Remember that time I said we probably wouldn’t PR in the Cox Providence Half because of the shortened training?
Well, I guess I’m bad at seeing the future.
As a sidenote, the free race pictures STILL aren’t available (grrr), so I’m just going to do the recap with the photos I do have and I may throw more photos of the race at ya when those do finally go up.
The date of this race just so happened to fall on the 3-year anniversary of the first half marathon my mom and I ever ran – the Twin Lights Half, so it already felt pretty special. The two PR’s were just icing on the cake.
Let me back up to the beginning though. My mom and I got up bright and early to make the drive down to Providence, armed with travel mugs of coffee. We got to see the sunrise during our drive and the roads were empty, so that part was pretty much smooth sailing.
Things got a little iffy when we reached Providence and found that the roads we were supposed to go down to reach our planned parking lot were already blocked off. Luckily we were able to find another public lot with plenty of spaces only a few minutes later.
We then made our way to the Omni Hotel to pick up our bibs and race packets. I don’t often criticize races, but I have to say this part could have been A WHOLE LOT more organized. The place was mobbed with runners, but there were no signs directing where to go. After some confusion, we found the room that was holding the bib pick-up, but again – there were no signs for where runners were supposed to line up for marathon, half, or 5k bibs, there was just one long, snaking line. After circling the room a couple times trying to figure out where to go, we finally got our bibs and shirts. Not a great start.
We got out of there as fast as we could and made our way to the start area where the marathoners were preparing to leave. Luckily, we had plenty of time to use the porta-potties (which there were plenty of, thankfully!), warm-up, stretch, AND take some selfies. We were trying to get a selfie with this beautiful fountain in the background, but kept failing big time. Oh well.
The marathoners were scheduled to start at 7:30, but didn’t end up heading out until probably 15 minutes later; we were told this was because of a small car accident along the course. Finally, the National Anthem was sung and they were off! Now it was our turn to line up in the corrals, self-seeding ourselves near the appropriate pacer. My mom and I lined up near the 2:15 group, not wanting to go out too fast.
After what seemed like ages of waiting, we were finally off! The first mile or so of the race was a nice downhill and I tried hard to rein myself in (despite the temptation to race everyone around me). My first mile split was 8:51, a little faster than I had intended, but I felt very comfortable, so I would attribute that to the downhill.
Between miles 1-3, I gained on the 2:00 pacer who had quite a pack of runners sticking with him. I settled in with their group for a while, but then noticed they were running around a 9:00/mile pace. I knew from my training runs that I could run sub-9, and I was still feeling excellent, so just after the 5k mark, I split from their pack and ran ahead.
I had planned on doing a GU around the 4.5 mile water stop so that I could have a drink while I fueled. My crazy running brain panicked though when I came up at a water stop just before mile 4, thinking that this had to be the mile 4 water stop, so I tried to grab some water (took Gatorade by accident) and struggled to rip my GU open, which I then choked on. I was a sputtering, coughing mess. Not my smoothest moment. I was still coughing for the next half mile or so and I imagine the runners next to me were probably a little concerned that I was spreading some whooping cough/influenza/virus on them while I ran. No worries, I’m not contagious, I just don’t know how to drink liquids properly.
For a course that was described as “relatively flat”, it sure seemed to have a lot of hills! It seemed like every mile to mile and a half, I was reaching these long, gradual inclines. I tried to maintain my effort, noting that my pace would often drop to 9:00/mile on these inclines, but not letting myself worry too much because I was still feeling great and doing an excellent job keeping my pace between 8:40-8:50 on the flats. For the first 10k, my average split was right around 8:48. At this point I was pretty confident that I could run this race under 2 hours (what a huge difference for me from my last half!), but I wasn’t sure I could beat my PR of 1:55. I wasn’t worried though. Honestly, I was just having a blast running this race. I tried to soak in the gorgeous scenery – trees in bloom, beautiful houses, some gorgeous views along the river, even snapping a few photos with my phone.
Around miles 7-9, we ran past a park where many spectators had gathered with signs. Tons of little kids lined the streets with their arms outstretched for high fives – which I happily gave as I ran by. The crowd support was totally awesome and much needed, as my stomach was feeling a little crampy by this point.
Around mile 10, I looked down at my watch and saw that my PR was within reach – but it would be very close. I finally decided to push the pace for the last 3 miles. Whatever happens happens, I thought. In my haze, I couldn’t figure out the actual splits I would have to run, so it was more of a ‘Run as fast as you can and hope for the best’ plan.
Mile 10 – 8:33. Solid.
Mile 11 – Another freaking hill. I slowed down to 9:00/mile, but I was passing runners right and left, so I knew I was still doing relatively well. Just 2 miles to go.
Mile 12 – 8:18. The mile where I decided to go crazy trying to get my PR. This one HURT. I felt pretty comfortable through the whole race, except for here. Still, I’m glad I went for it.
Mile 13-13.2 – 8:12 for a final chip time of 1:53. I think I was about as excited for my PR as I was to just finally stop running at that pace. Two miles never felt so long.
After grabbing my medal and a bottle of water, I was doing some stretches, keeping an eye on the finishers when I spotted my mom, cruising in with the clock reading 1:59 – ANOTHER PR and her first time breaking the 2-hour mark!!! What a way to complete our New England states and celebrate our 3-year anniversary of half marathons.
The food at the end of this race was not particularly special – bananas, mini Clif bars, and pizza – but there was a vendor selling fresh veggie juices, so we both tried a kale, cucumber, orange blend, which was delicious!
Once we’d recovered a bit more, we went on the hunt for a little restaurant to have a nice brunch. After a little hunting, we came across Circe, a cute little restaurant not too far from the finish area.
I was STARVING, and absolutely devoured this poached egg with chipotle hollandaise and crispy polenta.
So all in all, the 2015 Cox Providence Half Marathon was a huge success. My mom and I got to cross Rhode Island off the list and we nabbed new PR’s in the process. 🙂 I still have more thoughts to share about this race and how it turned out so well with such an abbreviated training period, but I’ll save that for another post, since this one has gotten a little long. 🙂 Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who wished us luck and congratulated us on Instagram and Facebook. My mom and I are thrilled to have such awesome friends rooting for us.