South Shore Half Marathon {It’s NOT Flat}

Hi, friends!

I ran the South Shore Half Marathon over the weekend and, boy, was it fun! Well, you know what I mean, right? “Fun” like “damn, that was tough, but, wow, I feel accomplished.” Sometimes those are the best races.

Ok, recap time!

For such a new race (only in their second year), the South Shore Half Marathon totally nailed it. It’s like they’ve put on this race for decades now. From the swag and the after-party to the course and water stops… everything was awesome. I honestly don’t have a single complaint. I really loved it.

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Bib pick-up was a piece of cake. We grabbed ours at Marathon Sports the day before, but there were zero lines on race day. Same goes for the porta-potties. There were lines, but they were relatively short and moved quickly.

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The race kicked off promptly at 7:30 AM. It wasn’t a big half marathon, but it wasn’t a small one either with a little over 1,600 runners.

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The first mile was somewhat crowded, but things spread out by mile 2 or so. The course itself is “NOT flat,” which is how the description online explains it, so I knew I was in for a challenge. Plus, my training totally fell apart in the last month or so. Life just got busy and my runs fell by the wayside. I was still running 1-2 times per week, but it wasn’t the training I had hoped for.

  • Mile 1: 8:52
  • Mile 2: 8:36

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My plan for the start of the race was to stay at a comfortable pace. I knew there were plenty of hills ahead, so I didn’t want to smoke my legs right off the bat. I listened to Joy and Claire (Girls Gone WOD podcast) and tried to zone out and relax as much as possible. I knew if I freaked out about every incline, it’d be a rough race for me. I continued at this comfortable pace until about mile 7. I also stopped at every water stop (there were 11 total, 2 with Gatorade and fuel) just to make sure I was hydrated for the rest of the race.

  • Mile 3: 8:59
  • Mile 4: 8:58
  • Mile 5: 9:03 <— GU
  • Mile 6: 8:53

Mile 7 marked the start of some serious hills on the course. There were hills all along, but miles 7-11 were definitely the toughest part of the course. They just kept coming and coming, and, boy, my legs felt it. At this point, I turned on my music and tried to pick up my pace a little bit. I didn’t think a PR was possible, but I really wanted to break two hours, so I knew I needed to work for it.

Parts of the course were an out-and-back loop, so you got to see the speedy runners fly by, which is always so motivating for me. I was also excited to see Mal run by. He finished 49th overall with a 1:33… and practically no training. We joked that his “fresh legs” were what helped him run such a great race. Haha! Anyway, I started to get into a groove and fought my way up each and every one of those hills.

  • Mile 7: 8:43
  • Mile 8: 8:55
  • Mile 9: 8:38 <— GU
  • Mile 10: 9:12 <— huge, long hill
  • Mile 11: 8:51

There was another good-size hill from mile 11.5 – 12.5, but it was all down hill after that, so I picked up the pace the best I could to finish strong. And, let me tell you, it was not easy. My legs were screaming for mercy!

  • Mile 12: 8:21
  • Mile 13: 8:20
  • Mile 0.2: 7:39

Total time: 1:57:50 (8:59)

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Even though it wasn’t a PR, I loved crossing the finish line knowing that I ran the best race I could. I’m still chasing a sub-1:54, so I’m already thinking about my next half.

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Post-race, there was a great after-party with Sierra Nevada at McGreal’s Tavern. The medals were awesome too– high-quality, heavy ones with a nice thick ribbon.

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All in all, it was it awesome, well-organized, and challenging race. I’ll definitely run it again next year!

Question of the Day

What’s the hilliest race you’ve ever run? 

P.S. From now until Thursday (11/8), you can get 20% off all orders of $30 or more in the CNC Spreadshirt Shop with code JOY20 at checkout!

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28 Comments

  1. Ohhhhh that is so beautiful!! Man, I miss Massachusetts, i am so excited to come home in a couple weeks. my hilliest race was probably….. oh the Bulldog 25k/50k. I just did the race course preview with my friend who was racing it, and that shit is NO. JOKE.
    http://www.trailrunevents.com/bd/maps.asp

    we did the 25k loop, the 50k people did it twice. TWICE.

  2. congrats on a great race. any race with beer at the end is a great race! btw one of the reasons I moved to southwest Florida is the lack of hills. all the races here are flat as a pancake.

  3. Congrats on a great race! If you’re looking for a flat half, I highly suggest the Smuttynose Rockfest Half at Hampton Beach. I ran it in early October and it was such a great course and overall race!

  4. The hilliest race I’ve ever run was the Capital City Half Marathon in Olympia, Washington. There are some loooong hills around miles 4 and 5, then a nice big downhill around mile 8…that comes back around and kicks you in the butt at mile 9. Fortunately, mile 12 is mostly cruising downhill. But boy, this one I was HURTING. I almost had charlie horses in both calves. That could’ve ended my race really quickly!

  5. Congrats on the half! And sheesh Mal is speedy! A little envious of that speed with no training haha!
    I try to avoid hilly courses as much as possible. I am a wimp with them. But half’s that are double loops of central park alway give me a run for my money.

  6. Great race! I ran this race too and it is relief that the miles you found to be hilly (essentially the last 1/2) are the same ones I found to be hilly (I wasn’t just going crazy)!!!

  7. Mal is so awesome!! My BF (smoker) randomly picked up running and is FASTER than I am. But he just runs for fun and does not track his miles or pace. SO ANNOYING. Jk. love him.

  8. i ran it, too — and you’re right, definitely NOT FLAT. i was on track for a pretty good PR (not fast, but still would be a great achievement for my second half) until I twisted my ankle on some of the fall foliage around mile 8. I ended up walking the last 5 miles (or race walking as my friend called it), and I’m just happy to have finished. All of the stuff we got – hat, pint glass, shirt, and medal – were great quality, and I loved having Sierra Nevada at the end. In fact, I’m thinking about coming back to Massachusetts to redeem myself next year.

  9. Your pace for the last mile! You really turned it on there. This is making me miss my half training, which I stopped because I was trying to get some fast-twitch muscle development (#gainz). As it turns out, I have to work REALLY REALLY hard to be an incredibly mediocre crossfitter; so maybe I should just throw running back in the mix.

  10. I kid you not, I ran right next to you and didn’t even now it! I have read your blog for some time now and when I looked at my race pictures I saw you in the one from the 10K I think. That was definitely the hilliest race I have run and I agree with everything you said and will be back for more next year. This year I got a 4 minute PR with a 2:00:44 so next year I am out for under 2.

  11. The Zooma half in Annapolis was the hilliest. The hills and running over a bridge twice was not fun nor was it very nice.

  12. This has me itching to run a race! I’ve never done one, even at a shorter distance, but I have been running for years now. I think it is about time I finally buckle down and attempt one. Great job to both you and Mal for an awesome race!

  13. Nice, looks like a great race! 1,600 is a good showing too. Congrats on surviving the hills! Going to keep that one in mind for next year, I’m doing one in Bristol, RI this Sunday at Colt State Park…fairly flat, I hope!

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