Bridgehampton Half Marathon Recap

Date: May 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 50

Two races in two weeks! Dare I say this just might be becoming a running blog once again?

I'm not normally a fan of race photos. But I like this one. I'm a GIANT!

I’m not normally a fan of race photos. But I like this one. I’m a GIANT!

As you may recall (because I refuse to stop reminding people), my first-ever marathon was the Hamptons Marathon. I had the best experience that day in 2011 and have felt a fondness for the Hamptons since then. The following year, I ran the Hamptons Half Marathon just a few weeks after getting out of the hospital for a Crohn’s flare-up.

Last year I didn’t get to make my way back out to run and support those races because I was still too sick and preoccupied with trying to untangle my very swollen and exhausted intestines. But in the late fall, the Hamptons Marathon and Half Marathon organizers announced that they’d be holding a spring race in 2014: the Bridgehampton Half Marathon.

I knew I wanted to run it.

Obviously back then it was way too early to try and plan for such a thing. As I’ve repeated, having a chronic illness has taught me that planning is difficult to do, and setting expectations is often a dangerous and self-destructive way for me to live. Frustrating, but true.

So I kept the Bridgehampton Half Marathon website bookmarked on my computer and I’d check in occasionally to see if there were updates, course maps, elevation charts, etc.

I only mentioned the race to my brother. I emailed him saying I really wanted to get better so I could run this race, and asked if there was any chance he and Michaela would be having Tyler’s second birthday party that weekend (which would, very obviously, be a priority for me).

Definitely the best birthday party I've ever been to. Tyler loved jumping into the foam pit. I, on the other hand, did not like the foam pit and was petrified there were snakes at the bottom of it. Wasn't that a thing once? At a Chuckee Cheese, in the ball pit? Did I make that up? I DID NOT MAKE THAT UP, IT HAPPENED. People put snakes in the ball pit. I swear.

Definitely the best birthday party I’ve ever been to. Tyler loved jumping into the foam pit. I, on the other hand, did not like the foam pit and was petrified there were snakes at the bottom of it. Wasn’t that a thing once? At a Chuckee Cheese, in the ball pit? Did I make that up? I DID NOT MAKE THAT UP, IT HAPPENED. People put snakes in the ball pit. I swear.

They said his party would be the weekend before, so the race wasn’t out for me. I just had to get better.

And then, at some point, I started to get better, and I started running again.

My first run was 21 minutes and I had to stop to urgently use a public restroom three separate times. But my next run lasted 51 minutes and I built up from there.

Most of my runs were filled with stops, walk breaks and “stretching breaks,” but by May 4, I felt confident I could run the Bridgehampton Half Marathon.

And I did. In 1 hour, 51 minutes and 25 seconds.

My “Best Day Ever” list is growing, and May 10 is definitely on there.

Stolen race photo. Sorryyyyyyy.

Stolen race photo. Sorryyyyyyy.

A recap from the beginning, if you’re into such things…

Brian and I drove out to Southampton after work Friday night. Smooth sailing, no traffic, some pasta at some restaurant along the way, and I was facedown on a very cozy bed by 10:30 PM. (A tip, by the way: Want to experience the loveliness of the Hamptons without the crowds, prices or traffic? Go in the off-season. Cheaper! Easier! Empty! Granted, I’ve never been out there during the “in” season, so what do I know? Nevermind.)

I went through phases where I was nervous for the race, but mostly I was just happy — happy to be racing again, happy to be able to run, happy to be back out in the place where I have such fond memories.

My biggest concern was the bathroom situation. I knew there would be Porta Potties stationed at every other mile marker. That didn’t seem like enough for me. I like them to be at every mile.

But that brings me back to the wonder of springtime in the Hamptons: Nearly every house is either under construction or renovation, or is in the middle of a major landscaping project.

Therefore: Porta Potties on almost every single lawn of every single house.

How’s that for a race day miracle? I was pumped.

This is a picture of me being "pumped." Clearly.

This is a picture of me being “pumped.” Clearly.

The race started at 9 AM, so I was up at 6. I ate a plain bagel with nothing on it (yum!), took a warm shower (race day tradition), and spent as much time in the bathroom as I felt I needed. I was relaxed and had plenty of time.

