I signed up for the Newport Half, back in the spring, when Kristine gave me two choices; sign up for the Newport Half or the Disney Wine and Dine Half. You’re running with me. So I did! My friend Sheri had asked me, months ago, if she could come with us for the weekend to cheer us on at the race. Umm, yes please! How lucky am I to have such a wonderful, loving and supportive friend?
Sheri and I left late Friday night to avoid traffic and because I didn’t want to feel cramped in a car for hours the day before the race. I had never been to Newport before this weekend and wanted to spend some time on Saturday seeing all the beauty it has to offer. I love Newport! To be honest, I love everything about New England. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and there is nothing more I love in this world than being on the water.
We finally arrived at the hotel around midnight and the weekend was off to a great start when I realized we were staying in room 118.
The first sign that this weekend was meant to be. I believe, A LOT, in numbers and signs and things that are meant to be. My Mom always taught me that everything happens for a reason and this would manifest itself in many ways over the course of the weekend in Newport.
But I digress. Back to the room number. 118. I have written before about the significance of the number 18 in the Jewish faith and I felt this was a sign of good things to come. It seems to always show up when I am running a half marathon.
Kristine flew in from California and met us at the hotel just before 1am. I introduced her to Sheri, we all chatted for a few minutes and it was off to bed. We had a big weekend ahead of us and were all in need of some sleep. They fell asleep within minutes while I, unfortunately, watched the clock until almost 2am before I finally fell asleep. I was up by 7am and PROMISED not to wake anyone up before 10am. Pre-race day nerves, perhaps? I think I feel back asleep around 9am for another hour or so and was so happy when everyone else finally woke up!
Time to start the day. On our agenda was brunch, pick up our race stuff at the expo, and walk around Newport for a while.
I didn’t want to spend the entire day walking around, but that’s pretty much how it ended up. We shopped, chatted about our race day plan and decided to drive the race course on our way back to the hotel. I’m SO HAPPY we drove the race course so I could capture the beauty of it all because I don’t take pictures during a race. The views, especially along the water, were breathtaking. I felt so grateful, in that moment, that I had the opportunity to run a race in such a beautiful place. The race started next to the beach. The early part of the race brought us out to the water, with amazing views of the Newport Bridge.
The course then took us through Fort Adams, which also included beautiful views of the water, and then out along Ocean Avenue, which was all along the water.
The race course then took us past some of the mansions, including the famous Breakers, which really took my breath away. Finally the course went past Salve Regina University and then back out to where we started and finished on the beach. I couldn’t wait until race day!
We ended the day at The Mooring for dinner, which was outstanding.
Our pre-race meal consisted of seafood, pasta and a glass of Prosecco. I MAY have also had a few pieces of candy corn before finally heading to bed around 10pm. Remember when I pondered whether champagne and candy corn were the keys to my success? I wasn’t taking any chances.
I woke up around 3am and feared I would be up for good, like I was before the NYC Half Marathon, but luckily I fell back asleep until my alarm went off for the day at 5am.
Now that I have rambled on, for FAR too long, let’s get to what you’ve actually come here for! Race Day Recap!
Newport Half Marathon
I had a crazy, neurotic, Libra-esque morning filled with indecision. I could NOT decide between shorts or capris for the race. I didn’t make the final decision, after, obviously, trying them both on numerous times, until minutes before leaving for the race start. The forecast for the race start was 57 degrees, 30% chance of rain and WIND! I’m not talking a little light wind, I’m talking predicted wind gusts up to 26mph. I went outside the front of the hotel to see what it felt like and chatted with people in the lobby, of course gathering their opinions to help me decide. In the end I decided upon shorts, a neon tank top and DIY arm warmers a la Carla.
I wore a throw away sweatshirt, which I ended up giving to Sheri before lining up in the “corrals.” The corrals had little signs with pace times and Kristine and I lined up in the 10 minute pace “corral.”
My first thought was, we’re definitely NOT at a New York Road Runners race anymore, Toto! The start was FREEZING. We huddled together trying to stay warm. While we were waiting for the start of the race it started to drizzle. Oh no! The thought of racing for more than 2 hours in the rain was less than desirable, but I was just so excited to be there I didn’t think too much of it. I just wanted to get started so I would warm up. The race started late and we couldn’t see or hear what was going on at the start line. We later found out they were trying to blow up the “starting line” with a generator and after several failed attempts decided to forgo the start line and just start the race. Like I said, we’re not at a New York Road Runners race anymore, Toto!
Once the race started, it only took a few minutes to cross the start line, a nice change from the NYC Half when it took more than 30 minutes. To me, this is a huge benefit of a smaller race. I didn’t know Sheri was going to wait until we started and seeing her scream for us at the start line and send us off was awesome. We were off and I couldn’t be more excited for what I was about to experience over the next 2+ hours.
The beginning of the race seemed to fly by. The race started up a pretty decent hill, which meant a NICE downhill in the final stretch of the race. I would later look VERY forward to that downhill. The first 3 or 4 miles felt, dare I say, effortless. I found it easy to settle into a nice, comfortable pace and everything was feeling great. I saw a sign that said “Find Your Happy Pace!” This was my favorite sign I saw throughout the race.
