Monday, May 7, 2018

Race Recap: 2018 Providence Half Marathon

Let me just start by saying "What a weekend!"

I won't get into the details, but it was a 72-hour whirlwind of events. 

On Sunday morning (race day) my husband and I woke up at 5:30 am to get ready. Breakfast for me was a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice (also known as "zumos", a habit we picked up from our time in Valencia, Spain last year), an English muffin with peanut butter, and a mug of coffee. I had laid out everything I needed the night before, so other than making breakfast and filling water bottles, there wasn't too much thought involved in the morning's routine. 

We were in the car and on our way by 6:00 am, and we made it to Providence a little after 7:00 am. I had opted for race-day check-in and was very glad I did (it meant I didn't have to try and manage driving to and from Providence the day before the race). Check-in was smooth and we were on our way to the start line before 7:30, so we got a chance to watch the marathon start. 

I squeezed a quick warm-up in between my trip(s) to the port-a-potty, drank my Generation UCAN, and sipped some Nuun from my water bottle. I was a little nervous, but also felt very ready for the race. 

A few minutes before the start gun, I waded into the start corral and found the 2:00 pacer. He said his plan was to start out fast to build a bit of a buffer (his rationale was that the course got difficult at the end), and then slow down a little bit. 

This sounded like a solid plan to me, and when the start gun went off, we set out at a blazing pace. And then we found out that the pacer's pace watch wasn't tracking our GPS signal. We dialed the pace back a little bit once we passed the first mile marker in 8:45. Oops. 

Miles 2-6 were also held at a steady 9:00 pace, and when I came up to my first water station, I walked while I drank (I tried to run while drinking and ended up with Nuun up my left nostril), and the 2:00 pace group got a bit ahead of me. I kept them in my sights until mile 8, but didn't catch back up. I walked this water station too, and picked the pace back up. I still had the 2:00 pace group in sight, but they were getting on ahead of me and I couldn't quite reel them back in.

There were a series of rolling hills from miles 8-12, and while the climbs were fine, the descents were terrifying. My hamstrings were shaking and I felt that if I tried to run any faster I'd end up rolling down the hills. Another water stop at mile 11 meant I could no longer easily see the 2:00 pace group. I knew I could potentially catch up, but after mile 12 my legs were shaking even on flat ground. I was still running a 9:15-9:20 pace, but I knew that my 2:00 time goal was no longer possible. I didn't have any strength left to push it on the final mile. 

I crossed the finish line in 2:01:53, about 4 minutes faster than my previous (and only other) half marathon finish time. After I crossed the finish line, I met up with my husband (the best cheering squad I could ever have asked for) and we walked around downtown Providence so I could stretch out and cool down. The city is so cool -- plenty of amazing old architecture to look at. 

Standing in front of city hall

Overall, the course was amazing, and while there wasn't a lot of crowd support (only two or three really decent cheering spots -- the rest of the crowds seemed to be people who lived in the area, and were cheering from their front porches), the volunteers were incredible and so supportive. The aid stations were abundant and perfectly placed (about every 2-3 miles), and very well-stocked. Every station had water and Nuun, and there were four or five stations (as I can recall) that had bananas, GU, and Clif Blocks available. As I said earlier, I used Generation UCAN and didn't need any extra nutrition. However, I LOVED that Nuun was available for hydration. It's what I train with, so I was happy with the consistency. 

As far as swag, the medal was incredibly nice. It's a very heavy and well-crafted wedge-shaped medal that fits together with the other medals from the Rhode Races series (not happening this year for me, but it will definitely be a future goal for me to complete the series). The goody bag at registration included a high-quality race-and-gender-specific t-shirt that I'll be wearing as a good luck charm for my upcoming pharmacology final, and a couple fun samples. I didn't partake in the post-race food or beer (I'm not usually hungry after a long run), so I can't speak to the quality of that. 

Love this medal, and the blue/yellow color scheme

The bottom line? I'm a little bummed I didn't meet my time goal, but very happy with my huge PR. I had a great time at the race, and will definitely be either at Providence or another one of Rhode Race's half marathons next year. 

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