Jamestown Rhode Island Half Marathon Recap


On July, 13, 2013, Mallory and I ran the second race of the United Health Care Triple Crown Series, Jamestown, Rhode Island. Last year, we ran all three: Providence and Jamestown halves and the full in Newport. We got an extra big fancy medal and t-shirt for participating in the series. This year we weren't planning to do any of them, but when there was a Jamestown Groupon for $27 entry, we could not refuse.

This was the second year for this race and it was not without issue. Last year, there was the whole porta potties delivered as the racers were waiting to start fiasco and this year the race was delayed due to lines for packet pick-up. It seemed that all of the participants were picking up right before the race, likely due to it being a Saturday race and who has time on a Friday for packet pick-up between 2pm and 7pm?

Also, Providence, Jamestown and Newport races... Could you please have women's t-shirts or at least order extra smalls? Most races have a higher percentage of females and most runners are not known for massive size, so it would be nice if us petite ladies could get shirts that fit in a non-embarrassing way. I don't really like flashbacks to the 6th grade when I stole and wore my older brother's shirts. It was cool then, not so much now. Design is fine. Fit sucks! Goodie bags had samples and coupons and were okay.

We took shuttles between Newport and Jamestown so parking was easy and we didn't have to pay the toll to go over the bridge. The race started late, due to the wait for packet pick-up and then shuttles. We were informed, "don't worry, your time starts when you cross the starting line." We started with the pack, but I wonder if there were others that arrived even later. That would seriously suck, timing chip or not. Part of the point of doing a race is the crowd, the excitement, the sense of event. I can't imagine it's the same if you're stumbling over the starting line all by your lonesome ten minutes after the race started.

It was around 70 degrees at the start, overcast and humid. We lucked out on the heat which hit hard the next day and rain and thunderstorms which had just passed. Weather conditions could not have been better for a July race.

Mentally, I felt good starting in this race. Jamestown is a hilly course, so I wasn't planning to PR. I just wanted less than 2 hours and other than that, I was just gonna enjoy the run.

I use the first mile to find my pace and place in the pack. I always start with Eye of The Tiger (such a cliché) on my iPod. Also, I go too fast. I just love passing people and the excitement of all those people and all that passing gets me pumped.

Once I have established my place and pace in the race, I start to pick out my competition. I find someone who runs about like me or looks like a worthy opponent and that is my only competition until I give up or lose him or her. This time, I picked a petite female, smaller than me, but really fit. I named her Stripes or Muscles. That's right, I also name my competition.

Jamestown is a pretty course, quiet, peaceful, lined with trees and a few houses here and there. Stripes and I took turns with the lead. I was in front and let her pass me while I walked at water stops and then I took it back. When I got tired, I gauged myself by Stripes. If I could see Stripes I was okay. "Just don't lose Stripes," I said to myself. I noticed I was running at a pace to PR by at least a minute and had been managing the course in such a way that my mileage was right on. I was doing pretty well and felt fine. Between mile five and six, a big hill happened and I was losing my desire to be out running, but there was Stripes, and I still had the will to just keep her in my sight until I found the strength to pass her.

Around mile 10 or 11, the mental thing I do started to happen. There was a friendly water stop at the bottom of a hill. And by friendly, I mean apparently regular people with an SUV and some kids. I did not know this was not my regular water stop, so I walked and enjoyed some water. On the top of the hill was the actual water stop and I didn't know what to do since I just had a stop and water. Do I walk or do I pass it? I was pooped, so I decided to walk and due to two water stops right on top of each other, I lost stripes and ceased all caring. If I lost my competition what would be the point?

Then I walked up a couple of hills, because since I decided to give up, why bother running at all right?

Mile twelve, I realized if I ran under 8 minutes, I might PR by a few seconds, so I picked up the pace. I couldn't maintain that, given my state of exhaustion. I finished with my second best time. Finish was downhill and I could book it and finish really strong.

Overall, I actually like the Jamestown Half, in spite of the glitches at the start both years. Good price, cool bling and pretty and challenging course.


Support: 3

Course: 4

Tee Shirt: 2

Bling: 3.5

Overall: 3


Plymouth Independence Day 5k Recap

This Fourth of July, Mallory, her dad and I ran the inaugural Plymouth Independence Day 5k in Plymouth, MA (duh). We were right in the middle of a New England heat wave, which means air feels not only hot, but weighted and wet and hard to breathe, so I decided early on this would not be a PR kinda run.

