Monday, June 12, 2017

Many Waterford Hills, Part Three

Last week, I returned to my quest of running all of the hills in my town.

The previous week had been something of a bust. I was extraordinarily busy at work, and except for one small run, I did not have time to hit the roads. Such is life.

Last Monday it was 53 degrees an raining. Typical Monday. 
Perfect for running two of the tough hills in town. I tackled Valley Rd Hill first (which my biking husband says is a "category three climb" whatever that means...) And my second hill was Plummer Hill which was steep. Like stairs. 

Valley Hill and Plummer Hill

It was not good photo weather and all of my photography skills went to waste. *sarcasm* It really was pouring down rain!! And I know everyone reads this blog for the AMAZING photos so I really dropped the ball... 

I did manage to take a pic of a pretty stream, so there's that. 

Such *skill* with an iPhone camera
I returned to my car sopping dripping drenched. 
Better cold and damp than boiling hot and sweaty though!!

On Wednesday I tackled Rice Rd/Hill with the intention of hitting the summit and then running back the same way, giving me time to hit another hill. 

That plan went to shit when I saw a BEAR. While he scampered quickly away, banging and crashing through the underbrush, there was NO way that I was running back towards him. 
So on I went. Mildly terrified. 

Even though I felt alarmed by my bear sighting, I still managed to have a pleasant excursion. 
It was very pretty, in that Maine Landscape kind of way that I seem to like so much!

Yes, this is lovely
I saw some cows too, who were super nice, but very very buggy. 

Happy cows
Also, more streams. The wet spring has made for some gloriously babbling brooks. 

Mini waterfall
The whole run ended up being Rice Hill via Brown Hill down Valley Hill and concluding with a trip back up lower Rice Rd.


Eric joined me on Friday for the trek up (what we refer to as) Pietree Hill. While this is part of Sweden Road, Pietree Orchard is at the summit, and referencing a map has done nothing to help me to determine the name of said hill. So Pietree Hill it is. 

While relatively short, this was (at this point) the trickiest run of the week. It is a long hill, and has some extremely steep portions.

Good gravy... The whole thing is a "steep portion."
So yes. Steep shit. 
It was also rather humid, and despite the air temp only being 63 we both felt warm. 

Hot and sweaty Bradlowski's
We took a couple quick pics to prove that we were there, and then we sprinted back down. Sprinting back down such a steep hill results in some terror, so we do not advise this method. 

The view from Pietree Orchard. It's easier get there via car. 
Saturday took me up and over Blackguard road, over what has been determined to be "The back of Beech Hill". 
I felt some confusion about what hill I actually ran. This was due to an randomly named farm (when you live on Beech Hill, and name your farm "Thunder Hill", it is quite charming but mostly confusing.) 
The there was a teensy sign that said "Strawberry Hill" which I believe I passed over a potion of.
However, I sought expert advice on the matter and thus, Beech Hill it is. 

This run was a BEAST. JESUS H WARD.

I'm still crying
It went up for 3 plus miles and was really quite difficult. Big Big long hill. FML.
Paved road gave way to dirt road, which eventually changed to an ATV trail that meandered through the middle of nowhere. NOWHERE. 

Zero cell service. I recommend bringing a friend for this run. 
(as a general rule I do feel safe in my town. I carry mace, a (useless) phone and I ALWAYS tell people where I am going and when I will be back.) That being said, I am a woman of the 2017's and feel much safer when I have access to my phone. If for no other reason than being able to call for a ride if I get sick of running!

The good news is that my camera still worked so there will be no shortage of "field and hill in the summer" photos ;-)
You will be able to see the weather change over the course of this run though. Very sunny to start, as seen below. 

I believe we are looking up Beech Hill
The trails were in good shape considering the wet spring, and made for some enjoyable "trail" running. This is about as "trail" as I like my runs to get! (especially when my phone isn't working and I can not call 911 if I trip on a rock, and break my face open.)

An extra well maintained stretch of trail
The downhill portion of the adventure was quite pleasant, although warm. It was the first day of "hot" weather, and was humid and about 75. 

While I never felt like I was at the very peak of a hill, I still saw some nice views.
And increasing clouds, as I got closer to the finish.

I'll never get sick of field/mountain. You guys probably are though.
This run logged the most impressive amount of elevation for the week. While 1200' isn't a lot to a seasoned mountain runner, it is for me (as I am a little pavement princess!!)

