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Dry Martini: 13.1 Epic Miles

Generally, the only weather you won’t get during a Nor’easter is lightning, which means that the odds of cancelation for the Cape Cod Half Marathon were virtually nil. Which meant that running 13.1 miles in all manner of wind, rain, sleet, or snow wasn’t out of the question. Each of the retreaters who’d been planning to run had to figure out just how epic they wanted their Saturday to be.

Given that I’d just set a half marathon PR a few weeks prior (did I tell you about my PR?), my only goal for the race was to start at the start and cross the finish line in however long it took me to get there. I didn’t count on 40 mile gusts or pelting sleet but life is full of surprises.

Like how surprisingly fun it is to run in near-apocalypic weather. That’s not the lingering hypothermia talking. It was a total hoot. Because I love a list, here’s why (in no particular order, because that’s how I roll):

  • Once you embrace the suck, you have freed yourself for pleasant surprises. I expected to spent three hours frozen and wet and miserable -- and was mentally prepared to just get it done. But it was ten degrees warmer than anticipated, which was almost balmy.
  • Every time your thin plastic poncho develops a hole, make a knot. Soon you’ll have more knots than holes and a metaphor for life to ponder for the last few miles of the race.
  • The course, which winds along the shore, is gorgeous. The white caps and flat gray skies are even more impressive than the perfect blue you usually get.
  • Blowing sand and salt spray is an effective exfoliant.
Erica, Michelle, Lisa, and I model the latest in flimsy plastic running gear. Look out New York Fashion Week.
  • Marianne, a BAMR from NJ (who you might remember from our Seneca 7 sojourn), and I solved all of the world’s problems while we ran. Or, at least, chit-chatted away about pretty much everything when we could hear each other over the wind and surf.
  • When you are soaked to the bone and your shoes are squishy, you can’t get any more soaked. This is surprisingly comforting.
  • It’s also comforting when 50+ BAMRs are out on the course, too. There’s something to be said for doing something supremely silly with a group.
  • The purple bibs the race organizers made for the AMR Retreaters made it incredibly easy to cheer for members of the Tribe when we saw them. I’m not sure if I was hoarse after the race because of the cold or because I was whooping it up so much.
  • When it got hard around mile 11 -- not gonna lie, I was ready to be warm and dry by then -- a cheer squad emerged from the rain to high-five us home. If you can run down a line of women wanting nothing more than to encourage you to the finish and who you’ve spent the last 48 hours laughing with, do that. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • Post-race cider donuts. ‘nuf said.

One of the better choices SBS and Dimity made about the retreat’s location is how close the hotel is to the start/finish line. Not ten minutes after leaving said line, I was stripping off all of my clothes in my room’s kitchenette and, then, in a hot shower. Which was one of the better showers I’ve ever taken. It was up there with rinsing off after my babies were born. It was that good.

In the kitchenette post-race but pre-shower. I left a puddle.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a little bit of damage from running through the storm; my Brooks Ghost 10s will never be the same. But $120 for some new kicks is a small price to pay for the ego boost this race gave me. That is priceless.

Which extreme weather events have you run through? And did you feel like a total badass at the end?

PS: Thanks for all of the race suggestions. I’m going to compile a list and plot my next moves in my next column.

30 responses to “Dry Martini: 13.1 Epic Miles

  1. 2016 Syracuse “spring” half marathon, where we ran in a blizzard. Snow, sleet, wind gusts of up to 44 mph, zero visibility.

  2. Boston Marathon 2018 and I have to agree that when you cannot possibly get more wet and the only goal is to finish it is surprisingly fun!! Well done Adrienne!

  3. 2017 Shamrock Half at Virginia Beach was a very similar experience for me. About 33 degrees, heavy rain/sleet/snow/sand storm and 30 MPH winds. I started wishing I could have stayed in bed, but finished feeling pretty bad ass and confident.

  4. Savannah Half Marathon a few years ago when it was so hot, they stopped the race but not before I saw a man go down in front on me and later die. It was awful and they ran out of water, cups, everything. I think in total, three people died that day. The heat is no joke. I love running in cold, rainy condtions. I ran my 5K PR in the freezing rain with 30 mph winds at the beach in December a few years ago. It was so hard to get out of the car in the pouring, cold rain but man, I felt awesome when I crossed that finish line!

  5. I can so relate to your comment about once you are soaked to the bone and cannot get any wetter, it is comforting….in an odd sort of way.
    2017 Shamrock Half Marathon in VA Beach was my worst, weather wise. It was pouring when we started with 30 mph gusts. This eventually segued to sleet for a few miles. At mile 7, while running by the Chesapeake Bay, the wind had created sandstorms, which as it turns out, is also a great exfoliant. The sand piles created were up to my ankles. At mile 10, it started to snow because why wouldn’t it??! I chafed so badly from my bra and being soaked that I had to toss my blood-soaked bra. Literally, blood-soaked.
    But you know what? I never felt so accomplished and mentally strong than when I crossed that finish line.

