Monday, October 27, 2014

One Bridge and 3500 of my Closest Friends

The Citizen's Bank Pell Bridge Run has been on my calendar for the last four years.  I starting running in 2011 and that was also the first year of this race. I knew I had to do it.  I loved every minute of that first time and knew I would go back every year that I could. Sunday, I ran it for the fourth time.

You can read here about the first time I ran this race. I think I have come a long way as a runner and a blogger.

The race is early. I did not sleep great but got up with no trouble.  I had coffee and headed out the door to meet Elaine, KB and Tyra.  We carpooled over. As soon as we hit Newport, we were in a long line of traffic trying to park. We had plenty of time though and got a good space.

We got the first shuttle we saw. It was so nice and warm on the bus.  We got dropped off at the same spot we have the last four years but they had the coffee and PP's in an access road to the left.  We headed in there, saw some friends and then lined up.  They had signs posted for your pace, including walkers.

Once everyone was lined up, they had us walk out of the access road, to the main road and line up again, no signs there.  This, I feel did not work well. Once we finally got in what we thought was our pace group, we noticed that a women with a cane was in front of us.  Obviously, the line up to line up again method did not work.  Although I think it would have if they had us line up backwards in the first spot and had the walkers out of that area first, followed by the 12 minute mile pace people, then the 11, etc.  Or, just had us line up on the main road with the signs there.

We were running for fun and it was pretty crowded, so we decided to stay where we were and just work our way around everyone.  This took more work than we had anticipated.

It took us 2:19 to get to the mat and then we started running. Well, dodging walkers was more like it.  This happened until we were through the tolls and heading up the hill. The first year I ran this race, I think there were just under 1000 people. This year, there were 3500. I am happy to see that a race I love has succeeded year after year.

Tyra lined up ahead of us and was running at a faster pace.  Elaine, KB and I stayed together for the most part.  KB has been dealing with a hamstring issue and it made an appearance during the race.  It was fun to talk and laugh and watch the sun come up while we were running.  Once we got up and over we pulled to the side for pictures and waited for KB to catch up.  We got some great shots and started running again.

This is now a downhill followed by a pretty flat course.  As we started approaching the exit ramp, I looked at my watch.  My course PR for this race was 45:02. I wanted to get rid of that two seconds, but I was pretty sure I would be able to get more than that.  I had five minutes to do it and asked Elaine if she thought it was possible.  Not being able to see the finish, we had some doubts.  However, one turn and there it was. I knew I would get a new course PR and maybe even a new PR for the distance.

I ran into the finish smiling, Tyra taking pictures and Elaine doing a jump-up, spin move that was just awesome!

KB was right behind us.  We saw some friends and chatted. Got a bagel, snapped some more pictures and checked our times.  My official time was 43:09, just 8 second off my PR. It was, in fact a course PR.  Imagine what my time would have been if I did not stop on the bridge to take pictures!  It's all good tough, this is my fun race of the year and I was just so happy to be there again and with such good friends.

I would like to thank the race directors and volunteers for putting together such a fantastic race once again. I will see you in 2015!

Now, for the first time in two years, I do not have a race on my calendar.  I have an idea of what next year might look like but I am not registered for anything yet.  I actually felt relived when I first realized this.  In 2013, I ran 19 races including a marathon. This year, I ran 16 including a half ironman.  My family is tired and I am tired.  I plan to approach the next year with a smarter schedule and learn the word, "No."

Don't worry, I will race but I don't need one every month.  I am going to think about what is most important to me and my family and put my schedule together based on that.

I am feeling confident that 2015 will be a fun and successful running year.

How far in advance do you plan out your races?

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

*most photos credited to Elaine

Friday, October 24, 2014

Newport Half Marathon and a Little PR

When I started to plan my race schedule for 2014, I had one major goal. To run the United Healthcare Triple Crown.  Three races in three Rhode Island cities, Providence, Jamestown and Newport.  Newport was going to be my 'big goal race."  However, you all know that all changed when I won the free entry into the Rhode Warrior Half Ironman Distance Triathlon.