During the first 3 or 4 miles, I kept repeating the advice a colleague gave me in the days leading up to the race. Start slowly, be comfortable with people passing you and be conservative for the first few miles. DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST! I’m usually NOTORIOUS for this, but not this weekend. I started out slowly and was comfortable with people passing me. I KNEW this would pay off later in the race.
Somewhere between mile 4 and 5 it started lightly raining and, surprisingly, it didn’t bother me at all. I was smiling and enjoying everything about this race.
Mile 6-7 brought us back out along the water. Running along the water was absolutely breathtaking but the crosswinds were CRAZY! Do you know what 20+ mph crosswinds feel like? I felt like I was being blown all over the road and had to work SO MUCH HARDER just to run in one place. At one point, I thought my bib was going to blow off.
I was feeling incredible until mile 9 or 10, when it started to feel like I was racing a half marathon. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt than I did during my first half marathon, back in March, AND the Bronx 10-mile, just a month earlier.
As a side note, remember when I missed my goal for the Bronx 10-mile, by 4 minutes, because of that little bathroom stop at mile 5? Obviously I looked at my watch at mile 10 to see what it said and it was EXACTLY what my goal was for the Bronx 10-mile. Redemption? I’d say so.
I’m not going to lie. Mile 11-12 was TOUGH. We ran past Salve Regina University and it was pretty cool seeing the students volunteering at the water station and cheering for us. It definitely helped. I was feeling TIRED at this point and ready to push it to the finish and be done. I started feeling a little nauseous, which I think may have been dehydration. I wanted to walk at this point, but I didn’t. I knew I would be SO PROUD of myself for running the entire half marathon.
Mile12-13.1 (or apparently 13.26, according to my watch) was a complete mental battle. I just kept telling myself “Never Give Up, Never Give Up, NEVER GIVE UP!”
Once we turned the corner, to head back towards the finish line, I couldn’t have been happier, or more ready, for that downhill I mentioned earlier. It was a welcomed relief before the straightaway to the finish. I turned off my music and pushed with everything I had left.
I don’t remember seeing the Mile 13 marker. I’m not sure there was one. Kristine didn’t remember seeing one either.
I could see he finish line, but it seemed SO FAR AWAY and I felt like I would NEVER get there. I just kept pushing and knew it would be worth the pain once I crossed the finish line. I saw Sheri and heard her screaming for me and it gave me exactly what I needed to finish strong. And that’s just what I did. I FINISHED STRONG! With a 3 minute and 31 second PR to boot!
I was so proud of myself and so happy with this race! But I will admit, for a brief second, I thought to myself, what was I capable of if I took the first half of my training more seriously and made it count as much as the second half?
I thought of so many people during yesterday’s race. I felt so overwhelmingly grateful while in Newport this weekend. I felt grateful that I got to run here. I felt grateful that I got to run when so many people can’t. I felt extremely grateful to have a friend who asked to come to Newport for the weekend to cheer me on as I ran my second half marathon. Many of these thoughts literally brought me to tears at the finish. I cried happy tears, grateful tears, and tears of pride. I was overcome with emotion once the race was over. I think I cried on and off for a while after I finished. I think I even made Sheri cry.
I have previously discussed my desire to run with purpose. During the Newport Half Marathon I ran with purpose.
I thought of so much more than myself during the race. I thought about and ran a few miles for Abby. She is one of the most inspiring and incredibly strong and brave people I have ever met. I feel lucky to have met her. She was forced to give up her fall marathon and yet she was still one of my biggest cheerleaders going into this race. I hope she knows how much I appreciated her support this week! She was cowbelling from New York and, BELIEVE ME, I will be cowbelling as loudly as possible when she ROCKS her next marathon! She inspires me every day!
Every time I powered up a hill, I thought of my friend Katherine, who has been thrown so many challenges this year and continues to live her life with a positive attitude and know that she WILL achieve her dreams.
I thought of my friend Peggy who was running her first half marathon at the same time. Killing it, no doubt!
Mostly, I thought of my Mom. She was definitely the voice in my head when things started to hurt and when the race got mentally tough. There is no doubt in my mind that she carried me though the last couple of miles of this half marathon. She was the voice in my head telling me to Never Give Up! She carried me across the finish line. My mother was the greatest example of strength and courage and I ran to make her proud of me.
This race was the United Healthcare Newport Half Marathon and Amica Marathon. Everyone started and ran the entire half course together. The half marathoners had pink bibs and the marathoners green bibs. We split off from the marathoners at the finish. This was incredibly inspiring. Running alongside marathoners was extremely motivating. I was especially inspired by a woman, easily 70 years old, who ran past me with a green marathon bib on. She definitely pushed me during this race. In fact, after the race was over, and we were heading back to car, she ran past us as she continued her race and we screamed and cheered for her and told her what an inspiration she was. It was amazing getting the opportunity to cheer for her. I hope I’m still running, dare I say, marathons when I’m 70 years old.
After the finish I said to Sheri, DON’T LET ME SIGN UP FOR ANOTHER HALF MARATHON!
Spoiler alert: I’m already thinking about which one to sign up for next. I looked up the Disney Half Marathon in January, but it’s already sold out. Suggestions?
Did you race this weekend? How did it go?
Excited for an upcoming race?
Any favorite half marathons?
How many half marathons did you race before running a full marathon?
What pushes YOU through the tough parts of a race?