Impact of Coronavirus on Rhode Races

It is hard to believe it has been two months since we made the incredibly difficult decision about our ability to host the Newport Rhode Race in its traditional sense.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  And while we feel so much has changed in the road racing landscape, so much still remains unknown.

In the weeks and months since the Coronavirus has canceled all Spring road races, the running community has come together in a show of strength and resilience – not that anyone who is a runner is surprised!  These traits define a runner.  While road races were shut down, running was not canceled.  We have come together through virtual events, social media sharing and long-distance support to show that no one runs alone.  And we have seen so many new converts to our sport!  Running has maintained its normalcy.

While Rhode Island is now emerging from the Stay at Home orders, we are in a wait-and-see status to determine if and when we can go back to holding races.  I won’t say “go back to work” as we have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to research and read about how to host a race in the safest possible manner, trying to think of creative ways to support our community, and encourage your physical fitness during a lockdown.

To that end, we wanted to share our new Covid-19 promise to you for the remainder of the year:

As the COVID-19 global pandemic is still unfolding, these are Rhode Races’ promises to you:
* If we are forced to cancel or postpone the event, registrants will receive a 100% transfer of the net entry fee and add-ons paid into ANY Rhode Races event, good for 1 year from the original race entry. The entry fee of the race that you are transferring into will be determined by the pricing schedule for that event on the date you complete your registration into the new race. No refund of any difference, if applicable, will be issued.
* Alternatively, you may switch to the virtual race, in lieu of the deferral/transfer above, if you choose.  The virtual race will keep many of the same components of the actual race with virtual bibs, age-graded results, race swag and a rich community to share your successes.
* We will continue to keep you informed as information becomes available and decisions are made.  We promise to answer all email inquiries within 24 hours.
* Once we are finally able to race, we will continue to provide you with a clean and safe environment to race; and will implement additional measures to ensure the health and safety of our community as necessary.
* You can review our complete policies [HERE]

Our Bristol race is next on the agenda and we are currently working with the 4th of July Committee to see if any manner of an outdoor event can be held this summer.  We have about two weeks before we will know what, if anything, will be possible.   In the meantime, we are also working on an alternative plan, and again – just waiting on a few answers before we can communicate.

Across the country, a few races are starting up again – albeit very small, local ones.  We will know in a few weeks how those races went, what protocols are working and what aren’t, and the immediate future of events.

We are still very hopeful about the fall races, but they will likely be different from what we are used to. We are lucky in that our remaining races are primarily small local events, which are more likely to come back sooner than larger, international ones.  We imagine we will have to limit participant fields and have other safety protocols.  The next few weeks are really going to be a test to see how running events can evolve in the Fall.

In the meantime, we also have some fun ideas and challenges that we are creating in the coming weeks to help keep you motivated, fit, and connected while we try and determine the new normal.  We will have a RUNRI Challenge for July and a Rhode Races Fit Challenge for August. One of the main components of both of these challenges will be to raise some much-needed funds for local charities and support our running community.  Two main components of our Rhode Races mission.

So we thank you, from the bottom of your hearts, for your continued support and kindness as we struggle through these times.  Your words have made such a difference as we are reeling through all of our emotions.   We cannot wait to get back together with you all in person soon!

Thank you!

 

How to Spring Clean Your Running Routine for a Fall Race PR (Personal Record)

We have partnered with some coaches, physical therapists and running specialty stores to provide tips, best practices, and advice as we run solo – but we are not alone.

The following are some tips and notes from Coach Catherine of Fit Armadillo.  Check out her website at https://www.FitArmadillo.com

Whether you signed up for a spring 5K as part of a New Year’s Resolution you haven’t been too diligent about keeping or love the challenge of a 5K and had plans to earn a personal record (PR) this spring, you’re likely sad that you can’t compete alongside friends this month. But all is not lost! Running the 5K Virtual Race can help you spring clean your running routine so you can enjoy fall races (and maybe a PR!).  Here are some tips to help you make the most of this event and spring training, no matter what your current fitness level and 2020 running goals:

-It’s All About That Base, So You Don’t Get Into Injury Trouble

Hum that tip to the song if you know it! Did you know that the fastest 5K runners and marathoners both run similar weekly mileage? It’s true and based on the fact that a solid base of mileage helps you increase your overall aerobic capacity aka endurance, which is important for any long-distance running event. Now, you don’t need to run 100 miles a week like an elite athlete to build a solid base (and probably shouldn’t this year unless you’re an Olympian – it takes years to build up to this point), but you can use this tip as a beginner or advanced runner. Check out your weekly mileage and how many days a week you are currently running. With more time between now and your next big in-person road race, you can spread out your training plan and build a better base. Unlike most cookie-cutter running plans that often increase mileage week by week and increase your risk for injury, you can take more time to progress your training and skill as a runner.  Even if you aren’t aiming for a PR, a better base will lead to a more enjoyable fall race!