I was not planning to run at all on Sunday. It was forecasted to be 90 (and it was) and I have no need to run loads of miles right now. Especially not in the disgusting heat. 

However, I felt like having a little hike and I chose to make it a hobby jog.

Moving away from "field/hill" into "woods/lake"
Just a little jaunt up Hawk Mt again, it was beautiful and breezy at the summit!

Basically a recovery run!

A good week of running, with a lot of fun adventures and a few more hills now checked off the list.
The next week will be a big challenge with temps soaring into the 90's, and a multi day horse show. We shall see how it goes.

Weekly Stats:
Mileage: 28.5
Feet of climbing: 3,855 ft
Most feet of climbing in one run: 1,239 ft, Blackguard rd "Beech Hill"
Hilliest MILE!!: 305, same run. Lots in the mid 200's though. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

ALL the Waterford Hills, Part Two

I had an amazing week of adventuring!!

As much as I love marathon training, this is probably my favorite kind of running. 
I LOVE to see my town (and surrounding areas) without the confines of mile repeats. I love to see new places and to see the TOP of places that I already know. I like the challenge of running straight up. (go figure. it is inexplicable.) (and, as it turns out, I prefer my hills to be paved!)

Anyways, on to the gritty details of the week of climbing. 

Hill #1
Monday was a cold and rainy day. 
I concluded that a run over Mill Hill, with a side trip to the Hawk Mt trailhead (to scope it out) was in order. 

Mill Hill, in and of itself it a bit of a brute. (and, is another hill that the crazy Mt Washington racers seek out. And no, I am not running Mt Washington. I have always thought it would be a poor choice but maybe next year I will reconsider....)

Due to the weather the view, although still nice, was limited. 
Typical apple trees, fog, Mt Tir'em in the distance and Keoka lake (the lake is there... you just can not see it!!)

This run was a pretty solid workout. Wow! Especially with the side trip up Hawk Mt access road.

And yes, my GPS went insane. 

I was very happy with this run, and quite soaked upon my arrival home. 

Hill (mountain) #2

I bit the bullet, knowing the trail itself was only .75 mile, and made the climb. 

Maybe a bad idea...? 
The trail, while slightly more treacherous than a paved road, was absolutely manageable. It was a wide, and very passable road with some loose rocks that might merit attention. Other than that, it was a doable trail run for a road running princess such as myself. 

Also, not so steep as to cause immediate death. 
PLUS, a pokestop at the top!!

The infamous Strava screenshot. #proof

But honestly, the trail was pleasant and would have been even nicer, had I been walking with a basket of snacks and beers to enjoy at the top. But, if you decide to run up a small mountain, this is the one to do. Short, sweet and great views. 

I paused for a few photos at the top, since it is not every day that I run up a mountain. 

Basically a cliff. And I am scared of cliffs. 
The views were just amazing. And the bugs were terrible. 

This was a very enjoyable experience, and a route that I plan to do again. 

Hill #3
Deer Hill 

As promised on Temple Hill day last week, Deer Hill was in order for this weeks excursions.

Deer Hill goes over a pretty substantial bump, which takes a person all the way to Harrison. The steep portion on the hill measures just over 1.5 miles long, which is no joke. 
To this point (insert ominous music here) this was my most challenging run of the week. 


The weather was yucky, another 52 degree rainy day. Not really too bad for running but quite bad for my top of the hill photo op.... 
Believe it or not, this photo is looking at exactly the point I was on, on Temple Hill the previous week. You can't really tell but trust me.... Stupid clouds. 

On Deer Hill, looking at Temple Hill
And as I said, this hill will fuck you up.
(and cyclists take note, the road is about to undergo resurfacing and is in horrible condition!!)
This was my first time making the Harrison to Waterford climb on this hill and it was fine, and I made it, and it wasn't horrible. BUT IT WAS HARD. 
Luckily, I was in a good mood, and was in no hurry, so I looked at all the blast zones for the upcoming roadwork, and enjoyed my time. 

Hill #4:
Mt Tir'em

I was not planning to do both of Waterford's "mountains"in one week, but as luck would have it, that is how it worked out.

I ran to the "trail head" of Mt Tir'em, which must be almost impossible to find if you do not know the area.
On my way there, I took a quick pic of Keoka lake will Mill Hill looming in the distance. Gahd, so pretty. I will say it again, I am a sucker for a perfect view.

