What a fun weekend!
For the most part, I am a lone weekend warrior when it comes to running and racing, but when I get to combine those moments with friends, I find them most rewarding and memorable. Quite frankly, if it was up to me, I would convert all my friends into runners! Worry not if you don’t run, I’ll still hang out!
Anyway, when we saw a Groupon for $30 for the Jamestown half marathon in the Newport, RI area, a few of my friends and I jumped right on it. Of course little research was done until we realized not only is this race starting at 6:30 AM but it’s also one of the hilliest courses in the region that is still a road race. Great way to try your first half marathon!
So with some planning, we got two nights of hotel in the most luxury level of Ramada Inn. Yuck! But we needed a place to sleep and not spend a small fortune so we put up with the outdated tiny beds and the lack of lighting in the room. We should be sleeping anyways come darkness.
The drive from Boston to Newport was anything but fast, I don’t know what happened, but the highways were backed up all the way to my house. We did eventually make it to the expo, if you can call it that, and picked up the bibs and numbers.
The expo consisted of number pick up tables and a small area with some clearance items and socks for sale. The swag? Was a large sized gender men’s tech shirts that barely had any effort in them. They had some cute baby blue shirts next to them, but those you either had to buy or be part of the triple crown. The triple crown consists of Providence, Jamestown and Newport half marathon. Since I’ve already run the other two, I contemplating doing Newport for the heck of it all. We’ll see.
Anyways, after number pick up, we had dinner and went straight to bed in our luxury accommodations. Despite the tiny bed, I slept quite well. While I wasn’t thrilled about a 5AM wake up call, I didn’t feel completely miserable either. By 5:30 we were all out the door and getting ready to drive to Newport Grand Slots, a casino whose parking lot was hosting the shuttles and parking.
The race organizers kept repeating that we might not start on time unless we get on a 6AM shuttle to Jamestown. What we didn’t expect was that it would take about 25 minutes to get on a shuttle because there was a severe lack of buses to take us runners over. You know, if I’m standing on a line, I might as well pass a bathroom, except those were on a separate long line that we decided to skip and just wait on the shuttle line instead.
Since the line was barely moving, we decided it was perfect time to take some photos! Not pictured is our friend Kerwin who although was not running probably ended up walking 13 miles on his own since he woke up same time as us.
Once on the bus, the ride was about 10 minutes as well got to watch a beautiful sunrise.
There was about 2,000 runners and for the most part, the porta potty lines were fairly short. I did appreciate the race announcer mentioning that the start is 5-10 minutes late; giving me just enough time to do a pitstop.
Afterwards it’s kiss Tony goodbye, good luck to the friends and dart my way to the start of the group.
The race start had no real corral system. Up in the front, I saw a 1:30 pacer chatting with a 2:00 pacer. However, I’m not sure if it was because a few people were still waiting for shuttles or what, but even with 2,000 runners, I didn’t feel too crowded.
For the first two miles I ran with the 1:30 pace group until the hills started to roll. That’s when I told myself to stop being stupid and to slow down to my own pace. It wasn’t the fastest, and I started to get passed by a lot of men, but it felt a lot better than trying to keep up with the lead pack.
By 6:40 am, the weather was already 65 and it felt humid and sunny to me. Luckily on the course we did hit a lot of nice patches on shade. At times, I did go outside the cones when I saw no incoming traffic because quite frankly I rather run a longer distance with shade, then be exposed to the sunlight.
As you can see from the map, the course goes around the island with lots of rolling hills to keep your heart rate racing. For the first time in a while, I was actually feeling awesome during the race and ended up focusing on running instead of photographs.
I do remember that the hill at mile 5-6 got the best of me and I had to take a short walk break. My calves were burning!
I think I’m trying to run away from this sweat shirtless dude?
As difficult as hills may be, I really do enjoy the hillier courses. Going up might really suck, but I love passing others on the down side of the hill.
For a while, I was worried the course was short. My garmin was always about .07 of a mile shorter than the mile marker. Clearly, it stopped being an issue when the final mile refused to end and Garmy clocked me in at 13.18 miles. 1:37:18, not a PR, but I was very excited by my time with how the weather was and the rolling hills.
Overall, I feel pretty happy with my race strategy and results. I wanted to reach 1:40 with a plan that my second half of the race would be a bit slower with the heat. However, I was lucky enough to be able to hold onto my pace despite the feel of the hills. I think trying to be more realistic about my goal pace and running a little slower than I normally would for the first half helped me a lot in keeping up with my pace.
After crossing the finish line, I tried to get an icepack for my tendon but the chemical ice wouldn’t get cold enough so I just gave up and went to go cheer on my friends.
I loved watching all my friends sprint to the finish line. Unfortunately everyone was running so fast that my IPhone wasn’t fast enough to get photos.
At the finish line they had some bread rolls from a local bakery, cliff bars, water and Gatorade. Enough to get you by, but not a breakfast replacement.
The shuttles to get you back to your car however were not pleasant.
After watching everyone finish the race, we took ourselves to the long unshaded shuttle line where we stood for about 30 minutes. Sweating, hungry, dehydrated but proud and excited with our accomplishments for the day.
My friends app showed that I was 3rd place in my age group so I went by the prize packs to see if I would get anything fun. Turns out that because the first two ladies were overall winners, I was actually first in my age group and I got a pretty awesome prize box!
These are the contents of my race pack that I won. I’m very excited for the car cover seat! Tony doesn’t like it when I get my sweat all over our glamorous Prius. Although I really wish I could
The box is really cool though and will now be where I store all my Gus at home.
Total Time 1:37:18
Average Pace 7:26
Division Place 3/324
Gender Place 9/984
Overall Place 70/1632
First place woman ran the course in 1:19 and finished second place overall! Feeling very proud of the fast ladies on the course!
Scenic Course – Really beautiful course
Hills – If you love running on rolling hills, this is a fun one
Free photos – I get to share some of these thanks to TomTom sponsoring the race course photos. Always cool!
Roads Not closed – They use a cone system to give runners a shoulder of the road, but this barely fit anyone single file. Furthermore, I heard from friends that it was hard to pass anyone or speed up because if you got out of the cone area, the cops were yelling at the runners. I didn’t have this issue in the front, but I wasn’t passing too many people either.
Last Mile Might be long – I don’t know if it’s true, but my Garmin and a few others clocked in the final 1.1 miles at 1.3 and that’s within the cone space.
Shuttles – Terrible, the stress of getting to the starting line and the annoyance of waiting for 35 minutes to get back to your car.
Hills – If you don’t like running hilly courses, this might not be for you
No Post Race Hang out area- Unlike other races, there’s not really a great hang out vibe. You grab you banana, some cliff bars and get in line to wait for the shuttle.
Although I’m listing a lot more cons than pros, I think the scenic course really makes up for all the shuttle and cheapness of race organizers issues. Had I paid the full price, I probably would be annoyed at how cheap everything felt, but for the price we all paid, I really can’t complain. It was a blast and great morning run while in Newport.