Action Step: Look at your current weekly mileage. Aim to repeat this for 2-3 weeks in a row before upping your mileage in week 3 (or 4) and then having a recovery week 4 (or 5) before increasing your weekly mileage in week 5 (or 6). Your running coach can help you with some of the finer details (and the Fit Armadillo trainers would love to help!), but building a base is often rushed. Instead of rushing your training this year, use this extra time to your advantage!

-Stop a Strava Compare and Despair Cycle

While Strava and other social running apps can be a great way to stay in touch with your running friends, especially while social distancing, they can also encourage bad running habits. One of the most common mistakes runners make is running their easy runs too fast. Save that competitive spirit for your next 5K race! When your workout schedule notes an easy run, it should be easy. Your body will make the appropriate adaptations during this run at a slower pace. But run at a hard effort, when that’s not the plan of the day? You risk getting injured! Even Kenyans and other elite athletes run “slow” on slow run days, but they are hardly slow on race day!

Action Step: If you do monitor paces and heart rate, see if you’re able to hit your goals for all workouts on your plan. If you’re not able to hit your speed day paces, you might be overdoing things on an easy day. Easy runs should feel comfortable and be done at 70-75% of your maximum heart rate to avoid the risk of injury and fatigue. Already a seasoned 5K runner? Your easy runs can be done about 2 minutes slower than your 5K race pace.

-How a 5K Virtual Race Can Fit into Longterm Plans

The Virtual 5K event can be a great part of anyone’s running plan. If you’re a beginner, you can use the event as a way to find out how long it takes you to complete 3.1 miles. Did you walk at all? If so how long? Are you able to pace yourself? Even lifelong runners struggle with pacing! No matter how you do on your first 5K distance attempt this spring, challenge yourself to work on pacing and try running “negative splits,” faster each mile vs. starting out too fast and ending the race wishing you hadn’t started. More advanced runners can use the virtual 5K to practice that same tip – running negative splits!

Another idea for those of you already up to 12 miles for a long run? Your 5K could be the first quarter of a 12.4 mile Long Accelerating Run workout. This challenging workout, which could be done as an 8-15 mile workout, has you break your run into four quarters. The first quarter is done at an easy pace (maybe across the street from a friend who’s also running the virtual 5K for some mutual moral support?), the second quarter at slightly below lactate threshold pace, the third at lactate threshold pace, and the fourth at faster than lactate threshold pace. It’s a demanding workout (not recommended more often than every other week), but a good one! What’s lactate threshold pace? It should be 25-30 seconds slower than your 5K race pace or 85-90 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Action Step: Sign up for the Virtual 5K Rhode Race event and schedule your 3.1-mile attempt and route (5K or maybe more!) into your calendar.

Did you do some spring cleaning to your running routine based on these tips? Tell us about it on social media so we can give you a virtual high five and pat on the back!

P.S. Fit Armadillo has been scoping out some 5K routes around Newport, Rhode Island and has something fun planned for those of you who want to play along. Stay tuned for details and, happy running!

Coaches Tips – Marathon Training

As we all go through a new running reality for these next few weeks, training for Virtual Races can be challenging without your RunSquad. We have partnered with some coaches, physical therapists and running specialty stores to provide tips, best practices, and advice as we run solo – but we are not alone.  If you are interested in having a goal or motivation in these quarantined weeks, join our Newport Rhode Races Virtual Run.  Learn more at Newport.RhodeRaces.us. 

