Thursday, April 20, 2017

Newport Rhode Races Marathon

Newport, RI
Saturday, April 15, 2017

Started my marathon training back in December.  Ran my first of five 20-milers on the day after Christmas.  The last two 20-milers, and the last four long runs (which I define as 16 or over) were tough, hilly runs with Tommy K.  While we knew the hills on our long run would be longer and steeper than anything in Newport, I still maintain it was good training practice.  I knew this wouldn't be a PR course, and my sole goal was sub-3.

Marathon morning:  Time to go!  Surprisingly, I am still not nervous.  Picked up Tommy at 5:30am and made the 45-minute trek to Sachuest Point with some AC/DC classic tunes along the way.  It was in the low 40s upon arrival with just over an hour until race start, so we wore pants and additional layers before boarding the shuttle bus.  Met up with Jeff Duda running the full marathon and Paul Gray running the half.  Duda was just registering today.  To each his own, but I can't imagine registering for a marathon day off; don't need the added stress or $40 more than what I paid.
JD, Tommy, me, Paul
staying warm before the start
The wait time went by fairly quickly.  Skip and Big Mike offer to take our bags and layers to save us time and skip the bag check.  Final bathroom break before toeing the line.  There's a 30-something woman in our men's bathroom line, arguing to no one in particular that she can be here because she saw men in the women's bathroom line.  OK, whatever.  But no, that's not enough.  She goes on to tell whomever will listen that she's not going to use the urinals, and that she can pee standing up but doesn't want to.  Scintillating conversation, but I've got a marathon to run.
Waiting for the start ...

... and we're off.

Start to Mile 5:  Like Muddy's report, I like to break this up into 5-mile chunks.  It was cool that one of the marathon runners sang the National Anthem, and he did a really good job!  Memorial Boulevard eastbound lanes were completely closed for the marathon, so we had two full lanes to start.  Heading out from Easton's Beach, we pretty quickly had an 83' moderately steep climb.  Huffing and puffing 1/4 mile in was not a great motivator!  While our goal was to run 6:30-6:35 splits, we had to keep counseling each other to slow the pace. 
1/2 mile in.  Passed this guy at about Mile 1.
He finished 4 places behind me.
Top of the hill.  Mile 1 down. 25 to go.

Mile 2 featured a major dog snafu, as a dog got loose from his owner and ran onto the street barking and nipping right on Tom's heels.  He came after me next (the dog, not Tom) and I just raised my feet quick and high to avoid being bitten.  FRUSTRATING!! 

Mile 4 was pretty neat going into Fort Adams for a loop down to the water and back.  On the way back, Tom missed a right turn checking out spectators and I had to literally push him back onto the course!  Coming out of Fort Adams, a couple of young guys latched on behind us.

Miles 6 - 10:  We're along the coast and quite flat for the rest of the first half of the marathon.  Every one of these miles ends up being sub-6:30.  The course is absolutely beautiful here along the Brenton Point State Park right on the ocean (much of same route as Christmas 10K).  The two college guys turned out to be runners at UMass Amherst and are cranking out some great tunes.  Duran Duran, Stones, CCR, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Bad Company, and more.  It was good to see college students with good taste in music.  (My blog, my tastes.)

Miles 11-15:  Headed back to the start now, I'm think how nice it would be to pick up the pace and just finish the half and end it there.  No, keep the pace.  Mile 13 is a fast downhill mile back to the start, as we're passing the back of the pack 5K'ers now.  Up until now, the course has been amazingly well marked, so it's ironic that the place with the most volunteers (start/finish line) is the most chaotic and confusing about where to go and places where runners from different races split off in different directions do not have a course marshal.
Mile 13.  As you can see here, I warned Tommy that
if he tried to pass me, I'd elbow him in the stomach.
That kept him contained for a while.
 Almost at the half mark, along Memorial Blvd,
with one of the college runners aside me and Tommy just behind.
Still feeling really good.
Our little pack, coming through the half now.
Stunning ocean views throughout much of the course.

Half split:  1:23:20.  6:22 pace.  Possibly my fastest half split ever (in a marathon).

After the half, another runner joins us as we begin an uphill climb just temporarily away from the water.  Skip and Big Mike are at the top giving encouragement.  Winding our way towards Sachuest Point, I notice Tommy is falling a few paces behind the pack.  I wave him on.  Shara and Tom's parents are there for support.

Mile 14:  The two college guys are still just behind Tom & I,
and another runner (on my left) joined us.
(Photo courtesy of Skip Hoffman)

Miles 16 - 20:  Net downhill to Sachuest Point.  Fortunately Tommy caught back up.  We let the college kids go as they're picking up the pace, but we still ran a 6:18 mile.  Not good.  At the turn around at Sachuest Point, we make the decision to slow it up a bit and our newest compadre moves ahead.  Back to the two of us.  We pass the Bousquet support team at Mile 17.  Let the hills begin.  Mile 19 is taking a toll on me with a 76' climb and even after that it's a slow net uphill to the turnaround at Mile 21.

Miles 21 - Finish:  Cone turnaround, which I hate at any point in any race, but Mile 21 after a hill climb, seriously?  I do my best to make a wide turn, but the damage is done.  My legs are spent and don't want to get moving again.  It seems like Tommy is pulling ahead, but the reality is I've slowed down.  He keeps waving me on, but I have no response.  The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak.  I tell my legs to pick it up, but they just say you're lucky we're moving at all.  I follow somewhat closely behind Tommy for Mile 22, but as you can see from the pace chart, it's over after that, as I just try to finish this thing.

Mile 25 features a 60' climb.  Sixty feet:  nothing, right?  Not for me at this stage.  Big Mike and Skip are at the top of this "killer" hill shouting enthusiasm to me.  I hear them, as unlike at Sugarloaf, I'm totally lucid, but I have no smile or anything to give, and don't even look at them as I shuffle past.  They shout out, "You're looking good!".  Liars!   Next I'm passed in rapid succession by two guys, one who looks old.  Damn, I just lost my age group win.  Embarrassing.

Coming up to the Mile 26 marker, I see runners just starting out their second half, and I'm thinking "those poor souls".  Around some barriers and I'm done.

Turning towards home.  Am I about to fall over?
(Pic courtesy of Shara)

Finish line in sight!
Final steps!

Final results:  2:58:59.  I made my goal of sub-3!  9th overall out of 395 finishers.  1st in age group.  (The guy who passed me in final mile was 49!  Whew!)  Full results here.
Three finishers too beat to get up off their duff.

Shuffled over to the beach for a post-race pic.
(Pics courtesy of Shara)

It's over!!!  Thanks especially to Tom for keeping my interest level goingand helping me get training in.

Marathon #19 is in the books.  What's next?  Stay tuned ...


  1. Great job on the sub 3 hour marathon Jeff! God, the last few miles of these things sound awful. I love that pic of the five of you running with the beach in the background. Actually you had a lot of great pictures from this race!

    1. Thanks Seth! It was cool that the race gave free photos as part of the entry package.

  2. Reading this makes me a little bummed I had to back out. It looked like beautiful day. Congrats on hitting your goal! I have yet to not fade significantly the last 4 miles of a marathon. Glad you pulled it off even with the slow down.

    1. Thanks Leslie. It's extremely rare for me to not fade in the final few miles. You're backing out certainly seems like the right thing to do; hope your recovery is going well.

  3. Great job Jeff! Having FiveK and others to run with seems super helpful. Congrats on nailing your goal.

    1. Definitely a huge plus having a partner for 21 miles. Onto trail races!