Winter Warlock Half Marathon

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

There aren’t too many half marathons in Massachusetts this time of year, so I was psyched when I found the Winter Warlock Half Marathon about 30 minutes away. I had just run the super hilly South Shore Half Marathon and missed my goal time by about 3 minutes, so I wanted to redeem myself and run a better race. I really had high hopes for the Winter Warlock!

Well, I came down with a stomach bug the Friday before the race. Boo. My training also sort of fell apart toward the end because of a colits flare that would just not resolve itself. (An earlier-than-usual dose of Remicade has mostly gotten me back on track.) Long story short, I didn’t run a great half, but the actual race itself wasn’t my favorite either. Truthfully, it was a bit of a mess, but I ran it with my friend Marisa and we had a good laugh about the whole thing!

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When we arrived at the race, we saw that the line for the porta-potties was already getting long, so we immediately jumped in to wait. We spent about 20 minutes in line, and we later learned the race only rented 5 porta-potties for about 400 runners. We also later learned that more than half of the runners registered within two weeks of the race, but you’d think that would be enough time to get more porta-potties? Anyway…

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We headed inside to pick up our bibs. There were more lines, but they moved fairly fast. Marisa and I noticed that our bibs said “Pilgrim 5K,” not “Winter Warlock Half Marathon,” but no one else’s bibs had the name of the race on them either. In fact, we saw a lot of different bibs: “Old Sandwich Road Race,” “Plymouth Turkey Trot” (with Turkey Trot crossed out in black marker), and some plain white ones with either gold, blue, or green stickers on them.

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Along with the half marathon, there was also a 5K and 10K race, so we just figured the race organizers had some sort of system worked out and they probably just wanted to save some money by reusing old bibs. No big deal.

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Side note: I loved the Brooks Run-Thru Jacket that I wore for this race. I had a long-sleeve tech shirt underneath and it was the perfect combo for a winter race (~35 degrees F). The jacket is mostly mesh with water-resistant panels on the shoulders, and it has big zip pockets (perfect for an iPod + GU) and a smaller inner pocket that kept my ID safe. This jacket would be great for spring running too!

The race was scheduled to start at 10:00 AM, but, because there were so few porta-potties and so many people still waiting in line, it was delayed about 20 minutes. Meh. It’s funny too because, while waiting in the porta-potty line, Marisa and I swapped stories about being late to races and literally running to the start line. Neither of us had ever participated in a race that didn’t start on time.

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Once everyone was ready to go, the race director said a few words and then we were off. There was no “on your mark, get set, go,” but we figured it was just a weird race and we’d roll with it. Well, at this point, some people started to run while others just walked. Ummm…

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Apparently, the official start was down a hill and around a turn. Well, ok, then. We were finally off and running!

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The race advertised “one of the most scenic wintertime courses in New England,” so I was really looking forward to the sights and sounds of my first winter half marathon. We started on Old Sandwich Road, a quiet dirt road surrounded by woods, and I immediately thought it was a nice start to the course… at least for a short while.

  • Mile 1: 8:58
  • Mile 2: 9:10
  • Mile 3: 9:09

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As I approached the 10K turnaround, I saw Marisa coming toward me. She’s a faster runner than me, and I thought the course was an out and back, so I was surprised to see her so soon. She didn’t look thrilled, but before I could say anything, she said: “It’s an out and back twice.” Ugh.

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The beginning of the course was pretty, but, after that, it was basically the same thing over and over again… just trees and dirt and more trees for 13.1 miles. There weren’t even hills to look forward to!

  • Mile 4: 9:15
  • Mile 5: 9:11
  • Mile 6: 9:19

IMG_2057 (1280x960)At the half marathon turn around, I saw Marisa’s husband (he snapped the photo below – haha!), who was one of a half dozen spectators. I waved and then I turned on my music. I had taken a packet of GU shortly before that, so I assumed it kicked in because I felt pretty good. I was only at mile 7 or so, but I decided to pick up the pace a little bit.

  • Mile 7: 9:02
  • Mile 8: 9:07
  • Mile 9: 9:03


My plan was to really turn it on at mile 10 and finish strong, but I didn’t feel as good as I normally do at the end of a half. I really wanted to do well, so I told myself I needed to work for it.