It felt chilly outside so I debated going with long sleeves, but I’m glad I didn’t — the humidity was hovering somewhere around 365% and I was dripping by mile .05. Good call on the tank for sure.

Brian drove me to the start, and with the beauty of these small town races, you can pretty much drive right up to the start line. He parked the rental, I used the Porta Potties a few times, got myself a kiss, and then it was time to line up.

OMG WHAT ARE THESE?

OMG WHAT ARE THESE?

My stomach felt OK, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on this race. I assumed I would have to make bathroom stops and I was totally OK with it. (I just hoped they would be at the actual Porta Potties and not, I don’t know, in a ditch on the side of the road somewhere. Hot stuff!)

My plan was to just run and have fun. Numbers and stops didn’t matter, and that was just groovy. Laid-back racing (spooooiler: this mentality worked).

I had dug out my Garmin (found it in my underwear drawer; that’s a mystery I’ll never solve, I suppose) so that I could plan to [attempt to] pace myself. As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t been timing my runs, but I was worried about going out “too fast” or “too slow,” without any regard to what the heck those paces might even be or feel like. I thought maybe I’d be able to hang on around an 8:45/mile pace. Optimism!

THROWBACK THURSDAY! To the other time in 2014 I did a race. I never got any splits from the duathlon Brian and I did together, but I know I ran the 5K at a just-barely-sub-8:00 pace. For whatever that's worth... (I also got to the finish and thought I was going to barf a lot and then probably die, so there's that...)

THROWBACK THURSDAY! To the other time in 2014 I did a race. I never got any splits from the duathlon Brian and I did together, but I know I ran the 5K at a just-barely-sub-8:00 pace. For whatever that’s worth… (I also got to the finish and thought I was going to barf a lot and then probably die, so there’s that…)

But heeeeey, what do ya know, I couldn’t get a signal. Maybe the Garmin forgot how to work since it hasn’t been turned on since November. So I ran watchless and without a clue what I was doing. I lined up in the 9-minute-mile area, though, so I figured I’d just try to hang with them.

The race started near a windmill (which I actually didn’t notice until I got to the post-race finish line area, but it seemed like a nice touch) in downtown Bridgehampton, and the course was branded as “flat and fast.” I typically prefer rolling courses because I do better when I can mix up the leg muscles I’m using. Plus I like little downhills. But this course was exactly as they said it would be: pancake-flat.

I love pancakes and I haven’t had them in, like, years. (Who wants to bring pancakes to the Lurlene McDaniel party? Chocolate chip ones for me, please.)

Right away, I knew this race would be what I had assumed the Hamptons Marathon would be. The marathon and its accompanying half are run mostly on side roads. The courses aren’t necessarily pretty or Hamptons-y. But this one was!

Heel striking is good, I think. I work at a running store now, so I know that my form is TOP notch.

Heel striking is good, I think. I work at a running store now, so I know that my form is TOP notch. And yes, you are supposed to swing your arms wildly crossing in FRONT of your body, not in a front-to-back motion.

We ran past the most ridiculous mansions, the most pristine landscaping and some various bodies of water. It was beautiful and I entertained myself by constantly looking at all the pretty houses and picking which ones I would want to live in (all of them).

I know I ran the first mile perhaps too quickly. I crossed the start line shortly after the start (wasn’t paying attention to the time…oops) and passed the first mile marker at, if I recall correctly, 8:35 or 8:25. After that, I stopped paying attention to the numbers on the mile marker clocks because math is too hard. Wah. And I didn’t want to worry about or care about numbers. I just wanted to ruuuuuun!

And run I did, straight on to the finish.

Without making any bathroom stops.

This is my longest stop-free run in as long as I can remember. Every time I ran past a bathroom and didn’t have to use it, I was thrilled.

Other runners, where are you? Itty bitty races = itty bitty crowds!

Other runners, where are you? Itty bitty races = itty bitty crowds!

I was pretty out of it for most of the race, just running happy and probably smiling a bit. I remember the course being pretty and I remember feeling like I was putting in enough of an effort that it wasn’t “just another run,” but also feeling very relaxed and wondering if I should try to push harder.

