It seems like I’ve been planning this race forever. As with all my big races, I impulsively sign up way in advance (and then often regret it LOL).
I ran the first annual one in 2019. Due to COVID, in 2020, I ran the race virtually and in 2021, I ran it on a completely different course (a hilly one).
So I signed up for 2022 Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon as my 58th Half Marathon for several reasons:
- FOMO. Many of my running friends were doing it.
- It’s local. I can sleep in my own bed.
- I am familiar with the course. I run on it often.
- It’s a downhill course. (470 ft elevation loss)
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 on February 27 in NYC. An then a virtual one on March 19.
On weekdays, I try to run 3x… Since this week I ran Sun, Mon, Tues and Wed (4 days in a row), I decided on two rest days before the race (so nada on Thursday ad Friday.)
and then on the weekend, I do my long run, if possible.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I picked up my bib (and Sherry and Stan’s) after work on Thursday at the race finish (in between rain showers).
and then had pasta for dinner on Friday.
I checked the weather and
So what do I wear?
The same as usual. Finish happy with no injuries. I have realized that having a time goal is difficult at my age. Having any expectations of a PR or even a course PR is unrealistic, as well.
That being said, since this race did not have the hills of Central Park or the bridges of Florida, I was hoping to have a faster finish time than my last three half marathons … but again, anything can happen on race day.
Since I had run this race before, I was familiar with the start and finish logistics. But they still were tricky. There was a bus from the finish to the start (and no parking at the start). However this year, I knew when to get there and whereto find nearby parking. Over 2,000 runners had signed up for this race!!!
Well, I woke up to 50 degrees and no rain!! What??
I wore Plan A and added two throwaway shirts and gloves. I even decided against bag check. There appeared to be a change in the forecast. No rain until afternoon. I was hoping they were right!!
I arrived around 6:00 am, found parking in the lot near the finish. I met Stan and Sherry there and we walked to the bus.
We arrived at the bus location and there were many buses. We wound up getting the last seats on Bus #1.
Our bus got lost and we arrived after bus #2 and # 3 but we were plenty early. The race did not start until 8:30
We waited and chatted with many other runners.
There were so many familiar faces.. from former running groups, training groups, other races, etc..
I was a little chilly and wondered if I made the right decision about what to wear. (I did!!)
Believe it or not, the sun came out. What? Glad I grabbed my sunglasses.
Eventually, it was time to go to our corrals. There were 4 and I was in the last one.
It appeared to be warming up a bit so I tossed both of my throw away shirts but kept on my arm sleeves and gloves.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
The course started in the park and then we ran just over 2 miles on the roads of Voorheesville so runners could spread out before they got on the rail trail. There were some steep downhill sections and I am sure that I ran them too fast.
From there, the course headed east for about 9 miles into Albany on the rail trail. If you read my blog, you may remember that this is a trail near my home and that I run on often. It was nice to only have to run on it one way…going downhill. It was not steep and I was able to run at a comfortable pace.
The problem was that it was HUMID and the temps were rising. The sun even peeped out. I rolled down my arm sleeves, then took them off and eventually just tossed them. I also tossed my gloves.
But I was THIRSTY… I think there was a water stop at mile 1 or 2 but I skipped it and the first water stop was not until around 3 miles.
Dying… I also walked for the first time (I always walk at the water stops).
There were clocks at each 5k. I saw when I passed the 5k mark that I was running too fast. I slowed down a little but obviously not enough.
My breakfast was at 5 am so I was getting pretty hungry. I was hoping that there would be a water stop soon… Nope not yet…
The great thing about a local race was the the crowd support and volunteers. Many called my name and it was so welcome.
Here are a few pictures from previous runs on this same trail:
So the race continued on this same trail. The elevation felt a little steeper on this portion but my legs felt more and more tired. Or should I say my quads were complaining from running downhill. The sun was getting stronger. Finally around mile 6, there was the water stop. I walked even longer than before and ate a GU.
At the 10k clock, it was obvious that I slowed but probably not enough.
