This past weekend I had the pleasure of running the Howling Wolf Half in Stoneham, Mass. The original plan was to take a break from races for the rest of my full marathon training cycle (after finishing all the halves I had signed up for before I even had any thoughts about a full), but that quickly went out the window when an old track bud asked if I’d want to do a race with her. I’m a sucker for halves to begin with, but I absolutely can’t turn down the chance to run with a friend. Also this one was at a zoo and gave free admission as race swag!!
When I woke up race morning it was 27 degrees 😱 I hardly ever feel cold and run extremely hot when running so I honestly had no idea how to dress to be comfortable while also not getting frost bite. I ended up packing pretty much every piece of warm running gear I own (which honestly isn’t all that much) in hopes it would suffice.
I was super happy to find out the swag they gave away at registration was a winter hat (or baseball cap) and gloves so I at least had a hat now if that ended up seeming like a necessity. I found my friend and we warmed up and caught up some before the race! I wasn’t planning to go crazy, but I think between the cold and our reunion we were too exited and went out at 7:25 and 7:14 for the first two miles 😅 Once I looked at my Garmin to realize this we turned it down a notch for the next couple of miles 7:52 and 7:47.
The course is made up of two loops. One big ~4.8 mile loop and a smaller ~3.4 mile one. You go once around the big one, then the small, then back around the big. As we passed the starting area after the first big loop at around mile 5 I got rid of my outer shirt (I had ended up deciding on two long sleeves), which I had been carrying for a good amount of time by this point. Soon as I did I felt like I was flying and took off for the next two miles at 7:35 and 7:07. It was honestly so amazing! It felt effortless!
Then suddenly right around mile 7 I stopped being able to breathe. It was so weird and I don’t think it was the cold because I’ve run in it plenty and never had anything like this happen to me before. It felt like I was taking deep breaths but there was no air to actually breathe in. My breathing became super rattly and I probably sounded like I was having an asthma attack, but I tried to push through. It was also up a nice large hill so that was extra fun. I managed an 8:03 so I was happy.
My breathing went back to normal as suddenly and seeming randomly as it had stopped. I felt infinitely better, thought I wasn’t getting my effortless flow back and definitely felt the effort of running again. The next few miles were slightly more difficult just because I had to get out of the funk my lack of breathing had caused. It also didn’t help that this segment was rolling hills that I normally would have loved. Instead, I got to think about how I should like them while they slowly killed me. 💀 7:39, 7:49, 7:34, 7:45.
At mile 12 the air disappeared on me again. It was a bit less intense this time (Possibly just because it had happened before so I was less shocked and knew it would go away..?) and I was able to stay at 7:55.
I was super grateful I gained my breath back for the last mile and there were no more hills to climb. I was able to stay at 7:14 and “sprint” the last 0.1 at 5:56!
My final time was 1:39:38 for a six second PR! I also placed 1st in my age group and 10th female overall!! My friend also PRed by over a minute and got 3rd in age group!
We finished the day by checking out the zoo! 🐆🦓🦒🐻