NH half marathon

NH half marathon

First off, why run a half-marathon 3 weeks before my goal race [MCM]? It was cheap [$48.70 total]. I had to run 10-14 miles according to my training plan. I like getting tech shirts and race medals.  The big question was: Do I run or race it?


On race morning (Saturday, October 3, 2015), my alarm went off at 5am and I found it easy to get up.  I had all my things laid out and ready.  I was not sure how cold it would be so I put on a light long sleeve shirt, but took a short sleeve and arm sleeves just in case. I decided to try a different breakfast (bagel with PB) since I needed to practice for MCM, since I cannot make my typical (oatmeal with chocolate, almond butter, seeds) at the hotel. We left home at 6am and I ate at 6:30. We arrived at the middle school around 7:15. Packet pickup was at 7:30, but we were able to go right in and get mine in the NMMS Cafeteria.

The Half Marathon started out past Sculptured Rocks in Hebron.  I got on a school bus at 7:45 which shuttled runners out to the start.  I sat with a high school soccer coach who graduated from college in 2014 and lived in Dover, NH. It was her first half marathon and we chatted much of the way. They offered a baggage check to half marathoners, which was nice, since I wanted to keep my hat and gloves with me.  We left our belongings in our LABELED runner’s bag on the bus that dropped us off at the start. All bags were brought back to where we checked in and were available for us to pick up in the Middle School Cafeteria.  Near the start, there were 8 porta-potties and a small table with some food. I quickly went to the bathroom since there were no lines. [I think we were the first bus.] Then, I went to stand by the side of the road in the sun. I talked with the girl from the bus as well as an older man from PA whose goal was to do 13-14 half-marathons this year.

Our bibs had a timing chip which tracked all runners finish time as we crossed the finish line mat, but the start time was off of the gun as they did not have start mats down. At 9:00am, the gun went off and I started in the middle of the pack. At the start, I was still not sure whether I would be running or racing, but at the 1 mile marker, I realized I was racing when I saw my pace was 9:05. There were water stops every few miles but these did not coincide with my nutrition plan which was every 3 miles, I would take a gel. I took 3 of my 4 gels and stopped at 3 of the 4 water stops. I ran the entire way except for slowing down to get cups at the aid stations. I really liked the point-to-point course and the beautiful views of the lake and countryside. I did not stop to take any pictures, but others did.

I felt strong and did not feel as though I was pushing myself. The hills were there, but mostly in the first half, although there was one last one with about 2 miles remaining. I tried to push up the hills at a consistent pace and crest the top before settling into my typical pace. This seemed to work for me because I often passed folks on the hills.

In the end, I pushed it across the finish line, with the thought that I definitely had PRd, but what I did not realize was that my previous best was 2:06:17 – not 2:07:??.  I achieved the same pace as Wallis Sands [9:39].


109  12/33   F4049 2:06:20  9:39 Sandra Muldowney        44 F   558 Merrimack NH 



TD Beach to Beacon – Not just another race!

TD Beach to Beacon – Not just another race!

TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K ROAD RACE – Cape Elizabeth, Maine  – August 1st, 2015

The excitement about this race really started on the day registration opened -March 13, 2015. I remember having the webpage open and ready for registration.  I was so nervous since I knew that it was extremely challenging to get in and there was no room for clumsy fingers when entering in personal information into the many fields. My heart was racing and I was wondering how Sarah, my bestie, was fairing at her house – doing the same thing.  The good news is – we both got in through the regular registration. This year, 4,000 runners registered in a record-setting time – 4:15. The 1,950 remaining bibs were made available through the lottery.

Sarah and I went to the 2015 Expo and packet pick-up at Cape Elizabeth High School on Friday after we checked into our hotel in South Portland. It was bigger than most I’ve been to and had some nice samples. Bib pick-up was easy in one gym and then we moved into a different gym which had many vendors. This is where we got our tech t-shirts as well as a surprise [$10 gift card to Olympia Sports]! We left the Expo and headed back to the hotel to pickup our families and head to the kid’s race at Fort Williams.


dinner since we everyone was hungry and we wanted it to be an early night. We enjoyed dinner at Sebago Brewing Company near our hotel [Courtyard Portland Airport] and then hung out in Sarah’s room for a bit while the kids watched the premiere of The Descendants!

On Saturday morning, we met at 5:45 and headed out to find coffee before going to one of the parking lots with shuttles. We decided that the Hannaford Corporate building was close and easy to get to and were on the second bus.  Soon after boarding the bus and leaving, I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses in the car. The ride to the start line was about 30-40 minutes. I can’t remember exactly. Once we arrived, there were table with sunscreen, bug spray, free chapstick, water, gatorade, and DDs coffee. It was a great setup on a closed street and there were 1000s of people milling around. The porta-potties were organized like I have never seen before with 4 facing the street and the next 4 facing a grassy area and so forth. There were short lines on both sides, which was awesome.