My town is perfect this time of year. NOT so much in January. 
Since I know exactly where the trail begins, I got off to a good start. (which did not last for more that .10 mile!)

Compared to Hawk Mountain, Tir'em was difficult to run. While Hawk was essentially a rocky road to the summit, Tir'em was a windy, rooty, very steep, rocky, mostly single track path.

I have walked this trail several times with no difficulty, but running (with the mass quantity of very slick leaves) was a whole different kettle of fish. I will admit, there were some moments that I chose to walk, as falling down was not in my plans.
It was also effing steep and, no lie, running up some of that crap was just not gonna happen.

Another day, another mountain
I did make it though! .75 miles after heading straight uphill, I came to the top (as one does) and I took a few minutes to appreciate the view.

I have to wonder if that is the same lake from my Hawk Mt climb- I think it is!!
I have been on top of Tir'em several times, but I took a few moments to walk around and check things out. I always like the large cave like stones, which I remember climbing on when I was quite a bit younger!

Pretty cool, huge rocks. 
I noticed a trail leading down the "back side" of the mountain, I have never gone down that way but would be curious about its destination. (but not curious enough to check it out on that day!)

Running down was scary for me. I am certainly not a serious trail runner! I shuffled down tentatively, and I think my decent took longer than my climb. Yikes!!

Yeah good lord, NOT FLAT.
So yeah! That was my week. Lots of fun stuff.
I actually have to do some investigation of which Waterford Hills I am going to miss if I don't pay attention. I have a few lined up for the coming week, and hopefully we get some nice days for me to tackle them on...!

Weekly Stats:
Mileage: 26.6
Feet of climbing: 3,034 ft
Most feet of climbing in one run: 884 ft, Mt Tir'em
Hilliest MILE!!: 379 ft, Mt Ti'rem (but Deer Hill was CLOSE, at 316 ft!) 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Every Hill in Waterford: Part One

I am a strange woman.

Once my marathon season is done, I like nothing more than to spend my running time having adventures and climbing (small) mountains. 

If I was a good blogger I would try to dish out wise advice about how to run hills well. My honest, and *educated* words on the topic are probably not helpful! 
In order to run hills "well" you need to get the hell out and do it, know that you will not be running your 5k pace, you need to enjoy the view, look at the birds, and just enjoy yourself. I know that I do. 

I'm trying to run up every hill in my town during the next month or so. At the rate I am going, I will finish well before then! 

Here is my progress thus far, complete with poor photos and Strava screen shots. 
(such a poor quality blog. but at least I don't try to sell you inside tracker or isagenix...)

Hill Climb number one!!
As it turned out, this run also marked my triumphant return to running after Providence. 
Baker hill requires a decent effort, but a smaller hill leading to it gives you a reasonable warm up.
(or preps you for the cardiac arrest that you are about to have.)

Well.... There's always the downhill!!

Once to the top, you are greeted by a very typical Waterford scene. Apple trees, pastoral fields, and rolling hills. (It never gets old, I am such a sucker for a good view!!) 

Really pretty. 
Hill Climb number TWO!!
Bitch Hill (which all of you are sick and tired of) but BACKWARDS!

As you can see, hitting this up from the backside ups the intensity level by about 100%.
Fun fact: this is a hill that people seek out when training for the Mt Washington road race, as the incline is (at times) equally taxing. It's like a stair climber. 
(another fun fact: few people actually choose to run this hill.)

That hill IS as bad as it looks
Anyway, Eric and I both ran up it because we are crazy. 
And there is NO better view. Hello. I live in a gorgeous fucking place. 

OMG. Bitch hill is a gorgeous lady. 

Hill Climb THREE!!
I had a nice time running up and back over Temple Hill. (my idea of having a good time is questionable, but whatever. I honestly find this fun!)

Right. So this was my biggest climb all week and certainly took a good effort.

Good lord, that is a huge hill. 

I was rewarded with views of Deer Hill, which is on the list of hills to climb (by the time I publish this, I expect that run will have been completed.

Standing on top of Temple Hill, looking over to Deer Hill.
Being a smart person, I congratulated myself for all this climbing with a delicious beer. 
(Bissell's Angels with filthy souls, at Novare.)

