I signed up.
The thing I love most about the Blessing is that one of my best running friends lives at the end of mile eight. Her house is a perfect place on the course. We drop our kids and husbands off and we can walk to the start. Our families bar b que and play games, while cheering on the runners. They are what I look forward to the most on the course and they give me the push I need to finish strong.
I hit a lot of traffic this year heading to Mary's house. We made it but with no time to spare. We were on our way to the start in about five minutes after arriving.
Now, as most of you know, I am part of Ted Spiker's FB Sub 30 group. I have met some very fun people and have enjoyed all the posts, information and motivation that the page has to offer. Our little group made it into Runner's World last month and it exploded! Someone posted a,"Where are you from post?" and a gal commentated, "Little Rhody".
Of course I struck up a conversation right away and I asked her if she was doing the Blessing. She wasn't sure about it. She had never run it before and she wasn't sure if her current mileage would get her to the finish. I told her a little about the race and course and told her I would be happy to run with her if she decided she was up for it.
She was so thrilled to have someone to run with, she signed up. I met New Girl at the race and we lined up with my group.
|New Girl, me and Agnes|
The Blessing has incredible crowd support and the excitement is contagious. It is also very crowded. The first couple miles, you are just surrounded by people trying to find your own space. Ocean Road is very familiar to me and it is a nice stretch. Lots of cheering.
New Girl started to get very thirsty and I was happy to see a water stop for her. There were times when she wanted to walk. I told her early on that she can set the pace and I would just help her get it done.
Knowlsway has a hill that I warned her about. She ran up that hill like a champ and I was very impressed. This led us to rt. 108. In my opinion, the hardest part of the course. Flat, but the sun is beating down on you, it's not pretty and for some reason it just feels like it goes on forever. New girl seemed to really struggle here. She drank water at every stop and started pouring it over her head. Whatever gets it done, right?
It seemed like she had a lot of ups and downs but she kept moving and I had no doubt that she would finish.
My most favorite part of the course is the end of mile eight which is where my family and friends are. You hit the last hill of the course before you turn onto Avice St. The hill looks worse then it is, at least to me, but we walked most of it. Once I saw my kids, I was so stinking happy and that was fuel for the rest of the race for me.
We started off strong leaving mile eight but New Girl really hit a wall here. A big one. We walked and ran most of Narragansett Ave. I was slightly ahead and just really wanted to finish at this time. We were so close! We hit the last water stop, where friends of mine were working. I grabbed water and said hi. Looked behind me and saw New Girl sitting on the curb. Oh no, that is not good. I ran back to her and handed her my water. I may or may not of yelled, " You need to get up, you are so close. If you don't get up now, you will not finish!" My friends were behind me with water for her. She drank and got up.
We started to walk. I told her to just dig deep. You have this last mile in you and you did not come this far to not finish. This is a tough road because you know the finish is up ahead but you can't see it. You eventually see a banner that is basically just an advertisement for the race, but it looks like the finish from a distance. The finish is after that and I hated telling her that what she was looking at was not the finish line.
On this stretch of road, I saw my neighbors cheering for me which is always a nice treat. I picked up my pace and hoped she would follow along. She did. New Girl actually shot past me and I was happy to stay behind her and watch her cross the line. I am sure I was screaming her name and yelling, "Go!"
We crossed the line smiling, and gave each other a huge hug! I was so happy to be finished running and so thrilled that New Girl ran and completed her first Blessing. Her fiancé was at the finish waiting for her. I told them they were more than welcomed to walk back to the party where my family was, but they headed out. She needed to eat and get dry clothes. Having talked to her a bit, she did not fuel well before the race. She had Shot Blocks with her, but I don't think she had enough. Fuel did not come easy to me and I can tell you, I totally screwed that up for my first Blessing too.
I suggested an ice bath and a foam roller and we said so long.
Back at the house, we changed and grabbed a beer. Burgers were made for us and snacks and desserts were out. The kids were having such a great time. The girls and I sat and talked about our races. Elaine and Jenn ran fantastic races and got new PR's. They amaze me. Agnes who ran her first Blessing last year, came back this year and ran mostly with New Girl and I. She did finish ahead of us and again, I was so happy for her.
Our finish time was 2:03. Not close to my PR but seeing someone accomplish something new, something they worked so hard to do, is what fuels me. I was happy to encourage her and would do it again. She will be at the Newport Half but that race is mine. I have a goal in mind for it but not sure it is doable on post Rhode Warrior legs. We will see...
(Sorry for the lack of pictures. I only took the one! So unlike me. The photographer took tons of pictures of me but I did not buy any. I am smiling in most of them, which surprised me but still not really worth it to buy.)
I would like to say one more time, Congrats New Girl! (BTW, her name is Sam) I will run with you anytime.
Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole