Tag Archives: New Hampshire

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 52: The end of the road! (Or, it was the best of times, it was the worst of timekeepers)

Hooray! It’s all over! I can’t believe how fast 2012 has gone. When I started this challenge back in January, I (and many others) wasn’t sure how it would play out. Would I enjoy it? Would I get sick of it halfway through? Would my face turn a permanent shade of crimson? Would I wind up trapped under a giant pile of race T-shirts? Would I need a Lululemon intervention?

I never really had any doubt that Hubby and I would pull it off (it was only one race a week, after all), although I did do some major sanity-questioning along the way, especially during the summer. But if I didn’t think my bank would cut me off completely, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Here’s No. 52. Wrap-ups of various kinds to come later…

The not-so-grand finale

There’s something fitting about my last run in the challenge being a race director’s first. We signed up for the All I Want for Christmas 5K in Exeter, NH, because it sounded like it would be one of those fun small-races-for-a-good-cause that I’m always going on about (proceeds to the Hope for Gus Foundation), and because it was in Exeter, which for some reason became our running home away from home in 2012 so it seemed appropriate to end it all there.

All I Want for Christmas 5K

Colorful gathering on a gray day in Exeter, NH.

You never really know what you’re going to get with an inaugural run, especially one that’s so small it doesn’t even have a web presence, but we were heartened to see cars slowly trickle into the Exeter High School the morning of. We, naturally, were among the first to arrive, giving us plenty of time to beat the, erm, traffic and really get to know the parking lot. Despite having 60 minutes to mentally prepare, we neglected to collect our bibs straight away and wound up having to— shock—line up.

All I Want for Chistmas 5K

Hubby busted out the festive attire, which also has neck-warming properties.

I mention this because the long bib-pickup line, and therefore slightly late start, was one of the first indicators that this run might have some first-time-event hiccups. The second was the race director telling us that her PA guy had failed to arrive so there would be no microphone. The third was her revelation, as we were lining up to begin, that the course was 3.4 miles long instead of 3.1. Ouch.

But no matter. The run felt great at the start despite the chilly weather, and I got it into my head that this was going to be a PR triumph. How awesome would that be, on race No. 52? (Forgetting, of course, that this was 3.4 miles, so it’d be hard to measure.) There was a gorgeous Golden retriever in front of me who was making good time, so I decided she/he was going to be my pace dog.

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Race company awesomeness

I left out a part of the story about me implausibly winning an age group award at the Wolf Hollow 5K.

When the results were posted at the run, I was fourth. When we checked them again at home, I was third. I guess the gal above me was in the wrong age group. Score!

It meant, however, that I didn’t get a pint glass. 3C Race Productions, the folks who put on the Wolf Hollow, are famous for their pint-glasses-as-prizes (soda glasses if you’re under 21), and I was very excited by the prospect of getting one by means other than having my name pulled out of a hat. (I had obtained a 3C glass this way before, at the 4K on the 4th, and also at the Covered Bridge 5K, as pointed out by an avid S&J reader also known as Hubby).

So I emailed Mr. 3C, explained what had happened, and he said he’d mail me a glass. How nice! A couple of weeks passed and I hadn’t really thought about it. Then this week (funnily enough, on the same day I posted about the run), I got a package in the mail. It seemed suspiciously flat for a pint glass.

Fun on Foot in New England

Fun!

It was a copy of Fun on Foot in New England, with a nice note from Mr. 3C saying they had warehoused all the glasses and I should ask about them again in the new year.

How fabulous and unexpected is that? So, not only can I now prove to my likely mocking grandchildren that, yes, it’s true that I won a running age group award back in the day (my mother is surely wondering what parallel future universe I am referring to), I can also, you know, find out where to have fun. On foot.

Getting this terrific prize gives me a chance to talk about the all-around awesomeness of 3C Race Productions. They put on more than 200 runs in New England every year, to the point where I am convinced their folks are cloned, especially owner Michael Amarello, with whom I corresponded over my prize. We have run a lot of their races, and the events are always amazingly fun, laid-back affairs but super well organized. We especially appreciate 3C’s approach to handing out awards. Get it done fast! (I’ve aged 10 years standing through interminable awards ceremonies.)

