Start with the beautiful wedding of my favorite people, and add in an amazing race (where I crushed my time goal), and you have one pretty awesome weekend.
I was looking forward to this wedding for so many reasons. First, I was beyond ecstatic for the beautiful bride, my aunt, who I’ve never seen smile and light up as much as she does when she’s with my new “uncle.” If anyone deserves that level of happiness, it’s her, and I’m so thrilled I was there on such a special day for her.The festivities were also an opportunity to catch up with all my cousins and aunts and uncles, who I don’t see nearly as much as I’d like. Plus I got to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law, which is always a good thing.
We ate, we danced, we dined on a variety of cupcakes …And I got to take home the centerpiece for having the closest birthday (which just happens to be today!).The one bummer about signing up for a road race the day after a wedding meant we had to go a little easy during the cocktail hour, and we couldn’t go the after-reception festivities (we also had a babysitter to return to — thanks, Jess!). But it was obviously worth it in the end, based on how things turned out on race day.
Fast forward a few hours, and our alarm was going off bright and early at 5:45 a.m. for the Newport 10 Miler. Dr. G. and I initially wavered for a bit on registering for this one, since we’re pretty loyal to the James Joyce Ramble 10K that takes place the same weekend in Dedham, Mass.
But since we knew we were already going to be in Rhode Island for the wedding, we needed to do a long run on Sunday as part of our half marathon training, and the kiddos had built-in babysitters (since we were staying with “Nana and Papa” all weekend), it was kind of a no-brainer in the end.
I made myself some toast with almond butter and banana, then Dr. G. and I headed off for our pre-race caffeine fix (Dunkin, of course) before meeting up with our friends L and T, who were running the race too and had graciously offered to pick up our bibs and goodie bags on Friday.
It was a short 30 minute drive to Newport (one of the beauties of being on the road at 7am on a Sunday) and soon we were entering Fort Adams State Park, where the race was scheduled to begin.It was about a half-mile walk from where we parked to the main race area, and our first stop was — as always — a restroom break. And what did we find? Real bathrooms!! One of the benefits of starting a race at a historic park (which is also the beneficiary of the race, too). And, for some bizarre reason, the line wasn’t too long, considering it was 15 minutes before race time.
On our way to the start line, I was thrilled to bump into Nicole from Running While Mommy, followed by some of my fellow ZOOMA Cape Cod Ambassadors, including Nancy from Living the Dream and Amy from Running Escapades.We eventually made our way to the starting area, and a gentleman dressed in an old Revolutionary costume, who has stationed on a hill just above us, shot off a tiny cannon to signify the start of the race. So we were off!
The course winds around the city of Newport, which is located on an island, for those not familiar with Rhode Island geography More than half the race is oceanfront running, with the other sections of the course taking you along some of Newport’s most well-known streets, which are lined with some of the most beautiful homes you will ever see.
My goal coming into the race was to finish around 1:30, which would mean a 9:00/M pace. It was sort of like a trial run — literally — as part of my quest to run a sub-2:00 half marathon next month. I had no idea if I could hold this pace for 10 miles, but I had to try.
My first mile was a little slow (9:22), due to the early race congestion. But suddenly my pace started to speed up, and I finished mile 2 in 8:56. I can’t explain it. I was feeling good! Maybe it was the fresh ocean air and being surrounded by what was seriously the most BEAUTIFUL scenery.
I’ve run along the ocean before at the Falmouth Road Race, but it was so hot that day (and crowded) that I didn’t really appreciate it. This course, on the other hand, with it’s rocky beaches and oceanside cliffs and gorgeous homes, was almost motivational in a way. I wish I was coordinated enough to take photos as I run because it was incredible.
Miles 2-3 — which brought us on to Newport’s famed Ocean Drive — had some rolling hills, but again, the peaceful surroundings made them almost unnoticeable. I finished Mile 3 in 8:38 and that’s when I knew I had to make a decision. Do I keep this fast pace and build a buffer for what I knew were going to be some challenging hills around miles 7-9? Or do I slow down to a more conservative pace to make sure there was still some gas in the tank for the latter parts of the race?
I went with the former.
Mile 4: 8:48
Mile 5 (which included a few more rolling hills, including a pretty steep one): 9:01. Since it was the halfway point, I looked down at my watch and thought, Please be under 45 minutes. And there it was: 43:10. And it was at this point where I realized I might really finish in under 1:30.
Around Mile 6 we turned on to Bellevue Ave, home to some of Newport’s world-famous mansions. It was almost all completely uphill, and I slowed to a 9:03 pace. Yet I somehow made some time approaching one of the hillier portions of the race, and I finished Mile 7 in 8:59.
Mile 8 brought – yes – more hills, and I felt my legs growing really tired, but I kept on trucking and finished in 9:03. I was laboring by this point, and was sooooo tempted to slow down, but I knew I would be so angry with myself if I did. So thanks to sheer stubbornness (and, yes, a little determination :>), I powered through Mile 9 (which brought us back into the grounds of Fort Adams State Park) in 8:37 – my second speediest mile of the entire race!
So what was my fastest mile? Yup, that would be mile freaking 10.
I was on the grounds. I knew the finish line was there somewhere (although you couldn’t see it, since it was inside the fort walls, which was a bit of a bummer). And I was dead tired. But I was so close.
We ran around the fort and entered through a tunnel en route to the finish. Thankfully, the gals who ran this race last year warned me that the finish line was still a bit away once you run through and enter the actual fort itself. So I kicked it into high gear and SPRINTED towards that finish line, finishing that last mile in 8:20.
Here are my official stats:
So I finished my first 10 mile race with a sub-9:00/M pace, and an automatic PR But honestly, it gave me the confidence boost I so dearly needed as we near the Boston’s Run to Remember Half Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. My performance proved that a sub-2:00 half marathon is definitely in the realm of real possibility.
After the race, we grabbed some snacks (all 4 of us were done by 1:34, which is awesome!) and headed to the Harpoon-sponsored beer tent!
And I bumped into Nicole!
My biggest takeaway from this race is that I think I finally found a way to tackle hills. It’s not a secret that I dislike hills, but I approached them differently at this race, and tried to focus on using the strength in those glutes and my hamstrings, along with a significantly lower kick, to power me up and over them.
And it totally worked. I am beyond thrilled that I while I slowed slightly, I did not lose any major time (like I normally would) on any of the hills during this race!
For my runner friends in New England, definitely consider adding the Newport 10 Miler to your spring schedule! The race was well organized. There were real restrooms and a beer garden. And the views.
Seriously, just do it for the views.
Okay, time to go celebrate that birthday of mine …
Did anyone else race this weekend? Are you a hill-lover, or hill-hater?