Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas: Round Two

I signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas Marathon back when registration first opened. It was the same price for the full and the half, since I ran the marathon last year and Competitor really messed up with last year’s race. I really wanted to do the full, but when it came down to it, with working a full-time job, coaching on the side, a number of busy weekends full of family commitments and games I had to coach, and time spent with Maeby, I didn’t have time to train and I didn’t make time for it. It wasn’t a priority for me.

That being said, I had already signed up and the flights and hotel were booked, so on Friday, off I went to Vegas. Up until the morning of the race, I debated whether I’d do the full or the half. Ultimately, I realized how incredibly dumb it would be for me to run the full without training. To be honest, I thought I’d be able to do it, but I knew I would be in a lot of pain, didn’t want to get injured and was genuinely concerned I’d have a heart attack…and since I didn’t feel like the Las Vegas Strip would be an ideal place to collapse/experience any of the above, I chose to do the half.

I got to the start area around 4:00 p.m. The half was supposed to begin by 4:30, and after waiting in line to use the bathroom, I got to a corral just in time for the first wave of runners to start. I ended up in corral 15; since I had chosen to do the half, I just had to hop into any corral since my seeding had initially been set up for the full marathon.

Overall, the race was great. We don’t need to talk about how difficult it was running against the wind more often than experiencing a tailwind. That was tough, and obviously made maintaining any sort of normal pace that much more difficult. Instead, I think it is worth mentioning that there was more than enough water (and no stations had run out of water and been abandoned like last year, when I experienced this at mile 20), there was way more course support than last year (both with volunteers and spectators), and it really was a lot of fun. A very special shout out goes to the police officer around mile 7.35, who was blowing his whistle and cheering everyone on. I felt good pretty much the entire time, even though my splits were slower and slower as the race went on. But honestly? I don’t really care. I ran faster than I did in Providence back in August and I managed to run the whole thing. The human body never ceases to amaze me.

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The finish line was full of water, Snickers Marathon Bars, tons of apples, chocolate milk, Gatorade, bagels, and pretzels. Oh, and there were also mini smoothies from Jamba Juice.

My only complaints?

I didn’t see medical staff until around mile 7. Around mile 4, I started to experience serious chub rub since I had chosen to skip the capris and wear awful women’s shorts that I tend to avoid for that very reason. But I figured that’d be worth it since it was around 70 degrees and I didn’t want to overheat with capris, which knowing me, I would have. So that was frustrating. Maybe I missed the medical staff earlier on, but there needs to be an actual tent or some sort of sign. I actually almost completely missed the staff around mile 7, because there was no tent and it was dark so I couldn’t really see their shirts. Again, it’s possible that I completely missed the medical staff earlier in the race, but the signage needs to be better or something if that’s the case.

And then there is this complaint, and this one is big.

There was no family gathering area at the finish. With a race of tens of thousands of runners, this is an absolute must, and I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I had planned to meet my mom at a specific letter, but there was no area to meet after. So she went back to the hotel and I borrowed people’s cell phones to try to get in touch with her. And a lot of people I talked to were going through the same thing and were just as frustrated. It took over an hour for me to finally meet up with my mom. So there was that. Again, with a race of this size in a city this size, I cannot understand why Competitor chose not to do this, especially since they have done it at every other one of their races I’ve done (including Providence, which had only a few thousand people).

One of these days, I feel Competitor will get it right. I honestly feel like they were so close this time, with the tremendous improvements compared to last year’s fiasco. But the finish line and its lack of a meetup area was really frustrating.

My night concluded with a really delicious (and huge) slice of pizza and a cinnamon sugar pretzel from New York New York. I’m happy I ran the race, and very pleased with how good I felt. As for my next race? I’m considering Rock ‘n Roll Pasadena in February, but we’ll see. It would be good incentive to keep running through winter though, that’s for sure. And based on the afternoon I spent out there on Monday visiting my brother, it seems like it would offer a beautiful course.

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Rock ‘n Roll Providence Half Marathon: Take Two

So a few weeks back (on August 3, to be exact), I wrote about how I had run a mere 7 miles and was upset because the half marathon in Providence was just a few weeks away. That Sunday, I got a puppy, and then I struggled to CrossFit or run, because I was getting up 3-4 times a night to take my little girl outside. Then the following weekend, I ran a mere 8 miles and struggled, and then felt more nervous than ever about doing the race.

