I am a sucker for any race where the beer flows freely at the afterparty, so I was excited to run the Craft Brew Races series 5k in Providence, RI. I’ve run the now-defunct Rock ‘n’ Roll Providence half marathon twice and was looking forward to running through the city again with a little less exertion and training.
Race day dawned with pretty perfect running weather–probably around 65 degrees with an occasional rain droplet, but not excessively humid. I was ever so slightly chilled picking up my breakfast and coffee but knew that I’d warm up when it came time to run.
Bib pick-up was day-of only, but the race was small enough that this was no problem. We walked to the park where the bibs were being distributed and had enough time to go hang out elsewhere for another hour before the scheduled start at 11.
We could have made that time even more leisurely, it turns out, because they ended up delaying the start past 11:30. The announcer told us that the race organizers were working with the Providence police to close the race course to traffic. She also variously referenced “construction” and “safety.” It was never very clear exactly what was going on, and the crowd (myself included) was getting pretty antsy. Personally I wonder if this is a Providence issue, since one of my half marathons here was similarly delayed while they closed the roads. It seems to me that these races are planned long enough in advance that this part should go much more smoothly than it did.
In any case, once the roads were successfully closed, the National Anthem was played and we were off! I’d gotten myself pretty close to the front of the starting corral even though I’m not super speedy. I’ve just done a bunch of races recently where I’ve gotten stuck behind slow runners and even walkers, and I am confident in my ability to at least get out of people’s way if I have faster runners behind me. I was pleased to start passing people right away (including, naturally, a couple of walkers who somehow thought it was a good idea to be right up front at the start).
The race course was mostly flat, although the road quality was quite poor in parts. One road featured cobblestone on one side and cracked pavement on the other, forcing a lesser-of-two-evils decision (I went for the cracked pavement). We also did weave through a few areas of construction, which meant more poor-quality pavement and grit. We ran over the Point St. bridge, which for some reason I find pretty, and along the water downtown. I’m a total sucker for urban water, so it was all good for me.
I had the sense early on that I was running pretty fast, and decided not to check my watch at the mile markers. I was afraid that I would either become frustrated (if it turned out I was not going fast) or cocky (if I was), and either way would end up slowing down. Instead, I focused on picking other runners out of the crowd and passing them, and then making sure I stayed ahead of them. I know this is kind of a competitive jerk thing to do, but it kept me moving!As I was approaching the finish line, I noticed the race clock was just about to turn over to 24 minutes. Since my previous PR in the 5k was 24:47, this was awesome to see! I had thought I was tapped out but seeing the time on the finish line clock prompted me to hit the gas, and I crossed in 24:08: A new PR for me.
This was super-exciting, especially since I feel like I’ve been struggling with running lately. I haven’t felt either my speed or endurance are where I want them to be, so to not only get a PR but to get one that I think is pretty nice was a big confidence booster. I’ve been struggling to get below 9 minute miles in my training runs, so getting below 8 in a race was exhilarating.
After the finish line came the best part: The beer fest! The beer fest was at the Bank of America skating rink near bib pick-up, and featured probably 20 different New England breweries pouring their stuff. Because we got there fairly early on (an extra reward for a speedy run), we were able to get our first several samples without much waiting in line. After about 30 minutes, though, the rink began to fill up and waits for beer got longer. We did not stay to the close of the beer fest, because there is only so much beer one is willing to stand in line for when one could go next door and buy a full cold pint from Union Station Brewery.
Would I recommend this race? I’m torn. On the one hand, I am obviously psyched to have run this so well, and I do like running in Providence. On the other, I was frustrated by the race delay and wonder if this might be caused by the city. I think I would opt to try a different race in the Craft Brew series and test whether the organizational difficulties were due to the race organizers or the city. The issues were certainly not bad enough to prevent me from giving this race another go if I had friends who wanted to run it or the mood caught me.
What have been your favorite summer races so far? What do you like to do after a race?