I, for one, hate the heat so when it comes to summer running I prefer to log my miles on the “dreadmill” where I can stay (somewhat) cool. I ran my first summer (ok, late Spring) half marathon in Gloucester, MA on June 1 and left feeling dehydrated, nauseous, and fried like an egg. If that’s how I responded to a run that started when the morning temperatures were still on the cooler side, how in the world was I going to survive a race in the dead of summer?
I registered for the July 13th Narragansett Half Marathon in the early spring eager to return to my college town; however, the night prior to the race found me panicked. Had I consumed enough fluids? Would I be able to defeat the treacherous hills of Easton of which I had been forewarned? Would I be the last person on the course because my body told me to walk the entire race? Would I want to turn around and not finish? Damn, I should have registered for the 10K instead! I’ve been in a bit of a running rut lately and was nowhere near ready to run this entire race straight through, but could I handle the race at all? A friend previously mentioned the course was one of the toughest she had experienced. And she’s run the Boston Marathon.
I never experienced nerves before a race until now. Nor had I ever doubted my ability to complete a race until that moment. My goal was simple- don’t push myself, stick to my run/walk ratio, and just finish the race. My competitive nature wholeheartedly rejected that goal, but I knew if I wanted to walk away from the finish line tummy-problem free, I’d have to choose the easy approach. No sub-2:00 goal for me today.
This Narragansett event consisted of three races: a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon. All started and ended at Stonehill College, my alma mater. (Wondered why you were swimming in a sea of purple that day? It’s the Stonehill color.) As the announcer counted down to the race start, I had resolved to begin the half marathon and, if the summer sun hit me hard, I would turn around early. Three-two-one…we were off, dashing through the college campus with volunteers telling us we looked great (I would hope so since I haven’t even run a quarter of a mile).
The course led us off of the Stonehill campus to the neighboring sheep pasture for a little trail running action. Once out of the gravel ground of the sheep pasture, we headed back onto the paved road and spent the rest of the race running through neighborhoods and past scenic ponds. The map of the course showed that we would run a few of the same streets twice, once up, once back. I kept waiting for the faster runners to pass me in the oncoming lane but they never showed. That’s when I knew I had come too far to quit. Had I wanted to turn around, I should have done so by mile four. I stepped into my big girl pants and followed the race route with everyone else. Slow and steady just like the tortoise.
By mile six, the hills began to show their horns. Since I conserved energy with my run/walk ratio (3:1), I bounded up those beauties with ease. I heard horror stories about this course from last year, but to be honest, Gloucester’s hills kicked my butt harder. Once the hills subsided, the course leveled off and allowed for the remainder of the run to be stress free. Somewhere along the run, we ended up back on one of the neighborhood roads from earlier that morning, and we were headed back to the sheep pasture and Stonehill. We returned to the campus around mile eleven. By this distance, I just wanted to be finished. I knew where the finish line was, but I still had to run two more miles to reach it. Couldn’t I just take a short cut? I know, I know. That’s cheating, but I really wanted a drink of water. I stuck with it and as luck would have it, I received a bottle of water around mile 12.5, or as I like to remember it, across from my Senior year dorm! The last .2 miles took us up a hill to Donahue Hall and the finish line where my friend and her parents awaited. I heard the announcer say my name as I crossed the finish, accepted my medal and headed to the food/drink tables. I did it! I finished the run in 2:41 feeling great! That’s one of my slowest times, but in the middle of summer, I’d rather be slow than sick. I learned my lesson after Gloucester.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this race. Maybe it was nostalgia? Being back in a town that held some of my fondest memories. I felt as if I were on my own Sunday morning training run with a few hundred of my closest friends instead of an organized race. That’s a positive statement. As a runDisney enthusiast, I hold each race I run up to their big box standard. Does it have entertainment to keep me motivated? Are there enough water/Gatorade stops? Do spectators come out to watch? But the sheer volume of runners means there’s a level of chaos not found in a community race. Narragansett offered water stops approximately every two miles. as well as two Gu stops. They didn’t supply any Gatorade, which was a bit concerning. Electrolytes need to be replenished on long runs! I carried my own bottle of Gatorade for that exact reason. Some families added to the community atmosphere by offering their own water stops (thanks families!) and cooling stations (sprinklers and hoses never felt so wonderful). There was no entertainment and hardly any spectators, but I felt a certain calm in running with my iPod and the open road much like I do during my training runs. I didn’t find the heat to be a negative factor because tree lined streets provided plenty of shade along the course.
I heard many people complaining about the difficulty of this course, but apparently a slow and steady approach was the way to go. Sometimes you have to decide what’s more important- running for time or listening to your body. Have no fear, I’ll be back to running for time by Wine and Dine in November…
Thanks for a great run, Narragansett! I’d love to make this an annual run. Anything to bring me back to my good ol’ glory days at Stonehill. And afterwards, I’ll gladly dine at The Farmer’s Daughter in Easton, MA again for breakfast. The Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes were a great end to a 13.1 mile jaunt. I never eat pancakes, but after burning over 1300 calories, I felt absolutely no shame in this indulgence. Mark your calendars for 2015- Narragansett Half Marathon and breakfast at The Farmer’s Daughter. Count me in!