Our 3C runs:

* The Covered Bridge 5K. Henniker, NH. September 4, 2011 (Hills from hell)
* Semap Bog Jog. Wareham, MA. September 17, 2011 (Still one of my favorite runs)
* Lake George 5K. Lake George, NY. April 29, 2012 (Was my PR run for ages)
* 4K on the 4th. Concord, NH. July 1, 2012 (Horrendously hot and a terrible run for me, but where I met Courtney Marshall)
* Tiger Trot. Hampton Falls, NH. November 17, 2012 (Fuzzy mascots!)
* Wolf Hollow 5K, Nashua, NH, November 25, 2012 (Age group award!)

Hubby also did this one:

* Zach Attach 5K. Hudson, NH, August 25, 2012 (Great cause)

Any New Englanders reading this, I recommend you find a 3C race or two to run if you like small, smooth, spirited events. They’re a friend to beer everywhere!

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 49: I’m number three!

I expected many things from this almost-over (!) 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. I expected that I would run 52 races. I expected that I would be out of breath—a lot—and that my face would frequently be as red as a tomato. I expected to be hot. I expected to be freezing. I expected to always be at the back of the pack.

I never, ever, ever expected that my name would wind up on Cool Running under the title “5K Age Group Winners.” (I was third, by the way.)

OK, you can stop laughing now. (It took me about a week.)

Wolf Hollow Half Marathon

I am a logo.

The occasion of my dubious glory was the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon and 5K in Nashua, NH. This wasn’t a race I was particularly prepared for (although when has that ever been the case?). I had run the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day 5-miler a few days before and that had pretty much done me in. (Note: It doesn’t take much to do me in.) Also, it was really freaking cold. Thankfully, we were allowed to take pre-run refuge inside the Nashua YMCA, which is the Taj Mahal of YMCAs. It put our poor, long-suffering (albeit in the middle of a major makeover) Quincy Y to shame. So much so that all I wanted to do was hang out in the well-appointed coziness until Hubby finished the half (they started before us 5Kers). I was wearing my bib; that counts as a run, right?

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 47: Grrrrrr

There are so many Turkey Trots around this time of the year that we decided to go against the grain the weekend before Thanksgiving and run a Tiger Trot. Those cooked-turkey hats scare the crap out of me, but tigers are OK. Not that there were many people sporting novelty headwear at this small event in Hampton Falls, near Exeter, NH (which seems like our second home these days). There was, however, a tiger mascot doing the rounds, as well as a priceless kid stumbling about in a fuzzy Dunkin’ Donuts costume that was far too big for him (he had to look out the arm hole). I don’t know what I was thinking, but I failed to snap a photo. You’ll just have to imagine the hilariousness.

Tiger Trot

Check out that sky!

Hosted by the Lincoln Akerman School, the Tiger Trot had lots of kids and parents, and a fun community atmosphere. I love these kinds of runs. There was a 5K and, oddly, a 10 miler, which was pretty adventurous given that this was a first-time event with a smallish crowd (although they had a pretty good turnout, considering). I ran the 5K, and Hubby the 10 mile. I don’t think I was mentally ready for another 10 after my last disaster over that distance (although I have run a half since then).

I would normally insert my customary weather rant here, but it was actually a gorgeous day for a run. My ideal running weather window is definitely anything between 3 and 10 degrees Celsius (36-50 F for all my American friends). Got to be sunny though. I’d happily run in those conditions all year round.

My performance expectations were high. After all, last time I did a 5K, I set a PR by more than 20 seconds and ran under 30 minutes for the first time. I just assumed that now I had managed that once, my legs and lungs would naturally rise to the occasion and let me do it again.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 42: Double trouble

We had originally signed up for the WOW Fest, in Laconia, NH, to run with our friend Courtney. So it was sobering when we arrived last Saturday morning knowing he wouldn’t be there. (In fact, his service was later that day.) But he was on our minds, and he wouldn’t have been happy had we decided not to do the run on his account. (Still pushing us!)

Taking a leaf out of his book, we also completed an event the day after — the Ocean’s Run in South Kingstown, RI. It’s a lovely area, one we hadn’t visited. Something I love about this running business: It definitely gets us around.

WOW Fest

The Laconia Fire Department went all out for the WOW-festers.

Ocean's Run

South Kingstown Town Beach in Rhode Island.

Lululemon arm warmers

This isn’t me and mine are a much more awesome color, but you get the idea.