The following are some tips and notes from Coach Lizzie of Anchor Leg Coaching.  Check out her website at https://www.anchorlegcoaching.com/

With a little dedication and diligence, you can join the 550,000 people who run a marathon each year.  Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Training plan: if you can run 5 miles without stopping, you can expect to train for a marathon in about 4 months. I suggest running a marathon in the Fall since it is more pleasant to train during the summer months.  Published training plans abound!  Or visit anchorlegcoaching.com !!
  • The Long Run: this all-important workout will ensure that you will cross the finish line. Each week or even biweekly, increase your long run by 1-2 miles until you reach 18-20 miles.  If you are just looking to finish the marathon in no particular time, there is no set pace for the long run.  Run slowly enough so that you can finish the run.
  • Walking breaks: every 30 minutes during a long run, I walk for 30 seconds and drink water. 30 seconds of walking will break up the monotony of the long run and give you something to look forward to.
  • Water: how do you drink water while running? With a hydration belt or handheld water bottle! Nathan and Fuel Belt make different types.  A belt or handheld will allow you to comfortably carry water and food while running.  The longer you run, the more water you need. Aim for 13-26 ounces per hour, depending on the temperature. More for warmer weather.
  • Nutrition: you can eat while running? Sort of.  During a long run, you should plan to consume about 100 calories every 45-60 minutes.  Experiment with GU gel, GU Chews, Sport Beans, Shot Blocks, Power Gel, Honey Stingers, among others and see what works for you.  This will probably include trial and error. Drink a few sips of water after eating.
  • Recovery: after running, especially after a long run, eat a combination of carbs and protein within 30 minutes of running. You should generally aim for a 4/1 ratio of carbs to protein.
  • Shoes: I recommend investing in a good pair of shoes. Head to a running store and ask them to fit you for an appropriate shoe.  Run Newport in Newport, RI is a good place to start.
  • Watch: you can use a simple Timex watch, or a Garmin GPS which will indicate your pace and distance. Either one will help you with your training.
  • Body Glide: on a long run, your clothes, socks, and/or shoes will cause chafing. Use Body Glide.  Enough said.
  • Clothing: wearing clothing made of wicking material. Cotton shirts, especially, do not wick sweat away.  Wicking t-shirts, long sleeves, and shorts can be purchased at most running stores or even at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s!
  • Race Day: don’t try anything new. Try not to wear anything new – socks, shirt, shorts, shoes, etc.  You don’t want to discover that a particular shirt is uncomfortable 5 miles into a 26-mile race.
  • Do your homework: research the race that you plan to run. Is it hilly?  Downhills?  Uphills?  Flat?  Run routes that have a similar elevation.  Where are the water stops on the course?  While training, drink water at similar times.  Is there Gatorade on the course?  Some marathons provide Gatorade on the course.  If they do, practice drinking it while running.  Some runners get cramps from drinking Gatorade.  I don’t recommend drinking Gatorade and eating Sport Beans or GU.  Too much sugar.  Also, while drinking water during the race, fold the top of the cup so you don’t spill it all over yourself.
  • Run for a Charity: I have done three marathons for charity and they will always be special to me. As you slog through all those miles, you will find a greater purpose in your seemingly selfish marathon training.

Hopefully, this doesn’t scare you off from running your first marathon.  Why run a marathon?  So that you can eat that extra bowl of ice cream of course!  You might wonder why some runners want to run one marathon after another.  As you stand on the starting line of your first marathon, you will remember all of those miles you have run and the hard work you have put in to get there.  When you finish, you will realize you accomplished what you thought was impossible!  26 miles!  And then perhaps you will start to think about the next one.  You will also be the envy of all your friends and family!

 

The Effect of Coronavirus on Road Races

It is important to note that this blog is my own personal feelings. I approach what is happening in our running community as a runner.  These comments below are my own thoughts and concerns as we look towards an unknown future.  Things are changing hourly right now, but I, like many of you, are trying to find reason, search for answers and mitigate emotions as we are reeling with the effects of “social distancing.”

In my 30 years of running, a good run has cured many things. It has helped me overcome sad days, work through complex problems and emotions, sweated out toxins, cleared out stuffy noses and just generally made me feel better. Running allows me to breathe in clean air, get outside and marvel at nature’s beauty, to appreciate how lucky I am to have full lungs and strong legs that still move.  A run clears your head – literally and figuratively. Even when I am sick, while the run may not be as easy, I ALWAYS feel better afterward – even if it is only momentary. I am a true believer that a run is the best medicine, will cure more than any drug. Fresh air + exercise is a known preventative to many of life’s ills.

