Friday, July 31, 2015

Race Report: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon

It was our first summer Friday, so we got to leave the office early, but I had come from a meeting in Manhattan (that didn't end up happening... stupid MTA and the USWNT ticker-tape parade blocking all sorts of Lower Manhattan traffic, so we ended up having lunch - paid for by my boss, score - in Little Italy).  Since we had lunch till about 2:15, we got back to Jamaica around 3, and I went straight to the airport for my 5pm flight.  Thankfully, JFK is practically right there, so I didn't have to spend too much time taking the subway to the AirTrain to get to the airport.

Pre-race dinner with friends
(Photo by Donna Dullys)
Except the gate that my flight was on... was pretty much THE LAST possible gate you can get to in Terminal 4.  I swear, it was something like a one-mile walk.  Anyway, I'm a runner, so that ish didn't faze me whatsoever.  Soon, we were off to Boston, and quite quickly I might add... everyone loaded onto the plane, and then we were pushing back from the gate, and then the pilot announced we were first in line to leave - which practically NEVER happens at JFK, especially with the runway construction project that's projected to not finish till December.  Anyway, we got to Boston about 40 minutes later (and 45 minutes early!) and bam, I'm about to get on an early bus to take me on the roughly 2 hour trip to Portland, Maine!

The bus arrives just a little before 9pm, and my friend Hollie picks me up in her yellow Pontiac Aztec, lovingly named "Mimosa," to bring me to the place where the rest of the crew (Donna, Sandra, Hollie, Jascia, and Lynn) were having dinner.  Albeit, a very long dinner because of a myriad of events including the chef walking out, burnt pie, and one inattentive waiter.  Luckily, they ordered me a lobster mac and cheese, which was waiting for me when I arrived and which I scarfed down hurriedly.  By the time we left, it was 10:30, and Donna, Sandra, and I still had a 35 minute drive to our hotel.  As soon as we arrived, we prepped our clothes for the morning and then conked out immediately.

Shenanigans with Hollie before the race
(Photo by Donna Dullys)
Morning came very quickly, and we hurriedly got ourselves ready to head back into town to the Ocean Gateway Terminal right on the Portland waterfront so I could pick up my bib and then get together for customary photos with members of Half Fanatics and Fifty States Half Marathon Clubs.  Today, however, was an important day for Barb Smith, who would be running her 50th state at this morning's race.  She arrived to much fanfare as we posed for photos with her, and she even got interviewed by the race announcer.  Needless to say, she was quite the celebrity!

The race startline
Soon, the first wave was off.  Wave two, which me and practically all my friends were in, was to set off at 7:03, but it seemed like they were running a tad bit late.  I was ready to go, as was Jascia, so we just decided to begin at the tail end of wave one.  And speed off I did... my first mile was clocked at 8:50, definitely one of my faster first miles in recent memory. Probably helped that I had several weeks off of running this distance, so my legs were well rested!  We went down Commercial Street for two miles before I finally took my first walk break, about 17 minutes in and on a slight uphill bridge ramp for the last 200 meters (and posting a 9:16 second mile.)  Then the course decided to get hilly.  As we rounded a corner onto Danforth Street, the course elevation rose from a mere 26 feet above sea level to 161 feet above sea level in 3/4 of a mile.  We continued up the hill along Western Promenade, skirting the edge of the historic 19th Century Western Cemetery, originally Portland's burying ground for the "poor and indigent," and alongside Western Promenade's namesake park with well-preserved Victorian houses across the street, overlooking the race course.

Official Race Photo, going
down Commercial Street :)
We made another turn on Mile 3, and the course began to go downhill gradually again, and I began to post a faster pace as we came down Vaughan Street passing more beautiful Victorian homes in Portland's West End neighborhood.  We rounded Vaughan Street down back toward Danforth Street, continuing in an easterly direction, hitting mile 4 just before Clark Street.  As we turned onto Clark Street, the elevation dipped dramatically, dropping 120 feet down to sea level in 1/4 mile.  We passed a home prominently displaying a large rainbow flag, which was nice to see!  We continued down the hill and returned back to Commercial Street, this time heading back toward Ocean Gateway Terminal.

The return trip back on Commercial Street was significantly hotter than the half hour prior during the first two miles of the race.  In addition, the trash left out on the street from the restaurants along the shore began to stink to high heaven, so it was definitely required to hightail it off of Commercial as best as possible.  Mile 5.5 was when we passed the crowded start/finish area where people were cheering us on; it was also where the course started to go uphill again in elevation along Fore Street, going from 13' to 102' in a 1/2 mile. We rounded a corner along Fort Allen Park and the Eastern Promenade, hitting the 10K point of the race. At mile 7, we descended again, and then crossed Washington Avenue to run down the sidewalk of the US-1 offramp toward the Back Cove Trail that would take me all around the bay.

Making my way around the Back Cove Trail
Almost around the trail...
While the trail around the cove is super flat and only about 3 miles around, this was where the heat and humidity began to take its toll on me.  I managed the first mile of the trail fine, and then had to walk intermittently because of my calf muscles cramping on me.  I ended up stopping for 30 second to 1 minute walk breaks seven times during the remaining two miles of the trail.  We exited the trail and got onto the sidewalk along US-1 at around mile 11.  We then took the Bayside Trail underneath the highway and onto an out and back along a small part of Sewage Plant Road. 

Marimba Band at the
Eastern Promenade trail
Sewage Plant Road - such an ominous moniker for a street, right?  Well, it didn't take long til we realized what that signifier meant.  As we passed an aid station and a marimba band playing along the route, we took the rolling hills of the Eastern Promenade Trail where we did another run alongside the smelly stretch right next to Portland's sewage plant.  We finally passed it and continued along the trail, which was actually quite scenic as it skirted Casco Bay and paralleled and the historic Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks.  With the finish line in sight, I hobbled with my cramping calves to the line, crossing in 2:19:30.  It had been a while since I had posted a sub 2:20 race, so I was happy to do so at this Maine race!

Barb Callahan Smith - proud 50 states finisher!
As the rest of the crew came in, I sought refuge for shade and sustenance, and we tracked Barb as she made her way to the finish line.  We cheered her in, and she heroically crossed, arm in arm with the race announcer, of course!  Barb gave Donna the great honor of coloring in her 50th state on her shirt, which she did with great ease.  After a few beers over at the beer tent, we made our way to lunch at the Sebago Brewing Company Brewpub for some much needed post-race food!Maine was a lot of fun... nothing like a race fueled by lobster!

Pretty Shipyard Old Port mural at the finish...

Victory headstand!


The pretty medal!!
(Photo by Donna Dullys)

Peace out, Maine! 

1 comment:

  1. Why am I only just now finding this great race report? Thank you so much for the inclusion in your report. It was a fun time and I'm so happy that you and the others were there for me.