The week leading up to the race was great. Maeby (my lovely little pup; good for you if you know the show from which I stole this name) was only getting up once a night and I CrossFitted (yes, it’s a verb) four times that week, and took a couple of rest days before the race since my left knee was bothering me.

So, any doubts I had about doing the race, I put aside. The turning point for these doubts actually took place at CrossFit, when one of the guys there told me (as we passed each other during the second mile we had to run for that WOD), “You are so doing that half marathon.” He made me feel like I could and should do it, and that encouragement was just what I needed.

Anyway, rambling aside…the race went well. Surprisingly well.

One of my goals was to get a PR for the course. I knew getting a PR and thus getting sub-2:00 (still in shock over this) wasn’t going to happen, but I thought maybe I’d do better than last year.

My ultimate goal, however, was a bit more daunting for me. I’m super competitive and especially tough on myself. When I struggled in Cheshire back in April, I beat myself up over it for weeks. I knew I could do better and the whole race seemed to drag on and was absolutely miserable. I might’ve PRed that race but it didn’t really matter because I felt crappy the whole time.

In Providence, I started off feeling good, but the hills took a toll on me and I began fatiguing fairly early on. I actually forgot how difficult this course was compared to some of the other races I’ve done; by no means is it awful but there are definitely some hills (especially that last one at the end, just before you get to the finish line…so hard!). When I think about it, there’s no way that I would’ve been able to get sub-2:00 in Brooklyn if the course was like this one; no matter how good I felt that day, this course was far more difficult. I had to walk some parts (and for the first time ever, didn’t beat myself up for it) and there was actually a point where I was enjoying myself so much I thought about just walking the rest of the course (which I obviously didn’t, because again…I’m too competitive). Anyway, the end result was as follows:

No PR and I walked more than I have in any other half (and more than I should have because honestly, I probably could’ve run the entire thing, maybe minus those hills). But for the first time ever, I didn’t stress about my time, I didn’t even care. I actually enjoyed the race for what it was.

And you know what else? Considering all the walking I did, and the fact that I didn’t run further than 8 miles leading up to the race, I am so happy with my time and with the experience. No stress, I just enjoyed it. And I didn’t feel sad or disappointed or like quitting at any time..and I definitely could’ve finished faster but I. Didn’t. Care.

My mentality was entirely different and thus the experience was entirely different.

So in the end…

My time was about 17 minutes slower than Brooklyn just two months ago (eek), but I finished just over two minutes slower than last year, in 2:14:30. And I’m okay with it. In fact, I’m happy with my time.

In retrospect, I kind of wish I had trained more, but I wasn’t sore the next day (and I attribute a lot of that to my increased strength from CrossFit), and I think this race was really important for me to do because I learned to enjoy the experience and not just make it about PRing or anything like that. With the exception of Brooklyn, this was the first race in which I actually felt good about myself the entire time and didn’t beat myself up about my time or pace even once.

So, while I might’ve been having a lot of doubts as to whether or not I was going to do this race, the extra push from friends and family (and then from myself) really made me reconsider how to approach this race, and I am so, so happy I did. It also brought back the feelings that I kind of forgot about–the feelings associated with long runs and crossing the finish line and running with a bunch of other people.

And so, don’t quote me on this (because again, I’ve been super busy and exhausted and things are only going to get busier), but I think I may do another half in September and possibly October. The running bug might be back.

tl;dr: I’ve been busy and didn’t feel like running the Rock ‘n Roll Providence Half Marathon. But, I ran it anyway, had a great time, and didn’t even do that bad. I think I may have caught the running bug again.

Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

It’s been a few days since the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which I ran on Saturday.  I’ve had some time to reflect on the race a little and my feelings haven’t changed one bit: it was amazing.

I got into New York around 12 p.m. on Friday and after walking through Brooklyn (where I was staying) and taking the subway to the 86th Street stop, I made it to NYRR to pick up my bib.  It was right around lunchtime and pick-up began at 1 p.m. so I expected it to be a little crazy and while there were definitely a lot of people there, it was a quick process.  Well done, NYRR.