  • Mile 10: 9:03
  • Mile 11: 9:09

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I was still feeling pretty good around mile 11 or so (I used RunKeeper to keep track – there were no mile markers on the course after the 10K turnaround), but then I hit mile 12. Woof. I can usually push through the pain of the final mile of a race, but my legs just weren’t having it. Sure, mile 12 was my fastest of the day, but it hurt so bad, I literally had Bambi legs when I crossed the finish line. I truly gave it my all at the end, and I know it was the best I could do, so I wasn’t totally disappointed by my performance.

  • Mile 12: 8:48
  • Mile 13: 9:35

Total time: 2:01:05 (9:15)

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Hooray! We finished!!

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After the race, we went inside to get water and snacks. Sadly, there were no finisher medals, and I was told the shirts didn’t say half marathon on them. (I didn’t get one.) So much for race swag. Whomp whomp.

The race times were posted on a bulletin board, so Marisa went to check hers. She couldn’t find herself anywhere in the half marathon finishers, so she went to talk to the time keeper guy. It turns out she was registered for the 5K even though her race registration clearly said ‘half marathon.’ I figured since we registered at the same time and had similar bibs, I might have the same issue with my registration. It clearly said ‘half marathon,’ but I too was registered for the the 5K. When the initial results were posted online that evening, I couldn’t find my name anywhere. I found my number listed under someone else’s name for the 5K… last place with a time of 2:01:05. Fortunately, the results are correct now, but, wow, what a “memorable” race.

Question of the Day

Have you ever been late to a race?




  1. Seriously, that’s a bummer that this race was so poorly executed especially when people put a lot of time and effort into training. I was considering running it, but sort of glad I didn’t now…no race bling??

    Congrats on your strong finish!

  2. Wowzers, what a trainwreck!! Congrats on doing such a great job while feeling way less than 100%; I can’t imagine trying to take in Gu with a stomach bug!

    Last year I missed the start of a 5k by 45 minutes because I got stuck in MEGA traffic in NYC; apparently there was a bicycle race that same day and the street we were on was closed so we couldn’t move. I jumped out of the cab and ran to the closest subway stop, which turned out to be closed. At that point, I gave up and treated myself to a bloody mary before heading home. It just wasn’t my day!

  3. As soon as I read “It’s an out and back twice.” I moaned! Thats a total bummer. I’m not a fan of races that have loops. But it looks like you two made the best of it, running should be fun! I’ve never been late to a race but I always get nervous that I will be. I am running a 1/2 in North Andover this May which is about 45minutes from my house so I’m sure I’ll be up and on the road super early – worse case I hang out in my car for a bit 🙂

  4. I was late for a rock ‘n roll half marathon, but since it is such a big race I just jumped in with a slower pace group that hadn’t started yet.

  5. Yikes. I hope this wasn’t an expensive race.
    My husband owns a small race timing company in upstate NY. He would be mortified if a race he timed went like that! Multiple out and backs also annoy him and he generally discourages race directors to make courses like that. And late starts also drive him crazy.
    I would contact the race officials and give them your feedback, it may help them in the future.

  6. Oh boy that really is quite the experience! So great that you had a friend to laugh about it wish 🙂 And I’m happy to have read this just to be somewhat prepared for races of similar quality in future. But big congrats on finishing and for pushing it during that last mile!!

  7. I’m glad you were able to find some positive out of a yucky race. Are you wearing yoga pants or cold weather tights? They fit great and look comfy.

  8. Yuck, no medals? I would have been so sad. The medal is what I look forward to! I was basically late to a race once because of the porta potty line. It wouldn’t have happened if my mom hadn’t insisted that my husband go back to our car to get my sister’s inhaler, than she insisted she didn’t need. So we got on the buses that took us to the start line late. Long porta potty lines, etc. Fun times!

  9. Out and back twice sounds masochistic. Poorly-run races are so frustrating! Kudos to you for making the best of it — and just for getting out there for a mid-January race in New England!
    A friend and I had an experience with running TWO MILES from parking to the start of a half marathon when a race we had been doing for years eliminated their shuttles to the start line without actually telling people about it. I had flown from FL to DC to run it, and I was NOT about to miss the dang race! I actually ran a PR that day, and I’m convinced it’s because of the unplanned warm-up miles.

  10. Wow, what a mess of a race! Sometimes small, local races can be a gamble with organization and/or what you get for your entry fee. I’ve been to a handful of poorly organized races that lacked swag, proficient timing, etc in which I left feeling like I should have just gone out my front door and ran that distance for free (unless the proceeds were going to a charity or good cause). Then again, it’s all about the experience and at least you had a good laugh!!

