Monday, September 30, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Providence Half Marathon

Half number 8 on year took place in my back yard down in Providence, RI.  This will be third year that Rock N Roll has hosted this event and Julie and I have run all three.  This race holds a special place for me as in 2011 it was my first half marathon. 

On the day before the race we woke up and headed down to RI where we stopped just before the border to have lunch with one of my high school buddy's and his family before heading on down to the expo.

Coming up to the event RnR announced that the expo would only be from 9-5 on Saturday vs. the Friday/Saturday combination of past years and other races.  I know this race is smaller than the others but it was still a shock for me to have them cut out the Friday hours.  When we arrived the expo seemed much smaller than prior years and smaller than any other expo I've been to.  There was no Brooks set-up and very limited vendors.  Normally RnR are trying to get you to sign up for next year's race with a discount but that wasn't the case.  This combined with the small number of participants, 3,930 makes me wonder if they will be back again next year.  The attendance numbers are up slightly from last year's number of 3,610 not including the mini marathoners, but nowhere near year 1 participation of 5,770.

Bare Bones Expo :(
That being said Julie and I came to the expo to get some stuff done.  First was to register for the RnR USA half marathon in March.  We made our way over to the RnR both to register, but they were having WiFi problems so only two computers were working, but one of those two were open so we jumped on and promptly registered us both without using the code to get us our discount.  It seems that I'm not the first person to do this as the person manning the booth knew just what to do and was able to full out a form to hopefully have our $30 refunded in 4 to 6 weeks. Go me!

Next we headed over to hippie runner to grab a plain headband for running.  Julie has a couple with slogans on them, and they work great, but we both just wanted one with a solid color on it for use in races or training.  We grabbed them and headed out to find a dunkin donuts to buy some bagels for breakfast in the morning.  When we arrived at the only DD near the expo it was closed.  It closed at 4PM as apparently Providence doesn't need caffeine, so we headed to our hotel just north of the capital.

We settled into the Providence Marriott and asked the front desk if there was a grocery store nearby.  We were directed to the Whole Foods about two miles away in the car, but only about 300 feet away as the crow flies.  As you have to walk over a couple of busy roads and about 10 flights of stairs to get there we jumped in the car to grab a couple of bagels and organic peanut butter.  Since the liquor store was two doors down we stopped in and got some Shipyard Pumpkinhead and Wachusett Pumpkan ale (the Pumpkan is funnier when you see it's in a can), before heading back to the hotel for some drinks before dinner.

About six we headed back down towards downtown to grab some dinner at the Omni Hotel's restaurant called Centro.  It's the only Italian place within walking distance so we hit it up.  Julie went with the house speciality pizza which was a white pizza with prosciutto and arugula, while I went with the linguine with spicy sauce and lobster chunks.  All and all very tasty!

After dinner we headed down to Waterfire, which is a light display put on along the river.  Several large basins are situated throughout the river, and a large fire is lit in each.  The fires are tended by a gondola and burn well into the night.  We hung out watching the water and fire for a while before he headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep.

While walking back to the hotel we played a game called "how many times can you cross the road."  Wondering how to play?  Well it's simple you just cross the road until something happens to make you cross the road again.  First I crossed the road over to the other side towards the capital since that's the way we came (1 point Drew, 1-0 Drew).  Julie then pointed out that we were on the wrong side to get back to the hotel so we found a cross walk (safety first) and made our way back to the other side (1 point for making us cross the road and 1 point for putting us on the right side of the road 2-1 Julie).  We cross another road but that was running perpendicular to our path so no points were awarded, but just a little further up the street I urgently said "move over, cross the street, cross the street".  There just rooting around in the bushes was a skunk so we quickly made our way across the street again (2 points for Drew, 1 for keeping each person skunk spray free.  I think the hotel would have charged us extra to try and get that smell out of the room 3-2 Drew).  We made our way up the road a little farther and crossed back across the street (no points were awarded since we both knew that we had to be on that side). 

A little farther up the road something scurried along the bushes and I nearly jumped back across the street.  Instead of the white stripe of a skunk it was the white cotton ball of a rabbit.  Julie laughed at me as we arrived at the hotel.  I should have let her get sprayed.  Final score Drew 3 Julie 2.

Waterfire in Providence

Race day we slept in and only woke up two hours forty-five minutes before the race rather than our normal three hours, which let us sleep until 4:15.  We had our bagels while scrolling through infomercials and episodes of 30 for 30 (Who killed the USFL?) while we woke up and got ready for the race.  Shopping at Whole Foods all I was able to get in terms of peanut butter was organic peanut butter which is more like ground peanuts with oil.  How is this more healty than JIF?

