Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amica Newport 1/2 Marathon (race report)

Oct 16, 2011
State # 22
Newport Rhode Island

Originally I chose this race due to a tip from B & L that there was a groupon for it- $37, yes please! Also it would make a great double header with Connecticut.  After the Hartford 1/2 marathon race HERE. I was excited about this next race  for 3 reasons:

  1. Heard  from the CT runners that the course was gorgeous (oh was it ever)
  2. I was staying with Becka and Laura and we were going to be  'matchy matchy' on race day
  3. I wanted to see how day 2 of my back to back would go in comparison to the last time I did this for the Michigan - Run for the Health of It 1/2. aka my legs felt like bricks and I was miserable. 
B & L were running the day before in Baltimore (you can read her recap of the Baltimore Running festival HERE) Originally I thought they told me they were flying into Hartford instead of Providence because it was cheaper and they asked if I could pick them up from the airport- I couldn't remember the time exactly, but I thought it was going to be around 4pm. That being said I had TONS of free time on my hands, so I decided after my shower to return to the race, cheer on the marathoners, and check out anything else I may have missed in athlete's village. 

Since my race started at 8am, and their race started at 9:45, it was awhile before I got a text from B saying that I was picking them up in Providence @ 7:20--- man was I way off! As luck would have it, one of my very FIRST friends I ever made when I moved to the states, Laura, moved to Providence, RI 2 months ago to get her masters at Brown University. I quickly called her to see if she was free at all and we agreed to do Starbucks in a few hours (its about a 2 hr drive from Hartford to Providence). 

I seriously haven't talked to Laura in a few years, so it was nice to catch up with someone in a town I know nothing about. Once she left at 4:30, I had 3 hours to kill before picking up the girls. If you haven't been near Brown University- its CROWDED, Hilly (think San Francisco hills) and no parking available. I decided to play it safe and stay at Starbucks and  hog their free wifi to catch up on emails, blogs, etc. 

Shortly before 7:30 I leave for the airport and make a few loops around till I see the girls waiting curb side for me. Went to their usual pre race meal spot, Applebees, then ventured the 45 minute drive to Newport to check into our hotel Pineapple Inn.

** Note to anyone traveling to Newport, RI. Do NOT stay at the Pineapple Inn. They called L @ 9:30pm asking if she was still planning on checking in because she was the last person- then when we get there, we ask if we would be able to have a late check out, even if its just 1/2 hour- they said ABSOLUTELY NOT! When we get there, I use our bathroom and I see a rolly polly crawling across the bathroom floor.**

We get ourselves situated, lay out clothes, wind down, and bed time- another GREAT NIGHT'S SLEEP (this is generally a rarity before a race)

Wake up 5:45 and carry on usual race day routine- stretch, clothe myself, do hair, slight makeup- yes I do wear some make up when I race, eat a lara bar, make sure I have everything, etc etc.

This race had shuttles to the race start, and we just so happened to be 10 minutes from the shuttle parking lots, thus easy commute. We hop on the school buses and I had to go all the way to back of the bus. Luckily I was surrounded by people who had done the race before and found out the largest hill is in the first mile, but its the same hill we come down as we head toward the finish-- good to know in regards to conserving my energy.

We take the short bus ride to where there start / finish is:

Since it's a beach- it is MUCH MUCH colder and windier than the hotel. All 3 of us didn't have time to pick up our packet at the expo, so luckily they had race day pickup inside some building which is where we spent a good amount of time staying warm / stretching.

