Sunday, October 12, 2014

Newport Marathon (Rhode Island)

October 12, 2014
Marathon 49, State #43 (Age 46)
Newport, Rhode Island

What have we done in the last 48 hours?   Ok, we have logged now 385 miles in the car since leaving Boston Thursday night, visited highpoints in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as just finishing a marathon in Hartford earlier Saturday morning.   Why not get up the next morning and do it all again?    

At this point we’ve have just entered the whopping state of Rhode Island. While the state is only 37 miles by 48 miles we were coming in from the very NW and the marathon was in the far SE so we were actually 50 miles from our destination and not much further you could drive within the state!    I’d been to Rhode Island one other time in 1993, 21 years prior, to visit my good friend Roger, so I had a basic recollection of what to expect geographically.  

Traveling from the west there are two large bridges that are the gateway into Newport.   I think that summer time Newport thrives with tourists, but the town practically shuts down in the winter months.  The rain had passed but left a heavy cloud cover.    The first order of business was getting to the expo before it closed at 7pm.   No problem we were there by late afternoon.   Unlike Hartford Marathon expo the day prior in the XL Center, the expo was a small tent that was set up at a beach parking lot called Second Beach.   Again a chance to stand up and stretch after the 100 mile drive from Hartford, it felt good to move around and still no extreme aches or pains.  

The half marathon is the biggest draw and apparent by the line of athletes waiting to get inside the tent.    I was thrilled when a race official asked if anyone in line was doing the marathon, I raised my hand, and was walked to the front of a much shorter line just for marathon runners.   Who other than the couple we had breakfast with in Hartford from Albuquerque would be standing in line next to me.   We made some small talk about our run that morning then for the first time I realized nearly everyone standing in line had shirts from Hartford and it’s common to run both of these races back to back tho most were running the half marathon and not the full marathon.  I had my race number within minutes and made my way to the back of the tent to pick up my marathon shirt.   Never before had I seen there were multiple shirts in four different colors and you could pick the color of your choice.

Meanwhile George again had planned run the half marathon so he was still at the back of the line and I could tell it was going to be a long wait.   I think the number of volunteers handing out the bib numbers was way understaffed, or perhaps it was just a big crowd of runners that had just finally made the drive from Hartford!    Since we were in a beach parking lot, I had to walk out and see the water.   A little cold and windy, but conditions were to be dry and sunny come Sunday morning. 

There were only a couple of vendors at the marathon so it took about 60 seconds to see everything, but one booth caught my attention.   I mentioned I didn’t have any aches or pains, but for the first time in my running history my right ankle was becoming very sore after running.    I actually tapered my training the last 7 days and only ran 1 day to give my ankle a little time to heal before trying to run 52.4 miles on it.   I was pleased how it held up for the first 26.2 miles and wasn’t as sore as I had expected.   The booth I stopped by was a topical pain reliever.   I grabbed a sample pack and applied to my sore ankle.  The potion was just a 1% menthol mix and the guy encouraged me to put on a second coat, so I didn’t say no.   It did relieve the pain so might have to look into some of this stuff!  George finally got his race number, we snapped a few more pictures along the beach as the sun was going down.     

Sunsets aren't as beautiful the Pacific, but I couldn’t wait until Sunday morning to see the sunrise!   Either Newport was too expensive or there were no rooms available, so we had to drive all the way back to Narragansett on the other side of the two bridges, less than 15 miles always, but a good 30 minute drive even without traffic.   We had lucked out with inexpensive hotels the first couple nights, but even though Narragansett wasn’t “Newport”, it was still expensive.   Since we didn’t have time to really enjoy the town, had I done it again I might look for options as far out as Providence because it’s a pretty easy drive. 

We checked into our hotel and was devastated to find they didn’t have a hot tub.  Neither did the Hampton back in Hartford which I usually love to sit in after a marathon.   Again we had to put our marathon game faces on and prepare for morning which was going to come way too early.   This time there would be no continental breakfast and no walking to the start line rather we would have to pick up our breakfast at a local grocery and eat on the drive to the start.   

The night earlier I was washing and drying my clothes from the airplane mishap with a broken bottle of beer in my luggage, now again, all our running clothes, and shoes were saturated from running all morning in the rain so the first stop was another laundrymat.   This one not at the hotel, but rather a real laundrymat about a mile from the hotel.   It was already getting late and we had neither eaten dinner or picked up groceries for our morning breakfast.   

