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
When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to showcase more of were my travel adventures. I have done that a little bit in some of my race recaps, but today’s post will be completely different. I actually got this idea from Elizabeth last fall, but just never did anything with it yet. I don’t know how often I’ll do this new “series” but hopefully by starting with this one, I’ll get more out. Welcome to Travel Tuesday where my first adventure is all about going Lobstering.
When I decided to head up to Maine for the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon, one of the things I decided to do was go lobstering. I remember Kelsey mentioning that she did this when she was in Maine last year and it just sounded like so much fun. This certainly is not an activity I can go do in Pittsburgh, so why not!
I did some research and found a few companies who take you out for your adventure. You didn’t necessarily need reservations with any company, but I went ahead and made some just in case. The company I went with was Lucky Catch. They seemed to be pretty well known up there and the price seemed great.
For $30 you went out on the boat for 90 minutes, got a lobster (you did pay a little extra) and got to see a beautiful city from a different view. Making reservations was very easily done. I called after hours and had to leave a message but was called back first thing in the morning. They did not take a credit card to hold the reservations either, they just asked to call if you could not make it. You paid cash or check once you checked in just before going out on the water. The morning of, they even called to confirm and helped with directions, etc. Needless to say, Lucky Catch was great! Very glad I went with them.
My lobster adventure was slated for 2:15pm. Honestly, if I did it over again, I’d go on the later one, but more on that in a minute. I wanted to grab a quick bite before heading out, so I decided to grab something at the Portland Lobster Company. If I would have known that is where I would be taking Larry the Lobster later, I probably would have gone somewhere else. However, the location was right at the pier, and not having a lot of time, it worked out well.
Seeing that I love seafood, it was quite alright that I ate it for lunch and eventually for dinner as well. I grabbed a local beer (Sea Dog Sunfish) and some fried shrimp. Well, the food took forever, so I was done with the beer before it even came out. By the time it did come out, I had to get it to go, rush over to check in and them slam the shrimp down.
Once on board, we got a quick safety briefing and a run down of what we would be expected. There were 4 other groups on the boat and then just me. They took departure pictures with each group on board. The first family got up and they handed one of the kids a lobster to hold. Well, the kid got spooked, dropped the lobster and off went the claw. Poor lobster.
One of the reasons I enjoyed the trip so much is that the captain and deckhand also talked about the local history and things we would pass such as certain lighthouses, etc. If I am going to be in an area, I certainly want to hear as much about it as possible. This certainly was a great way to do just that.
Once we got out on the water more, the deckhand put us all to work. We didn’t just sit back and watch the lobsters come up. We put together new bait bags with 6 herrings, cleaned out the pots, measured lobsters and banded any keepers. They were great about making sure everyone had a turn at each thing. For the most part, the adults sit back and let the kids fill the bait bags.
At each stop, we pulled up 2 baskets. We did not make it to the last stop as it was closer to open waters and just too choppy. Within the 4 baskets, we did have a few keepers which was nice. They had a tank with several lobsters in there, so even if we only caught 4-5, they had plenty if everyone on board wanted to take one for dinner.
Since I was by myself, I actually stood up with the captain and chatted with him a fair amount. I enjoyed hearing more about lobstering, how he got into and more about the area. We passed this one island which was a private residential island during the summer months. It consists of 40 families and they even have their own ferry to/from the island. The only person who stays on the island during the winter is the innkeeper. Are they hiring? Can I apply? That just sounds so cool!
He also explained there are a few islands that people do live on year round and kids will ferry into Portland and go to school in the city once they get to middle school. That is just insane to me. Very different life styles for sure! When he asked why I was visiting Portland and I told him for the half on Saturday and then going to Vermont on Sunday to run, I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head. He was questioning the whole time why someone would do that and how someone could do that.
As we were getting back to land, I realized I wasn’t very hungry and I certainly did want to try and shove down a lobster I didn’t want at the time. As everyone was picking out their lobsters (only about 6 people took one), I asked if I could come back after their next tour and get mine. I don’t think they typically do that, but since they knew I was there for the race and didn’t want to mess up dinner, they were happy to do it for me. I just had to go back around 5:15pm to pick my guy.
So, once we were back on land, I headed down to the race expo to get my bib. Since it really wasn’t an expo, I literally just picked up my bib and decided to hit one of the breweries. I went over to Sebago Brewing Co. for a quick beer before heading back to grab Larry (Yes, of course I named the lobster before I even got him). I hit a few shops along the way. The downtown Portland area is just adorable and I could spend hours there just roaming around. I feel like I didn’t even get to enjoy all of it either.
Once back at the pier, I headed back to the boat to grab my lobster. It was the same captain, so it made it easy to climb aboard and pick mine out. I was very grateful for allowing me to do this since it was now a littler closer to dinner time. As I mentioned earlier, If I would have thought timing through better, I would have just done the later tour anyway. Oh well. It ended up working out.
I reached my hand in the tank and pulled one out. I felt like The Claw as I had no idea what I was really grabbing. You could see them inside, but not that great in terms of the actual size. I was pretty happy with the one I got. Decently sized and nice claws too. I paid $8 for my lobster and then headed right back to the Portland Lobster Company to get him cooked! They have a deal with them that you bring one in, they cook it up and you get an amazing plate of the lobster, cole slaw, ear of corn, baked potato and all the butter you could ask for. It was only $15 for that. So all in all, I got to catch my own lobster, get out on the water for 90 minutes, and got the lobster cooked up for $53. Not too bad for all of that!
There was hardly any wait at the restaurant, so I got another beer, a Sea Dog Wild Blueberry, and cozied up to the bar. Within 15 minutes, my lobster buzzer went off and Larry was done. As I was staring at Larry, I realized I had never eaten a full lobster, only tails before. I figured it was generally like a crab, but I definitely texted my New England girl, Jeanette, and got some lobster advice from her. Larry did not disappoint and I think I got every last morsel of lobster goodness out of him!
This adventure was the best way to kick off the weekend for me and such a great way to experience Portland. I would even do it again if I go back to Portland. If you are in Portland and plan to go on your own lobstering trip, I would highly recommend Lucky Catch. Just tell them the crazy Pittsburgh runner sent you.