I ran the Applefest Half Marathon yesterday in Hollis, NH. It started at 10 AM which was nice because it didn't require me to wake up in the middle of the night to get there. It was an hour away so I left the house at 7:30 and had plenty of time to get there, get my number and wait for a while before the start of the race.
The half marathon is now in its 26th year and attracts between 900 and 1,000 individual runners. While that's a decent amount of people, it was quite manageable as they blocked off half of the street for the runners. I was behind people in the first mile, but after that, it thinned out and you could really run at your own pace. They put limits on the number of entrants and apparently it sells out early.
I'll separate this report into 3 sections: Interesting Things/People, My issue with the headphone ban and finally my running of the race.
While I was waiting to get started, I met a great guy named Fred. He was 70 but didn't look a day over 55. He retired at 55 and traveled the world going to great marathons. He ran the first marathon after the Berlin Wall fell where they ran across from East Germany to West Germany. He also did the first marathon of the millenium in New Zealand on January 1, 2000.
I mentioned that he probably had a lot of t-shirts from all of these runs. He chuckled and said at last count he had 880! That's unreal. What a neat man.
While I was running, I saw a great shirt that helped me to keep things in perspective. It was a shirt from the Make-A-Wish foundation. It said:
DLF >> DNF > DNS.
In other words: Dead Last Finisher is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start. What a great way to look at it for those of you doing something for the first time. The mere fact that you're getting out to do something is so much better than having never gotten off of your couch.
Headphone ban craziness
As I mentioned in my original post, they have beyond Draconian rules for headphones. While I know that saying there's a headphone ban allows them to get and keep insurance, I can't imagine any insurance company requires them to be this over the top with their enforcement. From their web site:
"Applefest does not consider this a game of wits, stealth or technology changes. If any device is capable; 1) of playing music, 2) of acquiring the ability to play music, 3) of being a continuous distraction to the user, then it is disallowed."
Wow. They also say that "mere POSSESSION of disallowed items on the race course will be considered a violation and the runner will be disqualified." So if they even see an iPod on you, even if you're not using it, then you're disqualified. They also said they'd pull you off the course. This is beyond ridiculous and a big reason that I won't be doing this race again next year. While I didn't wear my headphones, I thought it was a ridiculous and insulting way to go about enforcement of the rule.
In fact, why even enforce the rule? Tell people they can't have them and if they break it, it's on them. At least the Portland Marathon got it right by being music friendly.
About the Race
Now that I stepped off my soapbox, on to the race. It was a fairly nice course with some rolling hills and nice declines through the woods. The temperatures went from 53 to about 60 degrees by the end, which was perfect.
I had some stomach aches earlier in the race but my left knee and lower back were feeling fine and I was keeping a pretty good pace, sometimes as quick as 8:05 a mile. I was really feeling great through 8 and felt like I could run forever.
Then came mile 9 and 10. There's a 200 foot rise in elevation over a set of hills (elevation profile below) and that was just killer. We rose for almost 2 miles near the end of the race and a lot of people dropped off. I was determined to at least keep running, no matter how slow. I did it, but by the time I got to 11, I was quite tired. Ironically enough, there was a cemetary at the end of the hills. That gave me a quick chuckle.
I finished the half-marathon in 1:54:58 which is within 30 seconds of when I've finished almost every half-marathon. I don't know what it is, but my body doesn't want me to move any faster or slower, no matter how hilly the darn thing is. I ran almost exactly the same on the first half (about 57:15) as I did on the back, so at least I was consistent there.
Though I'm not concerned with the times much anymore, I did want to at least stay until 2 hours, which I did handily.
When I got in, I was treated to apple crisp and bagels (with apple butter as the glue). That and some sports drinks made for a nice ending.
So the numbers for the race... I came in 367/908 and 32/49 in my division (20-29). Without looking at the relay teams, the individual runners ran a combined 11,894.8 miles which is the distance from New York to LA out and back twice and a quarter of the way there again. That's impressive.
Next for me is the 48 Miles in 48 Hours event on the 18th/19th and the Seacoast Half-Marathon on November 9.