I expected to pick up my Team For Kids singlet at this location but learned that they had mailed them out and for those who didn’t get theirs in the mail (a.k.a. me), it would be available at the Prospect Park warmup in the morning at 6:15 a.m.  I was a little bit frustrated because I knew it was going to be really hot out, so I didn’t want to wear an extra shirt and then check my bag at the race, but I also didn’t have a tank top to wear underneath, just a short-sleeved Under Armour shirt…so I had to make a quick stop in The Gap after to pick up an exercise tank to wear over to the race start and under my singlet.  A little bit of an unnecessary purchase but I’m glad I did because it was definitely warm out the next day.

I woke up at 4:50 a.m. the next morning, made coffee with my friend’s fancy French press, and then mentally psyched myself up for the race while I ate some dry cereal.  I was really, really nervous.  I probably should get over it by now, but I always get nervous before long runs and races.  Anyway.  I walked about a mile and a half to the race start and found the Team For Kids group right near the start line.  I got my very bright singlet, and tried to calm my nerves a little bit.  After a quick warmup, we made our way over to the start and just like that we were off.

The start was well-organized, based on the first numbers on your bib.  I was put in the 12th corral based on my predicted time but I think there might’ve been around 20 corrals total, and there were definitely people that moved up to my corral or others.

The race went around Park Slope in Brooklyn, with a loop around Prospect Park and then another loop in the actual park itself, before heading out to Coney Island.  I had mapped out the course beforehand so I knew where to expect the hills, and it was a little hillier than I expected in terms of number of hills, but it wasn’t bad at all.  I also anticipated the hills would be much worse than they were, so that probably helped me.  As I entered the park, a group of kids that are actually in some of the Team For Kids programs were there cheering, along with some of the team leaders, and it really made a difference going into the park.

Friday afternoon, when I met up with my former prospective roommate for lunch (and got a TWO POUND salad from Whole Foods…and paid EIGHTEEN dollars for it…and then ATE IT ALL…yeah), we agreed she’d come out to the park around the mile 6 marker and cheer me on if she was up for it.  Sure enough, around the top of all of the hills, right before the downhills, I saw Amanda there and was extremely grateful.  Knowing she was going to be there definitely helped me get through the park.

As we exited the park and headed toward Coney Island, there were more Team For Kids people cheering for me.  The route to Coney Island was straight and flat, which was easy on my legs but not too easy mentally.  I kind of like taking twists and turns to keep things fresh and interesting, but on the bright side, there were some people out cheering and I was seeing a part of the city I’d never seen before.  I also tripped around mile 8, and heard gasps behind me as I fell forward, my face leading the rest of my body into the pavement.  Somehow, though my face was undoubtedly less than a foot from the ground, I managed to stay up and my face was sacrificed, but I couldn’t help but laugh at my clumsiness.  Every time, it gets me.

Around the mile 11 and mile 12 markers, there were more Team For Kids members, which again, helped push me through to the end.  The race ended on the boardwalk at Coney Island, and as I approached the finish, I was tired but felt good.

Throughout the race, I used my Garmin to keep my pace in check, and I tried to take advantage of the downhills, but not so much that I tore up my legs.  The Garmin honestly made all the difference; there were times when I felt like I was barely keeping a 10-minute mile and I’d look down and see that I was running 8-minute miles, so I knew why I felt so fatigued and also knew to slow down.

Just to make it clear how much it helped, here are my splits:

8:46, 8:37, 8:19, 8:40, 8:44, 8:55, 8:23, 8:50, 9:07, 9:08, 8:58, 9:04, 8:00 (<– wtf)

So, as you can see, pretty much all of my splits were within 30 seconds of each other.  Which I’m really happy with.

Between the motivation from Team For Kids, my Garmin keeping me in line, and my overall feeling of strength from the very beginning (probably related to my positive attitude that I was going to go big or go home), I was able to complete all of my goals.

As a reminder, my goals were the following:

  1. Have fun with it.
  2. Run the whole thing.
  3. PR.
  4. Run a sub-2 hour half marathon.

Check times four.  I had such a good time with this race and I think a large contributor to that was the support from Team For Kids, but also the course.  I liked it a lot.  It was pretty and overall interesting enough to keep me from getting bored.

I ran the whole thing, including through the water stations.  Most of the time I ran through the station, grabbing water on my way, but towards the end with the cluster of people, I’d have to stop and grab water and continue running.  That was another thing…there was so much water.  It was great.  I want to say there was water at every mile after mile 8 or 9.  Pretty awesome stuff, especially considering how hot that last stretch got.