So when I think of how the Coronavirus has affected us these days – I can’t help but think – more people should be running! All the recommendations and guidelines state that a good heart and healthy lifestyle are the best preventative to contracting the virus. Stay hydrated, get exercise, stay outdoors (ok – that one is a stretch, but there are less people outside than inside!) – all common runner habits. From the DOH website on recommendations – “Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods. “ Every runner everywhere is already doing all of this.

But we as local event producers have been watching and worrying and talking. We have read guidance from CDC about mass participation events, followed the media as other events have canceled, and prayed that this would be contained soon.  Honestly, we are reeling just like you. So many unknowns and it seems like each day it is on a larger scale.

As runners, marathoners, race directors and charitable contributors – we know what a race brings to the participants and communities. We know how long you have been training, there are travel plans, what the race means to you, the money you have raised and the local business that relies on your race morning coffee. There are so many ripples to a race.

At first, when we started to see the first permits revoked, I was like “How dare they cancel road races!  We should be able to decide for ourselves if we want to go!  We are healthy.”  And then high school sports were restricted, my college kids were sent home (that one is a bonus, I will admit), NCAA, NBA, March Madness, THE BOSTON MARATHON – now nearly everything is canceled.  And now I am of the mindset – please, let these current harsh measures save lives and save life as we know it in a quicker fashion.

I have had races canceled on me so I know what it is like.  I know that is can feel akin to a death or a loss. You have invested so much time and emotion, you have sacrificed social events and time with your family.  You have run in less than ideal situations, gotten your ass out of bed at ungodly hours.  Lost toenails and bought expensive sneakers, made travel plans and arranged for your kids’ care.  And not to be able to see the end result of all that work and sacrifice, well – that just sucks.

I ran Boston in 2012 – the “year of the heat.” It was meant to be 80 in Boston that year. After training in a New England winter, running in 80 degrees in Boston had many potential health risks. BAA had debated canceling, had sent out scores of emails about an abundance of caution. The effects of such heat at a marathon in April in Boston had many bad potential health effects. There was much discussion about canceling the race because of the potential for heat-related deaths and sickness.  It was a scary time. But Boston preserved, and we as participants were able to decide if we should participate.  I had invested so much that there was no way I wasn’t going to be there.  I  lost my BQ at that race as I just don’t run well in heat, and therefore wasn’t there in 2013.  Boston was bombed that year, and I wondered if there was a greater factor involved. We hosted Providence 3 weeks later and we were so afraid.  We were so worried that road races were a target.  But runners are resilient and strong. That year in PVD was AMAZING – the joy and accomplishment of knowing nothing was going to stop us.  Road races continue, running thrives. We relish in the “badassedry” of running in the face of adversity, in our strength to overcome mind over body.

With Boston postponing for the first time in its 124 year history, scores of other races canceled or postponed, many others waiting to see what happens in the next two weeks to 30 days (including our Newport race), road racing is in upheaval, I do feel like it is short-lived.  I believe that the camaraderie and the benefits of a road race will overcome this hurdle.  It is an incredibly difficult time and there are more questions than answers.  We can only go day to day, just like running – one step at a time.   We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, nevermind 5 weeks from now.  We are now planning for two alternatives – the race can go on and things we will need to do and change to host it – and – the race can’t happen and what we can do to support our runners and the running community at large.  But I know what it will feel like when we are able to host a race and I can’t wait to see that party!

I may be ridiculously naive and overly optimistic, but no – we do not wish to cancel. And we will do everything required to keep it safe. It will only be canceled if the decision is taken away from us.  If things get worse instead of better.  In the end, we are at the mercy of the communities and the society we run in.  Ultimately, the benefit has to outweigh the risk.

We as a community will still continue to run, if only to try and make sense of all that is happening – to feel better mentally, to stay healthy.  So if things are getting a bit heavy,  I think it is appropriate in light of all that is happening to quote Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump:

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Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives

A core part of our mission has been to be good environmental stewards. As we get to race is some of the most beautiful locations Rhode Island has to offer, we want to do our part in minimizing our footprint not just at these locations, but in our greater global use. To that end, we are constantly analyzing our practices and looking for ways to improve and change. One of the main organizations that we use to measure ourselves is the Council for Responsible Sport. They have best practices, guidelines, and goals that have been invaluable to us in our efforts. Just recently, they partnered with Nuun to create the Sustainable Event Guide for Endurance Event Organizers. We received this document and measured ourselves against it. Below is an analysis of our efforts:

*Shirts and medals – We will only purchase what we need to eliminate waste. We commit to our final number within one month of the race and will sell out when we reach that number to ensure there is minimal waste. This may mean that we’re not able to ensure your preferred size if you register late, or the race may sell out, but we feel this is a better practice than having hundreds of leftover shirts and medals that previously would get thrown away.

