Saratoga Palio Half Maration Recap & TOTR

2008 Saratoga Palio Poster (Palio!) Tags: race poster memorial compassion run promotional legacy scholarship palio halfmarathon 5k fund mentalhealthcare melaniemerolaodonnell

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 – 7:45 am

Half Marathon Training

Training?  What’s that?  Only kidding… I tried to get in all my double digit runs.  Only one took place after a race. Being unemployed helped.  I was able to do some of my long runs on a Monday and not mess up boating time with the hubby.

During the week, I always ran 3 times and usually for 3-4 miles.  No drills…just plain running.  Sometimes alone but many times this year with a friend.  The ones with a friend were my better runs.

And then during my LAST run, I fell. Hard! I landed on my right shoulder and my knees.  (My left knee hurt worse though the right but the right bled more than the left…go figure!.)  I was pretty sore for the next two days.  I wondered if I would be able to run.  But you know me. If I would run with a broken foot and a stress fracture, I would run with a sore shoulder and knee. The question being how much would it affect my running.

Pre-Race Preparations

Runners start the race in downtown Saratoga Springs along Broadway Avenue, and from there they head south down along Broadway toward Saratoga Spa Park. From there, they spend the next few miles of the race running through the park’s roads and trails. Later, the course heads north along Nelson Avenue all the way back into downtown, and next brings runners north up into the finish line in Congress Park.

I was told that the course had changed recently.  It used to be much more scenic and you would run around the race track and near Skidmore College.  Now, it is mostly in the park so they don’t have to worry about road closures. (*In reading some blogs & FB, I found out that they changed the course this year and it is hillier but favorably received.)

Anyway, below is a map of the course:


More importantly this was the elevation:


Yup.  I see some hills but compared to VCM, Lake George and Celebrate Life, this is nothing!

I decided to wear what I wore at a previous 5k but added compression socks and changed to an orange hat (had to match the Palio colors, right?)


this SkirtSports skirt is one of my fav and the top is old but comfy.

The weather was predicted to be cool but HUMID with a strong chance of rain and maybe thunderstorms.

Rain is not my favorite weather to run in.  It also ruins both the pre and post race activities. And humidity is the worst.  But you can’t control the weather.


a rainy race in Saratoga – but at least I only ran the 5k

To save time on race morning and to scope out the parking situation, I drove up the day before and picked up my race packet.  There’s a parking lot in front of the hotel and a block from the start.  I was planning to park there again on race day.


long sleeved tech shirt but uni-sex so it is big!

There was supposed to an expo but there’s wasn’t much of anything.  I just bought some Gu and went for a walk down Broadway.


There was a 50% off coupon in our race packet so I just had to…

Then I walked to Congress Park and I met up with a friend.  We chatted for a while and then I walked back to my car and headed home.

Saratoga, esp. Broadway is one of my favorite places to stroll. And the weather was perfect. (Too bad the race wasn’t on Saturday instead of Sunday.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Race Day

I got up early (like 5:00 am) and had my usual race breakfast of cream of wheat and tea. It was nice to sleep in my own bed before a big race (although I really didn’t sleep well…as usual.)

I left around 5:45 am and it was POURING!!!!!!  I was thinking that this weather would make for a very uncomfortable 13.1 miles!  It was supposed to be cool out but it was already almost 70 degrees.

As I got closer to Saratoga, the rained had virtually stopped.

I parked in the same location as the day before.

As I pulled into the parking lot, Jenn, the organizer of STEM pulled in, as well.  So we walked up the start together since we both thought that there were restrooms in the Convention Center.  There are but it wasn’t open yet so we walked back to the hotel and used them there.


I must have been optimistic that the sun would come out. It didn’t until the race was over. So I never wore those sunglasses LOL

It was early so we had plenty of time.  Then we walked back to the start and waited for the race to begin. It was drizzling on and off but nothing to worry about it.

I bumped into so many people that I knew.  Some running the 5k like Holly and Tom and many running the half.  I was looking for my running buddy Alyssa but never found her.


with my goofy friend Tom

Soon it was time for the crowd of 1200 or so to take off.


photo from FB

A lot of the race is a blur but here’s how I remember it:

Miles 1-4:

9:19, 9:39, 9:38, 9:52

I was planning to run a consistent pace of around 10mm but as you can see, I started out too fast. Everyone was passing me by.  I kept wondering how they could run so fast at the beginning of a half marathon.

