Half Marathon Training
I’ve never run two half marathons so close together.
I ran the Saratoga Palio three weeks ago. So did I really need to train?
So I just added some extra miles to the two 5k races that I ran on the weekends that proceeded the race.
These two runs would have do as my long runs. I ran my usual 3-4 miles several times during the week.
This is a first annual race so I knew nothing about the course or the race.
This is what the website had to say:
Organized by the Berkshire Running Center, the first annual RambleFest Half Marathon will be held along the beautiful Ashuwillticook Trail from Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough, to the Visitors Center in Adams.
Not much help.
So I reached out to FB friends who ran the Steel Rail Half Marathon last May. The Steel Rail is supposed to have the same course. Here’s what they said:
- I loved it. Nice flat, downhill course.
- The course is great!
- Loved the course! It’s fast!
I found some more info by searching online for reviews of the Steel Rail half. Here’s one:
The course is wonderful. It runs point-to-point from Lanesborough to Adams. It starts with two loops around the Berkshire Mall (both of which seem downhill all the way; I haven’t figured that out yet), then goes onto the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail for ten miles. The scenery is lovely. If you’re not trying to hold pace by fixating on the feet of the guy in front of you like I was, you can enjoy views of Mt. Greylock, lakes, and woods. And by the time you’re really hurting at mile ten, the trail starts gently sloping downhill, for real. If you want a half marathon PR, this is the course…
Amenities included easy parking, plenty of porta-potties, a post-race massage tent, food, and beer. The tech race shirt was nice and offered women’s sizing. Prizes ran deep; Kent gave out generous checks for the top three overall winners and the top three masters, plus merchandise from his running store, Berkshire Running Center in downtown Pittsfield, for the top three age group winners… After the ceremony, buses delivered participants back to the start. I’d highly recommend this race…
You also get a hoodie if you run both races. (Next year!?)
I had not been particularly excited about this race but after reading this review, I was looking forward to it.
I had decided to wear what I wore at a previous 10k race but then changed my mind and wore my Brooklyn Half shirt (from exactly a year ago) with a throwaway and DIY arm warmers.
The weather was predicted to be cool and breezy with a chance of rain.
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.
Although Saturday was my catch up day with doing stuff around the house, since I would be off on Monday, I decided to take a ride to Pittsfield, MA to pickup my bib. Race packet pick up was at a running store so in addition to getting my race shirt & bib, I bought a pair of socks. We got two plastic strips to hang off our hips for the timing. Interesting. After I left the store, I stopped and had a nice lunch in town.
Probably not the best idea in the world but that night, the night before the race, I invited a co-worker to go see the speaker at my college Reunion Weekend.
We also had dinner together beforehand. Pizza, of course!
It was a really good show but it didn’t end until after 10 pm. Needless to say, I didn’t get enough sleep before my big race.
The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am. I was happy about the late start.
According to Google, it should have taken about 1h 15 to get there. So I got up about 6 am and left my house at 7:15 am because I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going.
My GPS took me on the back roads and it was a really gorgeous ride. Unfortunately, it rained on and off during my ride which made me nervous. I didn’t want to run another half marathon in the rain.
I got there plenty early. The race started in the parking lot of the Berkshire Shopping Mall. Easy to get to and lots of parking.
Since the race ended in Adams, MA, they gave you a bag to check stuff which would be available at the finish line. Very convenient. I packed flip flops, sweat pants and a jacket in it.
I did some knitting while I was waiting. It was too cold to wait outside my car….around 50 and windy and damp. Brrrr!
Soon Alyssa arrived and we shivered together until it was time to line up to start the race.
9:15, 9:29, 9:16, 10:07
Alyssa and I decided to run together. I had never run a race with someone else but I was willing to try. I thought that it would be fun to have someone to chat with to pass the time and make the miles less painful.
The starting line was in the parking lot. I wasn’t sure if there were chip timing or gun timing (Still not.) We didn’t start as close to the front as I usually do, though.
For the first two miles, you ran around the parking lot. I had decided to ditch my cotton shirt but left on my DIY warm warmers. And it was windy and I was freezing!!!
We realized pretty quickly that we were running too fast but decided to keep it up as long as we could.
After mile 2, we left the parking lot and entered the trail. The trail was less windy and I wasn’t as cold.
I was running at a decent pace and was in the zone and all of a sudden, I realized that Alyssa was no longer next to me. I wasn’t sure if she was behind me or in front of me. I usually finish races faster than her but when we run together for training runs, she is much faster.
I thought I saw someone ahead with an orange shirt. But as it turns out, she was behind me.
A little after we entered the trail, there was the first water stop. I always stop at ALL water stops during a half marathon and even though I wasn’t warm or thirsty, I did so during this race as well.
The trail was beautiful. I wish I could have gotten out my phone from my race belt more easily so I could have taken some photos. The leaves had changed and there were views of the mountains, streams and even a lake.
My biggest problem (and it’s always something) was than my ankle (the one that has 8 screws and a plate in it from surgery almost 4 years ago) was throbbing. It has never hurt like this while running before. It was probably from the dampness and that this is the first cold run (During my last run, it was almost 80 degrees.) It hurt a lot and I wished that I had some ibuprofen.
There another water stop at almost mile 4 and I took my first Gu and walked for a while. However, my ankle hurt just as much while walking. In addition, the bottom of my foot started to hurt (like at the Asbury Park Half). Still I felt strong, I tried to ignore both discomforts.