It's rare when I wear a long sleeve shirt to a race- it was much needed

So I have mixed feelings about the race- the organization of everything was down right pathetic, but the course itself was breath taking. Constantly something to look at- whether it was the beautiful water line or mansions, there was always a view. I actually do highly recommend this course, so as long as you are warned in advance of the downsides, its not a big deal
I'll start with the negatives and then end on a positive note :)
  • you had to know your bib number before actually getting it- they had the numbers posted on the wall- but there was no organization to it. B was smart and memorized her, it took L and I seriously 5 min of walking back and forth between the sheets before we identified ours. 
  • Our group photo was supposed to be at 7:10 by the start line- only problem was.... there was no start line in sight- NONE of the volunteers even knew where it started, seriously?!?!? Luckily after standing around for awhile, we decided to walk back toward the building for race day pick up and we happened to spot Dave and a few other people for our photo

Matchy Matchy with B & L 
  • DO NOT USE BAG DROP-  we had to today since we had our race shirt and long sleeves with us. We tried to wait till the last minute, but so did everyone else. I offered to wait in the line to drop everything off while B & L stood in porto-potty lines- after 15 minutes--- YES 15 LONG ANNOYED minutes, I finally get to drop my bag off. I venture to the potty lines and was surprised to see B & L not make too much progress in the line
  • After waiting in line with them for probably 10 minutes the races starts.... we're still in line. Thank goodness for chip timing- also for the record, when we arrived around 7, the blow up arch wasn't there to signify the start.... it literally was blown up out of nowhere. 
see the arch to signify the start- now see slightly ahead on left of arch the port o potties--- notice how many people still in line??
how about now??
  • first 6 miles were all water- no gatorade til mile 7. I only brought one gu, which I took around 6ish, but lately I've been using 2. LUCKILY I happened to spot a random box of gus around mile 7 (maybe) at a table, so I grabbed one which I never ended up using. B & L never saw that random box, because, it was just that- random. 
  • I probably saw at least 10 tour buses + lots of tour groups get in our way on the course- the race directors should either coordinate, or start the race an hour earlier to plan for this- many people had to stop while tour buses turn around, or divert their path and run completely around them. 
  • the finish line- wait... what finish line?!?! So I was under the impression that the finish line was the same as the start line considering the blow up arch said "start / finish"- ya... crazy assumption I know. Well it wasn't. I'm running on the boardwalk getting motivated by the spectators on both sides, but I wanted to wait to 'kick it in' till I saw the arch again. I hear the announcer making comments here and there, and then literally in 10 feet I saw the timing mat. WHAT?!!? Seriously I was done??? There was no indication that it was the finish line because NO ONE around me kicked it in and then the race was over. How ANTI-CLIMATIC. 
  • Also the marathons are running the ENTIRE half course with us, pass by the finish, then veer off to continue on- how cruel to have to pass the finish line and be within 10 feet of it only to know you are 1/2 way through! 
  • Once race was over I knew we'd be pushing our 11am checkout, so I didn't even have time to get post race food because I had to stand in the NEVER ENDING gear pick up line... seriously waiting for 20 min... B texts me when her and L are done, so I let her know I'm still in line and if she can grab me some pizza afterward, that would be great
  • As luck would have it, they ran out of pizza ( I feel for the marathoners) 
I'm off my rant.... 

So myself, B, and L all walk from the bathrooms over to the start and there is next to no one around (5-10 min or so after the gun went off) 

I wish the girls good luck and venture off to see how my legs will fare today. 

Of note:
  • I learned that I NEED adrenaline at the start of the race. When you're running by yourself and just passing walkers and the 'back of the pack' runners- its hard to gauge your speed. I knew I was taking it easy, but my first mile was around the 9 minute mark. I haven't had mile 1 that slow in over 1 year. 
  • Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, I come up from behind Dave Mari, smack him on the butt and wish him luck, to then he runs ahead of me to capture this photo:
getting some air!
  • I NEED to stretch my hips before race day- once mile 3 hit, my hips were toast. Although my legs felt okay and weren't as sluggish as I anticipated, my hips were super tight and I wasn't able to stretch out or have a quick turnover at all- awesome. Good news is that I didn't want to sit down on the side of the road like I did in Michigan.
  • Once mile 4 hit I was done trying to salvage my race, and decided I would just take as many photos as I saw fit--- for your viewing pleasure

nice little down hill action

  • Along the water front was simply breath taking. We spent miles 5-8 (maybe) along the water. Not only were the views worth the pain, but I love the smell of the ocean water and the slight breeze that was off the water. 

