Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Race Recap: UHC Newport Half Marathon

On Sunday, I completed my second doubleheader (two half marathons in two days) at the UHC Newport Half Marathon. To be completely honest, I was rather dreading the 13.1 mile run on day two. Even though I went an easy pace the day before, the Hartford hills certainly had my quads talking. I came East completely prepared to baby my feet between races - icing, rolling, massage - to ease my plantar fasciitis. Oddly enough, my feet were 100% fine, but those power muscles in my thighs had second thoughts about this whole "double" race thing.

We rolled into Newport, RI on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the packet pickup on Easton's Beach (also the start/finish line). It was nothing fancy, just a big white tent by the beach. The line to get in was really long, but moved quickly. We chatted away with local guy who had run this race often. He told me there was one hill at the start and the rest was pretty flat, a couple "little bumps" he said. I've come to learn... never trust a local's description of the elevation.

On race morning, I met up with Kim at her hotel this time. The prior day's failure in Hartford to find each other taught us a lesson. Both our hubbies came along as our personal cheerleaders, photographers and chauffeurs. Nothing makes a race easier than having support staff at your beck 'n call. It was a chilly morning, so we drove around a bit, waiting until the last moment to jump out of the car. Kim and I hit the portapotties quickly enough and then jumped into the corrals. Perfect timing... or not. The race was delayed about 15 minutes waiting for shuttles to arrive. At least I was warm, huddled in the mass of runners. One benefit of being short is that I was easily protected from the cold wind.

The first mile was a wakeup call to my legs. Here we go again! As I mentioned, my quads were not happy about this. We had a big incline to climb from the very start. I took it slow, chatting with Kim the whole time. "Talking pace" is good. My goal today was simply to finish, and again I vowed not to look at my watch the entire run. That seemed to work well for me in Hartford. While not keen on the aspect of actually running, I was looking forward to the actual course. Everything I've heard about this race praised the scenic beauty of the water-lined course. So I jogged along with my camera in hand, ready to capture it all.
mile 2.5
Shortly after mile 2, we passed by a harbor area that gave a glimpse of the amazing Pell Bridge (far off in the distance). As soon as we turned away from the water, there was another little hill to climb. Honestly, I'm really not a hill-baby. The inclines were short and nothing really severe, but definitely notable on tired legs. It's not Illinois, that is for shizzle.

Mile 1 - 10:15
Mile 2 - 9:50

mile 4
At mile 4, we circled through another marina. Another set of bathrooms and a water stop. A couple notes that I've never seen in a race before (and I've run a few). First, I couldn't believe how many people were in the bathroom lines so early in the race. Maybe they were on the last shuttles? But most of all, the bathroom lines were forming out into the course, at one point blocking half the road. Just weird. Common sense peeps...
Mile 3 - 10:10
Mile 4 - 10:06

mile 5
As soon as we came out of that marina, we hit some pretty countryside for the next mile... lots of trees and pretty houses. I fell in love with the stone walls that seemed to be border property lines. Kim and I chatted away for most of the early miles. We agreed early that each should "move on" should they feel the energy. I love running with someone who understands that. Today was not a day I was going to push to keep up, but I also didn't want to hold her back. Around mile 5, Kim slowly moved ahead of me. I saw her little blonde ponytail and white hat for most of the run - just ahead.
Mile 5 - 10:02

mile 6

Ever so quickly, we hit the shoreline. The water views were amazing! The wind picked up on the coast, but I didn't care. I absolutely love running alongside water. I was "all in" for this race as soon as I saw the course map. I took so many photos along this stretch - never stopping once. I feared that if I took a walk break, my legs may never start again.
Mile 6 - 10:00
Mile 7 - 10:10

mile 7
When we weren't right along of the water, we ran amongst the famed Newport Mansions, castle-like houses perched atop amazing estates. Again... simply amazing views! 
Mile 8 - 10:06
Mile 9 - 10:00

mile 8

I remember a nice sized climb at mile 9, which coincidentally had a large gathering of spectators. Slowly, we turned inward on the island, entering the Historic Bellevue Avenue District. The area featured many more extravagant homes, dating back to the 19th Century. I didn't snap enough pictures thru here, as I was getting tired and really just wanted to be done.

