The 2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon was held on May 4th, 2014. For the third weekend in a row I was running a back to back 5K race with a marathon or 50K race. Needless to say, it was all starting to catch up to me.
The full marathon started at 7:30AM and the half marathon at 8AM. Unlike 2013, this year my friend and I drove up the morning of the race. A 5:30AM wake up call was unpleasant, but the traffic-free drive was a lot better than the one I took mid day last year (at least as a passenger for me it was). I’m not sure what the original race registration fees were, but about a week before the race, a $25 off code was emailed out and I jumped on it Tuesday night so it was $75 for me. I can’t say no to a bargain ;). I wasn’t planning on running a marathon this weekend, but figured why not go for it.
Aside from some parking confusion (since the roads were closed around the starting area), number pick up was easy. Similarly to last year, they were out of my shirt size, so I just grabbed my bib, wished my friend running the half and bolted to the finish line. Except an hour drive and over hydration made me realize my bladder was a bit full. I looked at the bathroom lines and decided it wasn’t worth the wait and bolted to the starting line. And then I waited and waited and to no surprise, the race started about 10-15 minutes late. It wasn’t really a big deal for me since I had no expectations and the weather was warm, but I could see how in colder weather I would have been more cranky about a delayed start.
Once we started, I was feeling great. There was a light breeze and it was about 60 degrees. Last year, I played smart. Because I was running on tired legs (20 miles the day before), I started conservatively and kept a relatively steady pace. This year, I seemed to have forgotten my wisdom and busted out into 7-7:15 minute miles for the first 10K of the race. By the time the 10 mile marker arrived, I was running with the 3:15 pace group like an idiot because I was quickly beginning to fade.
Mile 10-17 were some of my least favorite miles. I was quickly losing speed, feeling hot and tired at the same time and very well aware of it. The water stations seemed to barely exist and what seemed flat on the elevation table and my 2013 memory, seemed to be a little bit more hillier. I’ve been taking salt tabs every 70 minutes but around mile 17, I decided to eat one of my hammer gels only to realize there was no water stop for the next two miles. Gross.
Mile 18-26 were physically the hardest miles of the race. At this point the wind picked up to 25 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH directly against the runners. At some point I felt like I was running in place. However, mentally, I would say I was in a much better mood than the 2nd third of the race. With less than 10 miles to go, I felt assurance that it will soon be over. I also pulled up some Nashville soundtrack songs and rocked out to myself in some slow and steady but happy pace.
When I started this race, I was hoping to run a BQ time, a sub 3:35. It wouldn’t be a PR, but I like to make an effort if I’m paying the race fee. Last year, I ran a 3:41 so anything below would be a course PR. With two miles left in the race, and the wind stronger than ever, I realized there was a very small chance of me making my cut-off. It sucked, but I accepted and took pride that if I keep running, I can PR on the course.
I came in a little over a minute too long of my goal but so happy to be out of the wind.
They had sandwiches at the end of the finish line, but it was in the runners only area and with me trying to hold a water bottle, trying to hold onto a sandwich was getting too complicated so I just passed on and went to look for my friend who ran the half marathon.
I was pleasantly surprised that the medal design was a little bit different from last year’s!
After cheering on more friends of friends, we went to the beer garden and enjoyed our midday Narragansett because nothing like beer on an empty stomach post marathon =).
Don’t worry, after resting in the sun, we did eventually walk over to Federal Hill for a very late brunch.
Julian’s had a little bit of a wait (40 minutes) but the food didn’t disappoint. I got a tofu/spinach/cauliflower scramble with a side of spinach and blue cheese ash that was good to the last bite. I was famished at this point.
To Summarize Pros & Cons of the Cox Providence Rhode Marathon
- Flat(ish) course – There’s some hills but more than half of the miles is on a fairly flat road
- Post race sandwiches
- Separate medal designs for the half and full marathon
- Day of race bib pick-up
- Gu available at several aid stations
- Sporadic water stations, sometime it was a mile apart, sometimes I swear I ran 5 miles without water
- Confused volunteers, for example although a gel was available at a few stations, many of the volunteers had them in a box off to the side and many runners missed them
- Shortage on t-shirt sizes – don’t ask me my size, if I am not getting it!
- Roads open to cars – Parts of the course was on a bike path and some on the roads, most were open to traffic
- Construction along the course- there were several piles of dirt along the course that blew into my face and mouth with the wind. I probably wasn’t very hungry after the race because I had quite a few mouthfuls of dirty!
To be honest, this is one of my least favorite marathon courses. While I am really grateful to the volunteers, I don’t think they were well organized and the water stations and support wasn’t the best. I also think it’s a pretty expensive race (over $100 at full price) for a course that doesn’t close the roads, with boring shirt designs (same every year) that are not even in the correct size you request when registering.
As far as this race goes, I find the half marathon route a lot prettier, it’s hillier, but it’s prettier. The only advantage to do the marathon is an excuse to visit Providence, or if you’re trying to find a Spring BQ opportunity in the area, this is an easier course than most. Otherwise, if you’re trying to do 50 states and need Rhode Island, I prefer the Newport marathon in the fall instead.