Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Music-less Providence Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon Bandit

5 long, slow miles on a sunny 43 degree morning that felt windier than it probably was.  Still no music.  I went through Junk Drawer #1 and could not find the Krazy Glue to repair my iPhone armband.  I actually sifted through the drawer and made a little pile to throw out (Thanks, Emerging Runner's Wife).  Pete, if you're reading this...just kidding...

Junk pile includes a random birthday candle, price tags, stickers, torn plastic wrappers, and lots and lots of caps that look suspiciously like Krazy Glue caps.  No actual Krazy Glue tubes.

Even after a little purge, the drawer still looks like this.

Okay, enough about my junk drawers.  I'll save that for my Pete Is A Hoarder blog.

I used to be a music dependent runner.  If my iPod battery was dead or back in the Dark Ages when I had some mechanical problem with my walkman, I would forego the run altogether (Yep).  Until last August when I ran the Providence Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon totally unprepared.  By totally unprepared, I mean I even forgot to register for the damn race!  I signed up for a bunch of races in early May and I must have lost track.  Fast forward to August.  We were vacationing in Martha's Vineyard without ferry tickets to get off the island (Oops #1).   I went on the race website to see if I could pick up the packet on race morning.  There was an option to check your race number or status.  When I entered my name...>poof<  Nothing (Oops #2).  Huh?!  This is like the day before the race, which at that point was sold out!  Seriously?!  Now what?  Well, I'll just run the race anyway, I guess.  I was in the middle of my Baltimore marathon training and the race was part of our vacation plans.  We had a hotel reservation in Providence, but that's about it.  

I had never heard about "running bandit" before.  Running bandit is basically running a race without paying the registration fee.  Our Massachusetts friends whom we were with talked about it like it wasn't a big deal.  Lots of people ran the Boston Marathon as bandits.  Our friend, Dana, did it more than once.  The organizers, in fact, expect it.  Okay, I'll run Providence bandit.

We managed to get off the Island of Martha and arrived at the Providence Marriott pretty late at night.  I just passed out from travel and "bandit" anxiety and exhaustion.  Pete stayed at his brother's in Newport.  The next morning he had to drop our dog off at a kennel very early and then come to the hotel room to watch our kids while I ran.  He was late.  

I was up early.  After I got dressed, I discovered my iPod battery was dead (Oops #3).  Great.  I went back to bed thinking I was going to miss the race altogether.  Not so lucky.  Pete knocked at the door at 7:15am.   The race started at 7:00.   I flew out of bed and out the hotel lobby.  Luckily, the starting line was across the street from the hotel, or so I thought.  It was actually diagonally across the street, down the road, and around the corner.  I mistakenly followed a guy who I thought was late too.  He was going someplace completely different.  I asked some security, found the start, and started my watch.  I caught up with the back of the pack runners after another ten minutes or so.  

The course ran through the city, up some hills (I don't remember reading about any hills...), past Brown University, mansions, more hills (More?!), a lake, hills (C'mon...?), etc.  At one point, when we running past some upscale row houses, a runner asked a spectator couple if he could use their bathroom.  They agreed.  Never saw that before.  

This was my first Rock 'N Roll race.  Apparently, the Rock 'N Roll franchise has a bad rep in the running community for being very commercial.  I just chose this race because of the location and it fit into my training schedule.  There were a handful of bands,   not as many as I expected.  They were okay.  Mostly cover songs.  I thought I was going to be miserable without my own music, but I actually enjoyed the run.  I liked being aware of the race atmosphere and was preoccupied with sightseeing.  I like running races in new cities.  I can't think of a better way to see it all.  The last couple of hundred yards were uphill (Surprise!).  I crossed the finish line and my watch read 1:51:xx.  I was happy with the time considering it was unexpectedly hilly and my very late start.  No, I didn't take a medal (That would be really crappy).  I did drink a couple of cups of Gatorade during the race, but it was August for heaven's sake!!  The post-race party was packed and not very Kid Friendly (It's all about Kid Friendly these days).  I found my family back at the hotel and we went out for brunch with my brother-in-law's family at the The Cheeecake Factory next door.  I had the best omelet (Spinach, onion, tomatoe, and Swiss cheese) EVER.

Since this experience, I have found that I truly enjoy my quiet runs.  I like having a clear head, listening to my footfalls, and being completely cognizant of my surroundings.  I like my music, too.  It depends on my mood.  

Oh,  I also try to make more of an effort to actually register for the races I want to run.  


  1. Great story. I've almost missed races because I couldn't find them. In one case I showed up a day late. Some races don't take kindly to bandits. Runner's World writes about that issue every once in a while. I'm in the "no running with music" camp myself, although I've listened to the 3 non-joggers podcast a few times while on the trails.

    1. Yes, I've seen some threads on Runner's World about bandits. Most people don't like them. The ones who just don't want to pay the fee are kind of jerks, I agree. I think if you really want to run a race, but got shut out, I don't see anything wrong with it. As long as they don't drink the fancy drinks (like I did), eat the food, and take a trophy, finisher's medal or shirt, they're not hurting anyone. Unless of course, they hurt someone - then, off with their heads!

    2. The race bandit's oath: primum nil nocere