Hartford/Rhode Island Race Report

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Hartford/Rhode Island Race Report

ssiragusa
Administrator
2 Marathons 2 States 2 Much Fun

This race report comes with a warning. Your eyes may stain due to length, you may have to take multiple days to read, and having a tissue handy is not a bad idea (because you may laugh till you cry). So here it goes.

As most of you know traveling marathons can be quite expensive. Well when your goal is to run 50 marathons in 50 states it can add up quick. Soooo if you have two marathons in two states on a Saturday and Sunday both within driving distance it would just make sense to run them back to back right?

I know runner logic is a tricky thing.

Let me introduce you to the cast of characters for this trip (just in case you don’t know them). Trust me it will make you appreciate this story and the accomplishment even more.

Each of us is working toward the same goal of running all 50 states.

Mike had just run Maui on the 16th of September, then turned around and ran the Brooksie Way. No rest for the wicked.

Leah’s longest run up until this weekend was 13.1 at the Brooksie Way. She had been working around a pretty serious hip injury that ended up in cortisone shots and physical therapy.  

Veronica had just come off doing her first sprint tri in the summer when life interrupted much of her training. New jobs, new apartments and family obligations made life a stress filled circus.

Argenta, or Sargenta as most of you know her as did have a perfect and injury free training but her goals are more for the future (you know crazy fast and crazy far future plans). Being a mother of 3 and doing your peek training during the first days of school were challenging, but if you know Argenta, she is always up for a challenge.

Last you have me. Now I know you know me (or you wouldn’t be getting this email) but you need to know a little background on my health for this trip.

As you know I had just run the Omaha Marathon on Sep. 23 and paced the Brookie Way half on the 30th. What you might not know is that my body has started to rebel just a bit. After the Brooksie my calves suffered a muscular strain (yeah that’s what I’m calling it).
I was a bit afraid that this time around I wrote a check my body was not going to cash.

The Sunday before the marathon I could not even run a mile and a half of the Stoney loop! Scared wasn’t even touching what I felt.

Off to Clint Verran I went!

After explaining my pain and crazy plans, I did not ask for a diagnosis (you know runners, we only hear what we want to anyway). I did however ask if he could duck tape me together enough to make it through my race schedule, which ends in December.

Ever optimistic, Clint went to work and just like an evil scientist, sent some electrodes into my calve to break up that muscle. After a sadistically painful massage I was put on complete rest until the marathons.

Armed with calve sleeves with pockets for ice packs I literally kept myself on ice the rest of the week.

Whew! Are you tired yet? We haven’t even made it to the airport.

Speaking of airport, we all agreed to meet at the gate before having our ceremonial shot pre flight.

John and I parked the car, checked our bag and hit security. Funny how having 4 little bottles of booze in my bag didn’t set off any flags but my glowing calve muscle in the x-ray scanner earned me a pat down!

After a wonderful shot we waited to board. We were joking around and Veronica said, “hey let’s see if we can recruit someone to run with us”. I said, maybe the guy behind you.

Now the funny part of that was that on the plane that same guy was reading the latest Runners World magazine. I shanghaied him on my way back from the potty. His name was Craig and it turned out that he too was running the Double! That was only the beginning of making new friends.

As we were getting off the plane, Argenta found another runner too. His name was Dave. He was wearing an orange shirt so from that moment he became Orange Shirt Dave. Let the stalking begin!

We picked up our white full size van. Leah commented that we looked like the migrant worker mobile and no we did not pick up any other runners off the side of the road.

Off we went from Providence to the beautiful city of Newport Rhode Island. *fun fact courtesy of Mike, The city was originally  named the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. We were actually running on the Rhode Island Island!
Newport is the home of the once and current mega wealthy.  

Our first stop however was the capitol building in downtown Providence. Why? Well, Mike has this thing about taking pictures of all the capitol building in cities that we have run marathons in.

The building was beautiful and of course it had the best steps to Rocky Run up! Who could resist… not us. We ran the steps, took a jumping picture in honor of our friend Corrina (the best jump pictures gal there is) then made our way to Newport.

Upon arriving in Newport we also found out another fun fact. Newport home of the rich and powerful is also a very popular touring stop for senior citizens! Oh the tour busses and little white haired ladies were legion. Runners were way out numbed.

Since the Expo did not open until 1p we had enough time to grab a soup and sandwich lunch at the Peoples Restaurant. Yes the names of things were quite fun. The best however was Seamens Church with the Aloha Pub underneath. You can only guess how bad we played up on that. Seamen was the joke of the day and honestly most of the weekend so don’t be surprised if you hear me mention that a few more times when I talk of this trip.

At the Expo we met tons of folks doing the double. Crazy attracts like a magnet is guess. We met some gals from the UP. It was a little Michigan delegation. Then there was Craig and Orange shirt Dave too.