The Saratoga Palio run was held in Saratoga Springs on ...

photo from the Gazette

The course started us running down Broadway.  It was a slight incline but nothing too bad.  Then we  headed down Route 9 (So)  until we turned around at Crescent Ave and headed back on Rte 9 the same way.  There was a water stop around mile 2 and I walked.  I walked through ALL the water stops. Next we turned and ran around the backside of the park and eventually down Avenue of the Pines. At this point, the rain had started again but it felt good. It was sooo humid!

I was feeling very strong in the early miles. There were mile markers at every mile and a clock at the 5k, 10K, and 15k points . I think my 5k time was around 29 minutes.

My quilting friend/runner, Terry’s son and daughter were also running the race.  Her son Jeff was pushing someone in a carriage.  I tried to keep them in my sight.  I was hoping to catch up and say hello.

Miles 5-8:

10:09, 9:50, 10:08, 9:56

We continued to run around the park for the next few miles. Finally around mile 5.5 there was the 2nd water stop.  Here I walked and took a GU. I still felt good and my 10K time was about 1:01. At the halfway point, my time was about 1:03. That, of course, put PR thoughts in my head.  I tried to dismiss them but they wouldn’t go away! There was another water stop around mile 8 so I walked and took one more GU.

I lost Jeff but caught up with Terry’s daughter, Kelly. We chatted for a bit and she proceeded to tell me that her mom Terry was being pushed in the stroller because she had a stress fracture.  I was shocked plus he was running so fast.  She said that he was practicing because he was going to be pushing his father (who has MS) in the MCM marathon in a few weeks. Amazing!

Miles 9-12:

10:37, 10:29, 10:33, 9:50

We were still running around the park.  Here is where things started to get ugly.  My back was getting achy and my feet were starting to hurt.  But the pain was still bearable.  At mile 9, we hit the biggest hill of the race.  I started to run up it but then decided that it was too late in the race for that and walked/ran it. There continued to be smaller but annoying hills after that.  My 15k time had slowed down to 1:33.

Soon we exited the park, ran down Rte 9. Around mile 10, my nose started to run. Nope, it was a BLOODY NOSE!!!! Did I have tissues? Nope!  So I kept running and wiping it with one arm, then the other.  Sorry if I am grossing you out.  It wouldn’t stop bleeding so I had to keep stopping to wipe it with my shirt.  (Good thing I wore than old shirt and not an expensive one.)  I kept running but I had to run with my head up and I probably wasn’t breathing right because soon I got a side stitch.

After Rte 9, we headed back into the park and down Avenue of the Pines, past the baths and finally out of the park for good. We crossed Rte 9 and ran down Crescent Ave, turned onto Jefferson, then onto Circular, and finally Spring St. where we could hear that we were getting close to the finish line.

Thankfully, my nose stopped bleeding by the end mile 12 and my side stitch went away.  At this point, I just wanted to be done. I walked and took my last GU and tried to pick up speed (but there wasn’t much left in the tank.)

Mile 13-14:

10:08, 8:27

It seemed like the finish line would never come.  And one more hill at the end.  Not fun!  I think I ran up it and tried through sprint through the finish line.  The clock read 2:11:xx and I wanted to at least beat 2:12.

Gun Time: 2:12:01
Chip Time: 2:11:56

Post Race:

I got my medal (and a bumper sticker) and immediately went to find a rest room to wash off the blood from my face and arms. I looked like a zombie.  (Now you know why you do not see any finisher pictures here!)


Then I went to get some food.  There was a pretty nice spread – bananas. muffins, cookies, pizza, etc.  I ate it all.

I also bumped into Terry and her family. She was pretty bummed about her injury and  having to miss so many races (Ragnar, MCM and several others).


Next I checked the results on their computer.


I was a little disappointed to not get an age group award.  I was getting used to always winning them. However, I didn’t realize at the time that they had listed Terry as finishing 2nd in the same age group.  She didn’t run but was pushed so technically I did win 3rd place!!