More castle - like architecture- guess it doesn't stop in Hartford!

  •  By miles 7.5 my left hip and right knee were KILLING ME. A random lady had a table set up with different type of gels / creams for pain relief, after sifting through her selection I found a bio freeze- EUREKA. Rubbed it on my hip and outside knee- seriously almost INSTANT RELIEF. 
    • UNFORTUNATELY  my medial side of my knee was starting to feel 'weak'  1 mile later, so although the rest of the pain went away, still had a nagging knee pain to deal with rest of race. 
  • Nothing too exciting till the last mile. Sadly when I cross mile 12 I saw the time and thought to myself "yesterday I was done at this time" sigh. Now that we were closer to finish there were spectators again, great signs, downhill action, and beach view again

Downhill last mile!

kind of wondering at this point where the finish line is. 

Official Time 2:16: 20
Mileage 13.22

Mile 1: 8:58
Mile 2: 8:36
Mile 3: 9:22
Mile 4: 8:42
Mile 5: 8:57
Mile 6: 9:43
Mile 7: 10:16
Mile 8: 9:55
Mile 9: 10:01
Mile10: 9:55
Mile11: 9:32
Mile12: 9:51
Mile13: 8:41
.22       8:22 (boo to no opportunity to kick) 

So although the beginning of the race was disorganized and has LOTS of room for improvement, the course was simply exhilarating. If I wasn't in so much pain, it would have been even MORE enjoyable. For those who are in the New England area, this is definitely worthy of your time-- bring your camera! 

As a side note- we didn't make our 11am check out- more like 11:20. We called the local YMCA to see if they allow showers for the runners and they did. $3 for runners and free if you belong to a YMCA elsewhere. So for all those savy travelers out there who are racing to make their check out times, or who run full marathons who won't have time even after a late check out- contact the local YMCA's in the area. I scored on both days of the weekend- definite perk :) 


  1. damn this race is gorgeous too!!! you had a beautiful race weekend! guess i have to bookmark this one too.. stop doing this to me! too much race eye candy! :) and love the matchy matchy!

  2. Oh Lisa!!! I wish I had known...Pineapple Inn is YUCKY! My parents own a B&B about 1 mile from the start and they had openings!!! Next time let me know! It's too bad that this was so disorganized. It sounded like it from what my parents were saying since they were trying to park people over a mile away. Glad you enjoyed the scenery and that the wind died down for it! I was in the same spot around the Ocean Drive the day before and the wind was HOWLING!!

  3. I was prepared for that half mark, so I didn't take it too bad of a blow to keep going while you guys got to finish, and there was a bunch of pizza (albeit cold) when I finished, so I guess they ordered some more. I agree though, the organization is horrible, and hasn't improved at all since last year!

    crappy that that inn was so gross! I stayed at America's Cup Inn last minute last year and it was alright (a little tough to get to sleep because we had the room facing the main street - Thames) but the guy at the desk was awesome and the room/broom were clean!

    I still think you rock for doing back to back halves :)

  4. ahhhh! i hate that everything was so crazy...guess they can get away with it with such a beautiful course! and i am obsessed with your race outfit! super cute!

  5. BEAUTIFUL!!! Thanks for the warning!! I have this race on my to do list and I'm glad I'm prepared :)

  6. What a beautiful race! I still can't figure out how you remember so many details for recaps. It's the photos isn't it? Nice job LIsa. Love the race outfit.

  7. All that race related craziness aside, the course looks gorgeous! You caught some serious air. VERY impressive! And what a great tip about the YMCA, especially now that I'm a member and can just use them for free. Woohoo!

  8. this looks like an awesome race!! thanks for the headsup, I'm going to bookmark this race and look more into it. glad it's in oct, MAYBE i'll even get it in this year! :) -rachel