Before trying to squeeze three high points into the weekend, one idea I had was to drive to Providence on Saturday night after the expo for dinner and take in the WaterFire Festival.  Apparently it looks very exciting but we were too tired and agreed there was no way we could make it all the way there and back tonight.   We did find a grocery and a little restaurant which treated us right.   Again back to the hotel and knowing that as soon as the alarm would chime at 5 a.m. we would be tossing everything back in the car again and be on our way to Newport.    I’m not completely used to east coast time so that 5am wake up call was going to feel like 2 a.m. especially after the marathon Saturday morning in Hartford. 

Alarm rings and we are out the door in less than 20 minutes.   Very dark, windy, cold, no rain!   We make the drive from Narragansett with early departure hoping to miss any heavy traffic on the two bridges however no traffic and smooth sailing.   We relied on GPS to get us to Second beach the first time, however, this time we were going from memory and missed our turn so ended up driving past Second Beach, but the most spectacular thing happened.   We were driving directly east just as the sun was beginning to rise, beautiful site to see the orange glow over the water. 

One of the reasons for the extra early start was that we were not allowed to park at the start/finish line, rather we had to park back at the parking lot where the Expo was the night earlier in the tent along the beach and they would have shuttles/busses to transport runners from the parking area a couple miles back towards the start/finish area.    With no traffic we made it to the shuttle pick up very early, so to stay warm we sat in the car and enjoyed our breakfasts.     A couple port-o-johns were set up in the parking lot so took advantage of no lines before boarding a bus.   

After a quick shuttle ride we were at the start area.   Still dark, sun still barely coming up over the water, windy, but best of all no rain this morning, temperature mid 40’s, looking like it was going to be a fantastic day!   Unlike Saturday where I planned the morning maximizing sleep and arriving at the start line at the last minute, Sunday’s logistics made this nearly impossible.  Had I to do this again I think I would have paid about any price to stay at a hotel, I think Best Western right next to the start/finish line and could have saved 2 hours of sleep, a lot less hassle, and maybe even a late checkout and shower after the race.    Now moving around for really the first time of the morning I scoped out where bag drop was but was going to try to keep the morning’s warm clothes and extra layers on as long as possible.   

Sunday’s race was a little different start format because the marathon runners had a 30 minute head start and then the faster half marathoners would run the same course.    We soon were instructed to leave the parking area and begin heading to the starting line on the main road.    The bag drop was a good shield from the wind but after heading to the start there was full exposure to the wind and a delayed start we stood there for much longer than I would have liked.     A drone was flying overhead apparently taking photos, seen this more and more at starts recently.   Another announcement was that all photos on the race course would be complimentary, in that you could download any picture a few days after the race instead of the usual pay lots of money per photo.   What a great concept!

The race was off and this was the first time my legs and body realized they would have to do a repeat performance of Saturday, another 26.2 miles.   The first couple steps my legs felt like giant stones attached to my body, I could barely move them, and it hurt every step.   Like some kind of torture, the first mile was a steep uphill, and with nothing to prove today except to find a way to get to the finish line I was pleased after I turned in my first mile split and had done a 9:16.  Not bad I thought to myself, now just how long can I keep this up?  =)

Saturday we had a water stop nearly every single mile so no problem staying hydrated.   Many previous races I’ve actually carried a bottle of water, but in an effort to be more minimalistic I was going to try a second day just relying on what’s on the course.   I wasn’t happy when the first water stop didn’t come for 3 miles and then about every 2 miles after that, which meant about 20 minutes between water as opposed to the day earlier which was about every 10 minutes.   Ugh.   I was pleased, my first 8 miles I was holding a pretty consistent 9:30 pace or better.    The marathon had started late the half started on time so their gap to close was way less than 30 minutes, so by mile 6-7 the leaders of the shorter race were already starting to fly by.   Yesterday when I started at the back and it felt good to pass slower runners sort of had the opposite effect because now I was being passed like I was standing still!   