The swag bag was by far the best I have ever received in the 25 (Yes this was 25 and 26 for me) marathons. But we still had a bit of traveling to go. So after rounding up our Migrant Runners, we headed to Hartford CT.

Now since John and I were at a different hotel (due to Sue’s booking error) we decided to just meet up as a group at the Hartford Expo.

Now here is the funny part. We arrived at the expo at different times. Your bibs were assigned to you as you checked in. There were 10 different lines you could stand in. Why is that important? Well when we did meet up at the shirt pick up area (5 minutes difference in arrival times) all the gals bib numbers were in order! How did that happen, I don’t really know but I took it as a sign of good things to come.

And it turns out that luck was really on our side. The restaurant that we really wanted to eat at didn’t have an open reservation until 9p but since we were in the area we thought we would just stop in to see if they had any earlier openings.

As we walked in they had a cancelation for a table for 6, just our size! If you are ever in downtown Hartford I highly recommend Salute Restaurant. The food and service were both amazing. They even had gluten free pasta for me and the soon to be world famous garlic bread for my buddies. Yum!

With plans for the next morning in place we separated to get some sleep while visions of marathons danced in our heads.

Marathon morning was a record cold in Hartford but hey what runner doesn’t appreciate a little cold. Since the half and the full started together we had the pleasure of running together with John for the first 2 miles before the half split off.

With Argenta and Mike just ahead looking for potty’s, Leah and I ran into Larry Macon (world record holder for most marathons in one year, 4 years running).

I don’t know if you remember me mentioning squeezing Larry’s butt in the Omaha marathon but how could we resist touching a bit of greatness. I was actually flattered that he remembered me from Omaha. Leah told him we had heard that squeezing his butt was equivalent to rubbing Budda’s belly I thought he was going to fall over with laughter.

We lost Mike and Argenta during the butt squeezing but saw them shortly after in a port o potty line.

About now we are out of the downtown buildings and onto a beautiful river front park. Here Leah and I met Pam from California. Yes another crazy runner in for the double. We stayed with her for quite a while when she needed to back off, then who should run at our sides but Argenta! We were a crew of 3 for a few miles but listening to our body’s we sent Argenta up ahead and slowed down.

Remember me saying that Leah hadn’t run more than 13 miles in a month. At 16 she looked as fresh and when she first started.

Hartford had some interesting entertainment. Now I hate to be critical but folk music is not the best motivator for me nor is the song “Wonder Wall”. No offence but I really don’t want to hear anything during a marathon that has to do with a Wall, let alone a wonder one!

The most interesting entertainment was the group of Hare Krishna’s that were singing chants and handing out water. Leah was a little freaked by them, she told me, Don’t Drink the Water!  Pam, who caught up to us said that she couldn’t take them seriously after watching the movie Airplane. That just made me laugh which was right when I needed it most.

On a side note* Afterwards we found out that Mike did indeed drink the water because he felt bad that no one was taking it from them.

Somewhere in the turn around we came upon a block party. I asked if they had a Bloody Mary for me. After shouting yes, Leah and I crossed the road for a brief stop. They mixed me the best Bloody Mary I ever drank from a red Solo cup (celery stick and all). It took me about half a mile to drink it but boy was it delicious. I became a fan to most of the crowd at that point!

During the run we also ran into so many 50 State members and Marathon Maniacs that we knew. We thought nothing of stopping for a hug, kiss or even a picture or two.

It was an amazing race. The shirt was great, medal fantastic (Leah said it looks like Hogwarts Castle but it really is just the Arch and the Capitol Building) I love it!
There was no time for celebrating at the post festival because; hey we had another state to get to.

Loading up the Migrant Runner van we made our way back to Rhode Island where we checked in, dropped off bags and headed to an Italian Pub. No that is not a miss print, we went to an Italian pub between Argenta/Veronica’s bed and breakfast and Mike/Leah and our hotels. (another miscalculation once again put us in different hotels).

One marathon down, good food in our bellies and the Tigers on TV. What more could you ask for!

After a good nights sleep we were back in the van picking up our runners and off to the races.

At this point the duck tape that was holding me together was just starting to slip. I was walking with a limp and feeling a bit of pain. Everyone was in high spirits as we greeted all our friends from the day before. Sort of like a family reunion.

If you remember my reports from Idaho/Utah double we found the same cast of characters. Ed, the cool glasses guy, Mr. New York, and a host of others were there. It was so totally cool. We posed for pictures, exchanged stories, hugs and kisses.

The race was to start at 8a but due to some reason we didn’t know about had a bit of a delayed start.

This was Argenta’s last marathon for the year so for her this was a real race. For Leah, well she wanted to come close to the time that she ran the day before. For Mike, Veronica and I well, I think we were all just in survival mode. This was not a race we planned on running together.

