Monday, January 20, 2014

Race #10, State #10 ME

Race #10, State #10 ME 

October 6, 2013--Portland, ME 

It was the perfect time of year to drive to Maine for this race. The trees were in full color,  and the air was crisp and perfectly fall-like. It just so happened that the date of this race coincided with an annual meet-up of some of my old college friends in Hampton Beach, NH. Since Hampton was on the way to Portland, I was delighted to be able to pop in and say hello to some folks I haven’t seen in years and years. It was a perfect way to kick off a race weekend. 

Once in Portland, the race expo and number pick up was at the University of Southern Maine in the athletic center there. Best goody bag ever. Those folks in Maine really do it up! The long sleeved race shirt was super cute, complete with Boston Strong nod. The bag contained all kinds of sports bars & snacks and even a can of baked beans! Those were going straight home to my husband. One of his faves. 

The students working at the athletic center were on the top of their game, too. They were more than happy to provide me with directions to some area restaurants I was interested in, as well as give me recommendations for a post-race lobster roll. My ultimate reward. The USM work study program is clearly well done. I was also able to pop in to the lovely library across the street from the athletic area. It was beautiful, including some nice art exhibits and views from the upper level windows. I’d hang out there.
I walked around the area a little bit to familiarize myself with the start/finish line area, shower facility (can you believe it!!!???) at USM, parking area and the ever important porta potty locations. That night I had dinner in the downtown area at a terrific restaurant called The Corner Room on Exchange Street. The place was very busy, and I had to walk around for awhile while a spot opened up for me at the bar. The pasta was super fresh and the atmosphere was lively. I sat with a woman who worked at USM and was also dining alone. We had a great chat and were happy to have company. Next to me on the other side was a woman who was running the race and her husband, so we all got acquainted and had a lovely dinner. Then it was back to the hotel for an early night.

The next morning, I was up bright and early and on my way. Parking was a cinch at the USM parking garage, and the start was a short walk from there. It was an overcast and cool morning, quite perfect for a 13 mile run. The first mile of the race was along a lovely inlet just down the street from USM. It was a nice way to begin. The route apparently was different this year than previous years due to some construction. Before long, we were heading up and down some sizable hills and in to a more residential area. The route was an out and back with quite a few hills and not much fanfare until the turn around point. The mile or so before the turn around was crowded with spectators which was a nice boost at the halfway point.
Of course, the run back consisted of all those hills that we covered on the way out. So by the last (and largest) one, I was feeling pretty beat. I pushed on to the finish with all the strength I had, and as I approached the last half mile or so, I could hear this runner thumping along behind me. He passed me, and to my surprise it was a very young boy! At the finish I saw him and asked him how old he was and he was 14! i was so impressed. It was his first half, and he certainly beat the pants off my 1:49:12 finish time. So cool. I felt good at the finish line. I did some stretching and took a couple of photos for posterity. The finisher medals were the cutest ever, with the state of Maine on one side and a swivel with a lobster on the reverse. 

I headed back to the car to get my gear and hit the USM showers, which I figured would be a mob scene, but to my great surprise, I was the only one there! Pretty nice...a decent finish, cute medal and private shower. Go Maine! Once showered up, I made my way downtown to fit in a bit of waterfront shopping and a stop at J’s Oyster Bar for my victory lobster roll. I hit the road before any rain fell, which was awesome, as my reporters from home were informing me that it had been pouring back in CT all morning. Overall, it was a very nice race, and I loved exploring Portland a bit. I would definitely love to come back for a weekend with the family sometime. 

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