really my only complaint, and that was easily solved by me carrying my own bottle until I dropped it around mile 9 by accident. There was water, Gatorade, bananas, watermelon, and a free ice cream truck post race! Nothing better than a cold strawberry frozen-fruit.

Even the cotton shirt was pretty nice

Let me say, this course was hard. Deceptively hard. When I woke up I had no idea how my legs would be feeling, and honestly I wasn't even sure I'd have a decent race. I warmed up at the start and felt okay. Just okay. We ran the first mile, a nice downhill, and Mile 1 ticked away at an 8:23 pace. Oh. Well then. I just decided to let my legs do what they wanted. I flew on the downhills, and tried to keep the pace on the uphills. By mile 4-5 I was averaging a 8:50 pace and that was fine with me. I didn't mind having some time in the bank.

I was warned about a "significant hill" at mile 4.5 or so by the race director. When the race director says it's a significant hill, you'd better believe him. Though short, I powered through and it seemed like it took me quite some time to recover from it. And then there were more rolling hills. Thinking about it, it seemed like there were very few parts of this course that were flat!

Mile 7 I took my gel, and that also marked the end of Loop 1. Time for Loop 2, which was just a shorter version of the first. I knew this was going to hurt. I braced myself and put on my music. All the little hills that didn't bother me the first few miles were really starting to wear me down. The left side of my butt hurt, my left hip was sore, and I was really, really tired. (Did I mention I woke up at 5am?) My average pace by Mile 10 was around 9:06, which was still fine, I knew I still was on pace for sub-2, but I knew I could not slow down. I had to keep moving, but I felt so, so bad.

I knew that nasty hill was coming up just before mile 12, where there was a water stop. I knew I just had to get over that hill and I'd be okay. I told myself it was okay to walk if I thought I was going to die. I ran and ran and ran....and then I thought I was going to die. So I took my second walk break. (first being mile 7 when I ate my gel) I couldn't have been walking for more than 10 seconds when I guy came up behind me and said "C'mon, we're almost there!"

I thanked him, and started running again. We chatted briefly, he was doing his first half ever, having done his first 10k over the summer. He waved me on, telling me he didn't want to slow me down. We were only chatting for a few minutes, but that slight distraction was enough to bring me out of my misery. A few good songs came on Pandora, and I felt awesome. My pace had dropped slightly, and with less than a mile to go, I knew this was it.

With maybe 3/10ths of a mile left to go, the same guy comes flying by me. "Let's go! Leave it all out on the course!" Yeah! Wooooooo!! With that I picked up the pace, passed a few people, and ran my last mile at a 9:00 pace, and the last half mile in a 7:40 pace. I can't wait to see the finish line photos, because I know I had the most ridiculous grin on my face. I crossed the finish line and I heard the gentleman in charge call out 1:57:57! I screamed YEAH! and laughed at myself, and how finally this chapter was over. I had finally broken 2 hours.

I shook hands with the guy who had motivated me, and we congratulated each other on our races. I wandered around in a daze for a few minutes (before I spotted the ice cream truck! and Tony the masseuse!)

I am still in shock. Or maybe it is just relief that I've hit this goal and I don't have to race a half for a while. During my shake out run on Sunday I was thinking, when I ran my first half in 2009 I ran it in 2:26. That might be the accomplishment I'm the most proud of. So often I start things and quit them before I ever learn how to do it, or before I master it. Running has been the one thing in my life I have worked on, and worked really hard at to improve. The fact that I can say I have worked so hard every year to improve my times is something I am really proud of.

And of course, I have to thank everyone who supported me and trained with me.

Still not sure what a "Wedge" is but it was delicious.


  1. Congratulations on breaking 2 hours! That's a huge accomplishment! I ran a 1:57:58 Half yesterday in Philly! You beat me by 1 second =)

  2. Nice touch with the DQ picture :)

    Of course, if you think CT is big, you REALLY need to get out west - trying driving across Pennsylvania east to west, UGH!

    And congrats :)

  3. Congrats!!!! So proud of you. You had this goal coming for awhile and you killed it :)

  4. Congratulations! That is so wonderful! I've been following your blog for awhile and I knew you'd hit two hours any day now. You are so awesome!

  5. wedge inn? in stamford? it's a great diner!

    i'm proud of you!

  6. Awesome work Sam! What a sweet payoff. I know how hard you have worked for this one....