Mallory and I before the race
When I run an inaugural race, I hope it will be small, just a few locals and newbies to running coming out to support such and such, so I can place in my age group as a person on the average end of speed. This has happened once, but never again and not in Plymouth. It was 592 runners strong, which seems great for an inaugural race on a hot holiday morning. On a side note, the race I placed in had 40 runners. Big difference!

This race was well-organized. It was a point to point, which I haven't seen in a 5k before. There were shuttles for those who parked at the finish. Mallory's dad's girlfriend dropped us off and met us at the finish. The start had plenty of bathrooms, water, shirts and flags. Our shirts were New Balance singlets, with a value that might be greater than the $25 cost of entry. Shirts were offered in red, white or navy blue. They had extra small as an option and my shirt actually fit, which is rare and fantastic. The back (as shown) had all the sponsors and the front was the New Balance logo. I would have liked the front to have a big race logo or something more event-looking, but I am still happy with getting a shirt I can wear due to proper sizing and quality.

I am not sure of exact temperature at the start of the race, but I think it was around 80 sticky Fahrenheit in the shade. Our bibs were chipped, but there wasn't a timing mat at the start. That was unfortunate, because it knocked a few seconds off my time fighting the crowd to get ahead after the gun went off. Had I been racing to PR, I would have been pretty irritated. As it was, I was just thinking all the other thirty-something females were no more than 7 seconds ahead of me anyway. I was of two minds with the PR, race-to-place thing. A part of me always wants to kick some ass, even when the other part has made a decision to take it easy and go with the conditions. I ended up deciding I would just run it and see what happened.

There was more shade in the first mile and I wasn't hot yet. I am freezing all the time, so standing in the shade before the race, I had goosebumps while others were getting sweaty standing still. My first mile was fast. My watch said I was in the 7:15 zone, which would get me a good PR. And I felt good.

Then we got out of the shade of taller buildings. And I was really hot. I normally don't drink water, but I looked forward to the water stop, slowed down and had a glass. I gave up on the PR idea and decided I did not care. Running a 5k was good enough. I stopped looking at my pace all together.
We turned into a neighborhood and went up a small hill. I looked back, didn't see any women close by, decided I would not be passing anyone the way I was feeling anyway and walked. A couple guys passed me. My competitive soul wandered to the part of my mind residing in Alaska and set up a tent. It cared very little. My mind said, "It's just too f&$@ing hot to be running right now." I convinced myself to just keep running. I didn't want anyone thinking I was sick and asking, "Are you okay?" I mean, let's not be embarrassed right?

The race finished along the water, after Plymouth Rock (How Patriotic right?) and the start and finish lines for the Plymouth Marathon which are painted on the street. My time was 24:50. Not a PR, no placing, but I was happy considering how overheated I felt. We got water, bananas and Power bars. Downside, we were given empty water bottles and had to wait in line to fill them, which sucked.

When my time was posted on athlinks, I felt a tinge of regret for my attitude and my block of walking. Had I matched my PR, I would have placed.  This seems to be how races go for me lately. I think I don't have a chance and ease up, only to discover later I was closer than I thought. Then I beat myself up for a bit. Kinda reminds me of this: The Psycholgical Suckiness of Second Place.  It's harder to be closer to the top than somewhere in the middle. I was a water stop, walk and state of mind away from placing. Que Sera Sera.

There's always next time and we are signing up for 3 more 5ks (that we know of) this year.

Before and After. Apparently, I lost 2 inches. 
Support: 4 1/2
Course: 5
Tee Shirt: 3 1/2
Bling: None
Overall: 4 1/2

Sometimes Things Just Suck


When I was an intern at a large mental hospital, working with adults who carried diagnoses such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction, Personality Disorder and Psychosis, we often brought up the benefits of exercise on brain function. Not in terms of, "Here is your exercise plan, Mr. Doe. This is guaranteed to boost your mood," but rather "Here is a list of ways you can take some control over your own mental health," and 30 minutes per day of exercise happened to be on that list. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999, when it comes to depression, exercise has been found to be as effective (although not as fast-acting) as medication. According to this article in Psychology Today, when it comes to anxiety,
10 weeks of a program of [cardiovascular exercise] offered patients with panic disorder almost the same benefit as treatment with the drug, clomipramine. There is also evidence that exercise, when added to a program of cognitive-behavior therapy for panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety, can offer additional benefits - extending the gains offered by therapy.
As a professional moving in both worlds, exercise as mental health treatment is something I am pretty invested in, of course. So why is it then when my week feels extra stressful, I struggle to do the physical effort that will improve my situation? Probably, because regardless my career path, it turns out I am human. Shocking I know!

So, this is what I do when I don't have the motivation to do just the thing that will make me feel better.

