So my brother calls Thursday night while I'm at the cookout. He's going to make the drive to Rhode Island (from Jersey) so that all the kiddies can be together with Mom and Dad one more time. It is a rare occasion these days and one worth the effort.
What do I do? I leave for Narragansett just as he is arriving. As the one who designated the meet-up spot for the RBFers at the Blessing of the Fleet Ten Miler I wanted to be sure I was there early enough to (a) find parking and (b) be ready to make cell calls with Plan B alternatives if logisitcs made Plan A impossible.
I got there plenty early and there was parking right next to the running track where I had picked the spot. Perfect. I sat on a rock under a tree and watched the running world go by. Late registrants looking for the sign-up site; friends finding friends; strangers making friends; a few lost souls in the wrong place (hey you - stop stuffing your face and get some exercise); runners jogging or running warm-ups (hey - save it. You'll need it later!), lines of hydrated runners waiting on port-a-potties, etc.
My compadres? None of them made it on time, an hour before the race. I worked the phones to check on progress and they were all "on their way." April Anne was the first to arrive looking all fit and fierce in her racing outfit. She is a few weeks into her Marine Corps Marathon training so she had talent and stamina in reserve to make a good show of this race.
It was a sunny day and quite warm and muggy. I'm guessing low 80s. No winds to speak of.
Billy J was next to arrive. He looked trim and good to go. Of course, his training has never been good enough to satisfy him and he bemoaned the fact that he hadn't run double digit miles in a long time. We waited for Michelle but time was running out. We had Scott, the official RBF photographer (closest breathing person available) to take our picture for the archives. After a few lighting issue adjustments, we had at least one good photo for the blog.
Race recap. With ten minutes until the race we headed on over to the start line. The gun sounded right at 6 p.m. It was more like a cannon; the ones they use to start sailing races. Within a quarter mile we heard Bondi Band Girl Michelle hail us from behind. She and two friends had been stretching nearby when they heard the gun go off. We all agreed to meet up on the right near the Tower at the finish line.
There were probably 2,500 racers this year. I saw a few bib numbers over 3000 but there are always a bunch of no-shows to any race. The start was slow. It took almost two minutes to reach the start from the back of the pack. I toodled the first mile in 9:58, just warming up.
Spectators were definitely of the party variety. Lots of folks were hosting cookouts in their front yards with music blaring, frosty beverages, and lots of guests. We were running in the direction of the ocean where I was hoping for a cool breeze. Every time we hit sunny spots I regretted wearing a shirt.
At Ocean Drive we turned south and ran by the driveways of coastline mansion "cottages." You couldn't see them so well for all the hedges but you knew they were nice. The road was also uphill-ish, hot and without breeeze. Traffic had been stopped in one lane and engine heat and exhaust were contributing to the taxing conditions.
At mile four by the state beach we turned west directly into the sun and up a hill. The next two miles were brutal. Arterial highway, hot asphalt, traffic, no shade. Uphill-ish. They had good water stop set-ups. It seemed like there was a table or a hose every half mile of the course. We needed it.
We turned down Old Pt. Judith Road near mile six and it was immediately shady and cool, quiet and peaceful. We were in the woods. Runners just pacing along. It was then that I found the need to relieve myself. I was sloshing a little too much and knew I'd be immediately more comfortable. Yup.
The rest of the race ran through nice quiet neighborhoods, back by the high school start, up and down more hills, and then along a narrow lane in bumper to bumper traffic to the finish line. With thousands of other people attending the Seafood Festival right at the beach near the finish line you can imagine how crowded it was.
I felt amazingly strong through the last two miles. With my Cliff Shot Blox I was stoked with enough glycogen to finish hard. My legs were just stretching it out as I picked off walkers and joggers all the way to the end.
Results. My splits were a little wacky but there's no accounting for what made them so. I was dripping wet at the finish and, despite the dry-fit wicking material, none of it evaporated in the next hour. I met up with AA and Bill in the vicinity of our planned rendezvous point. AA had smoked the course pretty good. Bill proved once again that you can do more than you expect, given the challenge. I think they were 3-7 minutes faster than me to the finish.
I gnoshed on a banana and drank more water as we looked for Michelle and friends to finish. She had been pretty adamant about getting to the free beer when it was over so we wandered to the beer tent and Bill and I indulged ourselves. It was quite refreshing. We stood around and chatted. I introduced them to a Rhode Island neighbor who found us. He had finished 25th in the race for the second year in a row; in 61 minutes this time, I believe.
We evenutally bumped into Michelle. We relaxed and shared stories. One of her friends bought some french fries that were sprinkled with salt. Man, did they taste good. I couldn't care less that they were fried in oil. I had to have some.
I have known Michelle to be a well prepared person. She always has a plan which means she always has a supply bag nearby when you need it. Her support team (family of friends) was there with her bag of essentials - facial wipes and a camera - so we posed for a clean official RBF post-race shot. You'll have to go to her site to see the results; but first you'll have to wait for her to enjoy a day away from Little Miss and Studly. She's chilling on the beach this morning.
Miles 1-5 - 9:58, 9:20, 9:09, 9:20, 10:05 (47:52 out)
Miles 6-10 - 9:42, 9:46, 9:47, 9:24, 8:45 (47: 22 in) 1:35.14 net time.