It’s amazing how much the weather has turned in the past couple of weeks, seemingly in the blink of an eye. It makes me giddy, because not only is it much more comfortable for running, I can now bust out the Lululemon arm warmers I bought at the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon. I can’t say enough about how fabulous these things are. You’re nice and warm waiting around at the start, but then, presto, you roll them down as you start to heat up along the way, and then you’re nice and cool. Arm warmers, where have you been all my life?

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Stadium-sized tribute: Zach Attack 5K

First, a huge thank you to everyone for the lovely comments you left on my last post. I know Courtney’s family truly appreciated all the support from the running community. 

Back to our regularly scheduled programming! Hubby did such a great job writing about RoadNoise that he’s back for his third appearance on Stride & Joy. I didn’t run this race, but it was such a great cause that it deserves its own post …

Since moving to Boston, I have learned a few things about folks in New England. When they speak they sound a little funny (though I am sure they think the same whenever I open my mouth); they take a perverse pleasure in poor weather; and they like to run. Boy, do they like to run.

When Tracey decided on her 52 runs in 52 weeks challenge, I started looking to find her races to fill her calendar. Two websites came to be the go to places for runs: Running in the USA and Cool Running.  There are always a swag of runs in the Northeast, any time of year.

Through these sites, we found several companies that put on excellent events in New England: Loco Races  – they’ve never found a hill they didn’t want you to run, though they reward you with beer. In fact, they have a series named for it: Will Run for Beer. Millennium Running – the new kid on the block with some great races to their name.

And finally, 3C Race Productions – these guys have the most laid-back attitude when it comes to award ceremonies and prize draws. Also, they keep me in pint glasses (lemonade glasses for the kids); the most useful prize a runner can receive. Hydration is so important!

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A very, very sad day

Hubby and I have met some truly wonderful people through this running and blogging lark.

One of them was Courtney Marshall, a charming man from northern New Hampshire whose enthusiasm for running was infectious and inspiring. A member of the Upper Valley Running Club, he thought nothing of doing multiple runs in a weekend, which is how he and my husband first met recently, during a triple-header (Hollis Fast 5K; Mt. Washington Road Race; Rib Fest Five Miler)— drawn together because they were each as crazy devoted as the other.

After that, we would see Courtney frequently at races in New Hampshire; like us he’d sometimes drive a couple of hours to get to an event. He was fast, and often dominated his age group. Sometimes he’d be accompanied by his lovely wife, Beverly, who like me was just getting into running and still finding her feet. Courtney always had his camera and would often snap a picture of Hubby and me just after I crossed the finish line. The two guys would look refreshed and recovered; I would inevitably look like a wreck. He’d have his photos up and tagged on Facebook before we even pulled into our driveway.

Courtney, Beverly, me, and Hubby at the St. Charles Children’s Home 5K on Labor Day.

He always gave me a “like” and a funny comment on Facebook whenever I posted a blog, which I always appreciated. I called him out in a post recently for pointing out that the NH 10 Miler I was about to run was a “roller coaster.” His reply: “Tracey, roller coaster as in thrilling, exciting and exhilarating! Glad you enjoyed the 10 mile ride. :)”

This past weekend, Courtney ran a 30K on Saturday and a 5K on Sunday—in a kilt no less! He was heading for the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 30, and had made plans with Hubby to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington at the end of October, a long-held dream. We were going to run with him this weekend at the WOW Fest.

So you can imagine how devastated we were to find out that he passed away very suddenly on Sunday night, sometime after he had been on Facebook posting about his latest running adventure earlier that day. Beverly took the trouble to message us individually to tell us the news. She also told us that his death was not related to running.

Courtney at the Vermont Mad Half Marathon in July. The second medal around his neck is an age group award. He amassed quite a number of those.

Courtney was a gentleman, and a really genuine person, which is so rare these days. He was quiet, thoughtful, funny, and warm. He exuded enthusiasm. He and Beverly acted as though we’d known them for years. It felt like we had. We are so lucky that both of them came into our lives.

The St. Charles Children’s Home 5K on Labor Day was our last run with Courtney. We of course didn’t realize it at the time. He was the one who told us about the fabulous running-nuns event and we just knew we had to do it. We decided to stay an extra night in New Hampshire that weekend to have dinner with him and Beverly and do the run the next morning. We’re so glad we did. That event will have special meaning for us now.

Farewell, Courtney. It was lovely knowing you, if only for a moment. Thanks for all your support, of our running and my silly little blog. Stride and Joy is a sadder place now.