||Amica Half Marathon
Race recap: The pre-race logistics need work. Traffic to the shuttle parking lot was insane (25 minutes to go 0.8 miles), the bathroom line near the start had a 35 minute line and the race started 17 minutes late. With that behind us we tackled the biggest hill on the course in the first mile and continued to fight through crowds for the next few miles. Around mile 3 we found a nice groove and were finally enjoying the course, and the slight drizzle helped to cool us down a bit. At mile 4 we entered Fort Adams and the volunteers had made it a “welcome to the London Olympics” themed mile, which was really entertaining. Pictures of London lined the course and volunteers were wearing Olympic track suits as they shouted British words of encouragement. Highly amusing. Near mile 5 we caught up with Kane and Jeff, who we ran with at a local race in Libertyville, IL the week before (Kane is working on running a full marathon in all 50 states in 50 weeks – what a nut!). Miles 6 and 7 were incredibly windy, it kind of felt like we were running on a treadmill as we couldn’t tell if we were actually moving forward or not, but running next to the ocean from an elevated position made it two of the most memorable and scenic miles we have ever run. The next few miles gave us a chance to see how the 1% live and boy howdy do they know how to live! The modern day mansions were absolutely enormous. Around mile 10 we transitioned from modern mansions to historical mansions and ran past several famous homes, including the Breakers and modern day Salve Regina University. By mile 12 it was really comforting to be running with Kane and Jeff as they both pace very evenly and the conversations distracted us from our tired bodies. As we approached the finish line along Easton Bay, we wished Kane and Jeff good luck with the remainder of their marathon and were happy to be done for the day.
Highlight: Successfully running a double in CT and RI (two half marathons in one weekend)! Kristin’s knee (IT band) was really flaring up after running the Hartford half marathon on Saturday, but with a little massage and foam rolling she made it through New Port strong on Sunday. It’s hard to run when you’re not confident your body is going to hold up, so I give Kristin a ton of credit for mentally pushing through the race.
Day 1 (Thursday):
We arrived in Providence, RI just as the sun was setting and headed off to the Roger Williams Park Zoo for the annual Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular. After warming up with a Union Station pumpkin ale (the glass was rimmed with sugar and cinnamon…yum) we enjoyed a stroll through the zoo as we looked at over 5,000 carved pumpkins! Some of the carvings were quite impressive works of art arranged by theme – like ET and the Titanic for the movie genre – while others were simple, traditional carvings, but still made us smile. The grand finale is the Laughing Tree where literally hundreds of carved pumpkins are hung in the trees and illuminated in various colors (they use LED lights instead of candles for safety reasons). The entire trail is accompanied by themed music. This is a great attraction to check out for people of all ages.
We were fortunate to find a great deal at the Providence Marriott which included a $75 dinner credit at the Bluefin Grille (which got really good reviews from Urban Spoon) and a complementary bottle of wine! We tried the littleneck clams with chorizo in white wine as our appetizer. Unlike clams we had tried before these had almost no salty flavor but were a little chewier than expected. For dinner I sampled the oven roasted haddock (a flaky white fish) and Kristin tried the pasta with shrimp, scallops and lobster. Both were fresh and tasty. We had a nice private table in the restaurant and really enjoyed just relaxing and talking. Very nice night!
Day 2 (Friday):
In 2011, we had planned to run a half marathon in Providence but were sidelined by injuries from our first half Ironman. So, while in town we decided to go for a short 3.5 mile jog through downtown Providence and enjoyed views of the capital building and a jaunt through Brown University. While the run was at a nice, slow pace the hills on parts of our route were brutal. The overarching consensus we had during our run was how empty the city felt at ~8am on a Friday – eerily quiet.
As we drove towards New Port to get our race packets and check out the city, we stopped along the way at Allie’s Donuts. The shop is small and only takes cash but the donuts were fairly priced (~$5 for a half dozen). The old fashioned glazed cruller – perfect for dipping into their piping hot dark roast coffee – and the Boston crème were our favorites. These donuts are definitely made with TLC and the staff was super helpful.
We parked at Forty Steps and walked along the famous New Port Cliff Walk (a public path between the ocean and some unbelievable mansions). We decided to tour the Breakers mansion as it offered an audio tour with admission. The Breakers is 180,000+ square feet mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in the late 1890’s in only two years! Every detail of the house, from the Italian marble to the platinum leaf wall coverings are just the epitome of excess. The Breakers looks more like a cross between a museum and a sixteenth century castle than a summer home. Still though, it is an impressive estate and the audio tour was very informative.
The weather had turned a bit colder and it was drizzling, so the Hot Thanksgiving sandwich of turkey, stuffing and cranberries at the People’s Café really hit the spot. The homemade potato salad (made without mayo, woo-who!) was also good. The ambience of this restaurant is pretty awesome, overlooking the harbor area in an old bank with the vault door still intact on the wall.
Day 3 (Saturday):
We toyed with the idea of visiting the Pez factory in Connecticut, but given that it was a non-production day and ~45 minutes in the wrong direction we opted to head to New Port for a sampling of locally brewed beers at the New Port Storm Brewing Company. The tour was pretty much the same old record about how beer is made, but the factory also has an on-site rum distillery which smelled like rich molasses. The beers were actually a bit disappointing. The Octoberfest was ok and the Hefeweisse was palatable, but we didn’t find any beers here we really liked.
We strolled around Fort Adams, and while impressive we were more interested in the views of the New Port Bridge in the distance.
Kristin had a hankering for Hibachi so we headed to Sea Shai for dinner. The restaurant is off the beaten path, and it was nice to just get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown New Port for dinner. We accidentally ordered the fresh tuna sushi instead of the tuna rolls, but I’m glad we made that mistake the fresh tuna was melt in your mouth delicious. We both had the chicken teriyaki hibachi (the portion was enormous, we should have split) and it was quite satisfying. Very lean chicken and well seasoned and prepared. Odd pre-race meal, but it was tasty and we were happy.
Day 4 (Sunday - Race Day):
Post-race I was ravenous and devoured a slice of pizza, bowel of cereal and donut before brunch at the Corner Café. The restaurant was packed, but we were lucky to find a spot at the counter of this trendy yet cozy café. Kristin’s breakfast pipe was empty so she ordered the West Coast burrito (eggs, Canadian bacon, avocado and pepperjack cheese), while I opted for the lunch Rodeo burrito (ground beef, grilled chicken, onions and mushrooms). Both were outstanding. You know the food is good when you are halfway done with your meal and realize you haven’t said a word since you were served. Heavenly good.
After a brief tour walk around the shops in downtown New Port we drove up to the Castle Hill Inn for a locally brewed Trinity IPA. Lounging in Adirondack chairs as we took in the gorgeous views from Castle Hill was a perfect way to celebrate our weekend.
Rhode Island Half Marathon Medals
October 14, 2012: Newport Half Marathon