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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

UHC Newport Half Marathon Recap - aka the race I signed up for the night before

Remember reading my Hogsback half marathon race review when I said it was my last race?

Well... I lied.   Just two weeks ago, I claimed
 "Bah Humbug training takes so much time, this is probably my last half". Silly me, those were the tired legs talking.   And I realized-  I like the race, its the training that kinda stinks.  Saturday I watched my uncle run his first marathon- the ING Hartford Marathon.  
You can't sit at the finish line for an hour and not be inspired by the amazing people crossing that finish line after 26.2 miles.   

Watching other people complete their goals really made me want to complete mine.
I want to run a marathon.
I will run a marathon.  

Just as I was walking back to my car after congratulating my uncle at the finish line, a text came through from from Chelsea and Vanessa, my friends running the Newport Half Marathon on Sunday.   Chelsea and Vanessa were both running their first half marathon.  
We had all trained together so I was planning on taking the day to go watch them cross the finish line.  Then I got a message about joining last minute. 

It was just over 12 hours before the race,  I had not been training for it (although I did run my half two weeks ago)  and I decided heck, why not- I had run Tuesday Thursday 3 miles, and Friday 5 mile run so I knew mentally I had been running and I was good to go.
I did a little bit of research on line to see what I was getting myself into.

When I saw the course I was officially SOLD. 
A 13 mile loop around Newport, along the coasts, pasts rocky cliffs, long stretches of beaches, and mansions.  

5am Sunday morning my alarm went off.  
This felt inhumane.  
I sucked it up, got dressed, and got in the car.  
I convinced Thatcher to come along and take pictures, bribing him with the ideas of Newport on a Sunday afternoon and a Brewfest.  I was very glad to have someone take pictures and hang out with Olive while I ran.  

The drive is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from my apartment in Chester.  We were on the road by 5:45 , hoping to get to the race by 7:15 to have time before the 8:00 am start.  

The drive along the coast of Rhode Island on the way to Newport is gorgeous.
The best part?  The bridges

                                    (4 dollar toll to get over this beautiful bridge, each way- crazy)

I had done my last minute research and read that timing, the start, and parking tends to be an issue.  The race starts on this long stretch of beach with NO parking.  That means you have to get to the race super early to park off site and take a shuttle to the race.  As you can imagine, this can be quite chaotic so I decided to have Thatcher drop me off at the start while he parked the car and walked to the start with the dog.  

During my research I also read that is is HIGHLY reccomended to use the bathroom before you get to the race as the lines can be long.  I took this advice and stopped at a rest area before the race to use the facilities.  Lovely picture of me running to the bathroom in my even lovelier boots/pre-race shoes.  

Of course this bathroom was not open yet so I just had to head to the race and stand in line like everyone else.  I had packed everything I needed in a bag the night before, but was feeling really rushed when I got to the start (we had just pulled over on the side to let me out).  
I frantically dug out the necessities (running shoes, sun glasses)  and decided I was going to leave my phone and music behind and really play cheerleader.   I had a frantic panicky few minutes when I could not find my anti chafe stick that I KNEW I had packed in the car.

If anyone has suffered chafing while running, you KNOW the sheer panic I was feeling.  
13.1 miles in shorts with chafing thighs... I CAN"T LET THIS HAPPEN!  

Thankfully after tearing through the car for 5 minutes, the stick was recovered and the world was a better place.  I quickly put on my sneakers and sent Thatcher to park the car while I headed to the start.

Once at the start I realized.  I forgot my Garmin.  No garmin, no phone, this really is a naked run.  
Because my entry was F R E E, I didn't have my Garmin, and I was there to support the girls, I decided I was going to run with them, stick with their pace, and be a cheerleader, not a racer.  

Vanessa and I headed to the start line (behind the row of what looked like hundreds of port o lets )  and waited for our third runner, Chelsea, who was running VERY late.  Biggest problem?  She had my number, the number of a girl who I had no idea who she was but I was running her paid non refundable race.  

