This is my 8th time running this popular local 15k race.
I ran it for the first time in 2011 and it was my FIRST 15k race ever. I was glad to just finish and I did in 1:36:08. I was injured in 2012 and then I ran it again in 2013.
With 1500-2000 runners in this race, they were forced to make some changes to the course.
It no longer starts and ends in Central Park. It also starts earlier – 8:30 am
Well, I loved the new course and my finish times improved for the most part (except for 2019 since the race was held a week after my first FULL marathon):
2014 – 1:33:23
2015 – 1:31:23
2016 – 1:32:49
2018 – 1:30:15 PR
2019 – 1:36:37 PW
2020 – cancelled
In 2019, they modified the course slightly. They eliminated the bike path at the beginning of the race (which I did like because you ran along the Mohawk River and it was dirt so easy on the feet).)
Pre-Race Preparations and Activities:
My last long run was really hard… That did not make me feel super confident for this race.
During the week before the race, I just ran my easy short runs…
This race was supposed to be a taper for a half marathon that was scheduled for the next weekend. I even skipped my long run with my running friends and just walked with Sherry (who was also running the race) and then met the others for brunch.
So I didn’t expect to race this 15k. I just wanted some exercise and to hang out with 1000 of my running friends.
I picked up my bib and race shirt at Fleet Feet the day before (although it really wasn’t necessary.) As I mentioned above, it rained the rest of the day so I was forced to rest my legs.
I ate my usual pre-race pizza that night and got together my #flatme.
The temps were in the 30s when I got up on race morning and it was forecast to only warm up to high 40s and be cloudy. I hate this time of year. It’s so difficult to dress correctly. There used to be (before COVID) a bag check and I could bring extra clothes for after and in case I changed my mind.
Even though I’ve been to this race several times before, I still left extra early. Barbara and I had planned to carpool. But she got sick and was not able to run. I got there and again found a spot on the street a few blocks from the start of the race. It would have been nice to wait indoors at the YWCA and chat with the other runners. I was cold but I knew that if I dressed warmer, I would be too warm.
I texted Sherry when I got there and we met in the YWCA where race day bib pick-up was being held. You had to wear a mask but even though you were not supposed to stay inside, no one seemed to care. So we stayed there to keep warm until the race start.
Eventually we made our way to start area. It was organized and marked by bib number (which corresponded to your finish time.)
I recognized a few runners so I lined up with them. Sherry moved further back. We agreed to meet after at the refreshments area.
The 2019 course map:
The course starts near Veterans Park in downtown Schenectady. The course travels west on State Street for 1K before entering the historic Stockade District
and proceeding on a scenic bike path in Riverside Park along the Mohawk River. The course exits the Stockade District after crossing Erie Blvd. The course then proceeds east on Nott Street past Union College before entering the historic GE Plot residential neighborhood via Lenox Ave, Douglas Rd and Rugby Rd. The course exits Rugby Road and proceeds north on Waverly Place near the 5K mark. The course turns east off Waverly and follows Grand Blvd to the city boundary with Niskayuna, then proceeds south on Dean Street to Central Parkway past 8k. After a 1K residential loop on Central Parkway, the course enters beautiful Central Park and follows a bike path around Iroquois Lake and Duck Pond before reaching its highest elevation near 12K. The final 3k is mostly downhill or flat as the course exits Central Park and proceeds west through historic Vale Cemetery and Vale Park before a final downhill section on Franklin Street to the finish at City Hall.
The race started running down commercial State Street. It was fairly flat but very crowded (with over 1,000 runners).
I quickly lost my friends and just weaved my way through the crowd.
Soon, we turned and entered the Stockade (oldest) section of town.
Although it was chilly, I instantly warmed up and even felt overdressed. I eventually took off my gloves and rolled up my DIY arm warmers.
After the Stockade area, we ran past Union College and around various residential neighborhoods. I also stopped at the first water stop even though I was not thirsty at all. (Yay for a walk break).
The hills were relentless. Why do I not remember them from previous years? Not rolling hills, just running up, it seemed.
