For some time now I had been looking forward to running the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon. I was very excited to be crossing off Maine on my state quest, especially so early in my quest. I had just thought it would be be one of the last states I get to. This race almost didn’t happen as logistics to actually get to Maine were becoming almost impossible. In fact, I felt like Kathleen was going to back out on me, but I put my foot down, put my travel knowledge to work and we somehow found a way to make it work without completely breaking the bank. I won’t lie. Getting to Maine is expensive.
Finally after months of waiting, race day was finally here. This race was to be state #16 and half marathon #26 for me. I had spent the day before in Portland enjoying the small town and my first lobstering adventure as well. I mentioned that getting to Maine is expensive, well staying overnight in Portland was just as bad. Hotels were going for around $400+ a night. The option was either to stay about 20 minutes out for still about $200 a night or use some of my hotel points. I was happy to put up the points to save us money. The hotel, the Holiday Inn by the Bay ended up just being about a mile away from the start and finish line area.
It was a semi-early race morning as we didn’t know if there would be a line to check bags, etc. The bag check was not your normal bag check though. They offered lockers you could rent, but it was a first come first serve basis. Otherwise, you could only check what could fit into a gallon size bag. It wasn’t ideal if you wanted to change afterwards or anything.
There were 2 waves of starts. One at 7:00am and one at 7:03am. Of course we were in the second wave. Since we did check some items, we got stuck on the opposite side of where our wave was to start. We decided to just let wave 1 go and then sneak in when we felt was the right time in wave 2. It was only a few minutes after 7am and we were off!
We had planned to run this race together and went with a run/walk from the start. The first few miles were through town. We knew this race had some hills, so it was nice to start off with some flat. The weather was looming and looked it was going to rain and sure enough as we started there was some light drizzle. It didn’t stop any spectators coming out though, which is always nice to have!
The first hill came after mile 2.5. It was the worst of the two hills for sure. As we turned the corner we saw the first part of the hills. Flatlander Kathleen started walking pretty much right away, but I tried to push through. Of course our walk break ended right at the bottom of the hill. As you crested the first hill, you immediately turned left and hit the second part of the hill. This took you up past a cemetery but once at the top, there were some nice views. The one thing I noticed in this area of town were the houses! They reminded me so much of southern mansions. Some were just amazing.
Well, what goes up eventually has to go down, right? Well, around mile 4 we did just that. Thankfully though we were down the hill before the rain really started. I don’t think I would have wanted to go down that hill with the rain. It was slick enough and knowing my luck, I would have tripped and fallen on my face. Once down the hill, we went back through downtown, passed the finish line area on the right and headed left up the next hill.
As we headed up, I again took off from Kathleen, but waited for her at the top. And once you got up to the top, it was well worth it. The view of the bay was absolutely amazing. Portland is a stunning city and I was glad I got to see more of it from the course. As we headed back down, we went right for the trail around the back bay.
We had about 3 miles around the back bay. I hated every one of those miles because of the trail. For the most part it was a sand base and I just couldn’t get a grip and I felt like I was throwing my legs out every where. I cursed every single mile. It was flat though and I think it was a less gloomy day it would have been so much prettier. I think by this point I was also just done. Kathleen was also killing me. On our run ratios, she decided 9:30’s or lower were a great idea. Finally at some point I just yelled at her to stop and slow down or go on. I wasn’t pushing it for this race (since we had VT the next day) and I certainly did not want to push and cause injury either.
Around mile 11.5, we had the most God awful smell we had to run through. Interesting enough the last few miles on the trail into town took us right by their Portland water treatment plant. So gross. Just gross. We continued down the trail back to the finish line area. I like this part of the trail as again we were running right alone the bay. Just absolutely gorgeous. Before we knew it we hit mile 13 and were soon through the finish line.
After grabbing finisher’s pictures, we headed over to the finish line party.
They had moved the party into a warehouse due to the weather so it was a bit steamy. Kathleen wanted pizza, so we grabbed than before the beers. The night previous I kept whining about this crazy craving for M&M’s. Well low and behold, they had a huge bucket of full size M&M’s. Amazing! Their food selection was definitely on point. After filling a box, yes a box, full of goodies, we waited in line for beers. Surprisingly I didn’t even finish one full one, but the few sips were good enough.
With our box in hand, we started the walk back to the hotel. The plan was to shower and grab lunch in town. Well, after going to the first place by the hotel for food and them saying it would be almost 90 minutes or more wait, we decided to just hit the road to Vermont. I talked Kathleen into taking the back roads versus interstate. I figured it would just be a prettier drive and I was certainly correct in that. The only down fall was that it was super small towns and many did not have food options. Finally out of no where, Kathleen spotted the Maine Street Grille and it was just amazing.
Eventually we made it to Waitsfield, VT, where the 2nd half of our weekend awaited us. The first thing we did was stop by the “expo” there to pick up our bibs. Again, small race meant basically just grab your bib. We then hit some small little shops and headed to our B&B, Millbrook Inn, to check in. I actually had a college friend, Adam, about an hour away so we met up with him for dinner at The Mad Taco.
After a long day of racing and driving 4-4.5 hours to get to VT, we called it a pretty early night. Part two was coming in just a few more hours and while we thought the ME race had hills, I don’t think either of us were prepared for what was looming. Not even this Pittsburgher.
Official Finish Time:
234/295, F 30-34