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I did it!  I ran, and finished, the 3rd Annual Acadia National Park Half Marathon.  Race day weather was gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky and temps in the 60s which was a gift after the week of solid ran we had preceding race day.  Before the start, we gathered at the YMCA in downtown Bar Harbor and then they walked us up the road a little to the top of a hill where there was a white line spray painted across the road.  That was the starting line.  We all got on the other side of the line, turned so that we faced down the hill and back towards the YMCA and then they played a little siren and we were off.  Little fanfare, little fuss.  I did miss the National Anthem though.

The course followed the Park Loop Road for much of it and I kept running near the outside edge so I could look at the crashing surf below.  It felt like everyone around me didn’t stop to walk, even on the heavy inclines, so I ended up running more of the race than I had intended.  And I kept a relatively quick pace considering the elevation gains but I still worried that I was going to be the last runner across the finish line.  (The race was capped at 250 runners and that counts the people who ran the 10k portion so not an entirely irrational fear).

On the downhills I tried to open up and let myself sort of fall down the mountain, letting my feet slap on the pavement in as quick a succession as they wanted.  I kept my eyes focused forward and a little down and just let go.  The result – a faster time that I dared hope for and really, really sore shins and quads.

I like to start races without any headphones in/music going.  I get a lot of energy out of the group of runners huddled around me at the start and I love the quiet stampede of feet as people jockey for position for the first few miles.  Race courses are more interesting in the pre-dawn light and the symphony of heavy breathing has a music all its own.  I can usually ride that excited, “Race day is here!”, feeling and be amused by my surroundings for the first 4-6 miles and after that I pop my in headphones and get into a new groove.  The Acadia race gave me some difficulty music-wise, however.

First I couldn’t connect to Pandora when I was in the park because AT&T has crappy service around Maine.  So then I accessed the stored music on my phone and discovered it was mostly kids music and instrumental lullabies with a little Nine Inch Nails and EDM thrown in.  Poor planning on my part.  Thankfully songs like “Ba Ba Black Sheep” are upbeat and they’re over pretty quickly.  And I was surprised to find that lullaby versions of popular U2 and Led Zeppelin songs make for good running songs in a pinch.  There aren’t any words so you can test yourself to see if you remember them and the underlying, steady beat is conducive to a really long run where you aren’t looking to break any speed records.  And I played guess-that-song a few times which helped to pass the time.

Overall I finished my first race post-baby with a time that I’m really proud of.  In fact, it was faster than 75% of my pre-baby half marathons.  So it looks like I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself.  Next up is training for the Miami Marathon January 2016.  Which right now makes me tired just thinking about it.

Post Script: For anyone who’s been following my epic journey to locate size 10.5 neutral running shoes for my flattened, post pregnancy feet, I ran the Rabbit Run trail race in Solomon XR Mission trail shoes and the Acadia Half Marathon in Brooks Ghost 7.  I’ve been really happy with both shoes and am going to stick with these for awhile.