Not a beer for hot weather. And, the weather was not hot!
And I made some fabulous kale and basil pesto to toss directly in my mouth. (well... on some pasta....) MMM.

So green and fantastic!
Weekly stats:
Mileage: 17.1
Feet of climbing: 1,721
Most feet of climbing in one run: Temple Hill, 624 ft
Best beer??? Yep, that Bissell wins!!
Best occurrence while running: When a kid in a yard said "WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?" and I said, Zombies. Because, duh. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Life updates from a non running week!

....And thus concludes the first "zero" week of 2017......
Knowing me, it will not be the last!

Recovery from Providence went smoothly, and by Wednesday I was tempted to begin a little slow running, but I kicked that idea to the curb. I just completed a big training block with TWO marathons, thus earning a break from the road. 

I have mentioned in the past, and notice again, that recovering from a marathon is faster and easier when I keep the time slower than a 3:3x:00 pace. 
Duh? No kidding Captain Obvious?

Anyway. I took the recovery week rather seriously and ran not one step. As a rule, this is my go to plan after a big race. After Hartford I basically took a couple months off because I was toast, but I don't plan to do that this time. 

Also, I cooked a lot last week which was excellent. So many good things. Profiteroles. Chocolate chip cookie bars. Shrimp Scampi. Muesli. LORD!! So much deliciousness. When I run zero miles I certainly have more time for things like baking. 

These profiteroles were amazing. Ugly, but amazing!

I also drank some excellent beer. Since the weather has continued to act like March, I have been enjoying dark, thick brews. MMMMMM. 

An excellent beer for a cold day
OH! The most exciting event from last week is that the snowbank almost vanished! (it is gone now!)

5/4, the final day of the snowbank

In other news.....
In between Boston and Providence I found out that I have a uterine fibroid. 
This was surprising to me, because up until April 20th I had no idea that such a thing existed. 
I had a bit of testing done to make sure that the diagnosis was correct, and that we were not dealing with something sinister. Thankfully, fibroid seems to be the final answer. 

As weird as it is to have something unexpected growing inside me, this is not a medical crisis. I was actually hesitant to mention it, but my blog is an honest reflection of my life, and this is something that I am dealing with at the moment. 

If you want to have a gross out moment, google Pedunculated Fibroid. 
They are yucky and creepy and, as it turns out, mine is large. The size of a big navel orange to be specific. (9 cm) I am a small person, so this sucker is pretty significant. 

Now. Lest we think that I am literally the most oblivious person out there, walking around not knowing I have an extra friend inside of me, let me clarify. 

I did not think there was anything wrong with my female parts. And I certainly had no idea that I had grown a Big Friendly Tumor. I DID think that I was having GI issues, and that the pelvic pressure and feeling of bloating were related to stomach stuff. I planned to see my PCP in May, but my GYN appointment happened to come along first. And boom, diagnosis. (slightly thankful to have avoided a trendy food sensitivity ;-)) (more glad that it's a big friendly tumor, not a small malicious one.) 

So. The plan is to wait and see what it does in the next few months. I'll get a follow up ultrasound in August and go from there. 
(FYI, I don't plan to give weekly fibroid updates but I would be happy to share more if anyone is having a similar experience and is curious about what the process has been like for me.)

So that's about it for the time being. Today I am going to head out for a short run, and then maybe hit some roads I haven't seen in a while later in the week. And, summer is coming with temps looking to hit 80 on Thursday! (we are going to get heat stroke!) 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Providence Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the Providence marathon.
While this might seem out of the blue, it was something I signed up for months ago. Not only would this be a good opportunity to cross a RI marathon off the list, but also a good chance to visit my cousin who lives in the area. I DO enjoy a good family visit after all! 

My original plan was to have an excellent Boston race, fluff around for a couple weeks and then have a very casual (4+ hour) Providence. While I don't mind piggy backing an extra "long run" (aka second "race") onto the end of a training cycle, it is never my intent to run "fast" at race number two.

After Boston I returned to good form almost at once. I proceeded with caution, as 26.2 is 26.2, no matter how you creep your way to the finish! However, within days it was clear that I was in good health, and the idea began to form that a faster than planned Providence might be in the cards. 

As mentioned, the weather after Boston has continued on in a downright dreary manner. I think we have had a total of 3 nice days. 

