City: Newport, RI Date: 10/13/2013
Distance: Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
Weather: A bit chilly at start, but overall a beautiful day
Course: Relatively flat and scenic seaside town of Newport, RI
Summary: One of my all-time favorites… gorgeous route and nice terrain
I guess I’m just a sea-side girl. All of my favorite races tend to be the ones near the coast. The Rock and Roll Virginia Beach; San Francisco First Half and San Francisco Second Half; the TCS Annapolis Half Marathon; the Hilton Head Island Half Marathon, the Rock and Roll Savannah Half. While none of these races were really “flat”, they were all pretty and I could smell the salty air. Something about salty air… All but the San Francisco races were pretty small, too, and that probably has something to do with my love of them. This race actually had me running along the beach and being hit with sea spray – you can’t beat that.
Here is another race I did on the recommendation from a good running friend of mine who spoke highly of it. She offered me a place to stay and drive me around. Her husband also planned to run the race (she had a full marathon the next week, so she wasn’t able to run it). This was a Sunday race, so I had to ninja it a little; I flew up on Saturday morning and left Sunday night so nobody had to take off time from work. My friend is from Newport; grew up there. So, when they came to pick me up from the airport, we got our packets, and then she drove me around the route and show me the town. I’m so glad she did! The history lesson I got from her during that tour was something I kept in my mind throughout the race and something I’ll always remember.
After the tour, we had some dinner, went back to their house, chatted a bit, and then I headed off to bed.
I was told the rooster *may* wake me up, but I didn’t want to rely on him, so I set my alarm. My friends live on a farm in rural Rhode Island, but considering the overall size of Rhode Island, it doesn’t take long to get from one side to the other. I woke up, got dressed and made my way downstairs to make some eggs my friend left out for me. She and her husband were already up and taking care of the Alpacas and the Llama. I ate my food, checked/double-checked and triple checked everything (except for my race bib) and packed up while they got ready for the race. In true mother-like fashion, my friend asked “does everybody have everything? bibs?” doh. I almost left my bib on the kitchen counter. This post would have had a much different tone in that case…
After checking everything again, we hopped in the car and headed to the race. Like me (and my other friends before), they also like to arrive early to races. Since she knew the layout of the town – and used to live a couple of blocks from the start – she found a decent parking space that we didn’t have to pay for and didn’t require a bus and was about 1/2 a mile from start. Absolute perfection! We got out of the car and I really tried to leave my bib AGAIN – luckily, I remembered it this time and pinned it on so I didn’t make that mistake again. We headed to the Start and huddled into the tent for a while. It was in the upper 40s or so at start, but because it was expected to be a really nice and warm day, I decided to wear short sleeves and my arm warmers. Still too cold!
Around the time for start, her husband and I filed in to the start chute and waited for it to start… Like the Martian, this was a pretty small race, so there weren’t blocked off corrals and everyone pretty much self regulated. The half and the full started at the same time, so there were signs where some of the pacers lined up, which made it easy to self-corral. I was ready to start! 7:20… 7:25… 7:30… came and went and finally an announcement: we have to wait for 10 more minutes for another bus (collective groan). I was cold and ready to go. We finally got the last bus unloaded and we were off.
I did listen to music for part of this race, but I couldn’t tell you what I listened to. I wasn’t paying attention to the music. I ended up catching up to her husband (sort of – he didn’t know I was right behind him) and I kept up with him for about 3 miles or so until I got to a point where he was just too fast for me. After that, I just hung back and enjoyed the run. I was looking at the scenery and thinking about the stories my friend told me along the route. The Ida Lewis (now Yacht club) who was the first female lighthouse keeper; Jackie O’s house (long before she was a Kennedy or an O); the story of the guy who won the lotto on a whim while buying rainbow sherbet, but still lives in the same place; the residential areas, including older beach cabanas and houses that have been there for generations; a sign for an actual Dog and Pony Show show that made me giggle for a while because I have an inside joke with one of my friends about a “dog and pony show” and I thought about how I couldn’t wait to tell him about it so we could get a good giggle from it (which we did).
The highlight of the race for me, however, was from Brenton Point (around mile 5). This was the ocean part of the race and it was wonderful. A bit breezy, but I loved it. I got a little sea spray, too. It was awesome. I was feeling OK, but I thought it might be a good idea to take a GU, so I had one (and, fared much better than I did in the San Francisco Second Half just a few months before). Around the tip, we turned up Ocean Avenue to continue along the ocean, and finally back into town past the mansions of Bellevue Avenue, including Marble House and Rosecliff – which was Jay Gatsby’s house in the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby. Ironically, I had just re-read the book and re-watched the film a couple of months before this trip, so the story was still very fresh in my mind.
Once we got past the mansions, though, we went back into the residential areas and I saw the stop sign my friend said would be my indicator of “you only have a mile left”. Truthfully, I was a bit disappointed it was almost over. We rounded the corner and I saw the hill I had to descend to return back to the finish and I flew down it. She also told me that the finish “chute” was loooonnnnggg and you’ll think “where is the finish line??” She was right about that, too. It felt like I was running in that “chute” for about the entire last mile!
I did finish, though, at just over 1:53. My goal was under 1:55, so I did better than I expected.
After finish, we went to the food tent for some NE Red Chowdah (which was wicked awesome, though, I avoided the pasta and just ate the beans) and some pizza (which I ate after the race – and had less trouble digesting).
Small races recommended by friends have been some of my favorites. This race makes the 4th recommended race I’ve done with a friend and I loved all four of them.