Before the race I decided that we all needed some kind of nickname to draw strength from.
I chose Scott Jurek the amazing Ultra Runner who could draw strength in the worst possible pain and feed off of it.
Argenta chose Meb because after his performance in the Olympics was the kind of competitor everyone would like to be.
Leah, well I chose Dean for her but she wanted to go with Shalane (she was a much cuter choice)
Veronica was John Bingham the never give up runner.
Mike was Ryan Hall, a runner who trained himself and still managed to make the Olympic Team above much coached runners.
Last but not least I named John, Alberto after Alberto Salazar the most respected coach and mentor in the free world. Without John’s love and support nothing would have been possible (not to mention all the missed meals, dirty house and expense he had to put up with this year)


At the start we realized that the half and full ran together the whole way. John being the best husband that he is, said he would like to stay with me. This was the first time that we would run a half marathon together.

The start took us for about ¾ of a mile of flat and up a mild to long hill. I did not make it to the hill before I had to walk. Yes Walk before the first mile of 26! The pain in my calve was excruciating, by favoring one the other decided to knot up. Sweat began to pour off of me in the effort to put one foot in front of the other.

John stayed at my side. He did not complain once whenever I announced yet another walk break. It reminded me of the line from our wedding vows “For better or worse”. Yesterdays first 2 miles were the better, this was absolutely the worst.

Luckily I had decided to run with a camera. The views were so beautiful that it was not a hardship to stop and take a picture while working out the pain.

Around mile 4 I had to dig deep. I needed to finish in 6 hours and couldn’t imagine that at the pace we were running, that I would make it. It was time to put on the big girl panties, suck it up and make the pain work for me. I channeled my inner Scott and suddenly the pain wasn’t so bad. As a matter of fact the more I hurt the stronger I started to feel.

Now it was John’s turn to call for the walk breaks and ask me to slow down. I found my love again. The love of running, the feeling that no matter how fast or slow that I ran, the distance was the adventure.

Each turn brought us to the most amazing mansions that begged for a picture followed by one of the most beautiful stretches of road along the ocean with white caps breaking. It was wonderful but not half as wonderful as being able to share it with John.

At the 2:30 mark I left John to finish and headed out alone. You might think this would be hard but by now I had my inner Scott shouting for joy. I was halfway done and there was no stopping me now.

As the scenery passed I still took the time to say hi to friends and take pictures. At mile 14 I found Mike. It was great to meet up again. He looked wonderful and posed for a picture or two.

Later on came Leah looking so strong with Pam running just behind. Hugs were exchanged.

Then came amazing Argenta. It was a thing of beauty to see her run. I snapped her picture and away she went looking, well just cheetha-lishis in her cheetah running skirt and red tank.

Finally on the last series of out and back I got to hug Veronica. Everything was right with the world.

I ran with my 50 State friends, my Marathon Maniac Friends, with Craig and Orange shirt Dave from the plane. It was amazing.

As a matter of fact I was running strong. Too strong. My calves were starting to throb enough to make Scott back off and take notice. This was a little beyond pain.

It was then that an ambulance passed. I won’t lie; it shook me up just a bit.
Then it came by again, and again. I was starting to think it was stalking me! Then it hit me; maybe this was a sign to back off. After all what did I have to prove? Here I was at mile 22, 4 miles to go, I was going to finish no matter how I ran.

Backing off, walking a bit seemed like the smartest thing for me to do and that’s exactly what I did.
I took my time, pushed Scott back for a while, listened to my body and the body was pissed.

Those last 4 miles were wonderful and horrible all at once. Wonderful because the view and company couldn’t be beat, horrible because now was the time to start evaluating what I would need to do to put that duck tape holding my body together back in place. There would be no sprint at the finish.

Turning the corner and seeing the finish line brought tears to my eyes. Yes, this was it. I had done it on my own two feet.

You know I often joke that a good finish is one that I do upright under my own power but in this case it was true.
There was Argenta having run beyond her goal. You’ll have to ask her, her time because she might not want to let everyone know that she ran under 4 hours for her second marathon.
Leah who after not knowing if she could even run one marathon, completed 2 with only 6 minutes difference between them
John just waiting for me with pride in his eyes but it was reflected double in mine. He was amazing.
Mike finishing with his cigar even though there wasn’t many specators to appreciate the sight.
Veronica completing her first double, yes everything was right with the world.

Times, I know some of you wonder after all what time did I finish. Well I’m pleased to say my Hartford time was 4:34 and change, Rhode Island was 5:01 with the duck tape still holding.

Now there is more joking and celebrating stories but you’ll have to wait to hear them in person.
However Mike was doing some low chanting under his breath to the clanging of both marathon medals and he did ask where we might find a tambourine so keep an eye out for him, he did after all drink the water.