Danbury Half Marathon Recap: Part II


Sorry for the late update. My race recovery plan did not include a sinus infection and bronchitis – DARN YOU EARLY POLLEN SEASON.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a race recap of the Stratton Faxon Greater Danbury Road Race (aka the Danbury Half Marathon) that I ran with my friend Mary. The first 8 miles, covered in Part I consisted of some moderate hills to kill, loopy moments, and an awesome moment where Mary managed to shed her middle layer of clothing without stopping.

So just after hitting mile 8, we knew we’d be seeing our respective families. Being out there as a spectator of a running race is not for the impatient. Waiting, waiting, waiting, to catch a short glimpse of your runner seems like it might not be worth it. But trust me, it really, really matters. For a recreational runner, catching a wave, smile, hug, or kiss from a loved one, especially when the body is starting to protest, can make a huge difference in the race, and boost my mood for the remainder of it.

We came upon my husband and 2 kiddos first:

Hubby and the wee ones, cheering one and all.

Here I go coming in for the all-important fueling up of KID HUGS.

Momma needs a hug!

After the hugs, I hear my husband call to my son, “Here, take the camera!” My son grabbed it, and ran around this little cluster of bushes to catch us. I snapped this photo of him…

My little man - he's quick on the trigger.

…and he snapped this photo of us, MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PHOTO OF THE DAY.

Our feet never touch the ground (in my dreams).

Meanwhile, Mary’s husband, using a long lens, captured us smiling during those same moments. I love these photos too, because it makes it look like we’re on Mile 1, not Mile 9.

All smiles here.

Clearly, the happy hormones have kicked in.

After a quick hello to Mary’s family, the smiles faded, as we put our game faces on. We knew The Hill was coming. Rather, the series of uphills that Mary and I trained on here and here. We gulped another GU and I feel the caffeine kick in and I’m all LET’S DO IT, let’s kill this mofo.

There it is, lurking. I see you. We're coming for YOU.

So up we go. We’re keeping a good pace. I’m feeling good. We’re passing people, just like in my dreams. Some are passing us, too, but I can honestly say that while we were not burning up the course, it really seemed like we were because we were passing people on the hills. WOOT, WOOT.

Been there, KILLED that.

I had my first ever experience of spotting someone I knew DURING the race. I knew my friend Susan was in the race somewhere, I found her!

Fancy running into you here! (Get it? "Running"? Har har.)

I chatted with Sue a few moments, and when I looked up, there goes Mary, doing what she does best: cranking it into high gear on last part of the big hill:

Seriously in awe of her.

I caught up with her, and our relief was short-lived as we realized that while we conquered the biggest hills, we still had about 3 miles to go. Then, in the distance, we spied this scene:

People who live on the race course that make their own aid stations give me faith that all isn't lost in this crazy, crazy world.

It’s our friend Kate, running an unofficial water station at her parents house! Totally unexpected, and completely welcomed.

Kate her father. That was the best tasting water on the course.

That refreshment stop launched us in the last phase of the race. This is where legs start to feel heavy, and Mary and I cease chatting and just focus on breathing and maintaining pace. You know it’s serious when we don’t gab.

Mile 12-ish. This is us not talking.

The longest we ran on this training cycle was 11 miles, so at this point my feet are getting achy and my legs are feeling more and more like cement blocks. We knew we were coming up on the big, long downhill. At first, it seems like sweet relief…

The big downhill - don't let it fool you. It's just as tough.

…but really, downhills, after already running 12 miles, suck big time. This downhill, being fairly steep and about 1.25 miles long, almost did me in. The tendency on downhills is to fly down them, but I knew that I would kill my feet with any sort of hard slap-, slap-, slapping. I read somewhere from a famous racer whose name I don’t remember, that races are won and lost on the downhills. Basically, if you can have good form and run with control on the downhill, you can actually save your energy and not hurt yourself. So trying to run with control on this long downhill made me want to scream. Engaging my quads for over 9 minutes at that point in the race was very difficult and left my legs quivering.

I think I started talking to my legs. Something like, "Don't fail me now, please."

After the downhill where we saw that rocking band again (still playing loud and fast), we had just about 1/2 mile left, and one short but steep hill to climb. On that hill, I my ears heard something that I hadn’t heard before – Mary dropping the f-bomb. Yep, even sweet Irish-Catholic lassies drop perfectly-timed curse words on these hills. After I teased her about cursing being my responsibility before you knew it, we were in the home stretch.

Time to crank out the last remaining bit of energy.

FULL STEAM AHEAD.

The last 1000 feet or so really was a blur, but I do remember getting ready to turn the corner to the finish line and just feeling a swell of happiness and pride rise within me. I knew before I saw the clock that this would be my Best Race Ever. I spotted my husband and kiddos again and one of them took this photo:

50 feet left.

I started to get a little emotional. A few days earlier, Mary had just celebrated a milestone birthday. As we turned the corner and saw the finish line clock, as said to her, “Happy birthday, Mary. You just got yourself a new PR!” We grabbed hands and finished strong.

Clock time: 2:10:53…but NET TIME was 2:10:18! A new personal record for myself, too.

(The finish line photo is on order and will be posted soon!)

Here I am, with Mary and Jeanine (who finished about 5 minutes before us), all red-faced and happy.

Race bling!

I can hardly believe the race is over. This one was particularly satisfying not necessarily due to the PR (though that helped), but this was the first training cycle where I was running and stretching consistently, and did purposeful training on the hills. That work yielded tangible results in a faster time, an easier time on the hills, and not feeling completely wiped at the finish line.
It gives me hope and reassures me that with careful training, I’ll be able to complete the ING NYC Marathon in November.
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Danbury Half Marathon Recap: Part II

  1. Pingback: Sick and Tired and Not Running | See Nancy Run.

  2. Hi! I just stumbled upon this recap because I am looking for a spring half marathon. Awesome job with the PR! I have only done 2 halves in about that time as well and hopefully improve in 2013. So would you run this course/recommend this course to others? Thanks! =)

    • Hi there!

      Yes, I would recommend it! I was seriously thinking about doing it again this year, until I found I got into the NYC Half, which is only 3 weeks before Danbury. It’s a small race but not too small. It was well organized, and the hills were challenging only if you didn’t train on hills. Parts of the course are some of my favorite scenic training runs. Good luck!!

      • Hi Nancy, just came across your blog looking for information about this race. Your two part recap has been REALLY helpful! I just did the NYC 1/2 as well, and am doing the More Fitness 1/2 on April 13th. I live in westchester and am always looking for new places to run and race. Thanks for posting this!

      • Thanks! I really enjoyed the Danbury Half, and I would do it again if it were to fit into my schedule. While I enjoyed the More Half last year, be prepared for crowds at the end – the chute is narrower than the race.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s