What was nice about this race was that I knew so many of the runners. They kept passing me by. Some just waved, others slowed and ran with me for a while. I also had some friends along the course who cheered me on.
Hundreds of candid photos were posted on FB for sharing. Here’s just a few:
I saw my running friend Barbara around mile 7 or so.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer… I have run 4 half marathons this year already with zero foot pain. Well, my luck ended around mile 6 or so. My neuroma started to throb. Yes, I can run on it but it made me very nervous that my foot pain had re-surfaced.
In hindsight, I think it was a combination of wearing older worn shoes and running downhill… (We’ll see how it goes in future runs/races.)
I walked (too long) at the next water stop around mile 8 and ate my second GU.
More pictures from previous runs:
The foot pain eased up and then I started getting a blister on the other foot. (No, I didn’t tape it and forgot that my previous races were run in frigid temps, humidity makes a big difference. D’uh)
The rail trail finally ended and we were heading into Albany. This was my least favorite apart of the course – not scenic at all – running through the city (and not the nice part) and then along a busy road. With the smell of a sewage plant.
My quads were toast at this point. My lower back ached and I just wanted to be done.
A few more water stops and longer walks. The clock at the 20K mark indicated that a PR was out of the question but surprisingly I was still having a decent race.
The last few miles seemed endless. It was no longer downhill. In fact going to the finish line was slightly uphill.
I walked a few more times and tried as best as I could to sprint through the finish.
I saw the clock ahead and I hoped to finish under 2:12:00…and I did NOT!!
But thumbs up! I crossed at 2:12:24. My fastest 13.1 miles since this one in 2019!!!!!
Post Race Activities:
I got my medal, some water and of course, took some pics.
I chatted with some other runners who had already finished and took some more pics.
I checked the results. Nope, no age group award. I was 4th. But I wasn’t even expecting to do that well.
There was the usual food box for this race and chocolate milk.
There was also beer. Nah. Too long a line and too early in the day for a beer!!
I texted Stan and Sherry and we met up and ate our lunches together while re-capping our race experiences. Consensus: Downhill races are hard!!!
Eventually after all our friends had finished, we limped back to our cars.
Additional Race Reflections:
I have yet to figure out how to negative split a long race. Maybe I need to train better (You think??)
My finish time was way faster than my previous three half marathons. (2:26:02, 2:20:55, 2:21:29). I am thrilled about that.
In 2019, I wanted a sub 2:12 finish so I would qualify for the 2020 NYC Half Marathon. And I did!! This year, I had no glorious expectations. Yet, surprisingly, I was only 24 seconds off!! No worries for the 2023 NYC Half, I am already in after running it virtually this year.
As you can see from the stats above, I went out too fast. And my lack of training caught up to me after 10 miles. I was on track to PR, the first half of the race.
The bad news is that my foot is sore. My quads are achy.
I have confirmed that downhill races aren’t as easy as you may think. Rolling hills are actually easier on the body. (We runners are never satisfied)
- Lots of race info emailed and on website including runner guide and spectator guide.
- Easy packet pick-up. Neat race-related items.
- Registration options – cheaper without a hoodie.
- Free bus from the finish to the start.
- Many porta potties at the start. Long lines but they moved quickly
- Bag Check. Well organized before and easy pick up at the end
- Downhill course (except for first and last 2 miles)
- Water and Nuun stops.
- GU available at several water stops
- Decent crowd support
- Well marked course for each mile
- Clocks at 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k
- Very cool medal.
- Great post race refreshments
- Immediate electronic race results
- PR bell
- Free photos
- Nearby – no transportation or hotel costs.
- Support from friends
- Not enough water stops. I think they should be at least every 2 miles esp with humid temps.
- The boring, unscenic last 2 miles.
- Fat-free chocolate milk (I deserve the real thing after 13.1 miles)
- Pain 😦
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. Yes. Yes. ARE did a fantastic job attending to every detail. I may even do it again next year.
A few shorter races – 5m, some 5ks.
Happy Running! Did you race this weekend? Do you have a big race coming up? Please share.