I also PR’d.  By a lot.  By about 9 and a half minutes…which means that my ultimate goal of finishing in under 2 hours was accomplished.

I finished in 1:57:33 officially, and I am so unbelievably thrilled about it.

The first thing I did when I got back to Brooklyn, before even going inside to my friend’s apartment was text Brenna.  Then, I told my friends I was staying with.  Then, I got a call from Diana about it.  Then my mom checked in and my friend Kerri checked in and I went to a graduation party and everyone asked about it.  The people in my life are really amazing.  Anyway, random tangent aside…

I loved the Brooklyn Half Marathon and assuming I’m still in the area, I will definitely run it again next year.  Great support (in terms of spectators and water/gatorade), wonderful course, easy to get to/from the start/finish, and overall just amazing.  It was honestly the best race of my life and made me even more excited about running and all that I am capable of accomplishing.

Cheshire Half Marathon Race Recap

This was the first year they put on this race and there were good numbers for the half marathon and 5k.  There were also some really incredible volunteers and decent course support.  The half started a few minutes late, but before I knew it we were off.  The course was pretty nice; after navigating through parts of Cheshire, a good portion of the race was on the bike path out there, so we were running through the woods and in mostly shady areas.  The course was supposed to be flat and fast, but I definitely felt like it was slightly hillier than I expected and am used to.  It wasn’t big hills, like the Newport Half, but there were a lot of smaller inclines, which sometimes I think is worse because you don’t even realize that you’re going uphill, but your body/legs certainly do.

I’m not sure what my splits were because I chose to wear a smaller watch instead of my Garmin, but the first four miles were approximately the following: 8:20, 8:20, 9:00, and 8:00.  Not quite sure how I pulled off an 8-minute pace at mile four, but somehow it happened and then after that, I kind of stopped caring because mentally, I began breaking down.

When I first set out for the race, I thought for sure after a couple of miles that my legs would loosen up and I’d begin to get into a groove.  Unfortunately, this never really happened for me and though at the halfway point, I was on track for a sub-2:00 half marathon, my mental breakdowns held me back from achieving that goal of mine.  I think that is probably what sucks more than anything else; I absolutely could have done it but I let myself become weak mentally and I even caught myself thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t do it.  I even ended up taking Gu 30 minutes into the race because I felt so awful; then I took another around 65 minutes; and I took a third Gu around 1:35.  I usually can hold off until 50 minutes to take a Gu and also only take one or two at the most, depending on how I’m feeling…so that just goes to show how tired I felt so early on in and throughout the race, for whatever reason.

Additionally, I wore capris and a long-sleeve shirt because it was like 40 degrees at the start, but by the end it was close to 60 degrees.  In college, during our field hockey games at the end of the season, I was one of maybe two players that never wore Under Armour because I would get way too hot, and I think today was no different; my feet and hands were tingling throughout the last half of the race, and in the last quarter of the race, my feet felt like there were burning and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I took my shoes off.  I don’t know…I feel like I’m rambling and making excuses for my own mental struggles but anyway, here were my goals going into the race:

  1. Don’t walk at all, except through the water stations.  I failed at this and ended up walking more than I’d like to admit.  I got to the point where I actually was forcing myself to do running intervals because I just wanted the race to be over (3-5 minutes running, 30-60 secs walking, depending on how I felt).  It was awful and honestly, I’m really disappointed about this.
  2. Finish in less than 2 hours.  Failed.  As I mentioned, at the halfway point, I was on track to complete this goal, but my miles kept getting slower and slower after the half and I felt like I was struggling.
  3. PR.  Succeeded.  I told my friend Diana that at the very least, I wanted to PR and I didn’t want not getting sub-2:00 to take away from a PR.  So at the very least, I’m happy with this.

It was the first race of the season, and I haven’t been doing long runs consistently, so I don’t think I can be too upset with my time.  The end of the race finished around the track at the high school, which I thought was a lot of fun and which really pushed me to finish strong.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:06:59, which was 2 minutes faster than my time back in October in Newport.  Again, I would’ve loved to have gotten under 2 hours, and I definitely would’ve preferred shaving more time off of my former PR, but I can’t complain.  I’m happy I ran the race and I will definitely consider it next year, because it was a great race to start the season off with.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon: Recap

I am going to preface this by saying that a large majority of people were unhappy with this race for a number of reasons. You can read more about it based on the RnR Vegas Facebook page, but what it really came down to was numbers. In my opinion, this race grew too fast, too soon, resulting in some major issues that Competitor needs to address and fix if they plan on doing this kind of race again next year.

