Sunday, May 6, 2012

Providence Cox Marathon

Sunday, May 6, 2012
ResultsBQ, PR, and sub-3!!!
At my advanced geriatric age, I really was not sure if I would ever see another PR in the marathon, never mind sub-3, but cross one off the bucket list, boys!
I had set three different goals for myself from very aggressive to very conservative:  A) Sub 3 hours, B) PR (3:08:55), and to keep myself from being ultra depressed, C) Boston Qualifier (3:25).
Pre-race:  got up at 5, and concerned about running out of energy, had a large breakfast with two bowls of oatmeal with granola and blueberries, and a bagel and OJ.  Took Amtrak into Providence since it doesn't cost me anything extra.  Had an energy bar and plenty of fluids when I arrived Providence, ran into Jeff V, checked my bag and got to the start, lining up about 10 rows back.
Miles 0 -5:  Got stuck behind some slower runners, then stupidly sped up to finish mile 1 in 6:34.  Ran 2-5 in 6:47/6:50/6:33/6:48.  That's more like it (mile 4 was largely downhill).  These were pretty ugly sections on the East Side into East Providence and past industrial areas.  At about mile 3, I fell into a group consisting of an older Asian guy, a much younger white guy, and me.  The younger guy said he was shooting for 2:45-2:55 and the Asian guy right around 3 (which really means just sub 3), so I figured I'd try to hang with him for a while.
Miles 5-10:  Most of this section was non-descript along Veteran's Memorial Parkway towards Riverside, but at mile 8 the course split off and went down onto an out-and-back on a peninsula in Bullock's Point.  At the turnaround after mile 9, the course doubled back for about 1/2 mile and I could see the runners behind me now.  At this point I saw Jeff Vuono maybe 1/2 mile behind me and Jeff Duda just behind him (yes, there were 3 Jeffs running from Westerly today!).  By this point, the younger guy in our "group" had run ahead, and it was just the Asian guy and me running together.  My average pace through this section was 6:41.  Crossed the 10-mile mark in 1:07.
Miles 11-15:  Onto the East Bay Bike Path, finally!  The sun was out at this point, and the bike path offered some shade.  Crossed the half-marathon mark in 1:28, exactly the same time the only other time I ran this in 2009, before I crashed and burned that year.  We're down in Barrington at this point on a mix of roads and bike path.  The pace slowed slightly this section for an average 6:49.
Miles 16-20:  The course turns around and we start the long trek back to Providence.  Much of this is on the bike path.  A 90-degree right turn at mile 19 seems painful; I run it wide onto the grass.  We cross mile 20 in 2:16.  I'm starting to fade; 44 minutes for 6.2 miles seems unrealistic at this point, and I have a mental block as mile 20 is where I stopped cold in 2009 for at least a 5-minute break.  The Asian guy convinces me to stay with him and asks that we finish together.  I take my 3rd and final gel.  It tastes warm and terrible; it's been riding against my butt for the last 20 miles (doesn't that sound appetizing?).
Miles 21-25:  Somehow by mile 21 I feel a little bit better, but the pace has slowed.  By mile 22 my friend for the race, the Asian guy, is dropping behind.  He helped get me here, so I look back and yell for him to stay with me.  He catches up.  At mile 23 we start an uphill.  The last thing I hear from the Asian guy is some muttering about the hill, and he's dropped off again.  At this point, I decide I can't keep sparing the energy to turn around and yell to him, so I continue solo.  Selfish?  Mile 23 to 24 seems like a long but gradual hill climb which I actually pass a few runners, and then gain some respite downhill after Mile 24.  Mile 24 to 25 is on the Route 195 Bridge!  Awful single barriered lane.  At the end of the bridge there is a pedestrian ramp down that has 3 180-degree turns.  I let loose some expletives; not my style on a race, but I'm in pain on these turns.   By the time I hit mile 25, the average pace for this 5-mile section has been a 7:04 with miles as slow as 7:12 and 7:14.  I look at the 25-mile clock (it's positioned every 5 miles) it shows 2:53.  What to do now, Jeff?  Should I continue at this same pace and probably finish 3:00:30 or something like that, a huge PR, but leaving me thinking "if only..."?  Hell no!  That does it; sprint for your life with the little energy you have left.
Mile 26:  India Point Park to downtown finish.  To make matters worse now, the tail end of the 1/2 marathon course has now merged into the marathon course until the finish.  I'm moving as fast as I can muster, when the trail ahead is blocked by 3 walkers!  I don't have the time to try to meander off course around them, and I don't have the energy to yell out at them.  I pick a gap between two of them and go for it.  They close the gap, oblivious that I'm right behind them.  Go for it.  I go between them and hit one of them hard, my shoulder to hers.  She mutters something at me; sorry but I'm running the marathon of my life here and "Suzy" and her friends are probably talking about last night's dinner.  I make the final turn to the finish and see the clock ticking 2:59:xx and counting.  Yes!!!! 
Post-race:  My final mile turns out to be a 6:39!  The official results show my position as 34th of 1,354, and my time as 2:59:20!!!  I'm in shock!  Marathon #13 turns out to be my lucky one.  So much for triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13).  I catch up with the Asian guy (3:01), Jeff V (3:04), and Jeff D (3:06) after the race.  All impressive times in my book.  Jeff V gives me a ride home, and the time back to Westerly flies by with talk about, what else, the MARATHON!
Chaos at finish line and
Providence sky line

I just don't have the strength yet to move my
facial muscles to smile, but believe me,
I am on Cloud 9!

Photo taken by Cox with their mascot

Pretty cool finishers medal


  1. Hell yeah! Great race! Isn't it awesome when all that hard work falls into place and you finally get to cash out? You earned that one, well done.

  2. Congrats Jeff! I knew you were going to rip off a good one!

  3. Awesome run Jeff! I had a feeling that you were going to break 3. You inspire me..celebrate it, rest up, and then let's get back at it.

  4. Great work! I saw your time yesterday and I was very happy for you. You're right about that pedestrian ramp after the 195 bridge - it was a pain in the ass at that point in the race.

    3:56:52 for me. I wanted to break four hours so I'm very pleased.

  5. Jeff - congrats on going sub 3!! I thought you were certainly capable with your strong training through the winter. I wouldn't worry about the ramp incident - your one of the nicest people I know, so if you felt like you had no choice then I'm sure it was the right call.

  6. Guys, thanks for all your comments and help throughout the winter running together in getting me here.
    Seth, congrats on breaking your goal! I presume this was your first? (I cyber-stalked you on the results section of and couldn't find any previous years' results.)

  7. Yeah, this was my first marathon. I hadn't really been putting up the weekly mileage you should be when training for a marathon but my long runs were on target so I figured I'd have the fitness to get it done. I definitely want to prepare more for my next one.

    Now I'm looking forard to doing more trail runs and running with no real goal in mind.