Saratoga Palio Half Marathon Recap

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

Sunday, Sept. 17, 2016 – 7:45 am

Ok, I broke all the rules here.  This is a repeat half marathon.  I’ve made it a practice to never repeat halfs. (only because there are so many to choose from…)

I did not plan on running this race. My runs had not been going well.

But I felt the need to race to lift my spirits.  It was too late to register for the Dunkin Run 5k, 10k or 15k. The HMRRC 2.5 or 5.9 was  on a really boring course so that left this race.

I could have registered for the 5k and just tacked on extra miles to count it as a long run but I just decided that an additional lonely solo 9 miles would not be any fun.

Besides, my running partner, Alyssa was running the half in hopes of a PR.  I could be there after the race to celebrate with her.

Half Marathon Training

Training? What’s that? Only kidding…

I tried to get in all my double digit runs on the weekends but they were intended to prepare for Wineglass which will take place two weeks later on October 1!!

The 11 miler was ok but the other two were downers.

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

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.

This was the new course from last year which I ran.  I remember there being hills but much of the race is a blur. It was raining during part of the race and I had a nosebleed during part of the race.

Anyway, below is a map of the course:


More importantly, this was the elevation:


Yup. There are some hills but compared to Lake George and Race the Train, this was nothing!

I decided to wear my normal half marathon outfit – tank, skirt, cap, compression socks. Although we had been blessed with cooler dry weather, this weekend was predicted to be warm and humid.

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 6:00 am and it was already 63 degrees and HUMID. I was thinking that this weather would make for a very uncomfortable 13.1 miles! (I was right!)

I tried to park in the same location as last year – the hotel parking lot but it was already full.  I did, however, get a close spot on the street.  Unlike last year, I didn’t drive up the day before and pick up my race packet. I picked it up today and then used the restroom in the hotel.

long sleevd shirt

It was early so I had plenty of time to chat with the other runners while waiting for the race to begin. I quickly bumped into Alyssa and we walked to start together.

I ran into so many people that I knew. Some running the 5k and many running the half. It is a very popular local race.

Soon it was time for the crowd of 1200 or so to take off. Alyssa and I started together close to the front but not too close. Alyssa wanted to PR and that meant under 2:18.  I knew that she would have no problem but I think she thought that she would need my help.  So I agreed to run with her but I knew that I wasn’t excited about running a fast pace in this humidity. I reminded her that it was a training run for me and at some point, I may let her go ahead and not hold her back.

pic from FB

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

Miles 1-4:

9:16, 9:26, 9:47, 9:47

photo from the Gazette

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. Alyssa and I ran together and chatted for the first 4 miles. It is the first time that I have ever run a race with someone else.

Yes, we saw the photographer!!

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 least, this part of course was shady but it was sooo humid!

I guess we didn’t see the photographer here

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

Miles 5-8:

10:45, 10:07, 10:19, 10:00

At this point, Alyssa and I separated for good. I started to get stomach cramps and needed to walk.  Alyssa was still running well (in fact, she ran the whole thing!!) so I told her to go ahead.

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. My stomach felt better and I started to pick up the pace again.

always like to ham it up for a photographer

I was still running close to a 10 minute pace (thanks to those fast early miles). 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.

walking…. I said to the photographer: You didn’t take a picture of that (he took 2!!)

Miles 9-12:

11:07, 10:53, 11:29, 10:54

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 especially the annoying blister I was getting on the bottom of my foot. 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. Sweat was dripping off me (and I’m not a sweater.) My 10 mile time had slowed down to 1:42. PR chances GONE!!

Soon we exited the park, ran down Rte 9.

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.

proof that at your worst, you can still smile for the photographer!!

At mile 12, 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:

10:24, 10:10

It seemed like the finish line would never come. And one more hill at the end. Not fun! I didn’t even try to run up it. I knew my finish time was slow so I gave up and walked. I did try though sprint through the finish line. The clock read 2:15:xx and I wanted to at least beat 2:16 but I did not.

