Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rhode Island Triple Crown - Part One - Providence

Drew looking SO excited to be driving to Providence at 6 am on a Sunday

Ready to run!

Post Race: We did it! Can't you just see our excitement (or maybe exhaustion is a better word)? 

The great thing about space blankets - they double as stretching blankets!

Conclusion: Definitely not real silver.
PR! My very basic watch was pretty accurate - official time 2:03:21

Delicious post-race bagels

Pretty elaborate medal for a half! 
On Sunday morning we set out for Providence, RI around 6:00 am. Breakfast consisted of toast and peanut butter followed by half a bagel and coffee from Dunkin Donuts. We picked up another racer in Quincy and made it to the start area in downtown Providence around 7:30 am. Just enough time to check our bags and stand in line for a last minute port-o-potty break.

The Providence Marathon had started at 7:30 so the start area wasn't too crowded and we were easily able to line up towards the middle of the pack (mile time signs were a little close together for the number of people at the start so we were actually right next to the "walkers" sign).

Drew and I had planned to start slow, and I'd say we did a pretty good job sticking to the plan. Turns out there was a surprise hill at Mile 1 so a slower start was much appreciated. Overall the course was much hillier than anticipated, and not the steep short hills, but the long, slow, steep inclines that seem to NEVER END.

The course was very well marked and headed southwest (?) from Providence through some nice neighborhoods and into Pawtucket, RI (home of the Pawtucket Red Sox!). There weren't too many fans along the way but it was almost perfect conditions for running (65 degrees and overcast for most of the way). I decided at the last minute not to wear a hat however the sun began to beat down quite a bit in the second half of the race and I wish I had a hat on to limit the amount of squinting I ended up doing. 

Drew and I maintained a comfortable pace for the first 7 miles. There was a nice long stretch where the leaders were running in the opposite direction which was exciting to see (although a bit disheartening as they were ~ 3 miles ahead and it was only 50 minutes into the race). The water stations were pretty spread out (I think every 2 miles, or maybe every 1 and I just imagined the distance to be longer between them), but they had both water and Gatorade. I began dumping 1/2 cup of water on my head after mile 5 which felt great!

After mile 7 there was a long, slow incline that lasted all the way to mile 8. I put my head down and felt pretty good throughout. I decided to see if I could pick up my pace a little in hopes of finishing as close to 2 hrs as I could. I don't remember much about the last 5 miles of the race but overall I remember feeling pretty good. There were a few more sections through neighborhoods, a nice stretch by the river where I spotted my favorite sign of the race ("Worst parade ever" on a scrap piece of cardboard - so funny in the moment). There was quite a steep downhill at mile 10 but other than that the course remained relatively flat/downhill miles 8 - 11.

After one last uphill at mile 11 the course connected back with a segment I had already run so I knew the end was near. Also at this point the full marathoners (who were finishing ~2:30) rejoined the course. There's nothing like getting passed by full marathons in the last mile of a race realizing that "hey, these guys are almost TWICE as fast as I am, and have run TWICE as much as I have. Awesome.". At mile 12 I checked my watch and realized if I wanted to finish under 2 hrs I would have to run a 7 minute mile to the finish (which was just not going to happen at this point). I kept my pace pretty even through the homestretch and really enjoyed coming into downtown Providence feeling strong and in a limited amount of discomfort. I crossed the finish in 2:03:23 according to my ultra-high-tech Timex (ha.), with official time being 2:03:21 (not too bad Timex, not too bad). 

I graciously accepted a space blanket, finisher's medal, and water bottle upon finishing and waited for Drew who came in at an impressive 2:11. Post race food options included pizza (not quite what I was craving at that moment), bagels (yes please!), bananas, Chobani yogurt, and Gatorade. We snagged some delicious treats and took some obligatory post race photos (see above). After meeting up with our friend Adrienne we headed back to the car and set off towards home!

All in all it was a very successful day and my training definitely paid off as I finished under my goal of 2:10, picking up a half marathon PR by 9 minutes! After I got home I searched through Vermont City Marathon results archives and found all my previous Half Marathon times (see below). In retrospect I was pretty under trained for most of them as I don't think I ran over 10 miles during my training for those races.  Lesson learned. More training miles = felt much better throughout this race than previous halfs, AND ran much faster overall.
Vermont City Marathon (half marathon) 2006: 2:30
Vermont City Marathon  (half marathon) 2009: 2:12
Vermont City Marathon  (half marathon) 2011: 2:17

United Healthcare Providence Half Marathon: 2:03:21

Next up is the Vermont City Marathon on May 27. The goal is to improve my time from Sunday, and hopefully come in under 2 hours. However, it will all depend on race day conditions and making sure my legs are fully rested going into race weekend. I am really looking forward to running a more familiar course and excited for the larger fan presence in Burlington than we had last weekend. Countdown is on!

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