Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Done With New England! Ocean State Rhode Race Marathon Report

Let me clear about one thing: marathon weekends are not vacations, even when there's only one marathon involved, and when there are two marathons involved, they are closer to work than they are to vacations. For me right now, they are incredibly long travel days topped off with a visit to the expo, checking into a crappy but affordable Motel 6, dragging myself out of bed before dawn the next morning, running the marathon, and then reversing the long travel day, usually sore and often nauseous and cranky too, in order to get back to Michigan in time to work again the next day. I refer to them as "hit it and quit it" trips.

New England is the first part of the country I can truly say I am done with. (I am so close to being able to say I'm done with the West... but because of Wyoming, I can't.) I capped it off with this Rhode Island marathon, whatever its actual name is. Seriously, I am confused. still refers to it as the Newport Marathon, which it used to be, but this year there was some problem with the race organizers not being able to get a permit for the part of the marathon that went through Newport. There was talk that it might be canceled, but instead they changed the course. Anyway, if you click on the Newport Marathon link on, it takes you to what looks to be a fully functioning webpage for the marathon, only it's not. The participant information packet referred to the race as the Ocean State Rhode Race Marathon. The medal says Ocean State Rhode Races Marathon, but the ribbon the medal is on says Narragansett Marathon (Narragansett was the town where the marathon started and ended.) The company that put it on, Eident Racing, refers to it on their website as the Narragansett Marathon. I am curious to see what the final name of the marathon will end up being. I have never seen so much ambiguity surrounding a marathon name!

Anyway, after the Hartford Marathon, we stayed in Hartford one more night, and got up early the next morning for the two-hour drive to Narragansett. (Hartford is a lot cheaper than Narragansett, which is a cute and expensive beach town, and the Narragansett race was a much smaller event and allowed race morning packet pickup.) The start and finish line were both right on the beach. It was a chilly morning but a beautiful sunrise. I really wasn't sore at all, and definitely did not feel like I had run a marathon the day before, but I also wasn't really excited about running another marathon. I was excited, though, that my Achilles didn't hurt at all and that my body felt pretty much okay, so I wasn't dragging myself to the start line heavy with dread like I was in Maine the last time I did back-to-backs five long years ago.

There were a few people wearing yesterday's Hartford Marathon T-shirt, and I was wrapped up in the heat sheet until the gun went off. I chatted briefly with all of the other Hartford runners during the first couple miles, but soon passed all of them. I wasn't feeling great, but I wasn't feeling terrible either.

I had been expecting ocean views the whole way. For the first three miles the road paralleled the coast, and then we turned off on a 4-mile loop through a neighborhood of fancy houses with ocean views. This was my favorite part of the course even though there were some hills. I was feeling good, not really sore at all. I talked to another Maniac who had done this double before and was doing it again to keep his sister company. Good for him. As for myself, I am becoming more obsessed with marathons than I ever have been, but I can say for sure that there is no way I would be doing back-to-backs if it wasn't getting me more states, no matter who else was doing them. I passed this guy and then passed a bunch more people and was running pretty much by myself for a while. The course headed away from the coast and spit us out on a main road. It was lined with trees and I couldn't see the ocean anymore. The weather was perfect, but the views were a little boring, especially because I knew this was the start of a long out-and-back so I would be looking at these views again on the way back. We had a slight tailwind and a slight downhill, which was all well and good for the moment but not so much when I thought about how those conditions would be reversed on the way back. Still, I counted my blessings because I wasn't nauseous or injured, just bored.

I got to the turnaround point around Mile 15 and began the slog back up the hill. (These were little baby hills, but still seemed plenty big.) Just past the Mile 17 marker, I hit a big hill and ran out of gas. I was tired, bored, knew there was no spectacular scenery to look forward to, had sore feet, and missed the cheering crowds of Hartford. I walked for quite a while but eventually managed to pick it up and jog slowly. Then I told myself I could walk for the first 1/10th of every mile as long as I ran, no matter how slowly, for the other 9/10th of it. In the end I ran almost the whole rest of the way, and even got back down to 8:30 pace after a while.

I started passing people who had walked the half-marathon at about Mile 23, and continued passing them all the way to the finish. Perhaps this says something unpleasant about my character, but in a race I always get a boost when I see someone feeling worse than I do. (Probably I should not admit this in print, but... I believe in honesty.) I enjoyed the feeling of flying past walkers, and it made me even faster. I knew I would be under four hours because I was at 3:45 when I passed the Mile 25 marker. From here it was a gentle downhill into the finish chute on the beach. I do not excel at finishing kicks -- I have walked into finishing chutes before -- but I was able to finish this one strong, with a time of 3:53:09, just a little over a minute faster than Hartford on tired legs and a course that was more challenging both mentally and physically. The race announcer said, "And here's Number 15, Christie Bane, a strong finish. This is someone who paced herself well!" And I had to laugh because I did NOT pace myself well -- no negative split here -- but still, I know I did well. My last back-to-back I finished in 4:22 the first day and 4:21 the second day, pretty close to half an hour slower than I was this weekend.

Conclusions reached this weekend:
*My body is used to marathons. I really don't feel like I did much, and I never got sick in either race.
*My obsession is growing. I want to be doing another marathon this weekend.
*I love other crazy marathon people.
*I am running really well right now.
*This one-marathon-a-month is good for me.
*Back-to-backs are not scary at all anymore.
*I'm pretty sure my brain manufactured that Achilles injury, since it did not bother me on either day and still is not bothering me now. (This is not the first time this has happened. See my race report on New Hampshire and Maine for another example. I also remember being barely able to walk to the start line at Missoula and Marine Corps only to be able to run without pain the whole way. It is just my brain trying to talk me out of doing crazy stuff like this.)

I just got the official race results and found that I got second in my age group (women 30-39), but because I didn't stick around, I didn't get my prize and don't even know what I won. I was 6th woman overall (out of 67) and I am pretty happy about that. I mean, I know this was a small race with not that many people running, but I am still willing to bet that none of those five women who beat me ran Hartford the day before!

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