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

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