Race Report: United Healthcare Half Marathon in Newport

Today I ran my third half marathon, the United Healthcare Half Marathon in Newport. It’s exactly one year + one week from my first one. Each race gets better, and I had a great race today. Get ready for a long recap.

United Healthcare Half Marathon Newport

The night before, I bought fresh pasta and made a simple sauce with my farmshare tomatoes. I feel sorry for people who have never eaten fresh pasta. Let’s run a marathon and raise funds for those poor souls.

fresh pasta from venda ravioli

Since I was having all kinds of anxiety after my dream, I got all of my stuff together – packed my gear check bag, got all of my clothes down to the sox and things that were going in my pockets, prepped my chia seeds and set out the stuff for morning coffee. I was asleep by 10 pm.

I set my alarm for 5 am, a half hour earlier than when I normally wake up for work. I just kept to my normal schedule and I ended up waking up before my alarm. For breakfast I ate chia seeds + almond milk, a waffle with 1 tbsp almond butter and maple syrup, and a big coffee. The drive from my house to the race was 45 minutes according to google maps, so I added a half hour to allow for traffic and the shuttle bus. My timing worked out perfectly! We were out the door a little before 6, and got to the starting area at 7 with plenty of time to warm up. It was chilly (around 50 degrees) so I tried to stay moving to keep warm. The sun was just beginning to rise.

Second Beach in Newport

I took a before picture because I knew the after would be not so cute. I wore an Old Navy top and pants. The arm warmers came off before I lined up.

United Healthcare Half Marathon Newport

When the race finally started (late), we immediately went uphill. It was so crowded and people were definitely sprinting. I felt scared trying to take a walk break even at the edge of the curb. The first few miles went through small center-of-town residential streets with quaint and expensive houses, then towards the fort. The spectator of the day award goes to a lady holding a box of tissues out. You were much appreciated!

At around the third mile, my left foot went numb. This happens every once in a while and I haven’t gotten it looked at but I will after this. I was freaked out and worried about whether I should even finish the race. I stopped, loosened my laces, and tried to keep going. The feeling started to fade but then it was as if my toes were no longer numb but my heel still was!  sat down and took off my whole shoe, shook out my foot, and went off again. After a few more minutes, the feeling was completely gone. It was maybe 20 minutes to a half hour of running with my foot numb. My nose seemed to be running just as fast as my legs, so every time I saw a port-a-potty, I jumped in to grab tissue and blow my nose. It worked out pretty good.

After mile 5 or so, the crowd was finally thinning out. We hit an inner road with sprawling mansion estates and I even saw sheep. I didn’t take a picture because it did not coincide with my walk breaks. Speaking of pictures, people all around me were taking pictures – selfies, pictures of the scenery, one marathoner was even carrying an SLR. Since this was the back of the pack and there was tons of room, it didn’t seem obnoxious. I got in on the action during wal breaks because everyone else was doing it.

The course met up with the coastline and it got kind of peaceful. Basically imagine this for like 6 miles:
UHCmarathon_05
UHCmarathon_04

All the up way up through mile 10, I was keeping an even pace with a lot of people wearing Marathon Maniac shirts. This crew more than twice my age, and most of them had run the Hartford Marathon yesterday and were running the full marathon today! Maniac, indeed. I wish I had talked to them during the race because they seemed like such a nice bunch of people. They truly looked like they were relaxed and having a good time! Even without knowing it, they helped keep my spirits up and gave me something to aspire to. I hope to someday complete a marathon in my lifetime period. Nevermind two days in a row. When I’m 65. They even talked about partying tonight after the race because they deserved it. Too cool. I can’t even.

The course had a lot of gentle rolling hills even though it was on the ocean. The streets were also very winding, which made it hard to run tangents on the curves. But I still attacked them all and never felt defeated by them. I don’t understand how elevation in feet translates into real life, but you can get the idea from all of the ups and downs in the profile:
UHCmarathonelevation

The last three miles were a little lonely. I had left the Maniacs behind and it seemed like no one was passing me and I wasn’t passing anyone else, so it was hard to keep my motivation up. Coming into the home stretch, this sign made me laugh:
UHCmarathon_06

The finish line was right at the beach and I cruised in with the race clock showing 2:51. Brian said he was there cheering me on as I finished but I didn’t spot him. I almost collided with this couple who decided to stop right on the finish line mat so that the photographer could take a picture. And because of that, he probably didn’t get my picture! Hrmph.

There was soup in the food tent, which was a nice touch.

UHCmarathon_07

I attacked a small slice of pizza which seems to be a requirement for big races in Rhode Island because it’s always there!

UHCmarathon_08

Then we checked into the beer tent for our free beers. My stomach was feeling full so I could only manage half of it. Plus it was ice cold and I was already cold.

UHCmarathon_09

And of course here is the bling!

UHCmarathon_11

My time goal for the race was 2:50. I was still happy with the race clock time of 2:51 but imagine my excitement when I came home and saw that my chip time was 2:49:53! That is 5 minutes off of my last half marathon! I know this is so slow for most runners, and I was nearly last in the overall half marathon, nearly dead last in my division, but that’s how I do.

My other goal for this race, and for my long training runs, is to run my last couple of miles faster then my overall average pace. I killed that goal too: each of my final 3 miles was successively faster than the previous and my final mile was in 11:45 (compare that to my overall pace of 12:59). Another random small goal: I did the race without any music or headphones.

One funny thing to note is that for through my training runs, I was doing a run/walk ratio of 2:30 mins running to 1 minute walking. After hearing some new advice, I tried out just one minute run / one minute walk. And I still set a personal record! How crazy is that? I felt strong the entire time. I’ll continue my short runs with the longest run segments I can manage, but I might play with my ratios during the distance runs. My body is so weird. I can’t run fast or anywhere close to average, and then lowering my run segments made me faster.

I had a big bowl of leftover pasta when I came home and I feel like I haven’t been able to stop eating all day. I haven’t gone overboard but I just feel so hungry!

Finally, another new thing I tried out: compression socks. I don’t have any athletic compression socks, but for years I’ve had this pair of knee-high compression dress socks. I think I took them from my mom thinking they were regular stockings and they’ve sat in my drawer for years. I put them on as soon as I got home and I can feel a huge difference. My legs just don’t feel as tired as they have in the past.

As you can tell, I’m feeling unstoppable with all of the goals I hit today and the fact I physically feel fine. I’m trying not to think about the fact that I am supposed to attempt 15 miles either next week or the week after. I’m gonna ride this one out all week.

Misc thoughts about the race organization:

  • Parking and the shuttle bus system were flawless, at least for us.
  • Gear check was also great – no lines at all either with drop off or pickup.
  • Post-race food was generous when I finished, but I have to wonder what was left for the later folks. I left the race area around 4 hours from gun time, so there were still plenty of marathoners left to come finish. However, by that time the beer tent was a mess and a lot of stuff was already packed up to go. I worried about those nice marathoners I ran with that would have finished around 6 or 6:30. I hope they had food and water!
  • The map said there would be GU at mile 6 and there definitely was not. Any half marathoner hoping to rely on the race to provide gels was SOL. This was the same as in Providence (same race company & series) so I guess that’s their thing.
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