Chelsea shows up at about 8:04, four minutes late.  But thankfully, the race was delayed about 15 minutes for unknown reasons (my guess is bathrooms and shuttles).  
The other issue? 
 She shows up with a white bib.  
The white bib is an entry into the FULL marathon.  
Oh lordy. 
Here I am running the half marathon on a full marathon number registered to someone else. 

I slapped on my number, waited for the gun, and off we went.  
The course started at this access way along a beautiful beach.  

The course had some good hills throughout, but I was amazed at how good I felt the entire race.  I don't know if it was the much slower pace than I am used to, or the fact that I didn't have my electronics or watch, that I was unplugged, but I felt great the entire race.  
The entire race I never even planned on running.
I chatted with the girls and the miles flew by.  At some point Chelsea went ahead and I stuck back with Vanessa to keep her company throughout the race.

My jaw kept dropping at how beautiful the course was.  We had to make a few stops along the way for water and gatorade, and of course, to pose for a few pictures.  Vanessa's boyfriends followed us around the course on his bicycle, taking any extra clothing and lots of pictures.  

It was amazing to watch the "sea" of runners, running along the windy beach roads.  A sea of neon by the sea if you will.   Just when you thought the views couldn't get any better, it did.

Beautiful sunny day, cool breeze by the water, cliffs, beaches, mansions, 
Newport is a beautiful place to run.  

I was really happy to see lots of supporters on the first half of the race, cheering on the marathoners and half marathoners.  Signs, cow bells, and cheering always helps the tired runners move along.

(Chelsea at the finish) 

Vanessa and I were running along fine when she started to be fatigued around mile 8.  We stopped for water, had a few stretch breaks and continued on.  Miles 10 11 and 12 were hard for her with some serious knee pain and shoulder pain. Luckily for her, the end of the race was the downhill version of the climb in the beginning.  I stuck with her through all of the stops, and we crossed the finish line together, 13.1 miles later. 

I like to ham it up for the camera.  

I was so excited to come around the corner and see my little Olive waiting for me.  I rounded the corner, called her name, and to say she freaked out was an understatement ;)

We caught up with some friends who were also running the race (Audrey and one of Vanessa's co workers)  and snapped a few photos. 

Vanessa's boyfriend and sister were there on bikes along the path, and her mom met us at the finish line.  Her mom brought a long this little mat to unfold and stretch in the parking lot-  GENIUS! 

I was so happy to finish another 13.1 and snuggle up with my pooch for some victory kisses.  

After the race, we walked back the 2 miles to the car, and headed for some food.  After getting stuck behind road detours in Westerly Rhode Island,  a very Hangry Katie finally made it to the Dogwatch Cafe in Stonington for a big ol pile of nachos.

A big ole pile of hard earned nachos.

Overall-  the race was beautiful and I was so happy to support the ladies.

Pros:   Beautiful course, lots of water and Gatorade stops, GU at a few stations- nice loop, challenging hills.

Cons:  Shuttle system,  parking, unorganized start (no one told us about the delay or why), oddly set up finish line (never found the finish line food if there was any).

If you are thinking of running this for your half, I highly recommend it because the course was beautiful and the hills were a nice challenge.  If you are thinking about running this as a full marathon.


The second half of the course is a 13.1 mile out and back. You follow the same course as the half marathon course, and then have to pass their finish line and head out for an un-scenic boring out and back for another 13.1   There is hardly any one cheering the marathoners on at this point and they had to pass all of the half marathoners who had finished and were eating and heading to their car.  Sounded like torture to me!  I also heard the second half was a hilly challenging course.  

I am so excited to add a sixth half marathon to my "resume"  and really enjoyed my scenic run through Newport.  

The shins were feeling a little tired so I whipped out the ice packs-  Ice sure can't hurt.
I am hoping to stick with my long runs and keep this "10 mile base".
We shall see.
I know to never say never now ;) 


  1. Replies
    1. Very pretty! Definitely stop by Newport next time you are on the East Coast :)

  2. Way to go, Katie! So glad you wrote this post - running can start to feel like a chore but it's racing with good friends in beautiful places, like this one, that make things worth it!

    1. Thanks Lizzie :) Good company, gorgeous scenery, and a slow pace makes a run worth it :)


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