Every mile seemed to fly by. There were two out-and-backs on the course, which I enjoyed. Each was only about a half-mile out, so they were over quickly, and you got to see some familiar faces.

Of note: This race was not closed to traffic. It didn’t bother me (the Hamptons Marathon wasn’t closed to cars, either) and I never thought it was a problem. I know some people don’t like this, though, and find it to be a complain-worthy factor. There were very very few cars on the roads — I didn’t even really notice them, actually — and there were tons of cops along the route to help direct any cars that did come by. But if you’re considering this race for next year and you don’t like running with potential cars on the road, that may be something to consider.

By the second half, I felt like I was passing more people than were passing me, and that’s a very unfamiliar and strange feeling for me. I didn’t hate it.

Do you notice anything different about me? LIKE MAYBE MY SHOES. Those aren't Brooks Adrenalines, folks. Those are PureFlows. I tried them out for the first time on race day, because you're supposed to try everything new ON race day.

Do you notice anything different about me? LIKE MAYBE MY SHOES. Those aren’t Brooks Adrenalines, folks. Those are PureFlows. I tried them out for the first time on race day, because you’re supposed to try everything new ON race day.

The only mile that felt long was mile 11. I was starting to feel tired at that point, but tried to pump my arms a little more and ignore the piles of sweat pouring down my face and into my ears.

I wasn’t sure exactly where or when the finish line would appear, but finally I hit the mile 13 marker and saw a left-hand turn up ahead.

I cruised around the turn and saw Brian to my left. That was all the little motivation I needed to push it to the finish.

Brian was on his bike, yelling at me from mile 13–13.1. And taking pictures. He's reckless like that.

Brian was on his bike, yelling at me from mile 13–13.1. And taking pictures. He’s reckless like that.

Perma-smiling at this point.

Perma-smiling at this point.

And that was it.

I GOT A MEDAL. Even though I didn't win.

I GOT A MEDAL. Even though I didn’t win.

13.1 miles in 1:51:25 with zero bathroom stops.

Look at all that data! Who needs a Garmin?! (No, just kidding, you need one. And you should come buy it at JackRabbit Sports in NYC...)

Look at all that data! Who needs a Garmin?! (No, just kidding, you need one. And you should come buy it at JackRabbit Sports in NYC…)

I was exhausted when I finished but I was giddy and happy and my legs were a little tight. All those familiar race day feelings came rushing back so fast. I never want to lose them again, but going a long time without racing sure does make you appreciate the days you can get back out there!

See?! That's the windmill I told you about!

See?! That’s the windmill I told you about!

I rode my post-race high all weekend long. Naturally.

Brian and I spent the rest of the day driving around the Hamptons doing our post-Hamptons-race traditions: cookies from Levain Bakery (but boooooo, it was closed!) and picking up my favorite bottles of wine from my very favorite vineyard.

Get the rosé and the Red Apple wine. Deeelish.

Get the rosé and the Red Apple wine. Deeelish.

On Sunday, we went for a very slow bike ride (sorry, Brian)…

We biked to the beach! I tried to ride on the sand. It did not go well. Luckily my unclipping skills were quick that day. But then I walked around in the sand and filled my cleats with some wet sand, and then I couldn't clip back in. My baddddd.

We biked to the beach! I tried to ride on the sand. It did not go well. Luckily my unclipping skills were quick that day. But then I walked around in the sand and filled my cleats with some wet sand, and then I couldn’t clip back in. My baddddd.

…took Brian’s cute mom to lunch for Mother’s Day and enjoyed the sunshine.

The view from our lunch spot in Riverhead. Not bad at all.

The view from our lunch spot in Riverhead. Not bad at all.

I can’t think of anything to complain about right now. I haven’t felt this good — this generally well — in years.

I went to the doctor yesterday for round three of my study drug treatment. I'm definitely getting the drug now—no more potential placebo!! I have to fill out a survey every time I go in and it felt mighty good to see the change in responses I'm giving now versus when I began the study back in February.

