If you love hills and/or a challenge, the Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon is for you!
Hubby and I signed up for this race at the urging of a close friend (who ironically, didn’t run it!). I love inaugural races, and this one promised lots of swag, a scenic course, and free beer at the finish!
The Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon took place on Sunday, June 14. We started our trip on Saturday morning — Plymouth, MA is about a 3 hour drive from our hometown of Albany, NY, and wanted to have plenty of time?for packet pickup and to check out the area.
We immediately went to Marathon Sports to get packet pickup out of the way. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. We picked up our bibs and swag (a glass beer stein and technical t-shirt), and took advantage of the 20% discount offered to runners. I bought a beautiful North Face gym bag (which I plan to have embroidered with my Hesitant Runner logo), and hubby picked up a new pair of sneaks and a few pairs of shorts that were on clearance.
When we inquired about local eateries, they recommended the New World Tavern?in downtown Plymouth,?one of their local “pub run” locations. A great meal, beer (hubby) and Bloody Mary (me) later, we were full and happy.?Since we were already downtown, we decided to walk around for a bit, and stumbled on the famous Plymouth Rock.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it was a bit of a let down! We continued walking along the shore, and over a long rock bridge, where hubby snapped some amazing photos. Unfortunately I was wearing sandals and was a bit buzzed from my Bloody Mary, which made navigating the bridge a challenge!
We checked into our hotel, then walked the mile back to the downtown area to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring. It was amazing to experience a slice of American history and we pondered what it might have looked like when the pilgrims first landed. After visiting many monuments and gift shops, we had a leisurely dinner and drinks at the East Bay Grille?before heading back to hotel to rest.
I should mention here that while we normally do have a drink the night before a race (hubby has a beer, I have a Bloody Mary — I like to think the sodium helps :-)), we were both using the Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon as a training run, and weren’t overly concerned with what we ate and drank. This was especially true for me, as I had been nursing a sore throat and cough for several days (which later turned out to be Strep Throat!)
The Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon starts and finishes at the Mayflower Brewery, about a mile and a half from our hotel. Race start was at 7:30 am, so hubby and I headed over at 6:30 to make sure we had plenty of time. The brewery was located in an industrial park, which offered plenty of parking, and we had no trouble getting to the start with plenty of time to spare.
There were plenty of porta potties, and I was able to grab a bottle of water to carry, which I had forgotten to bring with me. My sore throat had forced me to drink more than my usual water intake the previous few days (and I need work on my hydration regardless), so I was very grateful for those potties!
Runners lined up at the start line by pace markers. I left hubby at the 8 minute pace mark and proceeded back to the 11 minute sign. I was hoping to beat my Steel Rail time, but my main goal was to finish without injury! I overheard someone stating that he had driven the course the day before, and advised his friends to start out slow, because the second half was very hilly.
A recording of the national anthem played, and we were off. What I thought were just nerves turned out to be a solid need to hit the porta potty, and after a brief internal struggle, I veered off the course just after crossing the starting mat to use one. I was truly at the back of the pack at this point!
For an inaugural race, it was extremely well organized. The course was well marked with spray paint and signage, and there were water stations at least every mile. There were porta potties at several of the mile markers (which unfortunately I needed to take advantage of a few more times). My one complaint was they really could have used more course marshals, as the majority of the race was on public roads that were not closed to traffic. There was one area in particular that we needed to cross the street, and I had to stop for a car weaving between the runners because I had no where to go.
As warned, the first 5 miles were relatively flat. ?I felt great until we reached Plymouth Rock, then my throat became more sore and the hills began. If this were a training run, I truly would have quit at mile 6. I was determined to finish, even if that meant walking, and pretty much spent the rest of the race walking up the hills and jogging down them. The scenic views, beautiful neighborhoods and friendly supporters offering their sprinklers for a refreshing cool down kept me going.
One of the best parts about the back of the pack is the camaraderie. ?I love chatting with fellow runners, cheering them on, and receiving a “you can do it” when I need it the most.
I crossed the finish line 20 minutes later than I had hoped to (thanks to walking and the porta potty stops), but did it! Unfortunately, we had a tight deadline to get back home to relieve our babysitter, so there wasn’t much time to take in the post-race festivities (hubby did have time to indulge in the free beer, which he enjoyed!). ?We managed to sneak in a trip to the brewery gift shop, and picked up a couple of items to add to our at-home bar collection:
Would I run the Mayflower Brewing Half Marathon again? Absolutely! I’m curious to know how well I would have done if I had been feeling better. I truly loved the course (I actually DO like hills), and would have liked to have stayed to enjoy the post-race party longer.?With a fairly non-competitive field of 2,000 runners, it was a small-town race in a historical setting with all the perks of a major race.