The first 13 miles was a big loop back to the start area which passed through the all the mansions around Newport.   The first half of the course with the sea to the right and the grand houses mostly to the left made the route absolutely brilliant.  The 12-13 mile took us back down the hill we had to run up in the first mile.   My legs were certainly feeling it, I think my downhill speed was actually slower than the uphill in the first mile because each step on a steep downhill was grueling to my legs.   I overdressed and had an extra layer I peeled off early and didn’t want to discard, so carried all the way back to the 13.1 where we started before dropping off along the route to reclaim at my finish.   Somehow I managed to hold in there the first half and clocked a 2:07:50 13.1 miles which was an average of 9:45 per mile.   This marked my ¾ of the 2 day route, so I’m still feeling pretty confident I’m going to make it, however, I felt the last 3-4 miles my pace slowing down.  

The second half of Sunday the route completely changed, now instead of residential mansions the course was mostly wild reserve areas along the coast.   My pace continued to slow and I settled into about an 11 minute mile for the rest of the day.  I took my time walking through the water stops every two miles and just enjoyed my music and the beautiful sites along the way.   One guy passed me about mile 16 and on the back of his shirt he wrote, “this is my 50th state marathon”.   I was so happy for him I gave him a loud cheer!   About 22 miles I passed another runner that had a shirt on from Saturday’s race so knew they are in about the same boat as me with just a few miles to go.   I leaped them on the uphill and then they leaped me back on the next steep downhill.   About a mile out I could taste it, almost there, I could hear the music and knew I was going to make it.   Again George was there cheering, this time he wasn’t able to go back to the car or hotel so he didn’t have a camera to take any pictures, but felt so good to have someone cheering for this new accomplishment.   

Crossed the finish line and received my 2nd medal of the weekend.  Both were fantastic designs and will proudly be placed in my box with the 41 others already on display.    Real food sounded so good so a boat load of pizza boxes were piled up so loaded up my plate with 3 slices and off to find my gear bag.   Again I willed my beer coupon to George who gladly took it off my hands.    I was tired, but still feeling well taken into account I had just ran 52.4 miles in the past two days.   

Again logistically we had to shuttle back to the car before heading off.  Unshowered and this time no place to go until we get to Boston later in the evening, I shed my running clothes and put on some ordinary shorts and tee and we headed to the bustling downtown of Newport full of restaurants and shopping.   We couldn’t find parking so drove all the way to the very end of the block and put on my walking shoes and what was left of my legs and strolled along the sidewalk until we came to a Irish Bar with an outside patio.   The weather beautiful, we found a seat outside and ordered food and a drink.   Perfect time to call our friend Greg back in Ohio and tell him about our latest conquests!   

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace
1 9:16.9 9:16.9 9:17 1.00 72 -- 9:17 9:17
2 8:38.7 17:56 8:39 1.00 11 65 8:39 8:39
3 10:03 27:59 9:39 1.00 42 19 10:03 9:39
4 8:59.8 36:59 8:59 1.00 34 62 9:00 8:59
5 9:38.5 46:37 9:39 1.00 47 45 9:38 9:39
6 9:24.9 56:02 9:20 1.00 40 32 9:25 9:20
7 9:19.5 1:05:21 9:19 1.00 14 20 9:19 9:19
8 9:34.1 1:14:56 9:35 1.00 17 27 9:34 9:35
9 10:01 1:24:57 10:01 1.00 36 31 10:01 10:01
10 10:12 1:35:09 10:12 1.00 71 47 10:12 10:12
11 9:49.8 1:44:59 9:51 1.00 15 8 9:50 9:51
12 10:15 1:55:14 10:15 1.00 26 14 10:15 10:15
13 10:08 2:05:22 10:08 1.00 16 70 10:08 10:08
14 10:49 2:16:11 10:44 1.00 26 2 10:49 10:44
15 10:15 2:26:26 10:15 1.00 29 -- 10:15 10:15
16 10:57 2:37:23 10:57 1.00 13 55 10:57 10:57
17 10:18 2:47:41 10:18 1.00 3 11 10:18 10:18
18 10:56 2:58:37 10:56 1.00 4 -- 10:56 10:56
19 11:07 3:09:44 11:07 1.00 80 -- 11:07 11:07
20 11:39 3:21:23 11:39 1.00 43 73 11:39 11:39
21 11:09 3:32:32 11:04 1.00 57 30 11:09 11:04
22 11:00 3:43:32 11:00 1.00 23 50 11:00 11:00
23 11:14 3:54:46 11:14 1.00 82 42 11:14 11:14
24 10:56 4:05:42 10:57 1.00 10 94 10:56 10:57
25 11:57 4:17:39 11:57 1.00 57 24 11:57 11:57
26 11:22 4:29:01 11:21 1.00 2 24 11:22 11:21
27 5:03.6 4:34:05 5:04 0.48 -- 25 10:36 10:37


