Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Race 42 - White Mountain Milers Half Marathon

So it's early Tuesday morning, about 20 degrees outside, listening to the radio - 93.5 WMWV in North Conway, New Hampshire...

Nice warm fire on a cold New Hampshire morning
and the sports report comes on and the first thing they broadcast - the results of the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon!   It even got reported before they reported the Boston Red Sox taking a 3-2 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series!

In a state with the motto "Live Free or Die" there is a running group with the motto "Run Free or Die", the White Mountain Milers and they hosted the 28th annual White Mountain Milers Half Marathon.  I had the opportunity to do this race with my daughter last Sunday in North Conway, New Hampshire.

Temp in the 30s for the beginning of the race

Besides doing this race with Jen, I was also looking forward to it because they had a "Walking Division" that you could sign up for it - so I did.  So this race was to be a bit different from any of the other 41 I've done so far because I actually had a chance at placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Walking Division.

We got to North Conway early enough to pick up our race bibs and cycle through the porta-potty line one time.  They asked during the announcements to line up according to your minutes/mile pace so I made my way towards the back.  I was hoping to walk the race in the 12-13 minute/mile range so I got to the sign that said 12:00 and waited for the race to start.

The race started out on the backside of the Schouler Park Train Station and I could see the guy way up front with the air-horn as the race started.  My assumption was (as this was a chip timed race) that my time would start when I crossed over the start line.  But as I approached the start, I didn't see any starting mats.  Hmmm... so I figured it was chipped timed at the end only.   So around the start line I started my Garmin.  Basically it added a minute or so to my overall time.  Funny, usually I could care less about this type of thing as I do these races for fun, health, & exercise - but since I was actually trying to place in this race I was not happy about losing that time :)  Oh well.

The race took us through the main street in North Conway and plenty of people were there cheering everyone on.  By the time we were at mile 1 the crowd support thinned out.  But in a ~600 person race, that is pretty normal.

The hills were not too bad in this course.  The only thing that was a bit frustrating (and a bit scary at times too), they did not block traffic on the majority of the course and we were all on the side of the road with traffic.  Most drivers were very considerate and took plenty of precaution not to hit us, a few were driving way too close - was not happy with them.  Most of the main intersections either had a member of the local P.D. or a race volunteer.  There were no problems at those intersections.

Since I was actually trying to place in this race, I did not stop to take any pics during it.  There were plenty of very picturesque views - the White Mountains provided some incredible views, quite a few farms, and my favorite - a covered bridge from 1890.

My chip time for this race was 2:48:39, a 12:52 mile pace and this qualified me for 2nd place in the Walking Division.  It was a good race.

Afterwards was fun as we had a lot of family there supporting Jen & me.  It always adds a really nice dimension to the race when family is there at the finish line!  My sister and brother-in-law treated us to lunch in one of the shops in downtown North Conway - it was very nice and much appreciated!

Later that night we had a surreal experience for a post race desert treat - ice cream from the Sandwich Creamery.  Luckily Jen & Will knew the way there (it would be really hard to find in the dark not knowing where you are going, it is really in the middle of nowhere) and the surreal part - it's the honor system!  No one is there, it's self serve from a freezer of prepackaged half pints, pints, quarts.   You just put your money in the slot for the ice cream you take.  It may have been the best ice cream I've ever had!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Although this was plan "B", it turned out to be a really good hike.  With a 5:00 PM wedding to attend up in the North Georgia mountains and my desire to hike the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia (in sections), this was the perfect opportunity to hike a portion of another segment of the A.T.  The plan was to park near Neels Gap and do an out and back hike.  Good plan except the parking area was beyond filled - nowhere to park.  Plan "B", head north to Vogel State Park and see what we could find.

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Vogel State Park has four trails:

- Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail  ( .8 mile )
- Trahlyta Lake Trail  ( 1 mile )
- Bear Hair Gap Trail ( 4.1 miles )
- Coosa Backcountry Trail ( 12.9 miles )

The choice was obvious for us this day.

More energy was spent in the first half of the hike with the elevation gain.  It was not too bad, but it was definitely noticeable.

Some of the things we saw on the trail:

this deserved a close up

Vista at the top

Huge granite boulders on the back side

And we made it to the wedding in time (after a quick shower - but no nap!)...

Ashley & Matt's Big Day!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Race 41 - 13.1 Atlanta

Did the 13.1 Marathon in Atlanta this morning..  This race is so close to home it's just hard to pass it up.  Think just shy of 3000 people did the race.

Typically races of the distance of 13.1 miles are referred to as "half marathons" because it is half the distance of a "full" marathon which is 26.2 miles.  But not this race/series, they are referred to as 13.1 Marathon.  I think this all stems from some who do not think that a pretty tough event distance (13.1 miles) should be referred to as half of something else.  Oh well - any way you name it, completing 13.1 miles is hard.

With the race organizers telling us that parking would be limited (and suggested taking Marta (Atlanta's subway))  figured I should get there even earlier than I typically do : )  Arrived with plenty of time to spare, enjoyed a bunch of tunes on the iPod, very relaxing prior to a race.  So relaxed, noticed a resting heart rate of 45,  figured I should walk around, before a fell asleep!

One of the things I really like about this race is how organized they are.  They do this race series, 13.1 Marathon, all over the country so I guess they have some really good race day set up experience.   The volunteers were setting up the finish line area when I got these shots:

The bling table - medals, medals, medals,...
My favorite post race drink - ice cold chocolate milk!
Eventually got to my starting area.  Basically they had three areas, area A & B for fast runners and area C for everyone else.  But in area C there were signs with expected finish times so you could position yourself in the right area.  It all worked out pretty good.  The one odd thing about this race, it started at 7:00 AM with sunrise at 7:31 AM.   Not a problem, just different.

just before the start, in the dark

My plan for this race was to walk the entire race with a goal time of in between 2:40 and 2:50.  I've done half marathons in the past in that range but that was when I was still doing some running mixed in with the walking.   So that was my challenge in this race.

The only thing that stands out in my mind about the course was the hills.  None of them were "killer" hills but there were quite a few of these rolling hills.  Hills always makes it harder (heart rate rising) and always takes longer.

Finish time was 2:45.29, 12:37/mile.  I met my goal.  My reward - ICE COLD CHOCOLATE MILK!!!

And it was good.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, the bling...