Yay! Another one down and I am still in love with running! What a race! I had such a blast and felt like I was really pushing myself. Let’s start from the beginning….
We (my mom, husband, mother in law and sister in law) drove down to Providence on Saturday around noontime. When we arrived at the Westin, we quickly checked in and headed over to the expo at the Convention Center (which was conveniently connected to the hotel).
The Rock N Roll Series has it down to a science! The expo was SO well organized (well, the entire race was too) and streamlined. Upon walking through the door, we checked in by corral number.
The corral number was sent via email as you had to print and sign a waiver before showing up. The series emailed participants monthly and then weekly before the big run with what to do to prepare, etc.
At check-in, the staff was so helpful and pointed out where to go and what to expect. Next up was the swag bag and awesome Brooks shirts that we got for registering. I am LOVING my shirt.
We rounded a corner and walked into the “official” Rock N Roll race gear and souvenirs (also well organized). I purchased this sweet magnetic bottle opener and some new black running shorts (to contain my sweat!)
They had some wicked cute mirrors positioned all around the open room too.
(Wow! That makes you look really fast!)
We also took more pictures (of course!).
(That red thing on my number is the shoe timing chip. You peel it off and loop it through your laces before the race starts).
Once we went through the clothing area (and paid for everything), we ended up in the vendor section.
There were so many vendors! You could test out massage sticks (like Tiger Tail, but not – can’t remember the name), shoe inserts, food/drink samples, headbands, Garmins, and so on. There were rows and rows of stuff. Everyone was really friendly. I ended up buying another “non-slip” headband (they had three separate vendors), but the one I picked ended up being a bust (Razzy Roo brand).
Cute? Yes. Non-slip? No. I’m sure on a shorter run it would be okay, but I had to keep adjusting it during the race. Not good in my book. Looks like I’m going to check out the ever blogger-popular Bic Bands.
We all got our Beer Garden bracelets (more on that later) before leaving the expo and then headed back to the hotel room to drop our (well, my) stuff off. We headed back out and checked out RiRa’s for an early dinner as none of us had eaten since breakfast. I found RiRa’s on Yelp, but wasn’t allowed to make a reservation due to WaterFire (I’ll get to that later too) that weekend. The place was great. Irish and delicious! I had a little adult beverage (why not?) and a big salad with grilled chicken and some fancy fixings. And a random side of mashed potatoes (I need carbs before racing, right?).
After dinner, we checked out the walk to the start line, so I would know how early I needed to be there the next morning. The distances in-person were so much shorter than how they looked on the map! After that we wandered around by the river as WaterFire was happening that night. We had never been to the event, but had heard all about it from a few friends.
We ended up in a great spot (one standing row behind the railing) and were able to see the boats come around and light the fires. It was really pretty. After they were lit, music was played (which I loved) and people just sort of wandered around listening to the rest of the evening. They even had a boat that served dinner on it and you motored around water watching the fires and having wine. Pretty sweet deal.
The Husband and I decided that would definitely go back to Providence another weekend for a fun night out. The city is so clean and walkable, and there seems to be a lot of little bars/restaurants to wander in and out of in the downtown area. Big fan!
We actually headed back to the hotel pretty early, so I could shower up and try to get to bed at a good time. Of course, I didn’t sleep much, but felt pretty good once I was finally up the next morning.
I was up about 4:45am and made a peanut butter and banana wrap for breakfast. Everyone got ready while I got into my gear and put on my tutu. There’s a lot of tulle to deal with on that puppy!
The series recommended being there an hour before race time (so 6:00am). Since I need AT LEAST an hour and half to digest my food before running (maybe more), a 6:00am arrival would mean getting up way earlier than I would like. In the end, we left around 6:20am/6:30am and were there in less than five minutes. Then we waited, and waited. Oh, and took a million pictures (thanks, Mom!).
(I swear I really am awake… even though it looks like I’m going fall over).
We saw the Finish Line and wandered over to the starting corrals (right next to the Finish Line) around 6:45am. All that waiting had me thinking I had to use the port-o-potties (ah, my anxious bladder). I gave my amazing cheering section hugs and kisses and hurried over to the long lines. The RnR Series “released” (is that the right terminology?) the first corral at 7:00am on the dot, and then every two minutes the next corral would be set free (they were stopped by staff holding a rope).
Apparently, I chose the wrong line to wait in. Gah! The guy in front of me and I kept looking at each other as the corrals were getting released. The line wasn’t moving, but finally when they released the 4th corral I had made my way to the front. As I came out of the port-o-potty, I scurried (yes, scurried) between the gates and just happen to have met my corral inching towards the starting line. I was able to take a quick picture…
And get myself situated (tutu-poof and all) and set up my RunKeeper before we crossed the starting line. Then we were off!