From downtown Newport our next destination was to head back to Boston where our 4th hotel would be awaiting our weary bones.   We'd already crossed the 2 bridges three times so after plugging address of our hotel into the GPS we figured there is a more direct way just going straight north and avoiding crossing the water.   Similar to all the point to point destinations we drove over the past few days, again about 70 mile or a little less than 1.5 hours to our hotel.   Boston Hotels are expensive as well so I opted for the outskirts.   Free internet and continental breakfast were provided however I overlooked the amenities and now for the 2nd night in a row we were without a pool or hot tub.   We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the hotel "doing nothing" for the first time since we landed 4 nights ago.   Finally had a chance to compile pictures as well as update Facebook.   We laid low all afternoon and finally for dinner discovered we were only a couple miles away from the New England Patriot's stadium which was newly built.   Tons of shopping and restaurants surrounded the stadium, so we settled on a "Bar Louie" for some good eats and finally an early bed, this night with no alarm or rush the next day.      

Monday turns out to be a Holiday and a free vacation day which was a plus and a great afternoon to explore Boston.  I'd been to Boston in 2006 for the Boston Marathon, but don't remember a lot of the city.   I ended up visited Bunker Hill, the Harbor with US Constitution (a battleship) and then finally downtown to follow bits of the Freedom trail.   We had lunch at Cheers at Faneuil Hall and then walked the Freedom Trail down to Boston Common Park and back.    A late flight home and I didn't return till about 1pm, which made for a mighty long day.   Long for the fact my day was 3 hours longer and also that I had just run 2 marathons in 2 days!

Apparently New Hampshire and Maine are good contenders for a similar adventure!  Next year!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island (812)

27th High Point Visited
46th Highest State High Point
29th Most Difficult

I have to give myself credit in planning this adventure, even last minute, because just after finishing a marathon in Hartford, CT on Saturday morning and heading to Newport, RI to do it again Sunday morning, could it be any more perfect that literally the only route between the two cities took us directly past the high point of Rhode Island.    It couldn’t have been any easier, a short hike directly off the route which we were traveling, Route 44 from Hartford actually turns in to Route 101 which less than a mile after crossing the state line of Rhode Island you can see the landmark sign. 

After the Hartford Marathon’s great post race treats were starting to wear off we came to another small town still in Connecticut and a road side diner that was calling our name.   We stopped in for lunch and asked the waitresses if they knew anything about Jerimoth Hill.    They all recognized the sign they must drive past all the time along the easiest route toward Providence, but none of them really knew anything about the high point other than the sign. 

After our lunch we immediately crossed the Rhode Island border and within .7 miles we had reached the infamous sign.   My highpoint guide was first edition published in 1999 so now 2014 we found that its content were a little outdated.   My book says that the “sign” counts as the highpoint, even though it’s not actually the highpoint.   Wikipedia states that “Jerimoth Hill was once less accessible than Mount McKinley and the only access was heavily posted against trespassing.     As a matter of fact the “route” or trail to the actual highpoint wasn’t easy to find at first.   

The tall cell tower sits ontop of the hill, however after 10 minutes of searching for a trailhead or any signs that would lead us to the summit around the tower, I finally had to consult Google and see if I could find any more details to the actual highpoint.   Ends up, in 2005 the property was purchased by new owners who eventually sold the rights to the state of Rhode Island, so across the road from the cell tower was a sign and a path the lead to  Jerimoth Hill.   The trail is well marked and about a 5-7 minutes hike from the roadside.   

The good part of the hike is that it is short, it’s basically flat, and it had stopped raining.   The actual state highpoint was well marked with Tibetan prayer flags, a pile of rocks on top of a big boulder, and a tin army can with a guest register.    We signed the book, took a few photos and hiked back the way we came had come back to our vehicle and were finally off the 5th and final adventure of the weekend, another marathon in Newport, Rhode Island the next morning.    

Jerimoth Hill (812), Rhode Island - State Highoint #27