It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. My college roommate (travel partner, maid of honor) retired and she and her hubby re-built their house on the water in RI.
Last year, she invited me to visit and mentioned that there was a half marathon not far away. But I had already signed up for the Montreal Rock n Roll Half Marathon.
So this year, I did run the Surf Town Half Marathon as my 38th Half Marathon for these reasons:
- An opportunity to visit an old friend.
- I never have run in RI.
- I needed a long run as part of my NYC Marathon training.
- I found out that bloggers Kim and Michelle were running it.
- It was advertised as a “relatively flat course.”
- It was a scenic course with ocean views.
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon in May. Then in July, I started a 18 week training plan to be ready for the NYC Marathon on Nov. 3.
As with my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3-4 miles. However, I did try to do longer runs on the weekend.
So I actually was not training for this half but preparing for Nov 3. Technically I was scheduled for a 15 mile run but just adapted the long runs to make this work.
The goal for this half marathon was finishing!! Not to race it and not to get injured!!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep during a previous race-cation — rest the legs and fuel adequately the day before the race.
So I drove to my friend’s house in RI (3 1/2 hours). We had lunch on the deck and then went for a walk to the beach (and not a long one).
and then we drove to the race start so I could pick up my bib.
We spent a relaxing evening watching tennis, eating pizza and watching the sunset.
I got together my usual race outfit and went to bed around 11 pm.
I brought my usual race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with me and got up around 5:15 am. My friend also got up and she decided to drive me to the start.
The race started in and finished near Misquamicut State Beach, a half-mile-long beachfront area that’s one of the state’s more popular summertime beach resorts, just a few miles south of the town of Westerly.
Since there was only one road to the parking and one entrance to the parking lot, with over 1000 runners, my friend was afraid that I would get caught in traffic.
I was very appreciative (but it turned out not to be necessary.)
We left at 6 am and encountered no traffic.
When I got there, there were already runners there but not yet Michelle and Kim.
It was a little chilly so I put on my DIY arm sleeves and hung out at the beach watching the sun come up.
While waiting, I used the port-a-potties and checked a bag (a jacket and Oofos flip flops for after the race.)
Soon Kim arrived. Then Michelle (who ran a mile before the race.) It was very exciting to meet them in the flesh.
We chatted a bit. All three of us were using this race as a training run for as part of our full marathon plan. They were both training for Chicago.
We got separated at the start (but had planned to meet after the race anyway.) I wound up chatting with a few runners who were also training for Chicago. And while I was running, I met a couple training for NYC as well.
Once the sun came up, the temps warmed up. (Those arm sleeves came off quickly.)
I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)
My plan, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop. I planned to walk whenever necessary (hills) and NOT RACE it.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
9:41, 9:37, 9:51, 9:44
We started the race on Atlantic Avenue, right outside the entrance to Misquamicut State Beach, and headed first northeast along Atlantic in the direction of Weekapaug.
This was the flattest part of the course. But the sun was in our faces and pretty strong. I was getting worried about the temps getting too warm.
Just after passing the mile 2 marker, we turned right off Atlantic and onto Wawaloam Drive, which will bring them along a stretch that looks out onto the rocky beaches of Weekapaug.
I loved all the water views during this race.
There was a water stop and I made sure to stop for a drink and walked a bit.
This stretch along the beachfront lasted for about a mile as Wawaloam becomes Spray Rock Road, and then we followed the turn left onto Taylor Lane and then again onto Chapman Road to complete the loop through Weekapaug.
This supposedly flat course now seemed to have rolling hills. A few other runners joked about this, as well.
I was trying not to look at my watch at all but unfortunately, there were clocks at almost every mile.
And as you can tell, I was running TOO FAST!!
10:30, 10:14, 10:26, 10:58
The course re-joined Atlantic Avenue right after we passed the mile 4 marker, and then headed back in the direction of Misquamicut Beach.
At the 2nd water stop, I had my first GU and walked longer than the last.
Fortunately, it was getting cloudy and it stayed this way for most of the race.
