This post was hard to write and you’ll see why as you read on…
You all know how much I love Lake George (at least in the summertime). Well, this race gets me up to the lake in the winter. Ex-blogger Andrea (now runner friend) and I have run this race together SEVEN times. She has done this race 13 times (in a row)!!!
And yes, Andrea’s cancer diagnosis rocked my world, for sure. But she is strong and I was pretty confident that she would beat it.
I started reading her blog when I started running. She inspired me from the beginning. We are the same age exactly!! But she has run longer, farther, faster…even has competed in triathlons.
We met face-to-face for the first time at a race in 2010 and since then we have completed many races together (in addition to this race 7 times). I have even stayed at her house in VT twice.
She has also come to my area each year to participate in a duathlon. I have always come to the race to cheer her on.
But this year, for the FIRST time, Andrea did not come to the Polar Cap race. She valiantly lost her fight with cancer and died a few weeks earlier. So I ran this race alone with a heavy heart. I ran it for Andrea…
Back to the race recap…
The thing with this race, you never know where it’s going to start and what the course will be (besides hilly.) Three years ago, they changed the course for the third time.
I have not been doing any speed work at all or running on any hills. (Um …do I ever? lol) My runs on the weekend have been longish. And I have been suffering with a sore foot for it seems like forever. So as usual, I went into this race with no expectations other than to have fun and finish standing.
I bundled up in my usual running layers (2 shirts, DIY arm sleeves, vest, skirt/tights, gaiter, beanie, gloves).
I arrived around 9ish and got a great parking spot in a nearby parking lot.
Packet pick-up was again at the parish hall of the church in Lake George. This newer location was warm and had restrooms which is always a plus.
Instead of a shirt this year, they gave you a hat.
Eventually runners did arrive and I chatted with some whom I knew. It was strange not to be waiting for Andrea to drive in from VT. Definitely made me feel said…
For the first time since startled running this race, it was not frigid…so I decided leave the vest behind.
We all waited until the last minute to go out into the cold. We had to walk quite a ways as the race started in town by the lake. (Since the race repeated its course, I will re-post some of my pics from previous years in addition to this year’s pics.)
There was no real starting line and the race was not chip timed. Even though I’ve run this course in previous years, I never really remember what the course was like so here is a map that I found online.
I am directionally challenged anyway so it wouldn’t have meant much to me even if I looked at the map before the race.
Before the they started the race, they had a moment of silence for Andrea and then announced that this year’s race would be dedicated to her. I got pretty emotional but luckily, the race started quickly after and I concentrated on running.
My foot, in my mind, had gotten less painful but I realized that during this race, it really HAD NOT. It hurt with EVERY step. It made me very mad and frustrated but then I thought about Andrea and all the pain she had gone through this past year. And I just ran through the pain. It was just a race…and I would finish it no matter how long it took.
A lot of the course was a blur, as usual, but here’s what I remember. Rather than taking pictures during this race again, I’m posting a previous year’s as they did not change the course.
The first mile started with a slight uphill and then it flattened out. I concentrated on the scenery and surprisingly, the ground was not as slippery as I feared. Still, I needed to pay attention.
Mile two started where the race used to start and than meant a steepish hill. I told myself to be smart since I had another half marathon in TWO weeks and I never train on hills. However this time, I pushed myself to run slowly and not walk. It was practically a crawl and I did it. At this point, I actually felt warm and took off my gloves. I was happy that I did not wear that vest.
The longest and biggest was at mile 3 and although it was only 1/2 mile, it seemed to go on forever. This time I walked/ran it. Afterward we were rewarded with a nice downhill. I am always hesitant to go all out on the downhills especially with the black ice. One particular runner (in my age group) had been behind me (and always finishes after me) breezed by me. As she did, she yelled “This downhill runner got you this time.” The competitive part of me wanted to speed up and overtake her. But my foot was killing me and I decided to just let her beat me.
Finally for mile 4, we ran along the lake and back into town. At this point, I wanted to be done and picked up the pace. Luckily the hills were finally over. I didn’t care about a PR but I secretly want to win an AG award. But I had no idea where the other runners in my AG were in at this time in the course (besides the one who passed me by on the downhill).
Finally, I saw that the clock ahead and it read 37:xx. I sprinted as fast as I could (as not to finish over 38:XX) and crossed around 37:55.
The runner who beat me was there gloating… “I’m so happy to have finally beat you,” she said.
It was too cold to wait around for others so I walked back to the church.
There was chicken noodle soup, bread, bagels, chocolate milk, fruit and baked goods – I am a sucker for home-made stuff and ate quite a few cookies and brownies (and chocolate-covered pretzels). I also had the soup and of course, the chocolate milk!
I chatted with some running friends while waiting for the age group awards.
And I did indeed win one…2nd and my friend Sue won 3rd.
With a 12 mile long run on my schedule for the day, I had been debating about skipping this race. Once I found out that Andrea had died, I knew that I could not skip this race. It was one of her favorites. I had to do it.
I debated about running more. My foot hurt…a lot but I had a half marathon to run in TWO weeks. So changed my shoes, put my vest back on and I ran around the church area and then into town to the Winter Carnival.
This was the first day of the event which is held every weekend in February.
I ran around town some more… for about 5 more miles. I didn’t get my 12 miles in but 9 was sufficient in my book.
As usual, I loved doing the race (even with the hills and sore foot). Small local races are the best.
mile 1: 9:09
mile 2: 9:37
mile 3: 9:54
mile 4: 8:58
Garmin time: 37:51
Official time : 37:55
The whole time I was running, I felt like I was going sooo slow. I couldn’t really push off my sore foot and I felt like my form was suffering as well. I also thought that my 4 mile PR was like 35:XX. I was shocked when I sat down to write this… and discovered that my PR was 37:21 and that my finish time was faster than the last two years 38:28, 38:47 (when I was healthy).