The Newport Bridge Run always intrigued me. It looked like such a unique experience, even though it began at sunrise and required shuttles to get to the starting line. Every year, I would see updates about the race and social media posts from friends who completed it or went in support of another runner. While I longed to be part of it, I never really thought it would be something I’d achieve. At a Blackstone Boulevard 5k over the summer, we decided to sign up for the Bridge Run. While it seemed like a great idea at the time, each time I drove over the bridge after signing up, I questioned that decision.
Of all the races I’ve run, this is the one that made me the most nervous. I could barely get myself to sleep the night before. That morning, I could not bring myself to eat, forcing down a breakfast bar on the drive to Newport. Being a self-proclaimed “precrastonator,” I planned to get there twenty minutes early. When I arrived, the parking situation was a nightmare. After wasting ten minutes roaming a full parking lot, I managed to find a spot up the street. Now, I was worried because I was late.
I managed to sit next to the most delightful lady on the bus ride over the bridge. She was a kind British lady who lived in Newport and walked this race several times. “My friends and I walk it. They give you an hour on the bridge. If we need an escort off, then that’s what we do.” We made small talk. Usually, I am not a chit-chat with strangers on transportation kind of person. On this occasion, it calmed my nerves.
3,000 other runners were waiting for the race to begin. As soon as I met up with my BRG friends, I knew I would be okay. As the sun rose over the ocean, I felt better an better about this experience. We made our way to the twelve-minute mile group, doubtful that we would stay at that pace up the steep incline of the bridge.
The race was definitely one of the high points on my running journey! (Yes, that pun was intended!) The energy of the crowd was supportive. The smiles from volunteers and support personnel helped me through. I loved some of the quirky smiles from bridge workers, seeming amazed that we would get to Newport at 6am with the intention of running over this tall, long bridge.
While running, I chatted with one of my favorite BRGers, Meghan. We instantly clicked and spent most sessions chatting. During BRG training, we ran twice a week, filling the time with silly stories and laughter. My friendship with Meghan is one of my favorite rewards of joining BRG. Early on in training, we made a few running goals:
- To look like we are enjoying ourselves while running
- become BRG pacers and pay it forward (Our pacers got us through some tough nights.)
- Run a 10K
- Run a half-marathon
We reflected on our goals while running the bridge, making a point to smile whenever we saw photographers. We easily laughed our way through this run.
One of my favorite takeaways of BRG is the friendships. In fourteen weeks, we transformed from a group of strangers with individual goals, to friends who cared about each other, pushing and supporting through goals. We managed to stay in touch through running. It’s great to be able to pick up right where we left off. Since we chat through our runs, we got to know each other fairly well. I’m thankful to have a running buddy to share progress and vulnerabilities. We remind each other how far we’ve come and that we can achieve whatever goals we set for ourselves. Now that we’ve successfully completed a four-mile race, I know we can work our way up to a 10K and a half-marathon!