1. I don't beat myself up when I don't follow the workout plan I made when I expected this time in my life to be running smoothly. I don't allow myself to think, "It's too late to run the 32 miles you planned this week, so just take a nap." I may not do all I intended, but I do something everyday. And doing something is made easier, because...

2. I have created habits rather than just using exercise in my times of need. Running, yoga and a little strength is kind of a big part of my identity, so even when I don't wanna, my body has a routine and can push through the mind games with not too much mental force. When I need the mental force...

3. I prioritize. I may have a long list of weekend activities I think I should complete, but when I am feeling low, I tell myself, "if you do one thing today, it will be this... run, yoga class or whatever." And it's better if...

4. I start the day active. Seriously, the days I workout before I start the rest of my day, are the days I get more done. And when I get more done I feel better about myself and when I feel better about myself, I feel better about tackling whatever other crap is happening in my life. See how that works?

5. Also, I have other active people in my life. Being with Mallory means hiking, running, biking, and on and on. If she is out and active, I can't very well sit around and nurse a bad day with a frozen yogurt a season of Dexter, can I?

Here are 10 more ways to get and stay motivated.

And a few positive affirmations...

Disclosure: I am a Masters Level Clinician and Art Therapist and weeks away from being a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and I have been a Certified Yoga Teacher for almost five years, but I am not YOUR Counselor or Yoga Teacher, so remember to talk to your psychotherapist and/or doctor about how exercise can help you and some physical practices that can help boost your mood. If you experience difficulties with your mood and struggle with anxiety, seek out a professional for assistance.

Coolest Trip Yet!!!

I cannot remember when it was decided, but I know it was Mallory's idea and I leapt at it without reserve, as I normally do, being a little crazy and all that. The mission: to run a half marathon in each state. I think Mallory had a meager four states completed already and I had just started running not long before. I may have had a whopping two under my SPIbelt. So, for the past year or so, we've been living the dream and using all our vacation time driving where we can, flying where we can't and running. In the year or less since Mallory asked if I would run the country with her, I have completed seven states. Last week was Utah at the Utah Valley Half Marathon and the week before Colorado for the Steamboat Springs Half Marathon

The state thing was Mallory's idea for sure, but the Utah trip part was mine. I needed to get over the state being a representation of illness and death since it's where both of my parents died. I needed to see my family again for reasons beyond funerals and I wanted Mallory to experience some of my side of the continent with me. Success all around. Coolest dang trip of all time!

Me on Whale Rock in Canyonlands
We always rate each state on livability, as in does it make us want to leave Rhode Island and live there. So far, every single state has made us want to leave Rhode Island (especially when we come home from a summer vacation to torrential downpours and 53 degrees). Dear Rhode Island... you really suck sometimes.

Moving on, this was the busiest vacation ever. We were everywhere: Denver, Steamboat Springs, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Provo, Lehi, Wyoming. All in 9 days including 2 days of travel.

For purposes of this particular post, I need to fill you in on Arches National Park, because it was the most incredible place I have ever seen. If you stick your phone out of a moving car window at any moment, without even looking, you may snap the most gorgeous photo of your life. It is that easy to see the coolest landscapes in the world. Just open your eyes. On our first hike, I was on the verge of tears for no particular reason. Just speechless-wow. Just shit-this-is-beautiful. Just is-this-real-life amazement. My mind was clear and full and I maybe forgot my own name at times. I was high on hiking, a little nauseated from the drive and sorta weak on Dramamine, but it was glorious, divine and every word in every language for hell yeah!

View along the trail of our first hike in Arches.
We hiked to every arch we could regardless the temperature or time of day. With your $10 per car weekly entry fee (What? Cheap right?) visitors are given a map that includes the ideal time of day to take photos in various locations. I like taking photos, but we opted to squeeze in as much as we could as quickly as possible and snap some shots as we went along. Ideal time of day or not, still good shots, if I do say so myself. One day, we went on a guided hike to Surprise Arch and more, hiked on our own to Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch and figured we had hiked a minimum of nine miles in 97 degree heat overall. We were determined to see all we could and were kinda bad ass about it.

Sun setting through Turret Arch.

Delicate Arch
We arrived home with a bursting sense of passion for travel, National Parks, hiking and camping (which we haven't done yet, but plan to try this summer).  Sitting at a sunny outdoor table at The Cheesecake Factory, minutes after our plane landed in Boston, eating salads and quesadillas, we started planning our next far away race trip for 2014: ALASKA. Boo-ya! Okay, it's not actually paid for, but it's happening. I am so lucky to have someone in my life as adventurous and into the experience of living as I am. We really bring out the best of functional mania in each other and it's a hell of a run.