While we have significantly reduced our leftover shirts and medals in recent years, there are always a few leftovers. We donate the remaining medals to Sports Medal Recycling and our remaining shirts to a local group home.

gel bucket bridge*Nutrition – We source as locally as possible. We choose to partner with Clif who supports environmental initiatives.  We will have small buckets at every mile marker to minimize trash left on course. Any food that is left over at the end of the race is donated to a group home (or our poor starving college-aged Rhode Crew).

*Hydration – We choose to partner with Nuun who supports our environmental initiatives. We have minimized our single-use bottles for electrolyte replacement both on course and at the finish line by utilizing existing water with Nuun tabs. We have switched to 5 gal recyclable bottles on course rather than disposable one gal jugs. Our current cups are made from recycled materials.

New this year – we will offer Hydrapak Speedcups for a more cupless race. While we know this option isn’t for everyone, we hope to encourage more of our participants to try out the Speed cups so that we can reduce our cup use and potential trash. To add a Speedcup to your existing registration, please follow these steps.  Please learn more about SpeedCups at this link.

*We offer and encourage recycling at our event, but we ask our participants to be aware of what they are throwing into the recycling containers. While we don’t yet have the staff to monitor and sort waste, we hope our participants can be conscious of not contaminating the recycling bins with non-recyclable products.

B349593D-DB9F-427C-AFD0-3786CC612332_1_201_a*We created Post-race plogging crews. Learn more about them here. While many larger races have clean up sweeps, we are a small team of just 2 FT people so we need a bit of help in covering the many miles of a race.  Please consider joining us and earn free race entries!

*We have reduced our one-time-use paper – we no longer print maps. They are available on our website in both a pdf and an interactive online version. We also have a large laminated version at bib pick up of which you can take a picture if you wish. Our signs are used every year – we purposely do not put dates on signs to ensure they are reusable.

*We are committed to increasing the sustainability of our giveaways – age group awards are items that can be ”used” – cutting boards, mugs, frames, etc. Not just a trophy or medal.

beach mile winner*We strive to be inclusive. We created the Final Mile program to encourage youth running in all communities. We provide free entries to Running Guides, accessible bib pick up locations and portapotties, early start options and personal attention to participants that are differently-abled.

*We have local charitable partners and causes. These groups include Save The Bay, Daffodillion, Girls on the Run, Ronald McDonald House, Heather Abbott Foundation, local high school teams and more.

(As an update since starting this analysis.  I had challenged our medal provider, Ashworth Awards, to remove the plastic sleeves in which they package each individual medal. This was his response:
I have good news….starting hopefully with your 1st order, Newport, all our medals will be bundle wrapped in 10’s with a paper wrapping. We are trying to be as green as possible moving forward. We are trying to remove all plastic if possible from all our packaging.)

Finally, we have goals that we wish to incorporate into our races in the future. These include:

– Create a Green Team or Environmental Director to help us measure and implement sustainability practices.
– Composting
– Better recycling to eliminate contamination
– Less litter on course
– Lessen/minimize cups and single-use bottles

****Earn our Council for Responsible Sport Certification!  

While we are making efforts, we know that we have a long way to go. But we need your help. Please be aware and make efforts to recycle properly at our events. Register early so that we can properly plan our consumables and minimize waste. Join our plogging crews and/or commit to trying SpeedCups.  Please use the mile marker buckets and don’t litter. If you have any ideas or have seen other races offer a great sustainability item, please share it with us. We are constantly thirsting for ways to enhance our efforts.

Thank you for helping us make a better race experience for all.

Planning for Year 5!!!

What is the gift for the FIVE year anniversary?  I am hoping it is MEDAL – because we have some awesome ones for next year!!

SINCE – our 2020 Rhode Master Series is OFFICIALLY open!

