Redemption. I was looking to redeem myself at this year's Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon.
Well last year I ran this race and narrowly missed a PR by a minute or so. But I was beat. I lost steam. I didn't know the course. I wasn't ready for the hills. I wasn't ready.
But, 2013 would be different.
I am a stronger now. I am wiser. I know the course.
So I was ready to enjoy the day.
Well, I was going to be running the ZOOMA Women's Half Marathon the day before on the Cape so I knew I wasn't going to PR in Providence.
But, I wanted to come out on the other end feeling STRONG since I felt the complete opposite at the end of last year's run.
On Saturday, September 28 after finishing the ZOOMA Half and grabbing a quick shower at Nancy's, it was time to hit the road ... after a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts of course.
The drive from Falmouth to Providence would take about 80 minutes. I cranked up the tunes and set off.
The weather was glorious and I got to Providence early enough to grab lunch before meeting up with my friend Samantha, who I was crashing with that night.
On hear advice, I dined at PJ's Pub which was close to her apartment. Funny thing was I asked them to recommend a local brew and they said: "Harpoon IPA." Sorry miss. That is local to where I live ... not you. I was looking for a RI beer, but they didn't have any on tap. Sam Octoberfest it was to celebrate my race earlier that morning.
After my GPS somehow sent me to the wrong address for Samantha's, I got myself squared away and finally found her place. She met me in the parking lot and we jetted off to the Expo to meet our friend Robin. Yay seeing blogging/Twitter friends turned real-life friends! :)
We picked up our bibs...
... must be a small crowd if this girl - yes me - somehow ended up in Corral 2.
Speaking of small crowds, the expo this year was TINY. It took us no time to do a loop - or rather a couple loops - around the Expo. I wanted to take advantage of the free KT Tape booth, but some girl was getting most of her body covered in KT Tape so I bagged it.
We then headed over to the Got Chocolate Milk booth so I could take a couple pics and meet the other Team Refuel runners.
It was awesome meeting Jill and John - two amazing athletes!
And of course we needed a pic with the chocolate mustaches!
I had missed this at the last RnR Expo so I wasn't missing my chance this time around. :P
Samantha, Robin and I headed back to Samantha's apartment to unwind, watch some youtube videos on her Apple TV and enjoy a couple glasses of wine. My kind of night.
We enjoyed a nice dinner at Chili's since both Samantha and Robin are Gluten-Free so it worked for all of us then called it an early night.
Hey Flat Dani
Why such an early night?
Because the alarm was going off at 4:30am. Again, damn these early race times.
Providence has been known to have massive crowds in the parking garage so our goal was to get there early to secure a spot ... and early we did.
Thankfully Samantha is a local and got us in and parked quickly.
This gave ample time to enjoy my pre-race KIND Bar, have multiple trips to mall bathroom so we didn't have to use port-o-potties, hit up bag check and hide in the warmth of the mall before the start.
Oh hello Finish, we would be seeing you in a few hours after this was taken.
Before I knew it it was time to head to our corrals. I made a last minute port-o-potty stop (damn small bladder) and Samantha and I went to Corral 2. Robin was already settled into Corral 1.
While standing in the Corral, I saw my Tedy's Team runningmate Jackie, who I had actually ran into earlier in the mall as well. Yay seeing familiar faces.
Before the race, the game plan was to run with Samantha, but she was feeling severly undertrained so we were going to play it by ear.
My foot was feeling sore so I had no idea what my body would bring for the run.
The Start was delayed, which was tough in the chilly air, but the announcer tried to keep it light.
It was finally time to begin. Robin and Corral 1 went off and a couple minutes later it was our turn.
From the get go something felt off in my right foot. I had been battling a pain in the ball of my right foot earlier in the week, but this was coming from the arch.
I tried to shake it off and keep running. Samantha and I hung together the first 1.8 miles or so before I needed another port-o-potty stop. I figured it I went around Mile 2 I would be golden the rest of the race. My nerves get to me at the beginning of races.
Hit up the port-o-potty, almost ran over some of the 3-mile racers (oops!) and I was back on the course just in time for the first hill of the day.