Right before the mile 10 marker, I stopped to walk, take the remainder of my SportBeans with water, and put my earbud in. For the last three miles, I used music to propel me forward. My quads were really starting to hurt. As I cursed each little incline, I started to alter my stride - heel striking in an effort to use my hamstrings more than my quads. (The outcome of an altered stride is never good. I was sore in really weird places the next day.)
Mile 10 - 10:41
mile 10
The remainder of this run was just looking for the finish line. There was a joyous downhill in that final mile. Remember that big hill we climbed at the start... I opened my stride and tried to take it quick. My quads were in no shape to take any downhill pounding. Surely, it would have been less painful to just tuck and roll down that hill?! Eventually, the elevation evened out and we had a long straightaway to come into the finish. We cut onto the boardwalk area, that was heavily populated with spectators and race finishers. I wish I could say they were cheering, but not. Instead, it was a bit difficult to navigate in that last 1/4 mile. People kept walking in front of the runners and the opening to run seemed to get smaller and smaller.
Mile 11 - 10:08
Mile 12 - 10:20
Mile 13 - 9:14

Best cheerleader ever... he caught me 4 times on the course!
State #18 Rhode Island
Official Chip Time 2:12:31
average pace 10:06 min/mile
Overall #1782 out of 2867
Female #945 out of 1752
Div F30-39  #323 out of 554

Kim and I on Easton's Beach, the finish line behind us.

Last note on Newport - This was a great race and superb course. I loved it and would have loved it even more as a stand-alone race. This CT/RI double was challenging for me right now, as my training was weak this summer. It flat out hurt to bring it across that last finish line, but it also served as a kick in the butt for me. I have a new schedule of training (for Shamrock Marathon) approaching and I need to take it a bit more seriously - if I want it to feel any better at the finish.
Did I mention my quads were TORE UP after this double?!?!


  1. Love your photos. You really have a skill for "photos on the run". And, your last picture cracked me up. Way to get it done last weekend. Can't wait for another double in fall 2014!

  2. Thanks for taking so many great photos! I did my undergrad in Newport so I love seeing pictures of the area. It looks like you went right by where I used to live on Ruggles Avenue. Very cool! But, I can only imagine how hilly the course was, especially on tired legs!

  3. Great photos.

    You were several minutes ahead of me. Well, actually a lot of minutes.

    And thanks for that idea about using music in the last 3 miles. I don't usually listen to music during a race but I think it would have helped me in those last 3 miles on Sunday.

  4. I wish my on the run photos looked that good! Great job! Looking forward to doing this one next year!

  5. That race looks so beautiful! I'm glad you enjoyed it, even if your legs didn't! ;)

  6. HOW do you take pictures while running and not have them be blurry?

  7. Great job chica! That's my goal to keep a 10 min pace and soar to the finish line!

  8. Great recap. It brought back memories of my Newport half last year (my first half marathon). Smart choice to be dropped off at the start. The views on the course are amazing, though the wind was strong. I liked the course so much; I ran a 10-miler along most of the same route in April.

  9. I had a friend who ran this. I did the Rock N Roll in Providence RI a few weeks ago. When's your VT 1/2? Let me know if you need suggestions.

  10. You are a tough woman! I can't even imagine pulling off a double but you did it perfectly! Congratulations Jess!

  11. Great photos!! I should have warned you that no where in New England is actually flat LOL.

    I will be in Va Beach for the Shamrock half.....I will hunt you down as I feel like I need to meet you IRL!!

  12. Jess you can come back in April and run Newport 10 miler...similar views just no giant hill in the beginning...oh wait it's at the end!! That picture you took of the farm used to be called Hammersmith Farm...claim to fame? It used to belong to the Onasis family as is Jackie Onasis as in Jackie Kennedy. President Kennedy used this house as one of his summer vacation homes. It is privately owned now! Congrats on your double!!!

  13. That absoultely breathtaking scenery! Would love to run that one someday!

  14. Those views--amazing! Newport is officially on my bucket list! Can't imagine doing two halves back to back--you're a rockstar. Love the outfit btw!

  15. Congrats on the finish! I do agree with your new mantra as well; don't trust a local runner to describe the course. haha. That first hill was big, but definitely not the only one. The full though, that had some HILLS!! Congrats on the double!!

  16. You definitely picked a great race to come to the East Coast for. You're definitely insane for doing back to back races though! LOL

  17. love how you noticed the benefit of being short is you can stay warm in large crowds- very jealous. What is crazy is even though I ran this race 2 years ago- looking at your photos I knew exactly where you were in each part of the course- love it.

    I too was also unimpressed with the chute leading to finish line. For us, they didn't have the blow up finish line arch like they did for the start. I was literally just running, running, and then I was done... had no idea i crossed the finish line; how anti-climatic.


I appreciate your feedback and comments!