I just focused on the scenery.
9:39, 9:55, 10:21, 9:41
We continued on the same trail and I wasn’t as chilled anymore. I even rolled down my DIY arm warmers. My nose was running from the cold and I kept worrying that it was another nosebleed but that never happened 🙂 (I did bring tissues and tucked them under my shorts but they fell out… I did have those arm warmers LOL)
Then all of a sudden, maybe around mile 6, at another water stop, my ankle and foot stopped hurting. WTF?
I also realized that I was ahead of my time from the Palio Half.
Should I start thinking PR?
Nah! Anything can and usually does happen during the second half of a half marathon.
Around mile 7, I started getting hungry but had to wait until mile 8 for a water stop to eat my 2nd GU.
10:25, 10:07, 9:55, 9:52
Still on the trail but remember that forecast? Around mile 8 or 9, it started raining lightly.
Throughout the course, the road was covered with wet leaves but now it was getting even more slippery.
Then it started raining harder. It wasn’t so bad because the trees were acting as an umbrella. But the weather was getting chilly again.
My back was now starting to ache. It always does toward the end of a race so I tried to watch my form and ignore it.
A little past mile 9, there was the next to last water stop. I still walked through it even though it could have ended my PR hopes.
I always doubt my strength to finish strong as well as not wanting to push myself too hard and result in an injury.
The rain lessened and at the last water stop, I decided against taking my last GU and just walked only a short bit.
Yes, I decided that I wanted that PR!!!
Finally we left the trail. The race ended with a series of 2 left hand turns. We turned left onto Hoosac St. and left onto Depot St. and the finish line was on Depot St. in front of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to PR. My Garmin was sometimes right on with the mile markers and other times way off.
As I made the last turn, somebody yelled, “You can beat that guy.” They meant the guy in front of me.
I gave it everything I had but didn’t even come close.
I did, however, cross under 2:09 and IT WAS A PR!!!!!!!!!!! (My previous PR was 2:09:40 in January 2015.)
Gun or Chip Time: 2:08:59
Garmin Time: 2:08:47
I got my medal, some water and a banana and went to wait for Alyssa.
She didn’t finish much after me and she got a PR too!
We were both happy with our times. But it was raining harder and we were freezing. We decided to forgo the cold beer and get something to eat.
The race ended at a big festival (Ramblefest) with music, craft booths, many food booths, pumpkin carving for kids, etc. Too bad the weather was so lousy.
With our food ticket, we could get anything that cost $3 for free. Believe it or not, we could have had a hamburger, chili, hot dog, sausage, fried dough but we both chose grilled cheese. And it was yummy!
While we were waiting for the results, we hung out in front of a big bonfire. That felt so good!
Neither one of us did win anything. They gave out cash for top awards and gift cards to the running store for AG awards. I came in 5th and the 4 women ahead of me were each 60 years old. (If it were last year, I would have won!)
So we headed toward the buses. We just missed the bus to return to the shopping center where we left our cars and there was going to be 40 minute wait for the next one. But the bus that brought the bags decided to take us all. By this point, I was numb and even my jacket and pants didn’t warm me up.
As soon we got back to our cars, we headed to Target to get something HOT to drink.
Even with my tired legs, I managed to spend $160 in the store. (Remember I hadn’t gotten my grocery shopping done the day before.)
I know when you run a long race, you are supposed to take an ice bath but I never do. I headed straight to my hot tub!!!!
Additional race reflections:
- Close enough to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before.
- Organized packet pick-up.
- Lots of parking and easy to locate.
- Real bathrooms after the race.
- Running a race with a friend.
- Enthusiastic volunteers (even in the rain – bugle, bag pipes, music)
- Scenic course especially with the fall foliage and water views.
- No major injuries. (just ankle and foot pain – it’s always something!)
- Nice selection of refreshments.
- The festival post race was nice (and would have been even better if the sun came out.)
- The bonfire was essential with the day’s weather.
- PRed!! Woot! Woot!
- The two laps around the parking lot were boring. (It did save the expense of closing roads to make up the 13.1 miles)
- It was cold and rainy!!
- No race photos
- Nothing really.
It was a great race. I loved it! I would have enjoyed it even if I didn’t get a PR! But that made it just sweeter. Too bad, the sun couldn’t have come out!!!
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. I’m in luck. The same course can be run in May: The Steel Rail Half Marathon.
And I felt so good the next day that I climbed up a mountain.
A few 5ks and 10ks, a 15k and then another half marathon.
And since it’s Tuesday, I’m linking up with these wonderful ladies:
Today’s Topic is: Taper quirks/cravings/rituals
I don’t think I do anything weird before my big races but here’s what I always do:
- I do my last run 2 days before my half marathon. In other words, I leave TWO days with no running at all.
- I carb load the night before – I usually eat pizza.
- I make sure I have the right breakfast food for the morning of – tea & cream of wheat hot cereal.
- I set out my outfit (and all other items such as race belt, gps watch, fuel, etc.) the night before (and if it is a destination race, bring clothes for warmer or colder temps than predicted). If I am flying, I pack my running stuff in my carry on not my checked luggage.
- I figure out in advance the race logistics – where to park, is there bag check, when I can pick up my bib, where the race starts & finishes, etc.
- I scope out online race reviews to see what others have said about the race.
- I do something fun the day before to take my mind off the race.
Happy Running! What do you do when you taper? Anything crazy?