For most of the year, I focused on swimming and biking with some running thrown in there.  My goal of a 2:20 half marathon had slipped away. That is, until I started to really think about the race. Could I actually still pull it off?  With every run, I kept thinking it was possible.

The Saturday before the half, I ran with Beth.  She was going to run the race with me and we talked about her pacing me.  After that run, I was pretty confident that I would give it my all and shoot for a new PR.

The morning of the race, Beth and I met and drove in together.  Traffic was a bit crazy and I was getting worried we wouldn't make it. Of course we did and since it was cold, it wasn't the worst thing in the world.  We were able to watch the full marathoners start and then we lined up.

I was doubting my choice of clothes and was wishing I had throw-a-way gloves.  Once we started, it did not take long to warm up.

To get my 2:20, we would have to stay under a 10:41 pace.  Pacing is not my strong point. I was happy to have Beth just tell me what I needed to do.  After each mile or so, she would tell me what we ran and if we needed to slow down or speed up. We had a couple fast miles which left a few seconds in the bank for the slower ones.  Beth was right on!

Things started to hurt at about mile nine.  Beth would not let me give up.  I am pretty sure if I was alone, I would of taken a walk break here.

I was so happy to hit mile ten, just 5K to go! I have to say though, I wasn't sure at this point I was going to make 2:20.  I did know that it would still be a PR though. My last PR was 2:24 which I also achieved with Beth, and I knew we would at least beat that.

To my surprise, I was able to hit negative splits for the last 3.1 miles: 10:52, 10:51, 10:00 and the last .1, 9:02.

I have never been so relived to stop running before.  We crossed that line and hugged and not only did I get my PR, I finished in 2:19:29!
Absolutely love Beth's smile in this picture!

I cannot thank Beth enough for all her help and encouraging words.  If you run with me, you know I am a talker. I can go on and on and on for miles.  I am pretty sure if we added up how much I talked to Beth during this race, it would be less than 15 minutes.  I know this really surprised Beth, but I was just so focus and all I could do was think about running, so, that is what I did.  I ran my heart out, fueled right, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other until we crossed the finish line.

We got our medals, and then found our way to the table that was giving out the Triple Crown shirt and extra medal.  I almost cried when I got it.

I was exhausted, Beth was tired too. We did not stay for the free beer. We just headed to the shuttles and drove home.

I felt high the rest of the day. So happy to have the best running friends and family.  When I got home, I was greeted with big hugs and a card that the kids made me.  There may have been tears again...

This is me running.

I can't really say that I trained for that PR, but I did train all year for different races and was pretty much half marathon ready the whole year.  With a little help and determination, I did it!  It was my eight half marathon and one of my favorites. I am not sure I will do the Triple Crown again, but I will at least run Newport.  The course is beautiful, and it is well run.

Coming up on Sunday, I will be running the Newport Bridge run for the fourth year in a row.  This is the fourth year for the race and it is just such a good time.  I plan to be there as many years as I can.

I have some really exciting things coming up and I can't wait to share them with you. I am still working out the details but will blog about everything soon.

I hope you are all having a great weekend!

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Little Expo Fun

Hey guys!  Sorry I have not been blogging much.  I have been having some computer issues again and they are in the process of being fixed.  I have not done too much since the Rhode Warrior.  I have been running, of course, and the Newport Half Marathon is this coming weekend.

I did want to share with you a cool thing that I was able to do last month.  I was invited to work the Another Mother Runner table at the Zooma Cape Cod expo.  Oh my gosh, so much fun!

I did this with Michelle of For the Love of Running and our friend Erica.  We stayed in the cutest little hotel right near the beach.

The expo was Friday from 2 to 8 and Saturday from race time to noon.  We were on our feet a lot but I can't think of a better way to spend the weekend than by surrounded by runners, talking running all day.

I enjoyed meeting all of you who came up and introduced yourselves.  You all had amazing races and I was so happy to hear all about them.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

Beautiful morning for a race!

Nice way to end the weekend!
Lunch on the beach.

Were you there?  How was your race?

I will post after Newport.  So far the weather looks good.  I do love this race and I will be running with Beth.  My PR for a half is 2:24 and I would love to better my time.  We shall see...

What has been going on with you?  Any big fall races coming up? 

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole