2016 Newport Liberty Half Marathon recap

Following the events on Saturday in Seaside Park, the day before the Newport Liberty Half Marathon, it was difficult to know how the organizers would respond. In the weeks after the Boston bombing there was a lot of security at the race, but they had time to prepare. On that occasion they set up a perimeter around the registration and finish line areas and you could not take bags through. That caused inconvenience and, in my mind at least, has no impact at all (it just moves anything that’s going to happen to a different place – you can’t block off an entire course). The organizers handled things very well for the race on Sunday. It was obvious there was more security, but it wasn’t intrusive. An announcement at the start informed us that the entire course had been swept, and I felt that everything was as relaxed as ever.

There didn’t seem to be an impact on numbers with over 2500 finishers. The number of finishers and pre-registered runners seems comparable to 2 years ago. Last year was much lower for both and that was the year when the price jumped from $35 to $50 so perhaps that was the issue – of course, this is still probably the cheapest half marathon around, and hopefully they can keep the prices low.

Out on the course I overheard the usual complaints about the potholes in the first couple of miles, but there were other areas where there seemed to be a definite improvement. The weather made it tough – the humidity was high and it was noticeable among the people I see regularly in NJ races with many of them slipping way down on last year’s performance (me included, but that was, at least in part, due to other factors). At least this year the wind wasn’t strong along the Liberty Park waterfront.

My lack of targeted training had an effect on my race, but my time was almost exactly where I expected it would be. I have had a swollen ankle for a couple of weeks, and running does not seem to make it worse, but just to be sure, I have run less to avoid aggravating anything. When it came to the race this meant that I was testing it out a little at first, which probably saved me in the long run. (Photo around the 2 mile mark.)

Party pace @ mile 2 😜 #newportlibertyhalfmarathon #rvrr

A post shared by Elaine Acosta (@cheeky.ninja.runner) on

My mile splits were fairly consistent but I was also able to pick up some speed later on and it was good to see, in a photo also taken by Ninja, that my form seemed to stay strong.

The humidity caused so much sweating that I could feel it in my shoe and somehow my right shoelace (double knotted) came undone around the 8.5 mile point (my best guess is that it loosened because of how wet it got?). The fix was easy and didn’t cost me too much time.

Did you run this race? How did you feel about it? Any feedback is great, for the last few years I have been lucky enough to be a blog partner of the race, for which I do get a free entry. My blog posts are not influenced by this – I’ve enjoyed this race, and blogged about it, before I became a blog partner. I hope that any feedback or criticism can only help make this race better.

With that said, is there a better way to handle the exit from the parking lot? Half an hour to get out is insane. I recall on a previous occasion (perhaps it was for the 10k) they opened up a different exit which probably made things better. That didn’t seem to be happening this time.

Weight and running

I don’t weigh myself often. In fact, rarely – I did for a while, not too long after I started running often, just to see the impact of the changes I had made. At the time I was also interested in whether it would make me faster, and that was when I read that you can gain about 2 seconds per mile in speed for every pound in weight lost. At the time that seemed to work out about right, although I also increased my running miles at that time too, so it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the weight lost.

Now, following a recent doctor visit, it seems that I am about 10lbs heavier than I was a year ago (when I ran 10k and half marathon PRs), and almost 20lbs heavier than my lightest (when I hadn’t yet run such distances).

How does that translate into my running? Well, as I’m getting back to a decent level of training, it seems that maybe the numbers are correct – we’ll see what happens in my upcoming races (next is Newport Half this weekend), but my expectation, based on recent performance, is that I will be 20 to 30 seconds slower per mile than a year ago.

So, what’s my plan? I won’t do anything specifically to target weight, and it’s difficult to tell the progression here (such as, have I lost any weight over the last month or two?). I am getting back to the gym more and doing other types of training (gym visits are more infrequent in the summer, and an issue with my arm had me skipping the gym in general for the last 3 months) so perhaps that will bring the weight down a little, otherwise I’m happy enough with where I am as my weight really isn’t much of a concern.

What’s your approach to weight control? Does that play a major part in your run training?

EDIT: my wife read this and felt like I was saying “the lighter the better”. Note that my fastest times did not happen when I was at my lightest. I do not intend to drop that low again (she says I was too skinny). There is a balance needed.

Training without a plan

With just over a week to go until the Newport Liberty Half Marathon I decided to look back at my post about getting back to fitness in time just over a month ago. In that post I talked about putting together a plan but in the end that just didn’t happen.

I did sign up for the club speed workouts (but immediately missed the first two, one because of vacation), and so far the only sessions I have attended were last week and this week. The other training tools I talked about didn’t happen at all.

I’m still not sure where this leaves me for next week. I did run just over 12 miles this past Sunday so at least I have a little distance behind me (but not as much as I would have hoped), and my mileage went up dramatically last week (a very long track session, and a couple of other days where I ran further than planned simply because I felt good and decided to push). That increase in mileage broke the guide of “no more than a 10% increase week on week”, but it may have worked out okay for me. I was much stronger at this week’s speed workout.

I’m confident I’ll get through the race in a reasonable time given the training so overall I’m happy, but I will have to find another half later in the year to push myself towards if I want to see my time drop closer to last year’s levels.

Are you running the Newport Liberty Half? How ready do you feel?

(As previously noted, I am an official blog partner for the Newport Half for which I have received a free entry. I have consistently run this race for several years, most of which were before becoming a blog partner, and this status does not influence my opinion of the race, as early posts about this race on my blog will confirm).