It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. I registered for the NYC Marathon and then when I looked at my race training plan, my 20 miler was scheduled for this weekend. I ran this race back in 2013 (post broken foot) and since I run on this route often, I wasn’t particularly enamored with the race.
However, I did run the Hannaford Half Marathon as my 39th Half Marathon for these reasons:
- Many of my running friends were planning to run it. (Though in the end, they could not).
- It is a popular local race and I would know many runners.
- I needed a long run as part of my NYC Marathon training. so I could just add 7 to it
- I found out that blogger and skirt sister Cari may be running it.
- It is a “relatively flat course.”
- Most importantly, I needed company for my 20 miles (and it turned to be the right decision since my running friends decided to race the day before.)
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I ran my last half marathon in September. I started a 18 week training plan to be ready for the NYC Marathon on Nov. 3.
As with my half marathon training, I did not really care about my week day runs. They were usually 3-4 miles. However, I did try to do longer runs on the weekend.
So I actually was not training for this half but preparing for Nov 3. Technically I was scheduled for a 20 mile run but just adapted the long runs to make this work.
The goal for this half marathon was finishing!! Not to race it and not to get injured!!!
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I learned some valuable lessons about pre-race prep during a previous race-cation — rest the legs and fuel adequately the day before the race.
So I went to the expo early to pick up my bib. I met a lot runners that I knew and scored some good deals ($5 compression calf sleeves). For a small race, the expo was pretty decent.
Then the hubby and I drove to Lake George to spend a relaxing day on the boat with our friends.
We came home pretty early and I got together my race outfit.
Another restless night. I have not been sleeping well lately 😦
I’ll do my best to recap the race below. (Warning: it’ll be long…)
Since the race was supposed to be the last 13 miles of my 20 miler, that meant I had to get to the race start by 6 am and run 7 miles.
So 4:30 am wake up with my normal oatmeal and coffee pre-race meal. It was in the 40s and pretty chilly so I added my DIY arm warmers and gloves to my race attire.
It was pitch black when I started running on the trail and even with my knuckle lights, it was creepy.
So after a mile, I opted for plan B and ran along the main road for the next five miles, watching the sun come up.
Eventually, it was light enough to continue on the trail back to my car.
I ran the 7 miles way too fast since I was anxious about getting back in time, meeting friends, checking a bag. But it turned out that I returned in plenty of time.
While I was running, I warmed up but now sweaty, I put my arm warmers and gloves back on. Brrr.
I chatted with many runners that I knew. This was a local race and it is very popular.
Soon I connected with Cari who was also running this race since she was here to visit her brother.
We hung out for a while and then headed to the start line.
My plan for this race, as usual, was to stop and walk briefly at every water stop (so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) and to stop and walk longer to eat a GU at every other water stop. I planned to walk whenever necessary and NOT RACE it.
You can watch a video of the course here – https://youtu.be/DWsqeGaSxr0
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
11:24, 10:10, 9:50, 9:50
Cari and I lined up together but I lost her right away. The race started in Colonie Town Park and we ran around the park for most of the first mile. It was a bottleneck and you really could not make any headway. And this was the only hilly part of the course. So after 7 miles, this was a perfect start for me.
After we exited the park, we were running for many miles along the bike path. The foliage was beautiful and it was a slight downhill.
And as you can tell, I started speeding up and I was running TOO FAST!!
10:30, 10:24, 10:49, 10:57
I stopped briefly at each water stop but by mile five, I was getting pretty hungry so I ate a GU and walked longer.
Eventually we left the bike path and entered the ugliest part of the course. We ran through Watervliet, along the noisy highway and past the Arsenal.
I was feeling great and sailing along until mile 7. That’s when EVERYTHING started to hurt – my legs, feet, lower back and hips.
So I just painfully trudged along…I was not having fun.
11:25, 10:52, 11:11, 11:32, 11:11, (.2 – 8:37)
I stopped around mile 9 for another GU and walked for a bit. It was still painful to run but I knew I had to finish so I just pushed through it.
At least now we were on the Corning Bike Path with beautiful foliage and views of the Hudson River.
I chatted with a woman feeling the same way but she started walking so I continued on without her.
Finally with a little more than a mile to go, my running friend Chris appeared. She had volunteered to run me in. I told her that after 18 miles (my longest so far), I would no doubt be struggling. And I was.
She ran with me but I stopped and walked quite a few times. The finish line seemed to so distant.
And then I saw it and my running friends with cowbells, cheering me on. It definitely lifted my spirits and I got a second wind.
I tried to sprint as much as I could (after 20 miles) and I crossed at 2:22:05.
Much faster than I had planned. I was thinking that at marathon pace, it would be around 2:45. It was also a course PR.
After getting my medal and some water. I headed to bag check to put on my race shirt and then to get some food.
I got an additional medal because I ran the Helderberg to Hudson Half in April.
I ate a banana with some chocolate milk and posed for the obligatory medal photo.
I bumped into another friend who is also running the NYC Marathon. She had a PR and was then adding her 7 miles afterward. Yes, of course, this is what I usually do and the thought did cross my mind so I could have a decent finish time (and win an AG award). But I do think I made the right decision. I was glad to have my 20 miles done.
I headed back to my friends and I celebrated my run with this:
Additional Race Reflections:
- Easy packet pick-up.
- Decent expo for a small race.
- Lots of parking.
- Sufficient number of port-a-potties. At the start and along the course.
- Sufficient number of water/Gatorade stops) – 1 had Gu
- Bag Check. Easy pick up at the end.
- Well marked course.
- Free Massages at the finish
- Clocks at several points in the race.
- Very cool medal.
- Chocolate milk at the finish.
- Shuttle bus from the finish to the start.
- Great weather.
- Beautiful course in spots.
- Extra medal if you ran the Helderberg to Hudson race in April.
- The middle of the course was pretty boring.
- The course was a little long.
- Nothing 🙂
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. It was well-organized. The course was mostly flat and scenic at the beginning and end.
I have yet to figure out how to negative split a long race.
My finish time was the slowest I’ve had in many years. But not a bad time considering it was a training run. Definitely not complaining. No injuries. (But my first post race discomfort.)
The Big One: NYC Marathon in 3 weeks!!!!!!!!!
Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these ladies and you should too.
Happy Running! Ever run this race? Which do you prefer – flat or scenic? Do you run half marathons as training runs for a full? Please share.