Last weekend I completed the second race in the Rhode Races series, the Providence Half Marathon. Going into it I was honestly a bit skeptical of the course since I am so not a city runner and would much rather be frolicking around in nature (or at least with views of nature, aka Newport 😍). While I don’t really have an opinion on the views, since I was kind of too focused on running to notice, I was pleasantly surprised it didn’t FEEL like city running. The course was over a much less densely populated area than when I generally think of Providence so it was peaceful and not full of the hustle and bustle of a city. It was well blocked off from cars and people, almost always giving us at least a full side of the road. I also thought Providence was a hilly city, but the course was mostly flat (with a few decent uphills to spice things up). I usually think flat courses feel monotonous and like they go on FOREVER, but the few hills combined with decently winding route kept that from happening. Also I say “winding” because it had turns, but almost none of those 90 degree angle turns around city blocks, which I also dislike. Overall, I really enjoyed a course that I definitely thought would not be my cup of tea at all.
The only actual issue with this race being a city race was packet pickup. Even parking and getting to the actual start was super easy! (More factors I had been thoroughly worried about.) While it is definitely still partially my fault for doing race-day packet pickup when they had warned us against, this packet pickup was SO much less organized than Newport’s (by the same company). I blame this mostly on the fact that instead of being in an open tent on a huge beach, it was down a narrow-ish hallway into the ballroom of a hotel. As they warned, the lines were long, resulting in the signs directing us being too far from the end to know exactly where you should be lining up. I, as well as others ended up waiting in the wrong, very long line.
By the time I was at the start line, being behind schedule due to pickup and imagining the worst course possible had started to stress me out and I changed my plan. I was going to run this as a training run. I hung out in the very back (even though that’s slow for my training pace), fully convinced I was going to do horrible and not wanting to hurt anyone else’s time with my slowness.
It’s crazy how quickly and drastically my thought process switches as soon as the “gun” goes off to start a race. It’s always been like this (even throughout high school track), but up until it actually happens I never remember it’s a thing. I instantly felt a million times better, no longer thinking this run would be my demise, and knew even if I didn’t do crazy well I was going to get things done! But at that point I was already at the back, trying to dodge through people without being rude and cutting them off.
The rest of the race was playing catch-up, which I generally don’t mind, but not quite this extreme of a case. I felt about the same (good!) throughout and loved the few perfectly placed hills (hills are my jam! My brain is programmed to try and sprint up them since the faster you get up them the faster they are done, so I feel super BA).
The crowd also seemed to cover pretty much the whole course in small groups which was nice. Though for me that just meant more witnesses to my water drinking failures. (I CAN NOT figure out how to properly drink water from a cup while running and have learned to just dump it over my head in an attempt to cool myself without drowning and/or hurting myself.. Until this race when I threw it in my face instead of on the top of my head by accident and almost drown anyway. I also almost face planted while trying to take the smallest sip possible. It just never works out.)
I also had a racing first and threw up a little at the finish line, oops.
In the end I missed my PR by 1 minute and 36 seconds, but I most definitely gave it my all so I was very happy.
Overall I would definitely recommend this race, but would also recommend packet pickup the day before as they advise or at least getting there extra early. I’ll probably be back next year, though maybe on a different mission since I heard the full marathon course is excellent as well!