• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #6: Alton Bay


I think they let me win

When our eldest was born in January 2008, I was at my heaviest, well over 220 lbs on a 5'6" frame. It was obvious that I needed to make some changes if I wanted to be around for my family. So I adjusted my diet and put on some sneakers. At first, I couldn't run a half-mile without stopping. Then I was running a little over a mile, pushing the stroller to Bobby's day care at Appleseeds in Exeter. Then I was up to two miles, then to three. The pounds started to come off. In May of 2009 we did the Bobcat Bolt 10k in Durham and I started to contemplate a half-marathon. I'd watched Sarah run the Big Lake Half Marathon in Alton Bay a few times, and agreed to sign up for the one on May 8, 2010.

We trained, doing long runs through the back roads of Hampton Falls and Exeter and Stratham all winter and spring. When race day came it was cold and rainy, but Sarah and Melissa Kopka Carlyon were so cheerful and chatty that it was almost fun. The race course started at the local school and headed through the little downtown area then up Route 11, past the trail head for Mount Major - lots of hills, but nice views of the bay. On the way toward the finish line I had a little light cramping in my calves, but I powered through for a 1:54 time, meeting my sub-two hour goal. (8:43 pace, 201/366 men, for those who follow that stuff). It was freezing after in the rain waiting for the bus back to the start, but the sense of accomplishment was like almost nothing I'd felt before. I'd gotten my sorry ass off the couch all the way to 13.1 miles, shaving off about 70 pounds in the process. I've since run a couple of other halves and even a full marathon, but that one, in that place, will always be special to me. It was a bittersweet moment, a temporary farewell to NH as we'd be leaving for Maryland in just a few short weeks. But we went out in style.

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