    Luckily I have not been late to a race, yet!

  11. wow- that sounds like a mess. Especially no mile markers or marked pavement. Glad you were able to take it for what it was and try to roll with it. My dad runs a small, local running organization and prides himself on having good courses, well marked races, and enough porta-potties. 🙂 I’d definitely provide some race feedback so they can improve for the future 🙂

  12. I’m about to run my first half on Valentine’s day! I’ve been training using GU but I was wondering how frequently you usually have a GU during a half marathon race?

  13. I’ve never been late to a race, but I have registered for two that I couldn’t run. Every time I register to run the Seattle Half Marathon, I can’t do it (tonsilitis one year, tooth implant the following year). I’m tempted to sign up this year, but don’t want to throw my money away again!

  14. Glad you had someone to commiserate with. I’m sure it didn’t help that you weren’t feeling well. Was this their first race? Or did they have new people in charge? A group I belong to has been hosting/organizing a fundraiser 5K/10K for several years, and it’s always my fear that things will get screwed up and people will have a bad experience – and not only not come back, but tell their friends about their bad experience, too!

  15. That race sounds completely awful!! Props to you for finishing in the time that you did though!! Awesome. I don’t comment much but I am today sending some support and to tell you that I love the blog and read it everyday 🙂

  16. what a disaster! i’d be so disappointed with just about every element of this. kudos to you for pushing yourself and finishing strong, even when you weren’t feeling your best and the race was so horribly organized.

  17. Ugh I am so sorry that your race experience was less than ideal. I ran a 5K where it started raining and the computer that was logging results was ruined. The results were a mess and the awards couldn’t happen. AND the kicker is I placed first in my AG and should have a trophy to show for it but am still waiting (mind you race was in October, sigh).
    I find with newer races and smaller races that they can have issues and not start on time. Usually I don’t mind too much but when they clearly just have no idea how to manage then I get annoyed.

  18. I can’t believe you finished last in the 5K! A far fall from the Boston marathon 😉

    (Hopefully someone from the race will read this and get their act together ASAP!)

  19. OMG, What a mess. You definitely handled yourself well….. Maybe the race organizers should find another hobby. LOL

  20. OMG that sounded completely miserable! At least you could shake it off. I would have been so annoyed. Seriously no swag!? I’m a MA girl so thanks for the heads up I will never ever sign up for that race.

  21. Wow on the potty lines, I hate long waits for those and had to bail on the line once and stop at the first set of outhouses during the race. Running the first mile having to pee bad is not fun!

    Love your shoes, those are my current favorites. I might need to check out that jacket for a December marathon here.

    Bummer on no metals, there should always be one for a half! Still great time considering the circumstances, awesome job!

  22. Well, the delay worked out for me because I was late! The lack of swag was pretty disappointing, the fact that the shirts only said “Winter Warlock” and I was only able to get an XXL in white (most of the shirts were a more attractive black) when I wear a large or XL was also disappointing. And it wasn’t an out-and-back, out-and back, but rather an out-and partway back, out- and all the way back with no distance markers made judging a kick impossible! I am from a small town in New Mexico and our local races are much more organized and the swag way better. The lack of medals was no big deal to me, but since they advertised it as a “perfect first-time 1/2,” they definitely should have had medals — if I was running that distance for the first time (I’ve done 3 fulls) and didn’t get a medal or at least a shirt that said “1/2 marathon” I’d be bummed! News flash race organizers — a lot of us do these races for the shirt and swag!

  23. this is so not funny, but this is so funny! thanks for the smile today, and truly great job nonetheless 🙂
    btw i have the same shoes…love ’em!

  24. I haven’t been late to a race but I did forget my friend and my race bibs at home so I had to have my husband bring our bibs down. He ended up making it just a couple minutes before the race began. WHEW!
    I’ve also had a poorly run race experience where the directors didn’t measure the course right and there weren’t enough people directing runners where to go so some of the people (myself included) ended up running over a mile more than the race distance. At that point all you can do is laugh and find the positives. I think you and your friend did a great job with staying positive 🙂

  25. Ugh, came across your blog when looking into people to invite to the 26.2 CHALLENGE, just an FYI the guy who put this on has notoriously bad races. Thanksfully he only puts on a handful. Cheers!

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