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Jul 7 / Jane

Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Festival & Half Marathon 2014

Nearly a month ago now I spent a memorable weekend in and around Boston for the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Festival & Half Marathon.  College friends, Jackie and Christine and I planned to run this one together last summer when they first announced the inaugural event.  But by the time it came time to sign up in January, Jackie and Christine were both pregnant and due within a month of race day (on either end respectively).  Thankfully, Jackie had also recruited her cousin Amanda and her husband, Dan, to run the half marathon, so I signed up and decided to make a weekend out of it.

I arrived at Jackie’s for dinner on Friday evening.  Jackie welcomed baby Julia on May 3rd (to date, Christine is still waiting for her baby boy to arrive), so I spent some time with the 5 week old after we enjoyed a yummy dinner.  Jackie and I did some catching up over wine and we planned out our weekend.

Photo Jun 06, 10 43 19 PM

Baby Julia

The next morning, Jackie, Julia and I headed into Boston for the expo and race packet pick-up.  I was hoping to be there in time to meet Shalane Flanagan, who was in town to run the hat trick (the 5k, 10k and half marathon), but then I navigated us to Boston University, not Boston College, where the festival was.  Oops?  Fortunately, by the time I picked up my bib in the expo, it was just time to meet Shalane, who was signing autographs.

Shalane Flanagan!

Shalane Flanagan!

We collected goodies from the expo and met Bart Yasso and Mark Remy for autographs and best wishes for my half the next morning.  Then we went for a walk and found three nearby geocaches.  This expo was not as good as the RW expo in Bethlehem.  I would say it was about the same size, but much less people were in Boston.  The vendors were a little more my taste in Bethlehem too, with Injinji and Larabar on site.  The venue was much more engaging in Bethlehem, there was so much to see and do you just wanted to spend time there; Boston, not so much.  Oh well, now we know.

I enjoyed a quite evening with Jackie and family.  We had a filling dinner, took a nice walk and spent more time catching up.  I set my alarm and was off to bed at a decent time.

Of course I set my alarm for 5 PM and not 5 AM (!) so I awoke with very little time to do anything and get out the door if I was going to get to Boston on time.  I threw on my clothes, packed up the car and resolved to eat a PowerBar for breakfast.  Then I noticed I needed gas, ugh! Thankfully I found an easy on, easy off station on my way to the Mass Pike…  I was grateful the gas station was open so early on a Sunday, but then I realized it’s pump your own, so they’re probably always open (?).  #jerseygirlproblems (Can I hashtag a blog post?  Is that weird?  Yes, yes it is.  Oh well.)

Anyway, I arrived at Boston College to find a line of unmoving cars waiting to get into the parking garage and it was less than 30 min to race start.  So I parked in a neighborhood nearby and jogged over to the start.  I was looking for Amanda and Dan but resigned to meet them after the race since there were just too many similar looking buildings and grassy areas (it was hard to describe where we were to each other!).  Then I ran into Dan trying to get to the 2 hour pacer, what luck!  We waited outside the corral for the race to start because there were just too many people and we couldn’t fit.

The gun went off and we filed in slowly and sprinted to catch up to the pace group.  Just after the first mile we caught up to them.  I stayed with the group while Dan ran ahead, but I only stuck with the group until just about the 10k mark, then I got a cramp and slowed.  My lack of breakfast and the unwelcome heat were getting to me. The race was 80 degrees with the heat index at the 7:30 am race start and mostly out in the hot sun.  This race also isn’t called ‘Heartbreak Hill’ for no reason, the course ran long the Newtown Hills from the Boston Marathon course, except we ran them both directions, out and back.

By mile 9 I had to take some walking breaks.  The hills, the heat, my rushed morning, it just wasn’t doing it for me.  At mile 11 I saw my cousin Estey, her husband Alex and their baby, Mary cheering me on.  I was so excited I stopped for a quick hug.  It was so great having spectators on the course cheering for me!  On a high from seeing my family, I jogged along until I hit THE Heartbreak Hill at mile 11.5-ish.  I can’t say I ran it all, but I did at least get over the top of it running.

I crossed the finish in 2:15:16, officially my slowest half to date.  Oh well.  Overall, I had a good race experience. It was well organized, well spectated and supported (even though I did get stopped at an intersection to let cars pass, really??). I am happy to say “been there, done that” to those hills though… Since I won’t ever qualify for Boston, no worries doing that again, lol.

Amanda, Dan and I.

Amanda, Dan and I.

I met up with Dan, Amanda and her parents after the race.  We grabbed post-race goodies, took some photos, then headed our separate ways. I headed back into Newtown for lunch with my cousins.  It was great to finally see their place and meet Miss Mary, who is over a year now!  After a refreshing shower, they took me out to an amazing Mexican place nearby and we enjoyed catching up.  It was so convenient having them so close after the race and so nice to spend time with family before my boring drive back to NJ.

Estey with baby Mary

Estey with baby Mary

It really was a fun-filled weekend with some of my favorite people.  I’m looking forward to seeing them all again soon!

Photo Jun 08, 8 56 15 PM

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