We did a 10 minute run/walk warm up on an intersecting road which felt good, although I was already very warm. It was 70* and sunny at the start and the race announcer kept reminding us to hydrate.  It took about 8 minutes after the horn sounded for us to cross the start line.  My plan was to walk through each aid station in order to stay hydrated, which worked great for me. I smiled the whole way and loved when spectators cheered for us, called our names, or commented on our matching outfits. One of my favorite sights was the American flag hanging from two fire truck ladders across main street.



The spectators at this race were by far the best I have ever seen! They lined most of streets except for the first 1/2-3/4 mile. They came out with pots/pans and wooden spoons, signs, bells, and there was even a guy playing his guitar and signing in her front lawn. One house was cooking bacon in the front yard. I’m not sure how that was supposed to motivate people to continue running. I smiled the whole way – as you can see by this photo taken by the course photographers. [There were many others like this one.]



Some of my favorites were taken at the finish line.

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This is a race worth doing if you can get in! I am so grateful that I was able to share this experience with my best friend.


6009 425/479  F4044 1:17:34 12:29 1:24:23  Sandra Muldowney          44 F   2100 Merrimack NH



Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Date: Thursday, June 11th

Start Time: 6:30pm

This was my 3rd time running the Hollis Fast 5K. The 2 previous years, it was cloudy and drizzly, but this year, it was sunny and 82*.  I decided to run it with my bestie, Sarah. I was not racing because I had just completed the Newport 10 miler and I wanted to help her achieve a PR (which she did). My daughter and Sarah’s two children also ran along with some friends. We all split up at the start with Sarah and I running together, the 3 older kids together, and the 2 younger kids with “the dad.”  My husband and Sarah’s husband went directly to the finish lie to wait for us.



We decided to wear matching outfits [kind of] – again another part of the tradition, which started last year with the black/pink tutus. I didn’t see photographers along the course or else I would have smiled for the camera.  We ran until almost 2.5 miles and then walked for a bit until we stopped to walk again around mile 3.  

We finished strong and ran across the finish line together, although Sarah did beat me. She saw the photographer and ran towards him, while I was running on her right side and got blocked by other runners.


Once we finished, we waited for the rest of the crew. Here is my daughter crossing the finish line.


Here we are outside Alpine Grove where they had the after party – cookies, fruit, and yogurt. We headed to Bertucci’s for dinner [another tradition].


I hope we can continue to run this race together. It is always a good time.

1019  59/118  F4044   SANDRA MULDOWNEY     44 F    95   30:13.3  9:45 30:50.49       10:23 
Newport 10 miler

Newport 10 miler

6/7/15 – Newport, RI


Travel: We spent the night in Somerset, MA at my parents house where we left our sleeping daughter at 5:05am and headed out. We stopped to pick up breakfast at Dunkin Donuts in Newport before making our way to Fort Adams.

Logistics: We arrived at 6am and there were very few cars parked along the fields. There were volunteers directing us. Parking was free. Bib pick-up was inside the fort and was quick. No ID required. We received a small bag [KIND bar, small can of Polar seltzer, Bondiband], t-shirt [cotton], and bib. Very little was set up inside the fort at this early hour.

Pre-race:  There was very little fan-fare. There were some port-a-potties outside the fort as well as real bathrooms in the guest center. We just milled around and I met up with Barbara, a fellow runner who is doing the AMR #findyourstrong marathon challenge with me.

Start: We lined up in the parking lot near the Guest Center and there were no corrals. There was a small timing mat – no arch -that the large group had to maneuver through and over. There was no national anthem [that I can remember] and then there was a gun start.


Course: The first 3/4 mile was within Fort Adams State Park and was very slow with 2110 runners all packed into the narrow road. We ran on Ocean Drive from mile two through six, which I loved before turning onto Bellevue Avenue for one mile. We ran past many of Newport’s world famous mansions, before taking a left turn and heading back through more residential neighborhoods towards the park. 


Finish:  We finished inside the walls of the fort.   The finish line was deceiving because I thought it was just inside the fort once we went through the tunnel/wall. Once inside, I realized that I still had to run around part of the inside of the fort. Unfortunately, I started to pick up my pace too early and was not prepared to have to continue running.



Post-race: There was fruit, bagels, candy, water, and KIND bars. I was surprised that you only got water as you crossed the finish line and did not find anything else to drink, except some samples and the beer tent. We did not stick around for the beer since the line was huge and Brian would not be able to get in.



results:  Time: 1:33:52 | Pace: undefined | Overall Place: 824/2110

highlights: This was probably the most beautiful course I have ever run. It was all very familiar and I enjoyed all the memories I recalled of fun family times. This was a very cheap race – only costing $40.

lowlights: I wish they had more options for drinks at the finish line. I wish the finish line was where I thought it was going to be. I wish the t-shirts were tech shirts.

Family 5K

Family 5K

18th Annual Runner’s Alley/Redhook Memorial 5k Road Race 

May 24th, 2015 @ 11:00AM

Redhook Brewery, Portsmouth, N.H.


