Monday, May 12, 2014

Providence, RI.... the real Windy City

Tiny lighthouse in Providence Harbor
Living in Chicago, you might think that I'm used to wind.  Well, I might be used to it, but that doesn't mean I  like it.  And I certainly do not like it when I'm trying to run a marathon.  On May 4th, I ran the Cox Providence Rhode Races Marathon, and while there were inklings of rain in the forecast, the rain held off and it was a sunny 60ish degree day.  But there was the wind.  Oh, the evil, evil wind.  Gusts were up to 45mph according to the National Weather Service.  And just like Chicago, no matter which way the course turned, it always seemed like it was blowing right at you.  Well, actually, for much of it it was blowing at me from the side, as we ran along the Providence Harbor where the wind was coming off of the water.  But at least you could smell the salt water and there was even a tiny lighthouse. (don't you just love the ocean smell?) 
Coastal homes

 To go along with that ocean smell, the course took us through a part of Rhode Island that certainly had the feel of being in a little harbor town.  If you've ever been to the small towns outside of Boston, a little bit of that feel.

I arrived in Providence in the late afternoon before the race and had some time to walk around the downtown area.  Speaking of races, I had some difficulty finding a bar with a t.v. so I could catch the Kentucky Derby.  I did find a small burger bar that was airing it on the one TV in the whole place, and I caught it just in time to see my horse Chitu loose the $5 I bet on him.  (insert sad trombone here). 

Back to sightseeing...  After walking around a bit, heading across the river towards the Brown University campus, I noticed that I was walking primarily uphill...and a steep ones at that.  I began to develop this sense of dread about the following day, not realizing at the time that the course did not head that direction.  (woo hoo!!)  So fortunately my hill climbing was limited to sightseeing, which was fine by me.  By the way, visiting the Brown campus made me feel incredibly old and of course made me wonder, did I act that ridiculous when I was in college? Wait..yes I'm sure I did.  It was nice to see though that even the Ivy Leagues are not devoid of vomiting college students on a warm Saturday afternoon. 

Old courthouses, old bank; new capital
Fleur de Lys (upper left) Circa 1885 and Victorian style houses
One thing Providence has a lot of are old Victorian houses, and old government buildings that reminded me of being in London.  (I guess they don't call it New England for nothing).  And a bit of trivia, Providence is home to the First Baptist Church in America!  Circa 1638.  Old. 

Providence is also home to an old historic art deco-styled movie theater, the Avon Cinema.  I had already seen the movie showing there (The Grand Budapest Hotel) so I didn't take in the movie, but it reminded me a bit of the Logan Theater for those of you familiar with Chicago (which is coincidentally where I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel).

Old baptist church; Asian food fest; Avon Cinema; Riverwalk
The area just east of downtown was fairly lively, probably because it's proximity to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.  There was an Asian food fest sponsored by students that had an insanely long line to get in (or I might have tried it) and that area also has a nice little river walk area.  I had dinner at a place called New Rivers, which I'd recommend.  Diner Alert: Don't get the appetizer portion of the pasta thinking, "Oh, I'll just order this because I don't want to eat a whole giant portion of pasta."  The real portion of pasta is actually a normal portion and the appetizer portion is...well, a true appetizer portion.  The server put it in front of me and my first thought was, well, where should I go eat after this?  Fortunately I had also ordered a salad, so I ended up satisfied.

The day after the race I ended up visiting the Swan Point Cemetery.  For some reason, I am always a big fan of cemeteries.  Maybe it's because they are always so peaceful and quiet. They have majestic monuments, and there is always a lot of fresh flowers, and who doesn't love that? Swan Point Cemetery is pretty huge and rumor has it, has security guards who get angry if you take photos.  I will attest to the fact that they do have security guards and, while no one yelled at me for taking photos, the security guard was driving around the grounds like a mad man.  A little fast for a cemetery where people are walking around and trying to reflect upon stuff, if you ask me.  

After the cemetery, I decided to visit the Federal Hill neighborhood.  It definitely had a different vibe than other parts of the city.  Some really cool architecture, but it seemed a bit rundown.  I ran into an older gentleman in a popular plaza (well, in the summer it apparently is a little more lively).  He informed me that I shouldn't wander too far from that area.  Oops, already had been wandering around in the parts where he told me not to go!
Federal Hill

Overall, I enjoyed Providence and would love to revisit Rhode Island to take in some of the beaches.  After all, it is the Ocean State!  The race was a good course, but if you are a person who needs a LOT of crowd support, maybe not the best one for you.  And with that, race number 19 is complete!  Looking forward to a short break before starting to train for my next race in the fall.  Number 20 isn't 100% decided yet, but I'm thinking the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Utah.  Mostly downhill! Weeeeee!  (but how do you train for that in a flat city?)