With the Boston Marathon only two days away, it was only natural that I’d be back to my roots in the Northeast already. Although I’ve generally tended to spend three or four days in Boston prior to the race in years past, this year I decided to do something different. Instead of another (albeit fantastic) run along the Charles River the weekend before, I’d find myself a nice half marathon to run. Lo and behold, my new friends from Rhode Races were hosting a marathon, half and 5K in Newport, RI. Since I was flying into Providence, clearly this was meant to be!
Growing up in CT, I was very familiar with Newport. I’d taken school trips to be awed by the mansions on the cliffs, but that was well before my running days. As soon as I saw half marathon and Newport together, I knew this would be a beautiful course. I also knew it wasn’t going to be flat. I wasn’t concerned though: Especially with the main event just 48 hours later, I certainly wasn’t going to be aiming for a PR here. This would be a beautiful run, and although I’d still give myself a solid workout, I was quite content with the prospect of 13.1 miles of leisurely Newport scenery. Since my legs are conditioned enough to run these distances on a whim, I didn’t worry about it affecting my performance in Boston.
While I had gotten myself squared away at packet pickup the evening before the race (and they even had Thursday pickup in nearby Providence), my friend was driving down from Boston for the race. She was part of the 1K Run Club group that had made the trip up from Miami to cheer everyone on. How awesome is that? Well, there were so many runners that hadn’t made it out to the early packet pickup, that she and several others ended up getting a bit of a late start after finally getting their own bibs. One of those late starts even leap-frogged me in the results, starting well after I did, but still finishing with a faster time.
It was cold on race morning; exactly the kind of weather I love to hate. I dreaded stripping down to my race clothes, but I knew once I’d started moving I’d be fine. Besides, it would be a bit of conditioning for the rapidly worsening Boston forecast! Speaking of Boston, I was really pumped to meet a bunch of runners from Boston College! I wasn’t exactly a serious runner during my time there, but it was quite cool to meet some fellow Eagles who share my newly rediscovered passion for running.
Sure enough, once we started running, I warmed up pretty quick. Since we started at the beach near the historic cliff walk … there really was no place to go but up! That uphill definitely got the heart pounding! I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy course, but it was totally worth it. We raced through the streets of Newport, passing some incredible sights along the way. As we approached the halfway point we hit some of the most spectacular views of this course: Brenton Point and along Ocean. Wow! Such spectacular scenery! Seeing the waves break along the beach below as we ran by was phenomenal Later on we were wowed some more: Newport is known for its Gilded Age mansions, and we raced right by many of them. Finally we turned back towards the beach. It was time to run back down that hill we’d labored up earlier, and that provided a great kick all the way across the finish. Mission accomplished!
It was hard work, so no qualms about inhaling some pizza and other traditional post race grub. On the topic of rewards, the finishers medal here was actually quite cool, especially when viewed as part of the bigger picture that it is. While the piece of pizza shaped medal is nice on its own, especially with the translucent green contrasting the metal itself… it also nested some subtle magnets. Those in the area who complete the whole Rhode Races series end up with one serious piece of bling at the end of the year as all of these fit into place together! If I lived a little closer, I’d probably have to go for that myself.
Like life, running isn’t always easy. But its always worth it, and if you put the work it, you reap the rewards! Another fantastic half marathon in the books. Next stop: Boston