Everything about this race was smooth. It was easy to get to and there was plenty of parking in a nearby office complex, which was an easy walk across the street to the brewery, where the port-a-pots were as well as bib/shirt pick-up. Everything was very organized and there were few lines at bib pick-up. There were plenty of port-a-potties in the parking lot of the brewery with short quick moving lines with volunteers directing folks to which one was open. We each received a short sleeve Redhook 5K New Balance Tech tee because we were in the first 1500 people registered. We had plenty of time to mill around before the race started just outside the brewery in what seemed like an industrial area, with many large businesses and closed streets, which were in great condition.


 Our last minute plan was that I would run with Brenna, while Brian would race.  We started in the middle of the pack, but Brian moved ahead.  Brenna was ready with her Gatorade chews, Monster headphones and phone in her side pant pockets.  We made it about .3 miles before Brenna complained about her headphones, which left me carrying them the rest of the way. Our first mile was good. There was no complaining and very little walking. The next two miles were a bit slower with walk breaks due to Brenna’s ankle hurting her as well as a side stitch. I encouraged her the whole way and it was an overall positive experience.


At the finish, she decided to take off so she would beat me. She ran to the right around some people and I ran to the left. I think she won, but the finish times have us finishing at the same time.

1624  27/49   F0112   41:06   40:29  13:02 Brenna Muldowney       11 F  1532 Merrimack NH
1626 211/274  F4049   41:06   40:29  13:02 Sandra Muldowney       44 F  1534 Merrimack NH 

They had the best post-race food ever – jambalaya rice with chicken, cold/hot pastas, pizza, bread, cheese sandwiches, desserts, Stonyfield yogurt, beer, water. There was also a live band and lots of green grass for folks to spread out and enjoy the warm sunny day.  There were lots of things about this race that would bring me back. What a fun family 5K.




Wallis Sands Half-Marathon

Wallis Sands Half-Marathon

May 17, 2015

The day was finally here. This was my goal race for 2015 and one I had trained diligently for using a plan created for me by my running coach, Angela [Happy Fit Mama]. My goal was a lofty one: 2:00 [which would be a 10 minute PR]. Everything would have to be just perfect for this to happen and I would have to really push myself.  The week leading up to the race was quite busy at work. My last long run on Mother’s Day was awful – 90* and lots of chaffing. My 5 mile tempo on Wednesday was equally hard, although I was indoors and chose different bottoms to run in and I could only do one mile at close [9:13] to my goal half-marathon pace [9:10]. I woke up on Thursday with a bad sore throat which continued through race day as well as sneezing, runny nose, and generally tired. I hydrated and slept pretty well on the days/nights leading up to the race.

On race morning, I woke up at 4:45, took a quick shower and got dressed.  I made peanut butter toast for breakfast to have while on the road and left home at 5:30 with a very tired little girl and a patient and support husband. After a quick stop at DDs, we drove straight to the coast and arrived in Rye about 1 hour later. There was plenty of parking in the Wallis Sands parking lot and bib and shirt pickup were easy.  It was very foggy, humid, and chilly 52* and visibility was quite low.


We waited in the car for a while and I made quite a few pit stops. At 7:45, we prepared for the race to start. There were 6 waves and I started in Wave 3 at 8:10. I liked the wave starts 5 minutes apart.  The horn went off and so did I feeling pretty good, dressed comfortably, and aware of my goal.

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I carried my hand held water bottle, but had issues opening it, which caused me to slow down to attempt to grab a cup of water at the first aid station. A quick note on the aid stations: this race had some of the best aid stations of any race I have done. They had enthusiastic volunteers, some of which dressed in costumes, who cheered, and had fun signs.  It was great having my name printed on my bib, so complete strangers could encourage me to keep going.  The sun popped out at mile 5.5, but luckily we had turned inland where the country roads were lined with trees because I had no sunglasses or sunscreen.  I had 3 sport beans at mile 4.5 and then two more times about 2 miles apart and I took small sips of water at approximately each mile. I started feeling nauseous at about mile 8 and had some nagging pulling sensation on my right hamstring [which I have had before].

I liked running on the path by Odiorne Point State Park and then coming back out onto 1A South.  I got my final push of energy when I saw the ocean and was focused on how much I like the beach and could not wait to put my feet in the 49* ocean water.  Mentally and physically I felt better towards the end of my race and my last two miles were faster than my previous eight miles, which included four miles at 10:00+ pace/mile.  The finish was slight downhill and I remember sprinting as I high fived a guy wearing a Six03 shirt before I made the sharp left turn onto the grass and into the final chute. This was tricky as the turn required shifting from pavement, to gravel, to grass beside the restrooms at Wallis Sands Beach.  I was given a choice of water or Gatorade as I crossed the finish line as well as was handed a beautiful medal.



There were multiple photographers on the course and I tried smiling and fixing my belt each time I saw one of them. Here are a few of their photos.

race_1167_photo_18139798 race_1167_photo_18143655 race_1167_photo_18141531


Here are my stats:

2:06:17.1 – average pace – 9:39/mile  –  overall place 451/807 – division place 65/109