Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Racing Season: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon, July 8, Portland, ME

The expo/packet p/up for the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon was located just down the street from the brewery on the water.

Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews.

Fall of 2009 was the last time I officially ran a half marathon race on the roads.  A couple of years after that, I turned back to the trails and while extending my distance up to 50K, I can only think back to one time when I actually ran on the roads for 13 miles during those years. It was an early morning run under threatening skies.  I just remember afterward hurting from the pounding so much more so than on the local gravel roads or trails.

This year, with my training way less than in previous years as well as a continual case of PF, a half marathon is probably a good distance for me, but what would the roads bring?  Daily abuse on my foot from retail work and/or running was not making things very easy.  In addition, having a large family and strange schedule make it hard to get out to run.  Going to Portland, ME to run a half on the roads was going to be interesting for sure, but my wife and I looked forward to a few days away in a locale where I lived long ago in a galaxy far, far away!!!

My yacht, ready to take me to distant islands...or maybe not!

Unfortunately, my wife wasn't able to make it, so I had to make the 8+ hour drive alone.  I got up to Portland in the mid-afternoon and after checking into the hotel, headed down to the water where packet pick-up and the race expo awaited at one of the boat terminals out on a pier.

When I went in to pick-up my bib and swag, they couldn't find my number and then asked if I was a VIP.  I was, and they pointed my back to the door, where a special location for our pick-up was located as soon as you entered.  How sweet!  I got my bib, pins, and info and then took a quick look around at the expo.  The expo wasn't huge, but it did have everything one would basically need to kit up and get any sports nutrition if you left everything behind or lost it on the way.  

Some nice swag, especially as a VIP.
As a VIP, I got a nice bag, special bathroom bracelet for our own porta-potties(1), a nice tech shirt, VIP parking, and a a beer glass, (plus I ordered one).  Cool!  Definitely a nice haul especially along with the medal pictured below which also doubles as a bottle opener:

This pic used from the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon archives.
The next morning I arrived early for my wave 2, 7:03 am start and though it took a few minutes to figure out where to park, I ended up almost directly across from the finish line!  

Sometime before 6:30am a local radio DJ, (I'm assuming), welcomed us in a sort of island style, (he was barefoot and reminded me of someone from a reggae band!), and definitely was chilled and excited to welcome us to the race.  (I thought in hindsight, this guy would be even more comfortable at an uber-relaxed trail race in the mountains or along the coast!)  A good pic for emcee.  

I lined up in the second wave according to expected time and chatted with another runner. Eventually the first wave started, with a cannon blast to boot, and then we were shortly going as well.

While I waited, I imagined these were the heads of zombie monsters coming up out of the oozy ocean!!!

The race started with a 5-6 mile out and back loop that wound up to what I remember calling the western promenade of Portland near the old hospital and overlooking some of the city. The first flat stretch was crowded as we made our way to the first hills, and during that time I met one of my other fellow BibRave Pros, Sam.  She was doing well and we would go back and forth a few times during the race.  I chose to walk some of the hills in order to make sure I'd finish okay later.  It was a pretty nice first half of the course winding up to the promenade and there were several water stops to refill.  After we wound back down, we shot back the way we came and went back by the starting line out toward the other side of the bay as seen below around mile 7:

Portland has some great views!
Shortly after that, we ran a paved trail near the highway and then got onto the crushed gravel/limestone trail around the Back Bay area of Portland. I use to drive this area long ago when I lived in one of the suburbs and would go into town looking for things to do.  There were several more water/Gatorade stations as well as several wet cloth stations which felt very good on the neck and face.

After running around the bay, we had a little out and back stint before heading back along the water to the pier and the finish line.  This area too was very attractive and though we were finishing up, I actually stopped to take this pic too:

I don't usually stop in the last mile or two of a race, but I did this time for another nice pic of Portland.
As I came to the line, I strove to finish well, but not having run a road race in a while, I forgot how super-competitive some road runners are as 5-6 rushed to pass me at the line, even though we were competing for like 1800th place!!!

Through the Race Joy app, I had results within minutes after picking up my medal and getting some food.  If there was one facet of the race that I would rate below what I expected, it was the food.  While we did get two Shipyard Beers, which I couldn't finish but at least got to taste as I had to get ready to drive down to Massachusetts within an hour or so, the food was very limited. You got a slice of pizza, a small Kind bar, and then there were some small packs of pretzels/chips, and a few fruit options.  

In conclusion however, it was a well run race, great venue, great title sponsor, nice swag, and an RD that though I didn't meet him, was definitely around the hubbub of the race doing his job, and I've been an RD, so I know the demands that puts upon you.  I'm thankful to BibRave to letting me represent them and the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon for welcoming me back to some old haunts.
Will we see you at the start next year?

Getting ready to take a pic in the last 2 miles!

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