I went to the doctor yesterday for round three of my study drug treatment. I’m definitely getting the drug now—no more potential placebo!! I have to fill out a survey every time I go in and it felt mighty good to see the change in responses I’m giving now versus when I began the study back in February.

And I kind of can’t believe I actually ran a half this weekend. Life sure has changed a bit recently…

Exclamation points: !!!

50 Responses to "Bridgehampton Half Marathon Recap"

It took me a good 2 minutes to figure out what “Halfway Sex Place” meant on your race results. My mind immediately went to the dirty place, not the logical place.

How’d you like the PureFlows? I’m an Adrenaline girl, so I’m curious what the differences are.

And yay racing!

Hahaha.
So far I love the PureFlows! They feel so much lighter. I did a gait analysis at work (if you’re in NYC, come to JackRabbit and we’ll do it for you!) and they determined that I definitely don’t need a stability shoe anymore. The PureFlow is a neutral shoe and it feels way more minimal, which I really appreciate (I’ve got enough weight to carry on the run, thank youuuu). I wore my Adrenalines today because it was gross out (don’t want to mess up the new shoes yet!) and they felt so big and so heavy in comparison.

So very very THRILLED for you! It’s been a long road but I am so happy you are feeling healthy!

Thank you 🙂 I am thrilled we have the same name. It’s OK that we spell it differently. It makes us special.

Wow, what great news! So good to see you smiling, and writing up race recaps!! Looks like the meds are treating you well. btw, if I were you I would get that race photo blown up poster size. It’s an awesome shot!

Congratulations on an amazing run! I haven’t made it through a race bathroom free in oh so long. That is seriously my goal for the BK Half this weekend 🙂

And totally a fan of trying new things on race day. Minus the arm warmers and lack of vaseline for the NYC Half. CHAFE CITY. And it left a scar on my underarm. Sexy.

TWINSIES: I experienced some serious chafe action during this race. Specifically the aforementioned underarm spots. So delicate. So painful. So scarring.

I am so happy for you! Your “have fun and make it seem so easy” half marathon is still faster than my “I AM GOING TO DIE” PR. Amazing about getting the drug now, I hope you keep feeling good. And lastly, I LOVE sitting in ball pits. They feel like massages.

Yay! So happy for you…the smiles in your pictures were contagious. I’m glad you’re finally getting the drug for sure now too….things are looking happy 🙂

Wow! 0-13.1! You are awesome and an inspiration!

amazing job! so happy for you that you had such a great race, with an incredible time. so much to be proud of and thankful for!

Love this, Ali! I just want you to know I have Crohn’s and you were my inspiration for running my first half marathon this January. I don’t run as fast as you, not even close, but I’m falling in love with it! Thank you for your blog! xo

That means so much, Amy. Thank you <3 <3 CONGRATULATIONS on running your first half, and best of luck with all the miles that lie ahead. Enjoy every one!

So great to read that ! And, what a time for a return !! You sure still know how to run 🙂

AHH!!! I’m so happy for you!! Congratulations! KICK ASS time too!! Woot Woot!!

Congrats! I’m so happy for you 🙂

Congrats!!!!! So impressed with your time after taking time off…that is awesome! So glad you find a medicine that is working for you!!

Congrats!! And what a fantastic time! Just imagine how fast you would be with a full training cycle!

Congratulations Ali! You are so amazing. What an incredible race!

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve been to that exact lunch spot in Riverhead. We’re basically twins. Minus the fact that I’m struggling to run a sub-2 half 🙂

Farm Country Kitchen?! It was this itty bitty restaurant — like someone’s house, really — right on the water. Good food and so darling!

I am embarrassed to say that I cried happy tears when I read you did that run bathroom-stop free. What an exciting and happy weekend!

Haha I love that. And for what it’s worth, I cry at EVERYTHING. So we’re twinsies. And it’s fine.

I love the look of the Pure Flows- so pretty! I wish I could try running shoes out for free so I know what would feel the best 🙂 I don’t want to buy a pair of shoes and end up not liking them. I’m an adrenalines girl right now and love them.

Well, they weren’t free…I wish! But at the store, you put the shoes on and run on a treadmill to test them out before you buy them. I’ll always be an Adrenaline junkie at heart!