So what is the Rhode Master Series?  Here is a not-quite-complete list:

  • Discoimage011unt when you sign up for 3 or more races at the same time.
  • Awesome Series Medal that will be awarded after completion of your first race
  • Top of the Industry BocoGear running headwear exclusive to the Series, awarded after completion of your 3rd race.
  • Exclusive to the Series L/S Rhode Master shirt, awarded after completion of 4 races
  • Rhode Master Apparel and sticker for completing ALL 5 RACES!
  • VIP bib pick up at all races
  • VIP Parking in Newport (no shuttles!)IMG_1251
  • Reserved race day bib pick up in Newport and Providence, if you so choose
  • Private Facebook group
  • Chance to be named Rhode Master Champion in the Series Age Group Awards.

To join the crazy group, just select our 3, 4 or 5 Race Bundle on any of our registration pages! 

But before we get there, our next event is the Hangover Classic 5 miler.  This old-school race is in its 35th running and it is the best way to kick off the New Year.  On January 1, run around Bristol Harbor, historic Coggeshall Farm and through stunning Colt State Park.  The race is sure to invigorate your sense of purpose and self-accomplishment on the first day of the next decade!

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This year the race will be especially “old-school” as the folks at DEM in Colt State Park have asked us to use the trails instead of the roadways, which means part of the course will be untreated, depending on the weather.  Please be aware of this change and plan accordingly.  More information is available on our website.

After the race, check out our new awesome local brewery partner, Twelve Guns Brewery Not only are they providing our awesome trophies, but they will be giving away a free 5 oz beer to all our participants at the post-race party – ;).  Check them out at noon on race day – free beer coupon valid on January 1st only.

Finally – we are constantly striving to get better and learn from you, our participants – what we have done right and where we can improve.  Please take our quick Year-End Survey to help us as we plan our 2020 events.

A reminder – ALL of our race entries increase on 12/31.  Sign up soon and save some $$$$!

As always, thank you for joining us and we hope to see you on the starting line soon.

Faces of the Rhode Races – Maurice Lowman aka “Marathon Panda”

This is the second post in a series written by our guest blogger – Jessica Looney.  Jessica is our Fall Semester Marketing Intern from Providence College.  A runner in her own right, Jess has been helping us craft our marketing message this semester and is completing her Senior year.  

1,432 Days and Counting… “THERE IS HOPE”

I asked Maurice, “why do you run”, and he said, “running taught me that there is HOPE for addiction, mental health, and unhappiness. Running taught me that you can change”.

“Run Streaker” and “Marathon Panda”, Maurice Lowman hasn’t missed a run for the past 1,432 days, and he doesn’t plan on missing anytime soon.

With 28 marathons under his belt, (Boston and NYC included), and many more to come, Maurice says, “why would I ever go back to chasing drugs, and alcohol, when I could chase miles and miles and miles?”As a recovering addict, each day that Maurice adds to his run streak is another day sober, and another day with his new addiction—running.

Maurice’s journey to discovering running is unique in his own regard, yet his passion for inspiring others and love for running resonates with and touches many.  Born and raised in RI, the Marathon Panda grew up never considering himself athletic, although always sort of knew the power of a good run. As he dove into his career, Maurice found himself hindered by alcohol and drug abuse. His saving grace, throughout this struggle, was the mornings he found himself lacing up his sneakers to hit the road and clear his dead. At this point, running was the only positive outlet in his life.

Because of this, when Maurice became serious about sobriety, he knew running was going to be an integral part of that journey. He began running consistently and found himself looking forward to the weekend when he had more time to run. 2013 was a turning point, as he ran his first half marathon (!!!). When he finished, overwhelmed by the amount of positivity and camaraderie at the finish line, —Maurice asked himself, “where has this been my whole life and when can I do it again?” …  Fall of 2014, Maurice ran his first marathon, and officially was hooked. He started to learn more and more about the ins and outs of the sport itself— bought himself more than one pair of sneakers and met people of all walks of life who shared his new passion.

 

Maurice wanted to share his journey and took to Instagram to do so. With the widespread audience on social media, he connected with people all over the world and immediately received positive feedback on his endeavors. He posts about each run on his running streak every. Single. Day. His passion and motivation to inspire others to live out their passion are contagious.

As someone who once thought there was no hope for himself, Maurice strives to show others that there is hope, and you can change. The first step is to get up and move—in a positive direction AND find something you love. Fuel that passion and let it light you up.

Check out Maurice on Instagram @marathonpandamaurice.

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November – A Time of Thanks

November is a time for reflection and thanks for us.  Not only is it the end of our racing season, but we formed the company 5 years ago in November so it is our Anniversary as well!  (You can learn more about us at this link.)

We are always so incredibly grateful at the end of each season.  Normally we post our year-end Rhode Crew picture with this post but this year at the Ocean State Rhode race, we were all a bit too cold and wet to stay still that long for a team picture!  So we are using last year’s picture.  🙂hxHyGRmIRwmbRZ52kPWOww

In 2019, we are particularly grateful to our hundreds of volunteers who help us execute amazing races – our volunteers did not have an easy task this season.  We went 3 for 3 with marathons in the rain this year and the volunteers really bared the brunt of this weather.  They were out there for as long as 6-7 hours in the rain and cold, always with a cheerful demeanor and a desire to help.  Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our races and we can’t thank them enough.  Additionally, it is rewarding for us as we are able to provide community service hours to those that need it, donations to their causes, or free race entries depending on the situation.  We LOVE being able to give back in this way.  EZ8U6120

We did incorporate some new procedures in our efforts to try and be responsible environmental partners.  We created our plogging teams and our gel bucket program in hopes of leaving our racecourses in better shape than we started.  As today is National Recycling Day, we are hoping that you will continue to partner with us in our efforts in 2020.  And if you have ideas as to how to improve our efforts, we are always all ears! EZ8U6170

This year we raised and donated thousands of dollars to various local charities, donated hundreds of shirts and apparel to a group home and gave pounds of food to a local soup kitchen.  But most importantly, we heard AMAZING stories as to why people run, what it means to cross that finish line, what training and running have given you this year.  And it is for this – that we are truly humbled and grateful.

Thank you – for letting us be a part of that journey.

 

Faces of the Rhode Races – Jacqueline O’Hara

This is the first post in a series written by our guest blogger – Jessica Looney.  Jessica is our Fall Semester Marketing Intern from Providence College.  A runner in her own right, Jess has been helping us craft our marketing message this semester and is completing her Senior year.  

“Running gave me purpose again,” says Jacklyn O’Hara, when we asked her ‘why do you run’?

 

Jacklyn O’Hara, pictured above, finishes her 2nd marathon in Narragansett and completes Rhode Races Rhode Master series (October 27, 2019). But running for her is more than just a medal…

Running is a curious endeaScreen Shot 2019-11-04 at 9.01.02 AMvor to those whose feet do not crave the pounding of the pavement day after day. It’s a physical feat that some people just cannot wrap their heads around. But to every runner, there’s a reason why they run…

To Jackie, she has many reasons.

Jackie’s running career did not begin an early age, as she did not participate in sports growing up or consider herself an athlete. But she does recall, a moment from the third grade where she discovered the tremendous confidence that is attached to running, as she raced against her peers. At this moment, Jackie ran because she discovered the beauty in running that allowed her to “take flight”.

Flashforward, in 2005, Will Speck, a well-respected marathoner and coach in Cranston, RI, and a family friend of Jackie’s, passed away suddenly from a heart attack. As a result of the tragedy, Speck’s daughter organized a 5k in honor of her father and urged Jackie to participate. Considering herself a non-runner, the task seemed ridiculous, (how far is a 5k she thought) but something about running struck a chord with her. She soon discovered that you can train to be a runner, you don’t have to be born a runner. This was a pivotal moment for Jackie. She went on to complete the 5k, and resurfaced not only the confidence attached to running, but her ability to take flight, with the sneakers on her feet. At this moment, Jackie ran to rediscover herself, and to meet a passion she did not know was within her.

 

As time went on, running three or four miles a few times a week, became habitual and therapeutic for Jackie. Although running was not in the forefront of her mind, it seemed to demand attention. She began to discover her purpose and found Girls on the Run, which is a non-profit organization that fuses young women’s empowerment with physical activity. As Jackie’s career began to align with her running, she began building up miles and dabbling with the half marathon distance. The ability for Jackie to train to be runner, helped her to teach young girls that you can train to be anything you want in this life. At this time, Jackie ran because as it meshed perfectly with her career, she was able to inspire young girls with her own actions.

Then, Jackie’s two children came into the picture, which occupied a lot of time and love. But as they grew, she was able to allow running to reoccupy time and headspace. The distance of a half marathon became less and less daunting, and Jackie, now the executive director for Girls on the Run, RI, felt synergy in her life more than ever. Jackie ran because she loved running, and as she learned more about her body and how to take care of it as a runner, she ran because it empowered her.

Just as life seemed to be right on track, in July of 2018, Jackie’s father passed unexpectedly from a heart attack, the day after her completion of a half marathon. Her ultimate post-race high quickly transformed into a shattering low. Running previously brought joy to Jackie, but with the association of her father, it seemed impossible to want to lace up her sneakers.

However, November of 2018 was a turning point for Jackie. With the incredible support from other strong women in her life, from the community within Girls on the Run and from her family, she decided to go for a run. Running again, allowed Jackie to regain control of her life. No longer was she held back by the grieving of her father but rather inspired to pour her sadness into a healthy outlet. Running became Jackie’s vehicle to work through her devastation and grief.

As Jackie set out to complete the Rhode Masters series, each medal was more than just a medal to her, but rather individual reminders that she is strong and resilient and can preserve through anything. Jackie ran her first marathon, the Providence marathon, in May of 2018. To Jackie, meeting the marathon taught her a lot about herself, and was a transcending and transformative experience. She keeps running, because, without those miles, there would be a void in her life.

Now, October of 2019, Jackie just completed her second marathon in Narragansett, which also completes the Rhode Master series. Standing there with all five medals, Jackie can confirm that running is a transformative experience. Running is something that not only grows with you, but also allows you to grow. Through exhilarating highs and devastating lows, running gives Jackie purpose.

Wish List from a running Race Director

I have been a runner for a long time, over 30 years. And while I have executed a number of races in the last 6 years or so, I have been a participant in even more races – everything from a small 100 person 5ks to the Boston Marathon and Ironman events. I love each one for different reasons – I love the small races as there is no pressure, it is just fun to put yourself on the line every once in a while and to see the sights, while knowing that it is for a good cause. I love big races too. While they are expensive, there is something about being on that large scale, with closed roads and tons of hoopla. I will say that neither the Boston Marathon nor Ironman races offer much in the way of amenities really, but you are there for the prestige of the race, and not the stuff they give you.

But I remember races before they became EVENTS, as we call them now. You just line up and run, no real chip timing, no aid stations, a cotton t-shirt and a trophy from the local awards shop. It was like a gathering with friends and you were there to test your meddle, not necessarily to get a medal. There are still a few of these races around – like our Hangover Classic: no chip timing, no aid stations, no medals – just cool trophies and a great course. Just a race to race.

Things have evolved and (some) races have become big business – with bands and big medals and elaborate finish lines. They are an event. It has brought more people into the running world and that is all good – the more people we can get off the couch and running – the better!

As we evolve, here are some wish list items for participants from an old school runner:

Please be respectful of your fellow runners. If you know you are running a 9-10 mi/min pace, please line up towards the back of a starting corral. If you are stopping at an aid station, please stop OFF the race course.  Please don’t run two or three across so runners coming up behind have to swerve around the group.  It is great that races have become incredibly social, but for some participants – every step counts.

Know the course. Drive it, ride it, look at a course map, ask if you have a question. While we try to mark a course as best we can, sometimes it can be slightly confusing at some intersections. It has been known to happen that a key volunteer doesn’t show up, the chain of communication breaks down, or whatever reason things don’t go as planned from the race director end despite the best planning. In the end, race protocols are that it does fall on the runner to know the course. I can’t speak for other RDs – but I love to talk about our courses, I love to show them off…. in advance of race day……. 🙂

Please don’t litter. Drop cups, clothing, gel packets (the worst offenders) at aid stations, at mile marker signs, or somewhere that we can see them readily. We work hard to leave the course in better shape than we started, but it takes everyone’s help to achieve this.

Read the Athlete Guide – generally, most of the questions about the race are answered in it. The more informed you are, the better prepared for the race.

Again – the goal is to give all participants a great race while respecting our environment and being humble guests in the communities where we are allowed to run.  With everyone’s help, we can continue to evolve for the better.