After chatting with some other runners, I walked back to my car to change out of my sweaty bloody shirt. Since they gave a coupon for free beer and food at a local bar called Druthers, I decided to check it out.


I’m not a beer drinker but free is free. They also had mac n cheese and cheese burgers and a band playing.  I hung out for a little while since there were some runners that I knew.

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • No hard rain.
  • Close enough to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • Organized packet pick-up
  • Real bathrooms before and after the race.
  • Dry place to wait before the race.
  • Lots of familiar and friendly faces.
  • Enthusiastic volunteers.
  • Scenic course esp. through the park.
  • No major injuries. (just a nose bleed – it’s always something!)
  • Immediate race results from a computer.
  • Nice selection of refreshments – the pizza and muffins were delish.
  • Free beer & food at a local bar.
  • Had my second best half marathon finish time ever.

The Bad:

  • No bag check and the start and end were in different places.
  • Big Hill at mile 9.
  • Hill right before the finish line.

The Ugly:

  • Bloody Nose and no tissues.

So there are way more positives than negatives!!! Overall, it was a great race.  I loved it!.

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Yes. Yes.  I don’t usually repeat half marathons but if I did, I would run this one again.

Final Stats:


I definitely slowed down as the race went on.  I always do.  Miles 6-10 were about 3 minutes slower than miles 1-5. Miles 11-13 were even slower.  Nevertheless, I was very happy with how I ran the race.  I felt stronger than I have in a half marathon in a long time.  All my split times were 9  or 10 mm.  Nothing slower!! I was only 2 minutes slower than my PR in January 2015.  I had given up hope of having a fast half.  I thought my PR was a fluke since all my other recent half marathon finish times have been between 2:17 and 2:35.  So now if I could run a flat half in cool temps with no injuries…just maybe?

Next Up:

A few 5ks and then another half marathon.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

I’ve never done one so close in time. 3 weeks apart! Yikes!

But I’m looking forward nice fall weather and enjoying my races/runs.

And since it’s Tuesday, I’m linking up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life


Today’s Topic is: Best Running Advice.

Image result for running is mental

This is what I got from my No Boundaries Mentor when I first started running:

“When it comes to doing your best, it’s the thoughts that count. When it comes to running – or any other endurance sport – your mind can be your biggest asset or your worst enemy. Enjoying your training and achieving your best performances is not simply down to physical conditioning; your mental states and, particularly, the thoughts that run through your mind can affect the way you feel during exercise.”

Image result for running is mental

Happy Running!  Any advice for running two halfs close together?  Ever had a bloody nose during a race?





18 thoughts on “Saratoga Palio Half Maration Recap & TOTR

  1. Yikes on the looking like a zombie! But it sounds like you had a good race in spite of the nose bleed. The post race food and beer at the local bar is a really nice perk. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a race do that.


  2. oh my, darlene!! I have never had a bloody nose during a race, no, but I have had a very runny nose, had no tissues and… you guessed it, used my shirt to sort it out! as for advise on running halfs so close together… I’m not so sure we should hahahahaha! BUT…I think if you just kind of keep up your mileage you’ll be fine. You could do a mini tapering where you run this week a long run of 7 miles, next week 9 or 10 and then the week before 7 again your legs should be ready to do 13. But, what do I know? 😀 I’m a horrible example. I’ve even done two marathons with 2 weeks in between (not recommended).


  3. I did do those 2 halfs in May last year. Really, you just have to keep up with your long runs — you’re already all trained up.

    A lot of people from my group, which basically I won’t be able to get to again, I think, were there. It’s a popular one. I still have my sights set on wineglass maybe next year. With friends.


  4. Congrats on the AG award Darlene! Yowza, I’d never even thought about a bloody nose while running, that had to be a shock. You had a great time despite it. If you have another half in 3 weeks, cut next week’s long run to 8, then 10 then the half. You’ll be fine.


  5. Sounds like a great race, minus the bloody nose ! The way the post started, I was expecting to read you ran in the pouring rain. Glad to know that held off. And congrats on your performance !


  6. Pingback: Ramblefest Half Marathon Race Recap & TOTR – My First 5K and More…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.