Although the majority of the races we sign up for these days are in a new state, when Mike suggested we run the Market Square Day 10K again in nearby Portsmouth, NH, we decided it would be a good training run at a festive event.
The morning of the race was sunny with comfortable temperatures. After a light breakfast on the porch we headed to Portsmouth.
Market Square makes a picturesque starting line.
Just under 2,000 runners finished this year’s race which travels through downtown Portsmouth and quiet neighborhoods. Enthusiastic spectators offered encouragement and welcome mistings from garden hoses along the course.
The race finishes at historic Strawbery Banke Museum. Mike and I were happy with our pace and loved the festive feel to the race. Todd and Hannah were at the finish and obligingly took our post-race photo.
We celebrated at our favorite after-run breakfast place, The Friendly Toast and then ventured into the throes of Market Square Day.
River Run Book Store offered people passing by an opportunity to win a prize if they could type a sentence correctly on this typewriter. There was no time limit and since I have had lots of practice with this type of machine (i.e. these were the norm in my childhood), I did it!
I took my ticket to the book store to claim my prize.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that my prize was this wonderful book, Wine and Dine in New Hampshire by Carla Snow.
We continued meandering down the row of vendors until my attention was caught by the Portsmouth Harbor Cruises booth. As I stood there holding my book, one of the women at the booth exclaimed, “That’s my book!”. She was the author of the book I had just won! We chatted about the cruises offered by her company and she signed my book. How serendipitous was that?
We spent some more time leisurely soaking up the music, atmosphere, and fun of Market Square Day.
We love our traveling adventures but we remembered how nice it is to run in our local races and embrace the familiar events of home.
Do you have a favorite race or local event? Would you rather try something new or stick with the familiar?
When we began our quest to run a race in every state, we had already run multiple races in New Hampshire. So as we thought about our quest, we chose the Half at the Hamptons as our official New Hampshire race. Although we have both run the race, we have never actually run it together or on the same day. I first ran it in February 2009 with Amelia when we signed up for the Will Run for Beer race series. Mike ran it the following year on his own after I was unable to run due to coming down with bronchitis/pneumonia thanks to one of my lovely (but germ-ridden) little clients.
The course is scenic and quite flat. There are stunning views on portions of the route that travel along the ocean. Runners are treated to hot soup and beer after the race. This event takes place in February, so training for it is a great way to keep running during the winter months.
Mike is finishing his Half at the Hamptons run in 2010.
Amelia and her dad after the race.
A few years ago we completed two race series in the New Hampshire Seacoast area. They were the Will Run for Beer series which always, of course, offers beer at the end of the races and the Seacoast Road Race Series. Participating in these series offered us an opportunity to run lots of new races.
These are some of the New Hampshire races that we have enjoyed over the years.
Market Square Day 10K in Portsmouth is run in conjunction with the Market Square Day Festival which is a large event in downtown Portsmouth on the second Saturday in June. The race starts in the midst of the festival in Market Square and travels through various neighborhoods. It ends at Strawbery Banke, which is an historic village museum. This is a very popular race that sells out before the race date.
Great Bay 5K is held in October in Stratham. This is a point to point race that seemed to be pretty much all down hill. We got a great long-sleeve technical t-shirt the year we ran it.
Children’s Museum 5K will be held in Dover in May. The course is somewhat hilly but includes a run across a small wooden bridge which is a fun twist. I remember a great selection of food at the end of the race, including local chowder and ice cream.
Red’s Shoe Barn 5 Mile is in April in Dover. The website describes this as a “challenging” course and I concur! There are lots of hills along the route but it does end on a long, well-deserved downhill stretch.
Runner’s Alley/Redhook 5K is a really festive, flat race that ends at the brewery with great food, live music, and Redhook beer.
Great Island 5K in New Castle is a nice race that winds around narrow seacoast streets, beginning and ending at The Great Island Common.
Margaritas 5K takes place in Exeter. One of the fun things about this race is that the year we ran it with Amelia she won a sombrero for placing in her age division. Running this race also makes it completely reasonable to drink a margarita at 10:00 on a Sunday morning at the post race Mexican event!
Fox Point Sunset 5 Mile Road Race, as the name suggests, is run in the evening in Newington. There is a big barbeque following the race. The t-shirts for this race usually have really pretty sunset-themed artwork and I’ve enjoyed the evening racing.
All of the races I’ve mentioned so far are part of one of the race series that we’ve done. However, there is another race that is not part of a series but is in a class of it’s own. The St. Charles 5K is organized by the Running Nuns of Rochester. Their website states, “We especially focus on running for children and beginners and ways running can help heal from grief, trauma and abuse as well as enhance well being and self esteem”.
We have run this race several times and find it especially poignant to see nuns running in full habits with their young running friends. We lived in Rochester where the St. Charles home is located and would often seen the nuns and children out for their daily runs.
The race is held in Newington on a very flat course. I have found the prayer that is said before the race begins particularly moving. Once you complete the race there is a big cookout and tons of food available for runners. This is definitely a race that makes you feel wonderful about the cause for which you are running.
Since we live on the border of New Hampshire, we haven’t traveled far in order to check New Hampshire off our quest list. However, we would highly recommend joining the vibrant running community here and checking out one or more of these races. But if you prefer to visit without racing, the Seacoast area of New Hampshire is lovely and offers a multitude of diversions. There are quaint towns, beaches, great dining, lots of recreational activities, theater, music, and more to enjoy.
As we travel to new states for our 50 state quest we are always amazed at how much we love exploring a new area. A trip to New Hampshire will offer you an opportunity to experience a fabulous area and perhaps it will inspire you to begin your own quest.
State: New Hampshire
Quest State #: 2
Dates Run: 2/15/09 (Karen) 2/22/10 (Mike)
The Bottom Line: The Half at the Hamptons half marathon is a great mid-winter race in a coastal setting. The Seacoast region of New Hampshire offers a multitude of other exciting, fun races throughout the year. It is a wonderful destination for recreation and running.
Experiencing the sights, sounds, and feelings of running outside is often equal to the enjoyment of the physical run. Here are some images from our runs this week.
Tuckaway Tree Farm
I couldn’t seem to stop taking pictures of the early morning sun on the foliage.
The fleeting rays of a morning sky like this will always speed me out the door to catch these colors before they vanish.
I soaked up the sights and sensations on this misty morning run.
Mike was pretty tolerant of my frequent photo stops on our long run on Saturday. I used it as an opportunity to add in some interval work as I sprinted to catch up to him.
No matter how many times I run past them, I always look forward to this part of our route.
The sight and sound of geese overhead thrills me every time.
These skies are such a gift.
Although we love our local loop, traveling to Portsmouth to run to New Castle is a favorite alternate route.
Mike took a quick detour as I continued to stop to take photos.
After our run in Portsmouth and Newcastle, Mike bought new shoes at Runner’s Alley. This store in Portsmouth provides an outstanding selection of running shoes, apparel, and gear with an unfailingly enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. I wouldn’t shop anywhere else for my running needs.
Runner’s Alley, Portsmouth, New Hampshire- Our favorite running store!
As I write this post, the rain and wind outside are undoubtedly creating a different landscape for tomorrow’s run. However, I find these changes to be one of the beauties of running in Maine.