My marathon state count is now at 33 after completing the Clarence DeMar Marathon in Keene, New Hampshire this past weekend. And what a lovely race this was! Even without the beautiful fall colors that I was expecting in New England at the end of September, the race was still very scenic and just all around fantastic! I arrived in Manchester around lunch on Saturday and made the 1.5 hour drive over to Keene to pick up packets for my friend and me. Some of the trees looked like they may want to start to turn colors, but pretty much it was all 99% green still. No worries. The temperature was fantastic though! Thankfully my hot race streak was going to get a break! I stopped in Marlborough (right outside of Keene) for lunch at a delicious vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Zeppelin and Kaleidoscope. My Tempeh Asian Wrap with hummus and chips was amazing! Packet pickup was at the gym on the Keene State College campus and was easy enough to find.
|Cheesin' it for state #33!|
After packet pickup I made my way back east to Concord. My friends Jenny and Scott live there and I stayed with them for the weekend. Jenny was signed up for the DeMar Half Marathon so I would have some company going to/from the race. We had a really good dinner at Hermano's Mexican Restaurant. I had a tasty burrito! I was beginning to get slightly worried about the temperature for the race the next morning. The lows were predicted to be in the high 30s/low 40s. That's insanely cold to my Mississippi ass! It's still 90 degrees here! I made sure to get a heavy duty garbage bag and Scott hooked me up with a sweet red turtleneck that I ended up cutting down the front so it was easier to get off while running!
Race morning was easy but early. We had to drive an hour to the race. Found parking very easily right at the bus pickup. We got on our respective buses that would take us to our starting lines (both the half marathon and marathon are point-to-point so they have different starting lines). I was so happy to see that the marathoners had a place inside to stand while waiting for the race to start. With about 20 minutes to go, I reluctantly made my way over to the start line and froze my booty off!
|Freezing my booty off!|
We started on time and going down a hill! Yay! I ditched my garbage bag but kept the cool red turtleneck on for a mile or so. The course was very shaded so that did not help with the whole thawing out of my hands thing. My "goal" for this race was to run continuously for the first 18 miles at a comfortable/easy pace (maybe around 10:30/mile) and then slow down or run/walk the rest. This "race" was only to be used as a "training run" in preparation for my late October marathon (where my goal is (was?) to run the entire 26.2 miles). The first several miles of the course followed a river/creek and it was so peaceful. My legs were feeling great. The cool temps and mostly downhill course were helping my pace quite a bit. I was hovering right around a 10 min/mile pace which is really good for me right now. Usually in Mississippi I run about a 10:30 pace and feel like I want to die most of the time.
|Be jealous of my super cool red turtleneck made into a cardigan.|
|I always like to meet new friends in the course.|
We continued to follow the river/creek (and go down) for a long time. The roads were not closed to traffic and there were not even cones for us to run inside but all the drivers were very respectful of us. In my travels around the country, both Vermont and New Hampshire have the best drivers in my expert opinion. Around mile 10 we made the turn that would lead us towards the Surry Dam, one of the most beautiful spots on the course.
|More of the river/creek|
|See how the trees kind of want to change colors?|
|View from the Surry Dam|
|Coming off the Dam and into mile 12|
I hit the 13.1 mark in 2:12:22 which is pretty much unheard of in my world these days! If you've been following me, you know that this year has been a total suckfest for me in terms of finish times. In the five races before this one my finish times were 5:54, 6:21, 5:47, 5:34, and 5:48. I was pretty sure that sucking at races was my new norm. Well, it turns out that's not the case. Those previous five races were pretty much either boiling or really hard courses (or both - I'm looking at you Mad Marathon!).
|Beautiful tall trees along one of the roads|
The second half of the course is a big blur to me. We moved away from the back roads and were more on busier roads and through some parks. The course also evened out. I hit mile 18 and was still feeling good so I just forged ahead and tried to maintain the same pace (around 10/mile) for as long as I could. I was pretty good until we started to hit some pretty decent UPs around mile 20. Around mile 22 we ran through a CEMETERY! Yes. Actually through it! We were in there for about a mile. This is actually one of the reasons that I picked this race! There were a few short but very steep hills in the cemetery and for the first time all race I walked up one of them.
At some point during the race I got greedy and decided that I wanted to finish in under 4:30. This seemed like it would be very easy at the time I made the decision but then all the hills happened in the last few miles which made it a bit more of a challenge. My pace dropped a bit but I was still able to finish in 4:28:57! That's an hour and twenty minutes faster than my last race. And I pretty much ran the entire race (save that one short/steep hill in the cemetery). Needless to say I was pretty stoked! After the race we drove over to Brattleboro, VT, and ate at Superfresh Organic Cafe where I had the most awesomely delicious chocolate chip pancakes. I also got my obligatory picture with the "welcome to" sign!
|Yay for marathon(+) #45 and state #33!|
So I pretty much hit my goal for the year at this race. If you've been following me, you know that I hurt my leg last year and that impacted many of my races at the beginning of the year. Then I was doing run/walk (which got me an excellent time at the Garmin Marathon). Since about June I have slowly been building my running mileage back up in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon in late October. My only goal for MCM was to be able to run the whole thing at a comfortable pace (like around 10:30/mile since that's what I've been doing in training). So I guess I need a better (more challenging) goal for MCM.............or not.............
As for the Clarence DeMar Marathon, I highly recommend this as a NH race! The course is lovely. The first half is mostly downhill. There are a few bumps along the way, but nothing major. The second half of the course isn't quite as scenic/peaceful as the first but it's still nice. The toughest part of the course is after mile 20 with several short/steep hills. The mile through the cemetery was priceless! Travel deets are as follows:
- Registration was free. This was a birthday gift from my hubby.
- I flew out of New Orleans to Manchester. My flight was $37 thanks to Southwest points.
- I rented a car in Manchester for Saturday through Monday. It was $55. I spent about $18 in gas while in NH.
- No hotel expenses since I stayed with friends.
- I spent a bit more than usual on food, but I treated my hosts to dinner. I think my total food bill for the weekend was around $120.
- Since I flew out of NOLA, I had to park at the airport. This was $30. I also spent about $15 for gas to get to the airport.
- So for $275 I got to cross NH off my list.