2014 Cox Providence Rhode Marathon Race Recap

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.

Cox Marathon Results

Time: 3:36:08

Place: 223/1372

Gender: 48/657

Division: 26/213

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.

Cox Marathon

I was pleasantly surprised that the medal design was a little bit different from last year’s!

photo (12)

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.

Cox Marathon Refuel

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

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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!

Conclusion 

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.

Cox Providence Rhode Island Marathon Race Recap

The Cox Marathon and United Healthcare Half Marathon was held on Sunday May 12th, 2013.  There was also a 5K I think on Saturday.  I don’t remember the total cost of registration since I signed up half a year ago, but it was cheaper than a RnR race but not as cheap as a local trail marathon.  I think the cost was pretty high if you signed up last minute.

Anyway, Tony and I had great hopes of making it to the expo, getting our numbers and relaxing in Providence in our AirBnB room.  Than this happened:

Not the best photo, but basically bumper to bumper traffic nightmare.  What should have been an hour drive took more than two.  Why is 93S always a nightmare?  I don’t know how people who live south of Boston survive.  Please share your secrets.

Since we missed our number pick up, next order of business was food.  I got to meet fellow DailyMiler Sara (who was running the half) and her husband for dinner at Spumoni where we shared in their tradition of carboloading.

Past Carbo Load

I’m sad this photo doesn’t do complete justice.  Its basically a seafood pasta dish made for 8-10 people that me and Sara split.  Tony had such a blast that he wants to add pasta dinner to our potential new pre-race tradition.

We kept the night short after dinner.  Since we missed getting our numbers on Saturday, we had to wake up earlier.  I even had time for coffee, a kind bar and half a bagel while I waited for Tony to get ready!  Our room was an 8 minute drive from the start and we found parking about 2 blocks away.  Score! Getting the number was easy but I got a little cranky when it came to getting our shirts.  They only had LARGE for half marathon and Extra Large for the full.  Yea, clearly making people pick their sizes at registration had no purpose.  I wanted to complain (because I love me a good rant) but I knew complaining to the kind misguided volunteer would be mean and pointless.  Instead, I took the shirt they had and decided I could always use a new running dress instead.

Cox Marathon Liana

I felt pretty great and excited for someone who ran 20 miles and broke her butt the day before.  Marathon 7!

Now when I first signed up for the race, I thought the half and the full started together and ran part of the same course.  Since I knew I was not going to race this, I was hoping to have Tony for company.  Well that plan was spoiled.  The marathon and half marathon are two separate races that start at separate time.  The full at 7:30 and the half at 8.  I also think that for the most part they run totally different courses.

Cox Marathon Start Line

I got into the starting line around the 8 min pace area.  I was even a little bit early just to be disappointed.  The race start about 10 minutes late.  Tony told me the half was even worse and started about 30 minutes late.

Cox Marathon

The course started a little hilly that had more downs than ups for the first 5 miles (also meaning more ups than downs for the last 5 miles since it was an out and back course).  However, the next 16 miles or so were pleasantly flat and mostly on a really nice bike trail I would one day like to bike.

Cox Marathon 14 Mile

Sometimes the mile markers felt like they were forever apart like mile 14! I’m pretty sure my Garmin is correct.  Luckily by the course end my Garmin and the finish line mostly agreed.  I was only .2 miles off which between me walking a bit off course after mile 20 for water breaks and all the turns probably made sense.

Cox Marathon 20 Mile

The good part about not racing a course, is that I got to enjoy the views and take some photos.  Seeing mile 20 as my final stretch really lifted my spirits.

Cox Marathon 23 Mile

I think this hill was around mile 22… yea not going to lie, this felt painful!  The last 5 miles were worse than Boston.  While most of the course is flat and easy, the last 5 miles are anything but! After this true heartbreaker, I downgraded to a complete run-walk approach.  I walked most hills and ran all downhills or flat areas.  I called Tony around the start of the hills telling him I should be done in an hour with only 5 miles left.  I knew that as soon as these started, my pace and race was over.

Cox Marathon Finish Line I did try to finish strong though!  Although I walked a little on mile 26, the .2 was a full on sprint of kicking to pass as many people as I can.  Also, I think I should get some extra brownie points of being the idiot who ran with a wet hoodie holding her waist down the entire race.  There was potential for rain and I had a great fear of being cold when I hit my wall so I dragged the ugly old thing through the whole race just in case.  It would have been smarter to wear my arm sleeves instead but eh I’m not too bright at 6AM in the morning.

Cox Marathon Pace Elevation

Looking at my splits, I think a part of me prematurely gave up running after mile 20.  Since I wasn’t racing, and I wasn’t going to PR, my mind convinced me that I didn’t really need to try too hard or really at all and just took the last 6 miles easy.  I was tired, but there’s no real reason why my pace dropped 1-2 minutes per mile just because of the hills.
Cox Marathon Finish Time

After the finished line I was completely drained.  Although surprisingly my legs are champs and did not hurt, my back was killing me!  I must have had some weird posture on the last 5 miles.  As soon as I met up with Tony, I put the stupid hoodie I dragged all race to use by laying on it and stretching on a curb.  I kept it classy.

The food at the end was greasy pizza and bananas.  I happily ate my slice and celebrated myself.  We also had beer tickets but after walking to the car to get my license, I just really wanted to shower.  Actually I’m lying, I was just too lazy to walk the two blocks back for the beer at 11AM.  I’m sad I missed meeting up with more Daily Mile friends but it was Mother’s day so we had to return back to Boston.

Overall, aside from anger issues with the shirts, I thought the race went great and was pretty well organized for a medium size race.  The course is flat and fast (for New England).  The volunteers on the course did a great job.  I swear I think I saw GU or bananas available every other water stop (which were about 1.5 miles apart).  I wish the roads were more closed off but since most of the race was on the bike path, dealing with cars was only a few seconds at a time.  Although some of those few seconds were a little scary.  I think if all goes well, I might come for this race next year in hopes of a PR.

Now the stats because I just like knowing them.

Total Time 3:41:47
Pace – 8:28
Overall Place 269/1,267
Gender Place 65/616

Did you race last weekend or this weekend?