When I started running, July 2011, I wasn't sure if participating in races was going to be my thing. Soon after the first time I laced up, I saw an add for the Newport Bridge run. You actually got to run over the Newport Bridge! I just knew I had to do it.
I have driven over this bridge once a week since I have lived in Rhode Island and I can see it from various spots in my town. It is a beautiful sight, especially at night when it is all lit up.
My goal when I started running, was to complete a 5k and, I thought, I would be done. The distance for the bridge last year was 4.2 miles. Well, just like that, my goal was increased by 1 mile.
Now, I know that doesn't seem like a lot to a person who has been running for a while, but let me tell you, to a newbie, that is huge.
I finished my C25K plan, ran in my first 5k, knew I was hooked and then three weeks later, I ran over the bridge. It was one of my favorite races to date and I was excited to find out that they were doing it again this year.
I registered late this year and just in the nick of time too. It sold out at 2500 runners.
My good friend and new running buddy, Kathy had registered while I was on vacation. I was so happy to hear that she wanted to do this race. For Kathy, this would be her first race ever! I was so proud to be able to do it with her.
Packet pick up this year was an improvement from last year. This year, they had four locations to pick up your number and shirt and one of them was just a few minutes from my house. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes and psyched to have number 2407 in my hands.
Based on when you registered was how they assigned you a shuttle time. Kathy and I were lucky to have the 5am shuttle. (that's my sarcastic voice)
At 4:30, Kathy was at my house and we were on our way. It was dark and cold, but not as cold as I thought it would be, just like last year. Must be the adrenaline. I parked in the same spot as last year which was the finish line, or so I thought.
We walked over to the shuttle and got on right away. Once off the bus, we headed over to the tent where they had coffee, hot cocoa and water. We used the porta potty and stretched and met up with our friend Tara. I was so happy to be running with such great friends!
We lined up, sang the National Anthem and then the gun went off. It took about 2 minutes for us to cross the start line. Once we were off, I started to warm up pretty quick, which I needed. It was cold standing around for an hour in the dark near the water.
Once we rounded the corner and ran through the tolls, the sun was coming up. Man, it was beautiful. We were also at the bottom of the hill and this is a killer hill.
I knew Kathy did not have much hill training and I wasn't sure about Tara. Me, well, I just ran a half marathon in San Francisco. I am not the best hill runner, but I knew I could do it.
I was happy to see the three of us trucking up that hill like it was an everyday occurrence. They both did a fantastic job and for me it was a huge improvement from the year before when I walked up most of it. Woohoo!!!
At the top we stopped for a pic. Again, it was such a beautiful morning and I just didn't want to run past it. The view of Rhode Island from the top of the bridge is spectacular and I needed a moment to look around and just take it all in.
We cruised down the hill, which was fun. I was thirsty at this point and was happy to see the water stop. I also knew that we were close to the finish. However, where I thought we would go straight, we turned. Hmmm... the course is different this year. I looked at all the race stuff but didn't pay much attention to the course just assuming that it was the same as last year.
It wasn't long after that, that we heard the music. The crowd support picked up which was nice and then I saw the finish line. It was in a different place than last year, not that it matters, I just didn't pay attention to this change.
Last year, I finished in 50 minutes. This year, I knew I would do better. When I saw the clock all I saw was 47:xx and I sprinted to the finish. I did not want to see the number 48! It looked like 47:58 when I crossed but I wasn't sure.
I turned quickly hoping to see Kathy cross the finish, but Kathy and Tara were right behind me! Woohoo, they finished a second behind me.
We got our water and talked to a few people. Most of them we knew from somewhere or another. It was great to hear how much fun people had.
Kathy and I headed home and Tara went to the Brick Alley Pub for the party. I was sorry to miss this, but my Dad has been sick and I needed to get to the hospital to see him. (all is good and he will be fine)
When I looked at my GPS, it read 4 miles. This was another change that I didn't notice. I knew I had PR'ed for a race that is 4.2 miles and when I got home and updated my Facebook page that is what I told everyone.
It wasn't until I went to add the time to my race list on my blog that I realized I had ran a 4 mile race in July and had finished in 43:01. Yes, I forgot about a race and a PR! (insert Paul Ryan joke here) Had it been 4.2 miles, I still would of beat my time from last year though.
My official finish time for the bridge was 45:05. Not bad considering the hill and a stop for pictures. Plus, I was running with friends and I had intended to stay with them and see them finish. It was important for me to do that, especially since it was a first time for one of them.
That is why I run. I know I can improve but I don't really run to win anything. I want to be happy and healthy and if I can motivate someone to do the same, than it is all worth it. Kathy wasn't a runner before but she said, I have inspired her. Tara has been a runner on and off and I think it is more on than off now. I am thrilled to be able to run with her. And honestly, they inspire me, you all do.
This race once again proved to be an incredible experience and I highly recommend it. Walkers are welcome and there were plenty of them. Don't let the early start dissuade you. It will all be forgotten when you start to run and see the sun rise in front of you, especially, if you are with friends. And of course, when you cross the finish line, you will feel like you can do anything!
A big thank you to Tara and Kathy for running with me. Everything is better with friends!
Run Strong, Think Big!