  6. I just ran the Zooma 12k two ago in Amelia Island and that suck was over 80degrees and 80+% humidity but I guess my worse/best runs were some long runs that were in near tropical storm weather in which I could not see bc the rain was blowing directly in my face and winds were a good 20-30mph. When I left the house it was mild and sunny…but this is Florida and it was hurricane season so, that happened. At first it was terrible bc my contacts were stuck to my eyes and I was gasping for breath bc every time I took a breath, I got a moth of rain. But after a few miles of I think a seven or eight mile run, I just embraced how soaked I was and how badass I felt. You are a badass for embracing that suck! Congrats to you and all the other BAMR’s who endured it!

  7. I ran this race as well and decided I would rather run in that weather than hot and sunny any day of the week! You are right, once you embrace the suck, it truly was an epic experience. Badass at its finest. I ran the full the next day as well and just as much fun with views.

  8. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with a running list of top showers! Post Boston 2018 is right up after my 2 c-sections and that time I went canoe camping for four days in high school.

    Congrats!

  9. Embracing the suck and appreciating the experience for all it was was absolutely amazing. Once in a lifetime! My big mantra was remembering that I get to do this! I have the means and the ability to run, to train and to do this! It was EPIC!

  10. It rained for my first half marathon, freezing rain for my second, rained at the end of my first marathon, and there have been too many rainy/snowy/freezing training runs to count. It just makes us stronger and so much more badass! The best is getting cheered on during a rainy training run, just because you’re out there getting it done. And I agree, once you are fully soaked with squishy shoes, a new normal develops and you just go with it. Congrats on making it through that crazy race!

  11. I had so much fun on the course as well. It was nice to see ya’ll the times that I did and I completely agree about the views. The ocean and sky were beautiful. I haven’t checked on my shoes yet though I bet that is why all of my still unwashed luggage stinks.

  12. Two races stand out. One was the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon, running my first and only full while Hurricane Sandy was blowing in to DC. The 13 hour car ride home 12 hours later (flights cancelled) was fun too. The second was the Get Lucky Half Marathon in Chicago in March of 2013. I know what Adrienne means about sleet exfoliant!

  13. Woot woot! We did some epic shit this past weekend!!
    Top 3 worst weather races in order of the suck:
    2012 Poconos Marathon: it was 87 degrees when I crossed the finish line. Listening to the sirens for all the ambulances was frightening. No amount of ice down my sports bra helped. But, I did it!
    2016 Maine Coast Marathon in a nor’easter with much more driving rain and stronger winds than the Cape Cod Half. I ran it with my BRFs 19 year old daughter and it was her first marathon. It was my first 39.3 challenge and my absolute favorite race!
    2918 Cape Cod Half: see race condition in Adrienne’s post. Loved cheering on all the BAMRs and took Justin’s advise and smiled the whole time. I actually laughed when conditions got so bad that I wasn’t sure I was moving forward, lol!

  14. I remember running what we call “The Gettysburg Beer Runners Almost Half” on February 2nd in a snow storm – by the end of the 12.75 run, we were running through 5 inches of snow. But it was SO MUCH FUN!!! And we ended at a Pub with beer… and hot spiked cider.

  15. Some of my best trail runs with friends were in conditions that would keep the faint at heart in bed and at home. But they are etched in my memory never to be forgotten. These were “no t-shirt, no medal, no crowd” runs up and down local mountains in the area. “Training runs” to be specific. I think one was 11 miles and one was close to 16…but I loved every minute and every mile. No bad a** here, as I hate that reference. But the runs made me strong physically and mentally.

  16. There is something epic about running in sh!tty weather! I swear with each race you get more confident and your smile is bigger in every “after” photo. So much fun following along.

  17. You and Marianne were awesome! Thank you over and over for the encouragement and selfless dedication to helping this flailing, wet, cold and whiney mother runner!!

  18. One of the things that will stay with me is seeing you so happy and at peace out on the course. I couldn’t get to the start line; seeing you so happy comforted me. Congratulations on your epic run!

  19. Congrats. I ran that race last year and it is an awesome coarse. Did you know they closed the road at the beach later that day? I do think running with someone helps. That being said I am not sure whether i would have run or not on Saturday. Having a friend there probablybwould have tipped the scales but knowing I am slow and it would have taken me 3 hours was something to consider. I was cheering everyone on. Went out to Davisville road for a while but needed to leave sooner than expected as my son set anPR that day and finished in 2:01:33!

  20. Wow! Way to keep positive about your sick experience! I ran Boston this year (enough said….) and around mile, I’d say, ONE, I was soaked and had to embrace the same sick! Once you get past it though, you can really turn your experience into something positive! And yes, I share the same badass feeling that you had! I just didn’t get the exfoliating!! Congrats on your epic experience!!

  21. So glad you got some exfoliation! Haha. You were awesome out there! I was one of those loonies cheering and it was so fun and honestly brought me to tears many times seeing all you BAMRs out there kicking so much ass. I ran in a nor’easter last fall and wish I could’ve done it again this time but just didn’t want to risk aggravating this niggle I’ve had in my groin for a few weeks. But I can totally relate to what you said about “embracing the suck” and kind of getting used to it once you’re soaked. Congratulations on your race! It was so awesome to hang with you this weekend!!

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