In 2016, I discovered an 8.4 mile race called Race the Train that sounded interesting. You took a train ride along the Hudson River and then raced the train back. I signed up. It was lots of fun even with the challenging hills. I even ran it again in 2017.
Here is the course map. You can see what I mean about the long early hill.
Well, the train has been discontinued. No Race the Train without a train so now the race is called the Hudson River Ramble. This year was its inaugural year.
Instead of a train, buses transported runners from Johnsburg School to Riverside Station. Otherwise it was basically the same course. 8 miles (instead of 8.4) beginning on Riparius Bridge and going along the wooded rolling hills of river road a seasonal use dirt road paralleling the Hudson River, turning left to the flats and finishing across from Johnsburg Central School parking lot (instead of the train depot).
I thought about staying the night before the race at a friend’s who lived nearby but I got out of work very late. Instead I took the hour and 35 minute drive north on race morning.
The forecast for where I lived was showers and thunderstorms and it rained my whole drive up. But where the race took place, it was supposed to be sunny and warm.
The rain stopped as I neared the school. It was in the high 50s (I hadn’t felt those temps in a while and I was almost chilly) but I knew once the sun got higher in the sky, it would warm up (and it really did!)
I arrived around 7:30 am and picked my race packet (a cotton shirt, a bib and a raffle ticket). There were REAL restrooms inside the school too. Always a plus.
I was early so I walked around and wound up chatting with a runner, Judy, from NC. We talked running, racing, injuries and she told all about her struggles with recovering from cancer.
Soon it was time to board the bus. Judy and I sat together. Obviously not as fun as riding the train and no scenic views of the Hudson River either.
It was still only 8:30 am when we arrived at the train station so I just walked around. I felt really sleepy. I was wondering how I was gong to run 8 hilly miles. I took a SIS energy gel hoping for some energy.
What were my plans for this race?
No goals. I would automatically get a PR (my first race at this distance) and it would be nice if I got an age group award. But my real goal was really just to finish pain-free and enjoy the run.
And that’s what I did.
We started on the bridge as the previous race did. Judy sprinted ahead and disappeared. I just stayed with the crowd (which was much smaller than the previous races.)
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 a runner ahead with a neon green shirt. I tried to keep her in my sight and did until the last few miles. Then there was a guy who passed me in a blue shirt. I stayed behind him the whole race. (Many others did pass me by.)
A young runner and I were running together for a bit and she asked me to run with her. I said “Sure” and we stayed together running a little but mostly walking. But I guess I am lousy running buddy because I lost her and I’m not sure how or when.
There was someone who 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 didn’t really happen (as I found out after the race when I looked at my splits. I never look during a race.)
There were a water/Gatorade stop at every 1.5 mile or so. I stopped and walked at each one as it was sunny and getting warmer and warmer. It was probably very humid as well because the temps were only in the high 70s.
Anyway, that first long 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.) And it was very sandy in parts and hard to run fast (even if I wanted to).
My legs felt tired from the get go. Was it from my 3.5 mile trail run on Thursday night? Or 4.5 miles on Wed? (I rarely run more than 3 miles on a weekday run.) Or most likely that I didn’t get a lot of sleep this past week.
It was hilly but I have fared better on hills in the past. I walked way too much and let the hills get the best of me. (I know, do hill repeats. That’s ain’t gonna happen.)
However, the scenery was nice as you ran through the woods (I missed hearing the train whistle as it passed you by) and toward the end, you could see the river. Eventually, you had to run through town in order to return to the high school. The end of the previous race was flat as it ended at the train station. This race added a few more (unappreciated) hills as we finished across from the high school.
Though I had no time goals, I estimated that I would finish between 1:28 and 1:24. I finished at 1:26:52. (Of course, I hoped for faster.)
Instead of a medal, you got a key chain (with a light)
It was a course PR of course and an 8 mile race PR.
But I was disappointed as my pace was slower than on the Race the Train course and much slower than on other hilly courses.
I waited at the finish for my friend Sue to cross and the runner that I was supposed to run with. Both had a tough race.
I went back to the school to get some food.
There were bagels, fruit and lots of homemade baked goods but the highlight was chocolate milk and watermelon.
I ate, chatted and waited around for the awards.
Remember my new friend Judy (the cancer survivor with all those medical problems)? She finished second female (at age 60)!!!
There were 3 in my age group and we all won hats.
After the awards, they gave away raffle prizes but as in the past, I did not win 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 – 11:28
mile 2 – 11:23
mile 3 – 9:39
mile 4 – 10:59
mile 5 – 10:51
mile 6 – 11:35
mile 7 – 10:59
mile 8 – 11:00
A BOTP finish (50 out 68) and many miles over 11. A rare occurrence. But it is what it is and on to the next race (and marathon training).
As I drove back to the marina where we keep our boat, I passed a sign for a hiking trail that I usually do each summer – Cat and Thomas Mountains. I have yet to hike this summer so on a whim (yes after 8 hilly miles), I stopped, grabbed my water, changed into my hiking shoes (they are always in my car, phew) and started walking up the mountain.
It was around noon and quite warm but at least it was pretty shady but way longer to the top of Thomas Mountain than I remember (like 2 miles or so STRAIGHT UP!!).
I did finally get to the top…
I admired the view, chatted with some folks and then decided not to continue on to Cat Mountain and walked down to my car.
It was actually a perfect recovery for my legs, I think.
The next day, we went back up to go boating, my legs felt great (even with all the hills).
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies.
Happy Running! Did you race this weekend? Do you have a big race coming up? Do you struggle on hilly races or do you prepare for them? How do you recover from a hilly race? Please share.