Been following your blog forever, so happy for you on the half!!!! I’m running the hamptons half this year. Think you’ll do that one again? #nobathroombreaks

Maybe! I haven’t checked the date yet, but if I can make it work, I’d love to be there!

I think it’s Sept 28!

I think it’s Sept 28!

Yay! I will definitely be there next year. I love the hamptons races (see you on September 27th at the Springs School…)
Glad you got wine at Wolffer Estates too – Iululemon had a free yoga class in their vineyards last summer, hoping they do it again this year. So beautiful!

Is that a negative split I see?? Congratulations! Frankly, if I ever negative split a half marathon, you wouldn’t be able to shut me up about it.

I’m so happy to read how much better you’re feeling! And that race looks like so much fun, I might try it out next year.

Sure is 😉 (Though really, not sure how that happened. I felt like I was slogging through miles 10–13. But what do I know, apparently?)

YAY HALF! But also…YAY WOLFFER.

I fricken love this. Fricken? Friggen?

It is oh-so-encouraging to hear about all the awesome races you’ve been rocking lately! I can’t remember the last time I ran a race watch-free — maybe it’s about time?!

This gives me some hope. I have Crohn’s disease and another disease, and running has severely sidelined.

It also makes me jealous! (haha) Anything I have run while sick resulted in terrible times — about half an hour slower for my half-marathon.

I’m glad things seem to be improving for you. I hope that the study was the answer.

I am so happy about this. Congratulaitons on your race! I’m just so happy to see you grinning like a loon in every single photo…you just look so happy. And I love your stripy top very much.

This brought tears to my eyes because I was so happy to read that you made it through without any bathroom stops. It’s amazing how I used to take things like that for granted, but as a UCer, I totally see those seemingly tiny victories as hugely important.

WOW! very very happy for you that is awesome! congrats!

This race report makes me so happy!! Congrats! I love the way you write, you can feel your joy.

Stacy Dylan says: May 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

So glad to hear this news about your health and running! And glad you are still blogging. It just gives that feeling of life’s ups and downs and it is so real.

How did you like the shoes? I am an adrenaline wearer. Been thinking bout trying the pure flow. What were the differences?

So far I love the PureFlows! They feel so much lighter than the Adrenalines. I did a gait analysis at JackRabbit Sports (if you’re in NYC, come to JackRabbit and we’ll do it for you!) and they determined that I definitely don’t need a stability shoe anymore (Adrenalines are a stability shoe; PureFlows are a neutral shoe). The PureFlow feels way more minimal, which I really appreciate (I’ve got enough weight to carry on the run). I wore my Adrenalines the other day because it was gross out (don’t want to mess up the new shoes yet!) and they felt so big and so heavy in comparison.

This is nothing short of miraculous! To go from 0 and hating life to 13+ and on Cloud 9 in two and a half months has got to feel amazing. Here’s hoping this is the place it all evens out for you 🙂 I know the ups and downs of pain and illness are the pits. Congrats on an incredible run!

I am sooooooo HAPPY you’re feeling better and running again. I haven’t been able to run since I’m dealing with plantar fasciitis (THE.WORST….not as bad as my Crohn’s, but a close second). But your posts almost make me feel like I’m out there running too. I hope there are many, many more!

Congratulations and I am so happy to read this post. It has been a long time coming for you but so pleased that it is here. I have my first ever half marathan this year and love hearing about others. You look so happy.

Hi, Ali! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I’ve been so happy for you lately now that things are starting to look up. Congratulations on your health AND running victories! I look forward to reading about the many more victories that I’m sure are coming your way in the future!

SO glad you are up, and running (literally) again! I have been following your blog for a few years, and I have so wished for your health to return. Good times ahead!

YAY! Congratulations! This is a great post. I’ve just recovered from a concussion and reading this made me really happy (its the first post I’ve been able to run in weeks AND you negative split your RACE bathroom free!!!)
There may be happy tears.

Julesfarshi says: May 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm

So great to read about somebody else who plans their route by toilet breaks!! 35 years with Crohn’s but won’t let it beat me! My first half marathon this year! Love your blog x