I was born in Falmouth and moved away when I was young. But I grew up vacationing on the Cape. As an adult, I visit there every summer and it has become one of my favorite places to visit.
I have always heard people speak about the Falmouth Road Race, especially when I am there visiting. I see runners wearing the gear and running along the coastline – if you’re an ocean person, it’s like the perfect running course. I always wanted to run it, but I knew that it was difficult to get a bib. So, I continued to accept that as an easy excuse not to. But this year I wanted to run with the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.
JAF shares a parallel mission my own non-profit, Miss Pink. But JAF is not limited to one type of cancer, like Miss Pink. Miss Pink focuses efforts on breast cancer specifically. Whereas JAF supports all types of cancer. We have had to use JAF as a resource for our patients before; which I am beyond grateful for. Additionally, running for #TeamJAF was in honor of someone who shared the field with Joe Andruzzi himself. Tracy Sormanti, my cheer coach, who is a cancer survivor. She and Joe both embody the New England mentality of a champion. I wanted to train in honor of her and the mentality held by New England cancer survivors all over. It made training 10X more meaningful to me and Tracy even came out to cheer me on. On this course, every cheerleader makes a huge difference too.
So that leads me to my first tip:
Tip 1 // RUN IT FOR CHARITY
Part of the Falmouth Road Race mission is commitment to supporting and promoting local organizations with specific focus on youth athletics and programming that promotes health and wellness. The efforts of this race are backboned by community involvement and ongoing philanthropic endeavors that support charities like JAF. JAF provides help, hope and a reason to smile, for New England cancer patients and their families by contributing financial support when it is needed most.
When you know that there are people in greater need than yourself, it’s easy to find motivation. When you are raising money, while simultaneously training to run – each mile feels like people sponsored you per mile so you have to commit. You also have the ability to run; which not everyone does. Thinking about perspective and the bigger picture makes each step you take, a step with meaning.
Running with a charity also promotes accountability and team mentality. You have an organization that is counting on you, but also cheering you on. You also have teammates that are encouraging you throughout your training and during the race. With JAF, we were given all team New Balance running tanks and on the course, we would cheer each other on or high five each other along the course. It becomes an emotional connection and gave the race more meaning, at least for myself. I definitely hope to run for #TeamJAF next year!
Check out the charities that are participating and apply for a bib. I also think it’s one of your best chances to getting a number too.
Okay, so now on to more logistical tips.
Tip 2 // PLAN AHEAD
This is not the type of race you just show up for you. There are a lot of logistical things you want to be aware and prepared for.
Make sure you read ALL your emails and correspondence from NBFRR
ALSO, ALL correspondence from the charity you choose (please choose one)! JAF was great at engaging all of their runners and they really make me feel so prepared.
BOOK YOUR STAY
Everything in Falmouth books up fast and you want to be strategic with where you stay. The closer to the finish line, the better. This course isn’t a loop. It goes from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights and because of all the road closures, traffic and what not, it will make a world of a difference staying closer to Falmouth Heights as possible. It also helps when getting dropped off at the shuttle (which is at the Junior High School). Hotels will be expensive and will book up fast. Airbnb’s will likely be the same situation, but a better option if you are doing the race with a group of people.
There is a shuttle to the starting line. There is no getting past this. You have to use it and it can take a while to get on a shuttle, so bring breakfast and head there on the earlier side. I arrived at the Falmouth Junior High at 7 and got to Woods Hole around 7:30. This gave me enough time to meet my team, take pre-race photos, warm up and stretch.
MAKE LUNCH AND DINNER RESERVATIONS EARLY
Some places won’t accept reservations, but if they do – try to make them early. Call ahead and book as soon as you know where to go because everything books up fast.
Here are my favorite places to go while in the area:
Cape Cod Bagel Co: 419 Palmer Avenue Falmouth, MA
British Beer Company (best for post-race)
Being familiar with the area helped me with picking out the restaurants I wanted to go to, but what I was not prepared for was the Bib pick up at the Health and Fitness Expo.
TIP 3 // BIB PICK UP & HEALTH AND FITNESS EXPO
Saturday morning, I went to B/SPOKE Cape House for a runner’s stretch and yoga special that they offered. For $5 we got an amazing class that focused on opening up our hips, chest and muscles to prepare for the race. It was relaxing and I felt like it was just what I needed right before the race. After that class, I was excited to stop by the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up my gift bag and bib. What I did not anticipate was the traffic heading to the Lawrence High School (where the expo was being held) and the unavailability of parking spots.
It was PACKED. The expo opened up on Thursday night, and this was now Saturday morning. I had no idea what to expect, but I did not expect how busy it was. Vendors giving away free things, panels of elite athletes going on and autograph signings (thanks Tatyana McFadden, for signing my program! And congrats on winning)! New Balance was selling merchandise and other companies offering just about anything a runner could ever need.
It was exciting, but definitely overwhelming too. If I had to do it over, I wish I went to the expo first AND THEN went to the yoga/stretch class to unwind a little.
My tip for you, though, is to go there with the anticipation of it being overwhelming and to make the most of it. It is definitely fun and something to do with the entire family. I also recommend grabbing something from the New Balance Merchandise too, if you are a t-shirt race collector like me. You get a mug in your gift bag, so the t-shirt is worth grabbing.
TIP 4 // COURSE ADVICE
The course is not a loop. That may be my favorite part about the course – aside from the fact that it follows the coastline. You can’t beat the views. You also can’t beat the people cheering you on the entire route.
I’ve never been a part of a race that had SO many people along the entire 7 miles, cheering you on. Regardless of knowing a person or not, I had people yelling my name and giving me high fives which definitely helped with moral.
The first 3 miles will be the most challenging. Pace yourself there. Don’t go too fast too soon. The first 3 miles have the most number of hills, but after that it stays flat while you run along the beaches of Falmouth. You will have one major hill on the last mile, right before the finish line. It’s brutal, but the road is lined with people yelling, cheering and clapping for you. My best piece of advice is to either drive/bike the entire route before-hand or do what I did and run the last mile to get a feel for the physical demand of the last hill. That helped me pace myself along the last mile.
// RECAP //
This was one my favorite races I’ve ever run. You get to see and meet some really incredible athletes, enjoy a community that is beyond supportive and see some incredible sights. You make new friends, get invited to fun after-parties and become a part of a historical event. The New Balance Falmouth Road Race completed its 46th year and I hope to be a part of their 47th coming in 2019! Hope to see you there.
BIG SHOUT OUT TO ALL THOSE WHO SUPPORTED ME IN THIS JOURNEY! For all those who donated, I am extremely grateful!
Have you run FRR before? What are your thoughts? Do you think you’ll run it in 2019?