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The Expo

After getting back from visiting the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam (more on that tomorrow), I headed over to the race expo. Not much to really say here. I was able to get my bib and t-shirt fairly quickly. Once I got into the vendor area, however, it was very, very crowded. I can’t say I was all that surprised, because that will happen when there are 44,000 people running a race. With that, I really just quickly bounced from vendor to vendor, hoping to score some free samples, but honestly, I was kind of disappointed. With all the people in attendance, I expected more samples and more opportunities to try various products. After quickly wrapping up my time at the expo, I headed back to my car in The Venetian parking garage. The wait to get out of the garage was about a half hour, but again, I wasn’t surprised due to how many people attended the expo.

Race Day

I spent all day freaking out/being excited/feeling nervous/panicking about the race that was going to take place at night. My first marathon. Crazy.

I stayed at Excalibur, which was right next to the race start at Mandalay Bay. At about 2:45, I left my room and saw some other runners in the hall. I tagged along with them as we approached a very crowded tram to take over to Mandalay Bay. When we finally got there, aside from an initial sign when entering the hotel, there was no signage to get to the race. The race was supposed to start in the parking lot, but I saw many people heading towards the parking garage and others heading in a different direction. I followed those with their Rock n Roll bags, because I assumed they would be going to gear check and the race start would be nearby. My assumptions were correct, and after a long walk navigating the halls of Mandalay Bay, I found the race start.

I headed outside but could not find the start, so I asked a woman stretching if she knew. She and I got talking about the race, which she had run before. We walked over to the start, and I followed her into her corral (corral 7) where we continued talking. We continued talking until the race started and then headed off at our own respective paces.

I had heard from a lot of people that the first half of this race would be boring. My question to those people is, where are they running that is so interesting? I run the same routes at home all the time, so for me, anything other than that is a change, and a welcomed change at that. I found that those first thirteen miles flew by and I actually PR’d that first half, with a time of 2:07:49. I was very excited about that time.

Once we turned the corner, I found myself dodging and running through clothes strewn all over the place, as I imagined most of the half marathoners had throwaway clothes that had not yet been cleaned up. Shortly after, my hips and knees started hurting a lot, so I pulled over to stretch. Throughout the rest of the race, I experienced the following:

  • I had to stop and walk a few times, and pulled over to the right to walk with the half marathoners, most of whom seemed to be walking. I have no problem with people walking a half marathon (hey, I was walking part of my route too), but many of the walkers were not aware that runners were trying to get around them. I noticed this especially as I was running and had to weave in and out of walkers that were anywhere from 3-5 people across.
  • The lane for the marathoners was supposed to be clearly marked, but instead, we got a 7-8 foot part of the road that dipped down toward the curb. What separated us from the half marathoners was a cone every few hundred feet with an 8×11″ piece of paper that had arrows pointing to which side of the road marathoners and half marathoners should’ve been running on. Additionally, there were people biking along telling half marathoners to stay over to the right. Overall though, this wasn’t very effective, as half marathoners made up the majority of runners and completely took over the course.
  • Some water stations in the later miles were completely non-existent. By this, I mean I saw empty tables, with empty (and sometimes unused) cups on top of the tables, and thousands of used cups scattered all over the group. With a race of 44,000 runners, I expected cups all over the ground and was not surprised by that. I was, however, surprised that there was no water at some of the stations. And after running 18-20 miles, I needed that water.
  • There were not enough volunteers. Those who were there did an incredible job, but you could tell they were overwhelmed due to a lack of support. They were scrambling to get water to runners, sometimes dipping their hands in water to do so. A lot of people have gotten sick and this is believed to be the cause, but in no way do I blame the volunteers, as they were simply trying as hard as they could to meet the needs of the overwhelming amount of people they had to help.
  • Everything post-race was a mess. Getting my medal was fine, though I hear that they ran out of medals for those who finished later on. Getting out of Mandalay Bay was a huge issue in itself. After sitting inside for about twenty minutes and texting my friends about my finishing a marathon while stretching and hydrating, we decided to leave Mandalay Bay and grab a bite to eat. The problem was that the exit was entirely too narrow for the number of runners trying to leave, especially when combined with the number of shoppers and those who had seen a show that had just gotten out at Mandalay Bay. We stood in a pack of people for about 20-30 minutes before turning around and walking an alternate route outside that few seemed to know about, but that we were aware of after walking through Mandalay Bay earlier that day. I’ve been reading on the RnR Vegas Facebook page that people passed out and got sick standing in that crowd. The worst part about that? Medical personnel couldn’t reach those people due to the extreme size of the crowd. I’m glad I got out of there when I did, but some people were not as lucky.