About 20 minutes before the scheduled start we headed down the will towards the capital to the start line and got in our coral, number 5.  There were only 11 corals so being in 5 didn't feel too close to the front.  We waited as the clock hit 7...then 7:05...then 7:10.  These races are normally pretty much on time so it was strange and I was starting to get a bit cold.  Finally about 7:12 when they announced we were about to start I was ready to go!

starting line
 The course starts up past the state house and tests you right out of the gate with a hill that goes past the seat of government before taking a right (past our hotel) and then slightly down hill again.    After that quick up and down it levels off for until about mile 1.5 where you hit another hill for about a mile as you pass Brown University and the Whole Foods we passed the day before.
As I passed the 5K mark I felt tired and took my foot off the gas a bit because I knew just after the start of mile 4 there was a big hill.  But I didn't remember just how big it was.  It's really freakin big and just as quickly as it does up it gives back most of it's elevation.  I was able to keep moving all the way up and was still making pretty good time as I zig-zaged down through mile 5 and 6. 
Miles 7 and 8 run along the river at Blackstone Park which made for some nice views along it's fog strewn banks.  I stopped here and made a pit stop which lost be about 2-3 minutes but overall I was still making pretty good time.
The Fog at Blackstone Park

After leaving the part the course cuts back inland for a while before emerging back along the river and runs in India Point Park just after mile 9 all the way to mile 10 where it cuts over the river to the other side of Providence.   This part of the course isn't very scenic as you run along the campus of Johnson and Wales, but it's only a mile so it's not too bad.  Also about this time I set the goal to beat my time from last year of 2:19:34, so I picked up the pace.
At mile 11 you come back to the river heading back towards the bridge you crossed.  At this point you can see the people in the home stretch going the other way.  Even though I wished I could follow them I didn't, I kept on over the bridge again just to U turn and run down the other side of the river.   One more small bridge crossing at the 20K mark and you're in the home stretch running along Waterplace Park while the people on the other side of the road wonder if they can just follow you.

Waterplace park with the capital
The final stretch comes with one last twist.  The final turn starts you on a 0.2 mile hill up to the finish line.  For those who didn't scout this it can be a cruel cruel joke.  I powered up the hill and clocked in at 2:19:04, 30 seconds faster than last year and almost 20 minutes faster than 2 years ago!
The finish line is up a wicked hill

Feeling good I grabbed my medal and headed straight to the beer garden without passing go and without someone handing me $200.  I turned in my drink ticket for an ice cold Mic Ultra and watched a bit of the opening band, the Velveteen Playboys.  When I finished by beer I hit the repeat button this time turning in Julie's beer ticket which I took off her bib this morning. 

Having a beer listening to Velveteen Playboys

After my beers I checked Julie's progress using the "Find My iPhone" app.  It comes in useful even if it's a bit creepy that you can see where someone is all the time.  Matching her spot with the RunKeeper map from my run I walked down and met her at mile 11 to give her some encouragement and Gatorade.  She finished up strong knocking about 20 minutes off of her time from Philly two weeks ago and since the race started so early we hung out listening to the headliner Atlas Genius for a while before heading back to our hotel to shower up without encountering any skunks along the way.
Julie shows off at 20K

Hanging at the Atlas Genius concert post race

Showered up we checked out and went to a new place for brunch that we saw on Phantom Gourmet, which is called the Duck and Bunny.  DnB is all about the crepes.  Want a burrito?  It's a crepe instead of a tortilla.  Want a sushi roll?  It's a crepe instead of seaweed.  Want pasta?  It's a cut up crepe instead of pasta.  You get the picture.  In addition to all the crepe craziness, they have some traditional foods and find some traditional uses for the crepes as well, along with afternoon tea offerings.

We started off with a couple of lattes while we decided if we wanted sweet or savory.  Julie went savory with a salmon roll (similar to a large sushi roll) with salmon, herb cheese, capers, creme fraise and chives.

Salmon Roll
I went sweet with the Red Velvet Pancakes with Mascarpone cheese and chocolate chips. Bother were wonderful.  Stuffed, we grabbed two cupcakes to go (banana-nutella for me and honey lavender for Julie) and headed back to Boston.

Red Velvet Pancakes
One more half scheduled for this year down in Savannah in November, but before that we have the RnR Brooklyn 10K in 2 weeks.  60 minutes or bust!!!




Segment Pace

Overall Page

















Overall: 2,694 out of 3,930 Division: 205 out of 349 Gender: 1,108 out of 1,348


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