Today I ran my second half-marathon — the Twin Lights Half-Marathon in Gloucester, MA. Overall, it was a great experience. Really, no complaints.
I chose this race since it would provide nice excuse to go see my parents who have a house a few blocks away from the starting line. The course ran from Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, up the coast north into Rockport. It was a lollipop route, running a loop around scenic Rockport and then coming back to Gloucester on the same road. We caught sight of the ocean throughout the race, also running through some residential neighborhoods and quant downtown Rockport. There was a nice ocean flavor throughout as the homes seemed to either be vacation homes or filled lobster traps.
The course had some hills, but it wasn’t nearly as hilly as the first half-marathon I ran last fall nor the roads in Newton where I train. The hills at around mile 7 and mile 10 weren’t too big, but well timed as part of the course to really push you.
Because of the lollipop layout of the course, there was always lots of water stations — the stations could pull double duty for going out and coming back in. The course almost always had a nice smattering of spectators which always helps.
The setup at the start/finish line was just right — lots of bathrooms, water and gatorade and lots of food at the end, but not too much of a circus. Access to the Good Harbor parking is always slow so plan on it taking 15 minutes to drive the last 1/2 mile.
In terms of my own performance, I was pretty pleased. I finished in about 1:44 — my pace was a shade under 8 minutes/mile (7:58). This was faster than my previous half-marathon by about 4 minutes overall and 17 seconds/mile.
This time, I didn’t go out too slowly — covering the first two miles in about 16:20. I kept the pace pretty steady throughout. I also warmed up a bit for the first time before a race, doing a light jog for about 1/2 mile 30 minutes pre-start. I think that helped me at the outset kick into gear. At about mile 6, I fell in with a nice fellow from Pembroke named Troy (a minister). We ran together and chatted for a bit. We really cranked at this point, he estimated we were doing a 7 minute/mile pace but then he fell behind at the hill at mile 7 (the endorphins really kick in for me at mile 6).
Just after mile 11, I passed a woman named Macaleigh. She didn’t take that too lightly and pulled right back up next to me for the remainder of the race. We chatted through to the end which helped both of us, I think. Just at 13, I was starting to fade, she gave me a bit of encouragement and I powered home (even outkicking her in the last 300 meters). The support of the other runners was great. Its one of the reasons I love running.
Now I’m on the prowl for another race. I had been planning to do the Chilly Half again in November . . . but that seems like a long time to wait. Any good half-marathons in the next 8-12 weeks?