Saturday was another crap day, rain and temps in the low 50's. 
After Eric's tri (more on that later this week in my weekly wrap up) we headed to RI, and saw the first peek of sun.

The sunniest day all week.... UGH!!
We spent about 5 seconds picking up my race bib. The expo was extremely underwhelming (which, after dropping cash in at the Boston expo was probably a good thing for my master card!) 
Since RI is more or less a "local" race for me, the very small town feel was not upsetting. I expected something along the lines of Hartford perhaps, but this race felt much smaller. 
(side note: Providence had 1121 marathon finishers, Hartford had 1818. Honestly, not a huge difference! Somehow, Hartford felt like a much "bigger deal.")

By the time we arrived at Jenny and Peter's in Kingston (that's my cousin and her boyfriend) we had seen many types of weather.
-Pouring and 50
-almost sunny
-70 and windy in Providence
-.....and then a return to the low 50's and cloudy.
We did score a sweet rainbow though, which was excellent. 

We spent the evening eating great food, admiring Jen and Peter's lovely new home, meeting their new puppy, and forming a plan for the next day. 
Knowing that it was going to be an early day, we played the part of "terrible house guests" by going to bed early and demanding very fussy extra care. Typical! Divas!! 

I slept well and awoke refreshed and glad to see sun, and a cool day. It was about 50, with expected temps reaching a high of about 64 degrees. While still somewhat warmer than most days here, 64 seemed much more reasonable then the heat wave of Boston. Plus, there would be wind and with the 7:30 start, hopefully at least an hour of temps in the mid 50's. We made a big mess in Jenny's kitchen and hit the road bright and early. 

We easily made it to the city, found parking, did some last minute things (like pee 56 times) and then made the one second trip to the start line. 
The good thing about small races: they are very simple to navigate. 

All bundled up at the start. 
It was cool and windy at the start, but after milling around for a little while I decided to remove all my extra layers and just get on with things. This was a good choice, as the sun was pretty intense from the beginning. 

About to start!!
The race began right on time, which is not something I had expected. It seems that most years, this race gets off to a pretty late start. I was glad we got going, I was hoping to finish before lunch time :-)

The first few miles were very straightforward, as we ran out of the city. Somewhat reminiscent of Hartford, with a bit of twisting and turning throughout the city streets. 

Fairly quickly, around mile two or so a series of hills began. The first one was of a decent size, and was not something I looked forward to facing on the way back (as it turns out- the route was slightly different and while part of that hill was seen on the return trip, not all of it was! We ran up a slightly different road, I was not heartbroken.) 
Then, it was up and over an overpass which I knew would be an inevitable on the return trip. This was also a very windy area. Gross. 

A pretty major downhill led us into mile 3, through what I would call a small industrial park, and then up a very lengthy hill towards the beginning of the bike path (which we did not follow at this time) and a park. 

Unfortunately, at that point I was in dire need of a potty break and chose to wait for a porta potty to become available. I managed the vast majority of my recent training with no real GI drama, so I was not excited to be having an issue so early on. I assumed that it would be a one and done deal, so, (watching the 3:45 pace group run past) I waited my turn, did by business, and carried on. 
Two minute break.... Nothing you can do sometimes!!

The next 8 miles were AMAZINGLY unremarkable. We ran on a main road, through some towns which were pretty unexciting. However, one town was called Bullocks which I found amusing, having worked with a British woman for many years who regularly said "Bullocks" as a cuss word. I was like "BULLOCKS!! Bwahahaha" You had to be there. 

Unfortunately, from mile 6-11 my belly was all in a snit. I managed to keep a pretty consistent pace but I was becoming a little paranoid that my day was going to go right down the crapper really fast. 
One of my goals for this run was to remain positive. Boston was a grouchy race for me, and bad attitude once a year is all I get. So positive it was. Fucking majestic. 
So, despite the upheaval of my GI system, and my inability to consume food or fluids, I actually maintained a pretty positive state. Really. 

Along with another woman, I almost was struck my a car. My running mate was FURIOUS and slapped both hands down on the hood "ARE YOUR EYES EVEN OPEN???!!!!!" she screamed, in a rage. Not only was this rather surprising, but it took my mind off my troubles for a minute. 
And made me feel positive about being alive. (which I always am, btw)

Is this my "positive state face?" That is upsetting. 

