Sunday, October 11, 2015

Newport Half Marathon race report

Good morning Newport, Rhode Island!!!

Woke up this morning with the same stiffness in my leg... boo. But it was a GLORIOUS morning for a run. 

I ate my roll and drank some water and then we walked the couple of hundred yards to Easton's Beach. The organization of this race was pretty good for a smallish event; packet pickup was offered two days ahead of time, and they had plenty of volunteers helping. We even got small goody bags, including, oddly, a can of fizzy water. (Which I Very Happily guzzled.)

One other nice piece of organization... Look at that giant row of porta-potties, gleaming in the morning sun. Seriously -- this race had TONS of porta-potties. (See? I couldn't even get them all into the picture.)

Because we were staying so close, we arrived about 15 minutes before the start.  (Thank you, Sea Whale Motel, for being so perfect!) We made our way to the start...

Found a little space for ourselves, listened to the national anthem. (A recording? No local singers to take it on?)...

Then a very quick obligatory pre-race photo...

And we ran. Up the biggest hill of the course. I already felt like I was dragging my right leg, but we somehow held on to a 10:05 per mile pace for the first two uphill miles. Crazy!

We ran up the hill on Memorial Drive, past the entrance to the Cliff Walk (the site of my self-induced, clumsy misery!), and into town, running past the awesome bar we had popped into yesterday, avoiding the cobbled, touristy part of town. 

Then out past a marina and, eventually, onto Ocean Drive, which was breathtaking. 

We were so lucky with the weather -- it was sunny but not hot, and there wasn't even any breeze. Perfect running weather!! 

I was feeling less lucky with my leg. In trying not to hurt my inner thigh (or whatever muscle that is!), I must have been doing something pretty stupid to my Achilles' tendon. (It's several hours after the race and it's still swollen and weirdly colored and very tender to the touch. Boo.)

So in the midst of all the pretty, something ugly had happened to my leg. And I simply couldn't run on it. 

Sadly, Wil was feeling great, and I felt (feel!) bad about slowing him down. And slow him down I did, as my quick limp dropped us from 10:20 (after the initial miles) down to 14:22s. 

Luckily, the course stayed pretty, as we turned into the main "mansion district", including two quick peeks at the Cliff Walk... or entrances to it, anyway. 

I love how this shot looks like we'll be running into the sea.

We also passed in front of The Breakers, where there was a water station set up... and some anxious-looking staff standing outside the gate. 

One amusement: we were passing through a quiet area on the course when a runner passed us. And trumpeted out a couple of very loud, enthusiastic farts. I looked at Wil, wondering if *he* had been the guilty party, but he just smiled, which sent me into silent giggles. 

Wil said, "See the pleasure that you got from that? And that you would have me deprive your fellow runners of?"

(And, well, farts *are* funny...)

Eventually we made the turn back onto Memorial Drive and headed down the hill. I tested a tiny little run.... nope. It was strange to be walking against the stream of people -- finishers and their friends -- walking up the hill. Very few people cheered or offered encouragement. I tried to paste a grin on my face -- may have had a whiff of the rictus to it -- and just kept moving. 

When we reached the bottom of the hill and turned into the beach walkway, pride overcame pain and I managed to hobble across the line with Wil's help in 2:46:48. 

It has been a long time since I have felt quite so back of the pack, but I will say that the support (water stops, road crossings) was still excellent. 

We picked up a bottle of water, our handsome finisher's medal, and some decent post-race food (hooray for vegetarian lentil soup!) before going back to the hotel to shower and head out. 

All in all a nice race:

- the sights on the course. Okay, we didn't love the big hill at the start (or finish), but I liked running through town, along Ocean Drive, and past the mansions
- the candy stop along the way! Always great to take candy from strangers
- handsome, quality race shirts
- a very handsome, big honkin' medal

the colored lighthouse and sails are "stained glass" - very pretty!
Tiny room for improvement:
- the bibs were personalized, but the print was small and there wasn't enough contrast in the ink colors to make it legible

The one thing I really didn't like:
- not to get all personal, but I didn't like the announcer. She seemed a little dismissive of slower runners (aka, the bulk of the participants). "If you're walk in', stay outta the way" can be much better stated (and more helpfully stated...) as "If you're walking, stay to the right."

(Also, she was giddy that someone came "all the way from JERSEY" to run... Not noticing that we were from Seattle. But that's neither here nor there...)

But -- and this is the most important part: I ran a half marathon in STATE #33 today!!!

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