In the end, I finished the marathon in 4:40:54, about ten minutes later than I hoped and expected. You do the math and you’ll see that it took me about 25 minutes longer to run the second half than it did the first. While part of this was due to the number of runners on the course, a bigger part was due to my own physical condition. I did all of the long runs but slacked off during training and as a result, my goals were not met. Obviously I need to work harder when I want something. That being said, I am very pleased with my time, especially the first half, and I’m already looking at marathons in the next couple of months because I know I can do better.

I enjoyed the course, overall. I didn’t find the first half boring, though I didn’t necessarily find it exciting either. I did not like all of the out-and-backs in this part of the race, which included one specific time that I can recall where I ran straight down a street and about halfway through they had cones to just turn around. Kind of weird, and not very fun. I liked parts of the second part of the course, but I wish we hadn’t run through such weird, desolate parts of old Las Vegas. I am not sure where else we could have gone, but I found those parts to be boring and the many turns we took through these neighborhoods didn’t help. The strip was definitely fun to run on, but I honestly expected there to be a bigger crowd of people cheering. I don’t really recall crowds of spectators, aside from a few when I merged onto the strip, and of course at the finish. The spectators I did see, however, did an awesome job cheering for all of the runners, and some had some really great signs that definitely encouraged me and made me laugh.

If they work out the issues for next year, I’ll most likely run it again. Mostly because I know I can do better on this course and I want to prove that to myself.

I’ll also post some pictures later on from the race start and finish, and–depending on the quality–some videos during the run down the strip!

Providence Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon Recap pt. 2

You can see the first part of this recap here.

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After a fitful night of sleep, I woke up at 6:00, ready for my 7:00 race.  Unfortunately the forecast the night before said that it was supposed to rain into the afternoon, and when I got up, the weatherman was right.  It was pouring outside.

I had laid out all of my clothes the night before, and decided to do french braid pigtails, a hair style that always proved beneficial during rainy field hockey games, as my wet hair stayed in place and out and the way.

I was ready to go.  Tired, but ready.

I left my hotel and walked over with someone else in my hotel who was running the race.  It was only drizzling at this point, so I was hopeful that the rain would hold up until after the race, but I was wrong.  Shorty after it started pouring again.

The corrals were located right outside of the Amtrak station, so while most people stood in the rain, I waited inside the station for it to get closer to 7:00.  The race didn’t start for about 15 minutes until after the projected time due to the police trying to figure out road closures.  I managed to find a comfortable place just outside of my corral under someone’s umbrella, which made the wait more tolerable.

As my corral started to move forward, I was finally able to get inside the gate, and I was off.  Overall the course was pretty good, though hillier than I expected.  I actually should have been ready for the hills, as the course elevation map from the race’s website shows the following:

The hills kind of messed me up, especially that big overall incline between miles 3.5 and 5.5.  I did see a sign at the beginning of one of the hills though that said, “next hill at 7.8 miles,” which was somewhat inspiring and kept me going.

The biggest problem with the race was definitely the rain.  My shorts had completely absorbed all of the water and were definitely weighing me down.  I found myself wringing water out of them throughout the race.  I also spoke to a woman who had to safety pin her running skirt because the water was weighing it down so much it wouldn’t stay up.

Here is me at mile I-have-no-idea, completely soaked and ready to be done.

The other problem with the rain was that my headphones were soaking wet and I couldn’t listen to my music because they kept falling me out.  This wouldn’t have been a big deal on a sunny day, but because it was raining it was absolutely necessary.  You see, because of the heavy rain all morning, probably about half of the bands weren’t outside playing.  No live music results in too much quiet and too much time for me to think about how crappy it was.  This was also kind of disappointing because I feel like having live music is one of the things that makes the Rock ‘n Roll races so big.  Each mile there is something to pump you up.  That being said, the bands that did play were awesome and I have a lot of respect for them for sticking it out (even if they were put under tents!).