But this time I was prepared. I buckled down and pushed up. It was easier this year. The weather helped, but I just felt smarter.
I turned up the music on my X-1 Headphones, which I attach to my visor and tried to zone out.
As we approached Mile 4, I knew the big hill was coming. This is like a hill for what feels like forever, but is really around a Mile. But it just keeps climbing. I remembered it from last year.
After giving myself a fist pump for making it through that mile, the pain increased in my arch.
It actually got so bad that at Mile 5 - the transition point of the Half Marathon Relay - I thought about quitting. I was going to get my first DNF.
Oh hell no I wasn't.
The rest of my body felt AMAZING. I would keep soldiering on. I stopped at Mile 5 to stretch and started running again.
I had a huge debate with myself during the next 2 miles. I started crying. The pain was tough. I knew that if it became unbearable I would stop. I am not risking my Dopey Challenge training for one race or one medal.
As we came down a hill approaching the water, I looked up and saw this sight. I had to stop and take a picture.
The fog was so thick it looked like a horror movie. I expected something to come out at me. It was a cool sight though.
But the pain got worse. I actually took my phone out of my armband, clicked it off airplane mode and texted my wife through the tears. I had no idea why she wasn't responding until I realized it was 8am on a Sunday so she was probably sleeping.
I put my phone away and got back to focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.
As I approached Mile 9, I started feeling better. The foot started loosening up and the pain started to subside. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Maybe it was the tears. Maybe it was working itself out.
But I just focused on enjoying the race.
I hit the Mile 10 marker, I looked across the street (as this was the start of an out and back loop thing) and saw Robin. I totally looked like a fan girl yelling: "ROBIN! ROBIN! GO ROBIN!" She looked fast and strong.
So I pulled from the depths of my energy and gave it all I had. I pushed through and reminded myself I had just a 5k to go! I can do that in myself. (Ummm not really but it worked in the moment)
I kept ticking the miles off with each step. When I hit Mile 12, I realized I was going to get Sub 2 - even with a half the day before and a bum foot. I also knew there was the hill approaching the Finish - it got me last year - but not this.
I pushed even harder once I saw the Mile 12 marker, but made sure to keep a little in the tank for that final hill.
I took the turn towards the Finish, squated down a tad in my stance and pushed. I gave all I had on that final hill.
There was the Finish Line. There was the Capital. There was the Chocolate Milk.
I had done it.
Hell to the yeah.
With all that - half the day before and a sore foot - I finished just 1 minute and 24 seconds slower than last year. Are you serious? THAT just goes to show how much can change in a year.
Not sure the Chocolate Milk had ever tasted so good. ;)
Jill & I post-race
I chatted with the Got Chocolate Milk folks and headed off to get my medal engraved. I ALWAYS take advantage of the on-site medal engraving at the RnR races because if they mess up they have a whole box of medals right there to fix the mistake - not if I take it home. So it is worth the $20 to me.
Once the medal was set, I headed off to get my bag out of baggage claim and wait at the Letter X for my friends. It was so odd not having my wife there at the Finish and not seeing her out on the course. It took some wind out of my sails for sure.
Robin had OWNED the course and had delayed finding me because she needed a couple more cool-down miles. An inspiration to me on so many levels - she shed 90 lbs with Weight Watchers and completed her first Ironman in July.
Lucky to call her a friend!
Samantha finished. Her main goal. She did a great job too.
We didn't even plan to all be wearing Zensah compression sleeves. :P
It was great to spend the weekend with these two ladies. We had all done the race together last year as well, but staying together the night before made it special.
The Providence race is a great time. It is the right amount of challenge yet scenic enough to get you through it.
As always, the Rock 'n' Roll experience of having the bands along the course give you a bit of energy, the volunteers are always friendly and the spectators are encouraging.
We even hung out to watch the band for a little while. We were right up on the stage. I rarely go to concerts so that was just a cool experience.
Plus there are amazing places to grab a beer/food after the race. We had some misinformation on a couple places websites, but we ended up enjoying a great meal at Bar Louie.
But after a double race weekend it was time to head back home with happy memories in tow.
Do you enjoy the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series? Have you ever run in Providence?