Luckily, at mile 11 a portable potty appeared. *****praise the race gods***** I was about to poop on some woman's tulips, no lie. 
So, in I went, and 90 seconds later, I was out the door. 
phew, disaster averted.
*****praise the race gods AGAIN!!!******

Mile 11-24 were as good as I could have hoped for. 
My legs felt excellent.
I stopped needing to crap my pants. 
And, pleasantly, the surroundings became more interesting. 

We enjoyed a nice stretch of road by a country club right on the ocean. Not only was this a lovely area, but there was some pretty amazing real estate that was fun to look at. 

From mile 14-16 there was a terrific tail wind, and some nice shade.  I was having a great time. Listening to some tunes... Having some little snacks.... Enjoying a nice Sunday run. What more could a person want during a race, right? 

Around mile 20 things became a bit warm, but compared to Boston it was still very tolerable. I could tell that my lack of food and water during the first half was beginning to take a toll, but I did everything I could to maintain a rhythm of sipping and snacking. 
I also saw two swans which was amazing. I yelled "HELLO SWANS" at them, as one does. 

Right on cue, at mile 21 the hills began once again. "There are THREE of these" a runner near me said in dismay. "GROSS" I replied. 
Actually, at that time I was feeling great. I was up and over hill #1 in no time. (I believe that was "Fort Hill" but don't quote me on that.)

At mile 22 I saw Jenny, Peter and their tiny dog Mari who came to cheer me on! I was happy to feel perky enough to give them a good wave, instead of my lackluster grimace that my Boston spectating team got. 

Right after I saw them, the second big hill arrived  I thought for a moment about fast walking up it, but decided to keep my no-walking streak alive. 

Then.... It was onto the windy overpass. This was where (as seems to be the norm with me) I hit the "I am done now" wall. Luckily, there were only about 2 miles to go, and even though the wall hit me hard and fast, I knew I could finish. 

Jen and Peter were there again at mile 24.5, a place in the course with some of the worst headwinds! I believe I said "and NOW I am TIRED" but I can't be sure... because I was getting a little weird at that point. Luckily, they had seen me earlier in a less sucky state. 

I look little weird, but that's cool
Then there were these horrible fucking cobblestones that almost killed me. 
Yeah. This was treacherous. 

Who thought this was a good idea????
And then.... Eric and the finish were in sight!! 

Excited. TO BE DONE.
I ran to victory!!! Or a 3:45:22 which is close enough to victory to make me happy. 

UGH, uphill finish.
A helpful stranger took my finishing photo.

Rhode Island, check. 
I was pretty wiped, and foolishly tipped an entire bottle of water straight down my throat. I also tried to eat part of an orange but it wasn't long before I knew they were going to make a swift return trip. 
Gross. I dry heaved like a velociraptor for like, an hour, and it was dumb.
But then I was fine!! #runnersissues

I must admit, I'm pleased with this race. Some small issues but a solid effort, happy legs, and a time which that I would have been happy with in Boston. 

I have never done a training plan, tapered, "raced", faffed about for a couple weeks and then tried to run well again. I wasn't sure how it would go. This plan is not going to be my go to, but given the circumstances I feel that it was a good move, and that I did well. 
Minus the yakking I felt pretty decent post race, and wasn't really too sore at all in the following days. I notice that I only really ruin myself at Boston (no matter how fast or slow I am) and when I run in the low 3:30's. That shit kills me!

So that's it for the Spring marathon season. I am currently on a little break but plan to hobby jog a little here and there during the next 10 days or so.

Oh! And since Providence was my official race for Rhode Island, here are my pros and cons:

-Lots of empty portable potties at start
-Easy to find parking, and at $15 per day it is affordable
-Small expo, no need to spend money
-The middle of the course is fast, flat and shady on a sunny day
-Miles 13-20 are mostly pleasant surroundings (bike path, golf course, lighthouse, swans)
-Plenty of water stops
-Easy to find start line, and prompt, on time start
-Not terribly expensive

-Not enough portable potties on course
-Relatively hilly first 3.5 and final 3.5 miles
-The first half of the course is pretty boring and kind of ugly
-Small expo, if this is a destination race it would be very disappointing
-Cobblestones trying to kill you
-Long stretches of quiet road (I like this, not everyone does)
-Average medal
-Ridiculously poor "swag bag" (it's like a paper sack of samples, oh well!) 
-Lots of vehicular traffic on course, not always controlled