I love to race and this one sounded interesting last year so I signed up. It was lots of fun but the first 1 1/2 miles were very challenging (I apparently blocked out the hills during the rest of the race.)
Here is the course map. You can see what I mean about the long early hill..
I wasn’t sure if I was up to running it again but my friend Sue said she had signed up and also my VT friend AJH expressed an interest in running it. So you know me, it didn’t take much persuading for me to sign up as well.
The race is not nearby – about an hour 50 minutes and you have to be on time since you take the train to the race start.
I asked my friend whose house is not too far away (in Chestertown) if I could stay there and she agreed. It would be about an hour closer so I didn’t have to get up as early. But the forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms so I decided instead to stay home and get up early the next day.
I woke up at 4:30 to pouring rain. I seriously contemplated a DNS. But I didn’t. And I am glad that I ignored the weather forecast
It was easy to get to North Creek Railroad Station and didn’t take as long as anticipated. And the rain stopped!!! So I got there very early and parked in a parking lot next to the finish line.
It was already in the 70s and very humid when I arrived. But I was thrilled that it was not raining…
I picked my race packet (a cotton shirt, a bib, your train ticket and a raffle ticket) and walked around waiting for Sue and AJH.
I found both of them. Sue was working at registration so I hung around with AJH.
There were REAL restrooms in the gift shop and a lot of interesting things to read and look at.
Finally everyone arrived and we lined up to get on the train.
I spotted Maureen whom I met at the Shape Half in NYC. It was cool to see her again and catch up. (She said that she had not run since but I knew that she would be speedy anyway… and she was.)
And then we sat and waited and waited. The train was supposed to leave at 8 am but it didn’t until about 8:20 and they even had a bus for the late arrival runners.
The ride was really scenic. It was an interesting experience taking the train to the start line of a race.
The train ride was along the Hudson River the whole way.
Finally we arrived at the next station – Riparius.
We walked around and finally headed to the bridge where the race would begin.
Finally everyone got to the start. I started with AJH and Sue. The train whistle blew and off we went.
The train gave us a head start and then it took off with the friends and families of the runners.The goal was to beat the train. I knew that I would not and I also knew that since I don’t train on hills, it would be not be an easy race for me. Plus I was a little nervous about my ankle (which had been painful on the previous Monday and Tuesday)
The best case scenario would a course PR (faster than 1:28:54) and maybe win an age group award again. But my real goal was really just to finish pain-free and enjoy the run.
And that’s what I did.
The first mile and 1/2 was a STEEP uphill. First on asphalt and then on dirt. I attempted to run but decided that I would be better off walking. Everyone that was running was struggling. So I ran a little but mostly walked.
There was someone called out times at every mile. I was hoping to get my pace to between 10 and 11 and keep it there even if I walked the hills.
That uphill eventually turned into a downhill but after that it was just rolling hills. They never ended. (How could I have forgotten them??) They weren’t steep or as long except for maybe 2 more steepish ones (The one between mile 5 and 6 was so steep. I could barely walk up it.) That meant there were only 2 more steep downhills.
But because you were running on dirt with rocks, you couldn’t take advantage of the downhills as much as you would have liked. (I always fear a face plant.)
But my walk/run strategy on the hills seemed to work. Those running passed me on the uphill but then I passed them on the downhill. In the end, I was not as drained as they were. (Sweaty yes! It was SOOOO humid!)
The scenery was nice as you ran through the woods (and listening to the train whistle until it passed you) and toward the end, you could see the river. Eventually, you had to run through town in order to finish at the train station.The good news is that my ankle never hurt. I didn’t get blisters and I never felt tired. I didn’t push myself and as a result could enjoy the race. (Of course, part of me wished I had enough endurance to run up those hills but I know my legs would have been dead by the end if I did and I didn’t want to risk straining my ankle tendon.) In hindsight, I think I could have run more and walked less.. But who knew???
I had no time goals but I estimated that I would finish around 1:30:xx and I finished at 1:28:27. I was thrilled!!It was a course PR!!!!
I had some food (bagels, fruit, pastries) but the highlight was chocolate milk and then I waited around for the awards while trying to be creative with my medal.
Last year I won my age group but this year I was 3rd. (Sue was too!) I was happy!!! It always depends on who shows up whether or not I win…
After the awards, they gave away raffle prizes but none of us won any.
All in all, a very challenging yet fun race. I think I’ll do it again (since I’ll probably block out any memory of those hills LOL)
My HILLY Splits:
mile 1 – 10:51
mile 2 – 10:55
mile 3 – 9:06
mile 4 – 10:15
mile 5 – 10:33
mile 6 – 11:52
mile 7 – 11:13
mile 8 – 11:00
.4 – 8:03
Afterwards, I stopped to visit the friend whose house I was supposed to sleep at the previous night. She was there with a friend and they wanted to go hiking. I decided I might as well before the DOMS set in. So we drove back to North Creek and found a hike at Gore Mountain. We chose the shortest and easiest one – 2.1 miles to a reservoir.
We never found the reservoir but saw a lot of pretty mushrooms and waterfalls. It was so much fun!! And we stopped on the way home for ice cream!!
A pretty perfect day – racing, hiking, ice cream – all done with friends!!
Happy Running! Ever race a train?