And just like that, marathon number 4 is complete! Buckle up and get ready for a lengthy post to recap this roller coaster of a race and weekend 🙂
Day before race day: travel + site seeing
Friday started off with a road trip to Newport, Rhode Island.
4 hours, a few Kelly Roberts podcasts, and approximately 29 bathroom breaks later, I arrived in beautiful Newport. First stop was to pick up my race packet and bib. The race expo was very small – one room with a few booths. I knew the drill since my first ever marathon was with Rhode Races in Providence, RI. I loved their medium size operation, homey staff, and FREE race photos, so I was so pumped to be doing another race with this company.
It was around 3pm and I had the rest of the day to kill, so I decided to hit up some sites. Guys…Newport is BE-YOO-TI-FUL! It’s such a charming, coastal, New England town and I was in such bliss walking around, seeing the colonial houses, and taking in the ocean views.
Small hike to get to Castle Hill lighthouse.
The views literally took my breath away. As I was chilling on the cliffs, I had this peaceful moment when all my race doubts went away. Many sites I saw were also on the marathon course, and I couldn’t believe I was going to run this amazing city.
A stroll along the classic Cliff Walks.
Then, I checked into the Sea Whale Motel which was beyond charming. It was a husband and wife operation and they made me feel at home right away :). Views from my room:
For dinner, I stopped by Easton’s Pub next door to my motel. The bartender was beyond inclusive and he plopped me right next to his friend who was a regular at the bar to chat over dinner. I had seafood pasta which HIT. THE. SPOT. I was so happy with my evening there that I promised to be back the next day after the race (which I did)!
The night ended with watching Hunger Games and hitting the pillow at 9:30pm.
RACE DAY – morning prep
I woke up at 6am feeling super refreshed with 8+ hours of sleep. I got on my race outfit, ate a banana, coffee, and plain oatmeal, packed my fuel belt, applied chafing creme, put on some make up 🙂 and was on my way to the race start which was luckily only a 10 minute walk from my hotel!
I got to the prep area with 20 minutes before the start. Just enough time to use the potty, check my bag, and make it to the start line with 2 minutes to spare. I don’t know how I get so lucky with race mornings…I somehow always time things so I JUST make it to the start.
We sang the national anthem, said one last prayer, and then was off!!
Miles 1-7: warm up + ocean heaven
The first hour flew by. I started off at a good tempo level (around 9:20 pace) and felt great. It was clear right away that this course was going to be a tough one and full of hills. The first 1.5 miles was STRAIGHT uphill, if that was foreshadowing enough! A very windy day too, and nice temperature in the 50s.
Miles 3-6 were on Ocean Avenue, by far the most scenic portion of the race right. The ocean was sparkling and I thought I was in heaven. I was way ahead of pace and thought I had a shot at tackling this PR.
Views along the ocean:
Miles 8-13: self-doubt mountain + stay in the mile
Trouble rose around mile 8…my legs were starting to feel sore, and I could tell something was off. I thought it was a combo of going go out too fast + hills + PMS (this race unfortunately fell on the worst day of my period cycle…). I tried to keep my cadence steady on the hills and keep this tempo pace.
Even though I was climbing self-doubt mountain, my morale was still pretty solid. Every now and then, I had bursts of feeling good and convinced myself that everything comes in waves with running: Ride all the good moments you can. Embrace the tailwinds and downhills. Most importantly, stay in the mile. Don’t think too much ahead; just focus on the mile in front of you.
I got a confidence boost crossing the half marathon point at 9:40 pace, which I was happy about. I knew that even if I sustained a 10-minute pace until the end, I could PR.
Miles 14-19: blurry pain + everyone has their own race
The next few miles were just a long blur of pain, physically and mentally. The soreness was starting to reach its peak, which typically hits me around mile 21…it was frustrating. The up hills were gruesome, but the down hills were worse. Every step felt like a knife was driving up my calf.
My strategy was DO NOT STOP, which was so tempting since others around me were starting to. I knew that if I stopped, I’d be walk-running the rest of the race. I drastically lowered my pace to 10:30-11:00. I just needed to not stop by keeping running motion.
My mantra this portion was: everyone has their own race. (Can you tell I love talking to myself? 😉 ) Do not compare with others. Everyone’s goals are different. I also had been sweating a lot, and felt myself needing electrolytes, and so I took water and gatorade at each station. I finally took my first walking break around mile 18.
Miles 20-21: heartbreak + pep talk + changing perspective
Then came mile 20…
My watch was about to die and I took one last look, and I finally realized that I wasn’t going to PR.
I stopped. I cried.
There were so many emotions going through my head: I was heart broken that I wasn’t going to reach my goal, and I was in so much pain and just didn’t know if I could endure it any longer. I broke down and had a very emotional WHY moment. WHY am I putting myself through this? WHY did I pay all this money and drive all the way here? WHY do I run at all?
I took some time to soak that all in, but I knew I couldn’t feel bad for myself forever. And so as all of us crazy runners do, I gave myself a pep talk that went something like this:
“You can either be miserable for the next 5 miles like you’ve been this entire race, or you can do what you came here to do, and that’s to have fun and run your heart out. This is how your body chose to react on this day. You can’t change or control that. Do you want to look back and remember hating this experience and wishing the race was over? I made it this far, I can handle another 5 miles. So just take a deep and enjoy this.”
Miles 22-26: heart of the race
And that’s what I did. The last miles were truly the heart of the race. I believe the final miles of a marathon are where people show their true strength.
They definitely were not physically easier, but I was in a much better mental spot. I was ready to throw away all the negativity and self-doubt and turn this thing around. I very slowly ran the end, taking walking breaks every mile or so.
When I saw mile 25, I couldn’t believe it. I was going to make it! I RAN that last mile, and when I saw the finish line, tears flooded my eyes (I was such a cry baby this race 😉 ). They were tears of joy, pride, and major relief.
Me with my eyes on the finish line.
Crossing the finish line!!!
Final time: 4 hours, 37 minutes, 35 seconds
Free beer post race is always a plus 🙂
Overall, I wouldn’t trade this race for any other. I would run this entire thing again if I could. I remember the NYC marathon a year ago, also a very tough race for me, but I was so mentally unprepared and completely fell apart. This time, even with the emotional roller coaster, I’m beyond proud of how I picked myself up and was able to stay positive, especially when things went south early on. There’s always another chance, another race to PR. But this time, I got something so much more out of it. I didn’t think I had it in me to handle that much pain for that long…but I did. And I am so much stronger of a runner and a person because of it. ❤
And with that, the Newport marathon goes down as a huge success.