Half Marathon #58
I had my eye on Portsmouth, NH for over a year. When I went to Maine for the Shipyard 1/2 two years ago, we stopped in Portsmouth for dinner. I immediately knew I wanted to go back to this town and found a race that would get me there. With our wedding that year and then Marine Corp last year, I couldn’t check it off my bucket list until now.
Jes and I planned to meet up here months ago and in that time frame, her Rise.Run.Retreat decided to also have a meet up that weekend.
I landed in Boston and Amy and Jes were waiting on me. OH EM GEE it was COLD!! We made the drive up to Portsmouth (about an hour and fifteen minute drive) and immediately went downtown for lunch. We spent the afternoon shopping before heading to Sarah’s house for the welcome dinner. It was great to meet so many local NH runners.
Saturday morning we did a group shakeout, picked up our bibs, had brunch and shopped a bit more. Saturday evening we had a dinner at Ri Ra and learned about CoolCore clothing. We were back in our hotel room fairly early and got ready for the race.
We got up Sunday morning and ate breakfast and headed to the Portsmouth high school around 7:30am. The race didn’t start until 8:30 so we wanted enough time to use the bathrooms. The coolest thing about this was that we could hangout in the school and stay warm and leave our stuff (on the honor system which was totally safe) in the school for post race. We were kind off rushed to use the bathrooms and get ready so my tip to be safe on time would be to get to the school BY 7:30.
I quickly did my warmup stretches and before I knew it we were heading to the start line. Sarah and I made plans to run together and we lined up between the 7:30 and 8:00 pace groups (no corrals- it’s a small race with less than 2000 runners).Miles 1-8
The course started with a downhill and slowly flattened out as we headed towards the water. I started out with a throwaway jacket on but by mile 1 I had dropped it. I was comfortable in tights, a long sleeve top and two pair of gloves (regular with throwaways on top). The first few miles ran through town and clicked by as Sarah and I chatted away. I wasn’t really paying attention to pace, just enjoying myself.Sarah is from the area and knew a lot of the runners, spectators and volunteers so it made it even more fun to run with her. We hit the coast around mile 4 and it was stunning. I loved all of the homes and the views of the water and took a few pictures along the way. I took my first huma gel right before mile 5- the weren’t a ton of water stops so I made sure to do this on the earlier side of 5 miles. Even thought the race was small, the support was great. They even had a band (high or college- not sure which) playing along the course which was a nice surprise for the size.
Around mile 7 or so, Sarah told me to go ahead if I felt like it. She had just finished out a big training week and wasn’t sure how much she would have to give later on. My legs were feeling good so I went ahead.
The course continued through the streets of Portsmouth which I loved- all quintessential New England style. My legs felt strong and I had a lot of gas in the tank so I kept on pushing and using the people in front of me as targets.I took my last Huma around mile 10. My favorite cheer section was the 603 running group- they were so fun to run by! The last few miles went by quickly and I knew there would be an uphill finish for the last mile or so.I passed Sandra around mile 12 and had no idea she was ahead of me. I made sure to keep smiling and high fiving up the hill. The actually finish had a pretty steep down hill which I thoroughly enjoyed coming in.
The race announcer first gave me a shoutout with a Roll Tide and I shook my head and quickly got a War Eagle as I crossed the line. I LOVE that the photographers caught the whole thing. Race ResultsGarmin Results Post Race
Sandra and Sarah were all within a minute of me so we grabbed our medals and went to wait and cheer for Jes. She KILLED her goal and ran a sub 1:45. It was really cold so we headed inside the school to grab post race food and hang out. I loved that you could get your race time printed out and get your post race picture take this way.The food was awesome- pizza, soup, pasta, and a few sweets. We went back the hotel to shower up, went out to Red Hook brewery for a post race lunch, and then headed back to Boston to stay the night before an early flight home. Bling
The medal is pretty boring, but I think the shirt is cute. I know the race is small and it’s relatively inexpensive so I get why the bling is not as fun as some others I’ve gotten. The coolest thing about the race is what the medal says on it. The profits all go to charity.
- Fly in and out of Boston for an easy trip. Fly home either late Sunday or stay a night in Boston for ease of travel (since race is on a Sunday).
- It doesn’t matter where you stay in Portsmouth, you will have to drive to and from the race start. The Holiday Inn wasn’t downtown and was much cheaper than a hotel downtown (but was still super close to drive to and from for entertainment purposes).
- I loved meeting so many new women and doing this race with them
- Great, fast course with gentle rolling hills
- Scenic course
- Pre and post race inside a school with bathrooms and heat
- Lots of race photos
- Each year, the race donates it’s profits to a local charity
Not So Much
- It’s not the most exciting medal
- Race description said there was water/aid every two miles but it didn’t seem like it
- Open road course-watch for cars!
I really enjoyed the race and weekend. Obviously the most special part was spending it with my running girlfriends and having a weekend to hang with Jes. Portsmouth is a super cute town with a lot to do in the area-lots of shopping and great restaurants so great for a girls weekend. I know there are a few other options for New Hampshire races but I would definitely recommend this small, local race for those 50 staters looking for a great town to visit and well organized race. It’s SO hard to believe that I only have two states left. This was a great way to end 2017.