The course support was also really awesome.  There were a ton of volunteers standing in the miserable rain, handing out water, Cytomax, and Gu.  And there were still people outside cheering, which at times, really kept me going.  One part I distinctly remember was approaching a highway overpass, and from hundreds of yards away, you could hear people screaming.  When I finally got to the overpass, there were a bunch of middle school-aged cheerleaders screaming for all of the runners.  That definitely made me feel like a rock star.

A couple of other notes about the race.

The last few miles of the race were a struggle to keep going, mostly because it was so crappy out and I was so tired.  But the good thing is, they were flat.  As I turned a corner, I saw a sign for the 12-mile marker.  I immediately got really excited, until I realized that that sign was for the runners coming back from a two mile stretch and my sign, on my side of the road, had the 10-mile marker.  At this point two miles shouldn’t have felt like a big deal, but thinking I was one mile away when I really had three to go briefly killed me.  And, running past all of the people that were almost done also had its ups and downs.  In a way, it sucked because hey, those people were almost done and I still had a few miles to go.  But at the same time, it was inspiring, because I knew I would be coming back passing people at some point and then I would be almost done.

I’d say about a tenth of the last .15 of the last mile was up a crappy hill.  It really sucked.  By then I was honestly absolutely dead, but I pushed it up the hill and by the time I made it to the top I wanted to collapse.  But, I didn’t.  Instead, I ran the last fifth of a mile or so, and then, I was done.

Considering the injuries I faced only a few days prior to my race time, and all the panicking I did, I was really happy with my time.  I expected a time around 2:11 (a 10-minute mile average pace), and I managed to pull off a time of 2:11:50.  I’d say that is pretty awesome for my first half marathon.

I was so, so tired, but so happy that I did it.  I can officially call myself a half marathoner.

After grabbing a banana, some Snickers Marathon bars, a bottle of Cytomax and water, I temporarily got lost (as I do), and then eventually limped found my way back to the hotel.

Clearly, I was thrilled.  I did it.

And, even though it took me a couple days to recover, I think I want to do another one.  And, I booked a hotel at a currently undisclosed location to do another one.  We’ll see how training goes, but I can definitely see how people get hooked on this stuff.  I felt a sense of accomplishment I’ve never felt before.

Providence Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon Recap

My first half marathon automatically warrants a race recap.  So, let’s start from the beginning.

I got into Providence early on Saturday afternoon, exciting for my first official race expo.  I parked at Providence Place (a huge mall in the city) and after asking a Macy’s sales associate for directions to the Rhode Island Convention Center, I was quickly on my way.

(I apologize in advance for the blurriness of my photos…they were all taken on my cell phone)

After a quick check-in (there were no lines, just a few people trickling in at this point), I headed over towards the main area.  On my way, I picked up my technical shirt.  They had plenty of sizes available and I was able to get one smaller than I had ordered, which was helpful, as it fit better.  I picked up my goodie bag and then passed through the store where they were selling more items, though I did not purchase any.

The expo itself was pretty big and had a ton of vendors.

This photo doesn’t really do it justice, but I was able to get a ton of samples, including some Gu Chomps, Lara Bars, Cascadian Farms granola bars, and Snickers Marathon energy bars.  They also had samples of MGD64 and Muscle Milk, though I passed on both.  I did have to buy one thing though, and that was the obligatory 13.1 car magnet.

After the expo, my mom and I drove over to the hotel I was staying in, which was about five minutes away from the convention center.  When I went to book a hotel through the Providence Rock ‘n Roll site, all of the sponsored hotels in my price range were booked up.  With some help from Google Maps, I found another one that was less than half a mile from the start/finish line.

With more research on the hotel’s website, I was able to book a standard $260 room at the Hotel Providence for a mere $120.

I am always proud of my research capabilities when it comes to traveling.  It was a nice room and a comfortable hotel, and the distance from the race was ideal for me.  A little bit away from the action, but not too far.

Pete had to work on Saturday, so my mom went to the expo with me and left me in the hotel for the evening, while I waited for Pete to arrive to spend the night and race day with me.  He got in a little after 7:00 and we had a good night taking it easy and watching a few different shows on his Netflix.

I woke up early on Sunday morning for my first half marathon ever…

…to be continued…