Gun Time: 2:16:29
Chip Time: 2:16:19

Post Race:

I got my medal (and a bumper sticker).

Alyssa was waiting at the finish line with her parents.  She was so happy.  She finished in 2:13 and took 5 minutes off her previous PR.

We went into an air-conditioned building to escape the heat.  We were both so sweaty.  I sat down because for a few minutes. I felt very light-headed like I was going to to faint. It passed but it seems that humidity is not my friend.

After we cooled down, we went to get some food. There was a pretty nice spread – bananas. muffins, donuts, cookies, pizza, etc. I ate it all.

Next we checked the results on their computer.

I was a little disappointed to not get an age group award because I was 3rd last year. But this year, there were more women in the age group and speedy ones!!. I guess I was getting used to always winning them.

would have needed a PR this year to capture an award.

After chatting with some other runners, we headed back to our cars. Since they gave a coupon for free beer and food at a local bar called Druthers, we decided to check it out.

pic from FB

I’m not a beer drinker but free is free. They also had mac n cheese, pulled pork sandwiches, cheese brats and a band playing. We hung out for a little while and relaxed.

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • 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.
  • Air conditioned place to hang out after the race.
  • Lots of familiar and friendly faces.
  • Enthusiastic volunteers.
  • Scenic course esp. through the park.
  • No major injuries (just a blister on the bottom of my left foot)
  • Immediate race results from a computer.
  • Nice selection of refreshments – the pizza and cider donuts were delish.
  • Free beer & food at a local bar.
  • My BRF got a PR

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:

  • The HUMIDITY and heat

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 I did for this race.

Final Stats:

I definitely slowed down as the race went on. I always do. My last 3 miles were were 5 minutes slower than the first 3.

My finish time was almost 10 minutes slower than my last half marathon and almost 5 minutes slower than this same race last year. Then I reminded myself that it was a training run not a race. But who am I kidding? Initially, I was bummed.

It was NOT my finish time that bothered me but the way I ran the race. It was hot and humid and I should have started slower and try to run a more even pace.

Last year (even with a bloody nose) my split times were all 9 or 10 mm. Nothing slower!!

Of course, it has me wondering:

  • Was my last PR a fluke?
  • Should I start out my next half marathon slower?
  • Should I ditch the Garmin? (I didn’t have it during my last PR race)
  • Maybe it was just the humidity?
  • Or the blister on the bottom of my foot?

In the end, I am super happy that I chose to run this race rather than running a lonely 12  or 13 miler. All races are learning experiences, right?

Now that Alyssa has a PR, the pressure is off me for Wineglass. She’s on her own. I predict another PR for her. (Gone are the days when I beat her by 20 minutes in a half.)

Next Up:

A (hilly) 10k and then another half marathon.

Wineglass Half Marathon presented by Dresser-Rand - A Siemens Business

October 1, 2017

I’ve never done one so close in time. 2 weeks apart! Yikes!

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

This week I am also joining up with Running on HappySuzlyfeCrazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Happy Running! Any advice for running two halfs close together? 





15 thoughts on “Saratoga Palio Half Marathon Recap

  1. I think you did very well — even if you did go out too fast. But that’s what you always do.

    It was VERY humid sat. I actually preferred my solo 12 to tackling a race in those conditions! I also did well until mile 9 & was quite happy to be finished at 12.

    I’ve never run halfs so close together so no advice. My closest were just 2 in the same month (one at the beginning & one at the end).


  2. Congrats on a finish in tough conditions. Going out too fast is my middle name. Glad you could rein it back in.

    Repeat halfs? I used to say I wouldn’t do that, but I’m enjoying revisiting some of my faves now.


  3. Sounds like Alyssa is hitting her stride with running – congrats to her on the big PR!

    Humidity is a killer. I know you say you don’t sweat, but you do in humidity – and it just saps you. Glad you were OK after the race and had a good time at the bar…food looked great! LOL at Alyssa still wearing her handheld bottle there. 🙂


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