Last weekend, my cousin, Janine, and I took a road trip to West Haven, Conn.—a town within the city of New Haven County—to run the Savin Rock Half Marathon. The weather posed some challenges to the race, as well as to the drive up there, but despite that, we had a fun weekend.
We left the DC-area Friday morning, as a wintry mix was moving through the region. According to Google Maps, our drive up to West Haven was supposed to be 4.5 hours. But it appeared the storm was moving up north, too. It snowed nearly the entire drive up there, which extended our 4.5-hour drive to about 7.5 hours.
The original plan was to pick up my race packet from the Savin Rock Conference Center upon arriving in town. But by the time we got there, it was late and we were exhausted and hungry. I decided I would pick up my packet in the morning, before the race.
We checked into our hotel around 6:30 p.m. and then ordered an Uber to take us to dinner (no more driving for me – it was still snowing and the roads were messy). Our dinner destination was Modern Apizza, a little restaurant in New Haven, about 10-15 minutes from the hotel.
For my pre-race dinner, we ordered a Caesar salad, large pizza — half margarita, half meat combo — beers and ciders. The salad was great — dripping with dressing. The pizza was a little soggy, but still pretty good. My beer was fantastic — a Belgian-style brew from the local New England Brewing Company.
After dinner, instead of hanging out in town, we decided to go back to the hotel and watch a movie (“Wild” – have you seen it? Loved the book, the movie was eh.). It was getting late, and I wanted to be well rested for the race.
The forecast called for a little more snow throughout the evening, but would eventually clear up by early morning. Supposedly. Our Uber drive wasn’t so sure about that. I was hopeful though. During dinner, I received an email from race organizers notifying participants that the race was still on. So I guess snow, or snow, I would be running.
I woke up at 5 a.m. and peeked out the window — it was not snowing! Yes!
I got dressed, forced down a protein bar, stretched a bit, said goodbye to Janine, who was still seeping, and then headed to the conference center at 6 a.m.
It was cold out. Really cold.
After I got my race packet, I went back to the car to huddled under my coat and relax until the start time at 8 a.m.
And then around 7:30, it happened. Little flakes started landing on my windshield. It was snowing again. Seriously.
At 7:58, I walked over to the start line, shivering, thinking, “Am I really going to run in this?”
I couldn’t back out at that point.
So when the gun went off at around 8:02 (two minutes late), I started running. The snow wasn’t so bad at first — it was light, and appeared to melt as soon as it hit the ground.
The course was fairly flat for the first four miles. There were a couple of minor hills between miles 4-6, and then between miles 6-10, there were some bigger hills.
Somewhere around mile 8, I had to go the bathroom. I saw one porta-potty with a long line. I waited for about 2 minutes before giving up.
Getting through mile 9 was difficult because I had to go so badly. I couldn’t run, because running made it worse. So I walked. But then, because I wasn’t running, by body wasn’t generating heat, so I started to get cold. I was a mess.
As I got close to the 10-miler marker, I spotted a gas station in the distance. It was off the course a bit, but I didn’t care. I ran off, and went inside. The attendant already knew why I was there and pointed to the restroom before I even finished saying hello.
I felt so much better after that. I got back on the course and ran at a decent pace until the end. The snow had picked up mid-way through the race and was coming down steadily during those last three miles.
At one point a snow truck came behind me, trying to plow the street, and I had to jump out of his way. Also, because I was running with my mouth open, I inhaled and choked on some snowflakes. It didn’t bother me too much though. I felt totally renewed after the bathroom stop.
The last few miles were along the frozen Long Island Sound. It was actually kind of pretty with the snow falling. As soon as I finished and received my medal though, I headed back to the car right away. There was no hanging out — I’m not sure if there were even any post-race festivities.
Overall, the race was as organized as it could be given the situation. It was hard to see the course because of the snow, but the security guards and volunteers did the best they could to direct runners.
I don’t think I would do this race again. I don’t think I am going to do any more races in northern states before June again. Too cold.
The rest of Saturday
I headed back to the hotel for a hot shower.
Afterwards, Janine and I went to downtown New Haven for lunch at one of her favorite Thai restaurants, Thai Taste. It was a cute little place—dim lighting, Southeast Asian décor, incense wafting through the air. The food was pretty good.
After lunch, she gave me a tour of her alma mater, Yale, which is a situated within the city. The university has gorgeous Collegiate Gothic architecture — I love the doorways and staircases in the residential colleges. We visited her residential college, Saybrook, and was even able to slip inside after a few students exited (a key is normally needed to enter).
After the tour, we visited Yale University Art Gallery, the oldest university art museum in the country. It has an impressive collection, and apparently offers lectures and tours as well. We browsed some American paintings, the Asian and African art, and the special exhibition.
Janine and I swung by the Yale bookstore for some hoodies and t-shirts after the gallery, and then popped into Claire’s Corner Copia for some Lithuanian coffee cake. She was insistent upon me trying it. It was delicious. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of it.) We brought the cake back to the hotel to eat and relax until dinner. Not going to lie: I was pretty exhausted by that point. The race in the snow had worn me out, and all I wanted to do was lie in bed (and eat coffee cake).
We headed back into town a few hours later for dinner at a sushi place called, Miso. The restaurant was a little overpriced for being in a college town, but the food was decent. Afterward, we checked out a cool contemporary jazz bar/lounge called Firehouse 12. It was a small space. I liked the atmosphere a lot. I had the Ghandi-Bot Double IPA from New Brewing Company—tasty. We stayed for just a drink and then headed back to the hotel for a movie and bed (“Gone Girl” – enjoyed both the book and the movie!).
We were up early on Sunday. She and I wanted to have breakfast at The Pantry, a popular little spot outside of downtown New Haven. We heard that lines sometimes went out the door, so we decided to try to beat the rush.
We packed up, checked out of the hotel, and drove over. We made it just in time! There were a handful of tables left when we arrived at around 8:45ish. Mid-way through our meal, we noticed that there was indeed a line snaking out the door.
She had blueberry pancakes, and I had the egg Florentine sandwich. Pretty good. Not sure if it’s line-out-the-door good, but maybe… The drive home was much faster than the drive there, thank goodness. It took us 4.5 hours to get back—the satisfying breakfast and smooth drive made for a nice ending to a great weekend.
Name: Savin Rock Half Marathon
Date: March 21, 2015
Race day weather: 30s F, cold and snowy
Race start time: 8 a.m. ET
Course description: Flat in the beginning, hillier in the second half — hard to see the course because it was snowing
Race organization: Pretty organized given the weather conditions
Finish time: 2:35:03
Gas: About $45 – split with Janine, so $23
Tolls: About $50 – split with Janine, so $25
Hotel: $250 – split with Janine, so $125
Food and drinks: About $75
Total = $308