I knew a lot of runners in this race. They kept catching up to me, we’d chat and then they would go on ahead. That was ok with me. I was determined to run at my own pace and have a stress-free race.
There was clock at the 5k point and I was surprised that I was under a 10 minute pace. However, I doubted that it would last.
By mile 4, I was getting hungry. We were still circling the neighborhoods. There were lots of course marshals directing throughout the course and many enthusiastic spectators.
Eventually there was a second water stop. No more cups!!!! They ran out!? I almost brought a cup but we were told that we didn’t need to… grrrr!
Around mile 5, I finally decided to choke down my Gu (without any water).
Around mile 6, we entered Central Park with its rolling hills, lake, and pretty foliage. More hills, of course, but not too bad. The worst was yet to come.
There was another clock at the 10K point. I had slowed down but I was still happy with my conservative pace.
Between mile 7 and 8 is where the BIG hills were. I walked up them for the most part. They were steep but at least short.
I believe there was a third water stop but I don’t remember exactly where. And there were cups. Hooray!
We proceeded to run through the cemetery and then through a park before heading DOWNHILL to the finish line at city hall. At this point, Renee (who I ran this race with two years ago) caught up to me. We chatted and then she zoomed ahead. My legs were shot by now.
One of reasons I love this race is that finish.
I ran as fast as I could but I had lost quite a bit of time at the water stops and the hills.
I crossed the finish line at 1:35:XX.
I admit that initially I was disappointed…5 minutes off a PR and one of my slowest times for this race.
But hey, I didn’t train and I wasn’t trying for a PR. It was supposed to just be taper run for next Sunday’s half marathon. (I know you all get it…)
Post Race Activities:
This year, instead of the food being inside at the YWCA, the same area as bag check and where we waited before the race, it was outside (another COVID restriction) and I was COLD!! The sun had gone in and the wind had picked up. Brrrr.
One of my running friends was volunteering and she handed me a bag of goodies.
I also grabbed some chocolate milk and a cider donut. I checked the results (you just scanned a QR code with your phone). Awards would be mailed, I guess but I was not expecting one.
So I walked back toward the finish line to wait for Sherry. I watched many of my friends finish. Everyone was happy and especially grateful for the weather and to be racing again.
Sherry and I headed back to our cars. The others in our group did not run the race so we decided to skip brunch this year.
Additional Race Reflections:
Sure, I’d love to have those speedier legs return. I’m not sure they ever will but I do not plan to stop racing because my finish times are slower. I loved seeing all those runners that I only chat with at races. I love the racing atmosphere and the challenge it always brings.
- Safety restrictions in place
- Ample parking.
- Well marked course.
- Great running weather.
- Lots of familiar faces.
- Interesting course (through the historic part of the city, neighborhoods, park, cemetery).
- Downhill finish.
- Friendly and abundant number of volunteers.
- Chocolate Milk.
- Crowd support
- Three real water stops
- The electric atmosphere.
- Virtual option.
- Instant results
- Free photos
- Gender-specific shirt
- A real race.
- Hills during miles 7-8
- Ran out of cups at 2nd water stop
- Outdoor refreshments
- No bag check
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. It’s a great way to see this city…a little bit of everything. And if COVID ever goes away, it will be even more enjoyable. I would recommend that you train on hills. lol
I really enjoyed this race. The course was so varied that it also took your mind off the hills. With the large number of runners (1000+), I felt like I was always running with others and it kept me going.
Yes, it was hilly. The first half had a lot more hills but they were manageable. The second half had fewer hills but they were steeper.
The best part of the race was that I didn’t put it all out there and I just enjoyed myself treating it like a taper run. And nothing really hurt during and after!!
This race is definitely on my must-do list. It was very well organized. Maybe all the stars will be aligned next year and I’ll get a faster finish time … or maybe not.
A Half Marathon on Nov. 21!!!
Happy Running! Did you race this past weekend or do any other running? Do you ever run 15ks? Do you like them?