We next headed southwest along the route that we started the race on but going in the opposite direction, heading down past the cottages and beach homes that line either side of Atlantic Avenue on their way through Misquamicut and past the Atlantic Beach Amusement Park, toward Maschaug and Little Maschaug ponds.
Several times during the race, I passed or got passed by some of the runners whom I chatted with at the start. They yelled “Go NYC” and I yelled back “Go Chicago.”
Before reaching the ponds, however, the course turned right on Lawton Avenue and headed north, taking us up to Shore Road, where we turned left and headed west again for about a mile along Shore Road before turning onto Watch Hill Road.
More rolling hills but it ain’t called Watch Hill for nothing (BTW: Taylor Swift has a house here.)
I kept up my plan to walk at the water stops and ate a 2nd Gu at mile 8.
The houses or should I say mansions were amazing to look at out. I tried to focus on them as I was struggled with my feet (as usual).
10:08, 10:23, 11:03, 10:52, 10:24, (.25 – 9:32)
The next stretch of the race unfolded for nearly two miles along Watch Hill Road in the direction of the village by the same name, which lies at the end of the island, just off Little Narragansett Bay.
More water views which made me happy. More hills. Not happy.
Mile 10 had the biggest hill of the course. So steep that it was hard to even walk up it.
I continued my slow down during the 2nd half of the race. I stopped at each water, had my last Gu and walked several more times. Partially because I had run the first half too fast and also because I kept reminding myself that this was a training run and it would be stupid to get injured at this point.
We looped through the neighborhoods and waterfront areas here, passing by Watch Hill Cove at the easternmost point of the course, on the way to turns on Westerly Road, Ninigret Avenue and Ocean View Highway.
Once we were on Ocean View, we followed it for about the next mile and a half to the last couple of turns in the race, which were Bayberry Road and Maplewood Avenue, eventually leading in to the finish line on Atlantic Avenue. (where we started the race but coming into it from the opposite direction.
I did my best to pick up some speed at the end and sprint through the finish line (and smile).
I crossed at 2:16:XX.
(My Garmin said 13:25 miles!!)
I was not surprised at my time. I had been ahead of the 2:15 pacers most of the race and then lost them during the last few miles.
After getting my medal and some water. I headed to the beach for the obligatory post-race medal pic.
Then to bag check to put on my Oofos and to get some food.
My stomach was not feeling great post race and the food options were a banana, chocolate milk and clam chowder.
I ate the banana with some chocolate milk. But clam chowder?? Everyone I talked to agreed – UGH!!!! No way!!! I took a spoonful and I thought I would puke.
So instead, I went to check my time and found out that I came in 2nd in my age group. I know I’ve won many awards but they are always special. I was happy!!!
Then Kim texted me to say that they had finished and were heading my way.
We hung out and chatted until my friend arrived to take me back to her house.
Additional Race Reflections:
- Easy packet pick-up.
- Lots of parking.
- Sufficient number of port-a-potties (never saw a line).
- Sufficient number of water/Gatorade stops) – 1 had Gu but I missed it.
- Bag Check. Easy pick up at the end.
- Well marked course.
- Free Massages
- Free stretching by PTs.
- Clocks at each mile.
- Very cool medal.
- Very cool age group awards.
- Chocolate milk at the finish.
- Great weather.
- Beautiful course.
- Nice swag if you wanted to buy (shirts, jackets, magnets, Goodrs).
- Expensive Photos.
- Color of the race shirt (pukey green).
- Post race refreshments – no chowder please! how about a bagel?
- The course was a little long.
- Hill at mile 10.
- Nothing 🙂
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. It was well-organized and the course was scenic.
I have yet to figure out how to negative split a long race.
My finish time was slower than than my previous three half marathons. (2:13:03, 2:11:15 and 2:16:01). But not a bad time and it was a training run, right? Definitely not complaining. No injuries. No post race discomfort.
A local race. Another training run (and post 7 miles to make it my 20 miler!!!)
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.
Happy Running! Ever run this race? Which do you prefer – flat or scenic? Do you run half marathons as training runs for a full? Please share.