The race itself was pretty hilly in certain areas (I mean, the finish line is up a hill!). My tutu worked out pretty well, but going forward I think I’m going to use elastic for the waist band instead of ribbon. It was tied tightly, so it kept twisting around as I ran. It wasn’t bad, but would have been nice if it just laid flat. Lesson learned = make my tutus tighter for running (who would have ever thought I would write that statement?).
The biggest difference that I noticed during this run was how serious the runners were. When I ran the Run to Remember, runners were cheering each other on and hooting and hollering through tunnels. I didn’t experience any of that during this race. The staff was all wonderful, and the local bands were AWESOME! I was using a Pandora station because I knew I wanted to hear the bands playing. (I heard Tom Petty’s “American Girl” around Mile 6 and couldn’t stop smiling)! The runners just seemed very focused. The crowds were amazing. I had a good number of people complimenting me on my tutu and taking pictures of it! I even saw one woman a few times throughout the course (she moved around to different locations during the race, I guess). She kept calling me her “tutu girl” and cheering extra loud for me. So sweet and very motivating!
There was one mega hill in the early part of the race that was pretty rough, but the crowds would yell out that we were close to the top or that there was a good downhill coming up. I’m telling you – so nice!
I held onto my water until about Mile 11, so I avoided all the water stops which was nice. It was a little tricky trying to fix my headband and hold the water, but I made it happen. The water stops seemed well stocked and not congested at all. Kudos to them!
Here I am… running along in my crazy get-up…
The last few miles had an “out and back” effect, so runners would pass each other. Again, I was surprised that no one was cheering like my first Half. I clapped for people (especially those in fun costumes!), but it was pretty mellow. I think everyone was getting pretty warm at that point as the sun was coming out strong. The second-to-last mile seemed to take forever as I knew my cheering section was right at the end (mile 13). We had made a plan of where they would be standing so I would be able to see them as I ran. As I rounded the corner toward the finish, I could see them yelling and waving. It was just the best feeling seeing them there to root for me! It absolutely gave me the push I needed to finish strong. I was all smiles when I ran by high fiving them!
The last 0.10 of the race was uphill. Really?! Really. Ugh. I’m glad I knew about it ahead of time, so I just put my head down and went. My tutu-lady was there (how does she move so quickly?!) and cheered me on as I trucked ahead (“oh, she’s going for it – go my tutu-girl, go!”). As it evened out at the top of the hill, I heard the DJ announce my name and compliment my tutu. Pretty fun!
Crossing that finish line was awesome. That feeling will never, ever get old! As soon as I crossed there was water, Gatorade, chocolate milk (YUM!!!) and people handing out the medals. Again, SO well organized! After I had my medal on, there were photographers stopping us to take our picture. They had all sorts of snacks (bananas, peaches, popsicles) as well as ice cold towels to use.
The event had a huge area sectioned off for runners and families to reunite. They had each letter of the alphabet posted around the common, so I found my family at “S”. It was so great to see them and give them sweaty hugs!
We wandered over to the Beer Garden and concert area to get my free Mich Ultra (runners were given a free one, but cheering sections had to pay).
Man, that ice cold beer tasted DE-licious! (Although, I’m not going to lie… that chocolate milk at the finish was the best tasting chocolate milk OF MY LIFE!)
Karmin was the headliner for the concert series. It was pretty great that we were able to hang out and enjoy the music while cooling down.
We headed back to the hotel, so I could clean up and we could check out. We grabbed lunch and then headed back home.
Overall, I felt like I was hauling ass (well, for my normal speed) so I was a little bummed when my “official” final time was around 2:18. Don’t get me wrong, I think that is a great time, but I had felt that I was really pushing myself to go faster than normal. When I checked my RunKeeper app, it said that my average pace was 9:45 and that I ran 14.1 miles. I must have hugged the outside of the course more than I realized (although I don’t know how they measure the courses – from the inside track? Middle of the road? Outer lane?). All I do know is that I am going to go with my RunKeeper time and say that I finished around 2:08 for my final time and had a pace under 10 minutes.
This race was such a whirlwind! I still cannot believe it was over so quickly. It seemed to take forever to get here and then it ended before I could blink.
Man, Ferris Bueller wasn’t joking around with his words of wisdom (10 seconds in)…
Next on my Half Marathon Goal list (if my knees allow it):
– Rock N Roll in DC
– Rock N Roll in Chicago
– Rock N Roll in San Diego
– Rock N Roll in Ireland
Question of the Day:
Do you have any fitness, travel or life goals that you want to accomplish in the next few years? What are they? Spill the details…