5th and 6th grades looks for my no-teeth and brace face loves.
Broke Toe Hadley (yes, she currently has a fractured toe from doing stunt work), wanted to visit the Northville skeletons as per ush. It didn’t go exactly according to plan since the friend she invited came down with strep throat. BUT we got to go with Halloween enthusiast cousin Cal instead. Here are some pictures to look at, if you dare. Notice how well Cal plays the part from the get go…
Bastien rocked his last XC meet of the year, coming in first among all sixth graders for the sixth time (out of seven one mile races) this season. He said he was going to push till he felt like passing out at this race, but I know he had more in him. He certainly did not pass out and had plenty of stamina to cheer on all his teammates running the two mile. He had a significant lead for most of the race which makes it hard to push, really. Nonetheless, he got a PR, a win for his team, a happy ending to his season, and so much fire to keep on going. So proud of our champ!
That one mile meet he did not win was completed in 6:34 and he had an excellent 13:10 for the two mile race in his season as well. He had one other two mile meet this season that I believe he deleted from his Strava records because he was so infuriated about his performance. This is the sign of a true competitor I guess. So is the fact that he ran 9.16 miles today at an 8:16 pace, just so he could beat the rest of his family in his monthly Garmin mileage challenge!
Most importantly of all though, Bastien connected with many new friends this season, which is the absolute best outcome we could have hoped for to kick off middle school. What happy happy days are these.
After a really good night’s sleep we spent our last day of travel taking in a few sights around RI. This included Purgatory Chasm (a huge split in a rock which the ocean caused), breakfast on the shipyard, some shopping, and a little stint in Mystic, CT (home of the very Mystic Pizza.
It almost included an appearance in the Columbus Day parade which seemed to be trapping us in the city and I insisted my mom would have to sit on the roof of the car wearing her medals while I honked excitedly.
We dined outdoors on this mid-October day (one more bowl of clam chowder) and talked about our accomplishments and deemed it the best race trip ever.
After our post-race sink-baths we promptly left Hartford for Rhode Island. To our delight our parking garage had decided to offer free race day parking which meant we actually got ALL our parking time in downtown Hartford for free. Yet another consolation for not getting a late check out.
The two-hour drive was simply gorgeous, despite being Starbucks-void. The fall leaves were in full effect. We arrived at our hotel a couple hours before check in, so we decided to cruise right into the race expo. It was about a block away from our hotel and this caused endless excitement as we realized we would not need to use a porta potty on race day yet again!
The expo was much much tinier than Hartford. It took place in an old beach pavilion. Happily I scored a sweet Brooks ‘Run Happy’ Pom Pom hat for Hadley and Runner trucker hat for Bastien for $10/each there! And then after that our hotel let us right in. I had not remembered that we had a two bedroom hotel room that overlooked the ocean (and the race start/finish!). It was all just so exciting.
Race day morning was another story. While we weren’t all that sore, we just didn’t wake up excited to get out and run another 13. But we dutifully ate our oatmeal and trudged to the start line with about 15 minutes to spare. We decided on a run 4 minutes, walk 1 approach for the entire race, which we started at either mile 2 or 3, once things thinned out a tad. This was pretty perfect and enabled us to stay together well (although I begrudged my mom’s pep the entire time).
The crowd support was significantly thinner for this race, but the course was amazing. We ran by many, many Newport mansions. We ran down the very long and interesting downtown Thames street. We ran passed shipyards. We ran along the ocean for what seemed forever. There was a section where the ocean crashed into a wall repeatedly, continuously sending spray and much seaweed onto the curb, and this captivated me. There was a wealthy man in front of his mansion just holding out boxes of tissue for all and when my mom thanked him he said, “what else can I get for you?!?” There was a wealthy mansion-dwelling man so proudly holding his beautiful baby daughter. And yet another similar man holding his tiny dog and making her cheer for the runners. His unenthused other dog slept by them in the yard. At about mile 11 my shoulder nerve pain was so intense I almost threw up and started weeping simultaneously. It took a VERY stern inner voice to keep my crap together just then. And lastly, there was a tour group crossing the street right in our path with the tour guide shouting out, “don’t worry about the runners!” I vowed out loud to write a nasty Trip Advisor review for her company. My mom couldn’t believe I was wasting my energy.
But the most memorable thing of all was our finish. I looked over at my mom and asked, “are we just going to finish this?” She said, “yes”. And then we just took off like two bats out of hell and closed out the final .3 miles at a 9:15 pace. I actually don’t think I have run that pace any other time in my adult life. It felt exactly like being a locomotive. It was amazing and I will never forget it. When we crossed the finish line we moaned and gasped for about a minute, then hoisted our unusually large medals around our necks and then started taking pictures, hugging, stretching, and finally making our way to the beer tent.
The food was wonderful again with hot vegan lentil soup and chicken noodle for the meat eaters. And more peanut butter than I’ve ever seen in one place for the bagels. They also had a large area with mats and foam rollers which I quite painfully took advantage of.
We finally walked back to our hotel, got hot coffee in the lobby and then immediately hit the rooftop hot tub. We had the whole roof to ourselves so we laid out in the amazing October sun on the patio couches after that and I tell you, nothing has ever felt better in my whole entire life.
We spent some time after all that watching the last marathon finishers run past our hotel window. We hobbled next door to Flo’s Clam Shack for some out of this world clam chowder. We walked around a couple more miles along the famous Cliff Walk and got some incredibly refreshing Del’s lemonade. Then we bought Poptarts from the hotel vending machine and played cards and watched sitcoms. And I ask you, what could even be better in life than this day? And I tell you, not much.
I better get writing about my weekend of half marathons before I forget any more details! First stop was Hartford, CT. This race was very huge and very well organized. The start/finish area of the event took over an entire city park, plus many surrounding streets. I am sure we didn’t take a single step for 13.3 (yes point THREE) miles without being heartily encouraged by the locals, plus many many staged musicians. I have never had this feeling before: it was like being in a river current and took considerably less personal energy than any race I’ve ever run. So that was neat.
The start was so crowded that my mom actually got testy enough to ask a woman trying to squeeze her way in, “Where are you GOING??”. I tried not to gag on the woman’s ponytail in front of me. Forrest Gump ran by me! A woman with a prosthetic leg also did.
The finish chute was the longest one I’ve ever been in. It was staged with tons of water fountains, bleachers, and 500 mums! You actually had to walk around the block before you got your foil blanket or medal (still in the enormous chute). I finished 6 seconds behind my mom with a respectable 2:21:24. My shoulder nerve pain hurt immensely the entire race and required many stretch breaks. But I won’t remember the race for that because I really enjoyed it.
The race even had chefs who prepared a vegan autumn squash and rice bowl for the thousands of us! Plus fresh donuts! They were very thorough with their recycling and composting efforts. At the finish line they even handed us nice reusable water bottles. I really can’t say enough about the caliber of this race. There was a huge beer area (free to us of course) with a rockin’ live music stage.
The only little snag was our hotel (The Goodwin) was unwilling to extend our checkout by one hour. So we basically had to bathe in the sink of their lobby bathroom. Which we did totally unabashedly. On the plus side, the hotel was less than two blocks away from the race! We never even had to use the porta Johns we were so close. And the parking garage we chose gave us free parking for the weekend for the race. This more than made up for the sink baths. After we freshened up, we hit the road for our next stop: Newport, RI.