In 2021 when most of the local races either cancelled or went virtual, Albany Running Exchange (ARE) began scheduling COVID Safety Plan approved races.
In March, I ran their 5 mile race and then in May a point-to-point 10 miler. The courses were along the Mohawk River and the bike path, mostly flat or downhill and in Schenectady, NY.
In September, another organization (NARK) offered a half marathon on a similar course. Of course, I signed up (and convinced some friends to join me.)
Again this year, I ran the same March and May ARE races on that Mohawk River course.
And I signed up for the 2nd annual Run 4 The River Half Marathon as my 60th Half Marathon (53rd if you don’t count the virtuals) for several reasons:
- It was local and I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
- It was local so I would know a lot of the runners.
- I was familiar with most of the course as it was similar to the 10 miler that I ran in May and I had already run this half marathon last year.
- I convinced some friends to run it too.
- It was advertised as having a Net Downhill Course and FREE BEER, Food, and LIVE MUSIC
- I could run it as a training run for my October half marathon.
Half Marathon Training:
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. But I do run 3 miles several times during the work week.
And on the weekends, I try to do my Long Run. I’m lucky to have company of several running friends. Due to the extreme heat this summer, I have adopted my friends’ run/walk intervals. It really helped me get the long runs done.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
Since it was a point-to-point race, the logistics were complicated. Either you parked at the start and got a ride back to your car after the race or you parked at the finish and got a ride to the start (or pay for the shuttle).
My preference was to park at the finish (even though that meant getting up earlier) and tried to coordinate my plan with friends.
My running friend picked up my bib so that saved me time (and gas.)
I carb loaded on the usual pizza and debated about what to wear the next day.
It was supposed to be little cooler and less humid than any of my previous races. But still warm and in the 80s by afternoon. (Wish they had kept the earlier start time!!!!)
As it did last year, the race started near Mabee Farms. This year, start time was 8:00, a half hour later than last year and ended at Frog Alley Brewing near Schenectady Community College (SCCC). Last year it ended right at the college (where we parked our cars.).
So I got up around 4:45 am on Saturday morning (ouch) and was on the road by 5:45 to meet Barbara and then drive to race parking.
We met everyone at 6:30 at SCCC. My friend Deb offered to drive me and the others (Barbara, Sherry, Deirdre, Kevin) to the start if someone would drive her back to her car after. (Quite a squeeze for 4 in the back seat.)
When we arrived at Mabee Farms, there was plenty of parking in a grassy lot.
We were very early so we had time to walk around and sightsee.
It was a little chilly but the barn was locked this year so we waited outside.
We also knew that in addition to porta-potties, there were REAL restrooms (always a great perk.)
Finally, it was time to head to the start.
So we parted with our jackets and checked them at Bag Check (along with a dry shirt and my Oofos) I planned to eat a Honey Stinger Waffle (since it was already hours since my breakfast) but I forgot. Oops.
The race started at 8:00 am. There were no waves or corrals… They did ask the faster runners to line up first.
Sorry to be a broken record about not training well. But it was summer and my goal for races these days is FINISH happy (that is not injured and ready to do another.)
All my long runs were done slowly and with short intervals. I found out during my last race that it didn’t exactly make me slower (or maybe it did?) but I found it hard to run for more than a minute without walking… (I used to be able to run 1-2 miles straight (not that it matters…)
As I already mentioned, the race began near Mabee Farm Historical site. The first mile headed west, mostly on Route 5S. We ran along the road and fairly soon connected with the Erie Canal Bike Path.
In other words, the canal was on our right and most of the race was run on the path with water views.
The scenery was pretty. The Mohawk River changed to being on the left eventually.
The first water stop was a little after mile 3 at Pattersonville Bike Path parking on 5S. This was my first walk break. I decided to wait on my Gu. I ran most of the beginning miles with Karen and Alyssa and behind my faster neighbor. We chatted back n forth.
Most of the race is a blur. But I was feeling pretty strong. Until I wasn’t. Karen and Alyssa eventually ran ahead. As did my neighbor.
Around mile 4, I finally got hungry so I stopped to eat my Gu (trying to eat and run slowly) and walked again at the second water stop little past mile 5 at Iroquois St/Bike Path.
Around this point, the crowd thinned out and I was running mostly alone and my lower back started to ache…
The course was pretty flat and shady for the most part. The temps were rising but not too bad. I was glad to have worn a tank and skirt.
I realized too late that I was NOT strong enough to run without walk intervals and so the second half the race, I ran/walked… not timed but just whenever I felt like it… and I felt like it a lot!!
Plus, now both my feet started to hurt. Bunion? Neuroma? Stress fracture? As these thoughts ran through my head, I ran slower and walked more.
The third water stop was a little before mile 8 at Kiwanis Park. I walked again and then ate another Gu. This time longer.
Around mile 9, some annoying hills appeared. Maybe there weren’t big hills and I was just getting tired. I tried to run up them but it was more like a slog. Though the course was advertised as flat and downhill, there were hills (not big ones) throughout. (Aren’t there always?)
The final water stop was a little before Mile 11 at MH Bike Path lot. I stopped again but skipped my last Gu.
My friend Barbara who ran/walked most of the race actually caught up to me. And she looked way less spent than I did (Intervals are the way to go!)
The race finish was different than last year, instead of heading from the bike path into the college parking lot, we headed into the city of Schenectady.
I tried to pick up the pace and sprint through the finish line… My friends who didn’t run the race were there cheering. It was sooo nice to see familiar faces.
Well, I thought the finish line was straight ahead but instead you had to turn right…
I was out of gas but at least it was downhill!!
Boy was I glad to be done!! I grabbed my medal and headed to bag check to put on my Oofos.
Post Race Activities:
I felt a little light headed so I ate my last Gu and I felt better.
I joined my friends near the finish line to cheer in the others who had not finished yet. Everyone was happy with their race results.
There was a band, beer, food, etc. at a restaurant nearby (pictured above), the sponsor for the race.
It was crowded but fortunately we got a table. Rather than a boxed lunch (as last year), you got a free beer and a choice of the food below.
We stayed for several hours listening to the band and chatting…about running, of course.
Additional Race Reflections:
Of course, I am glad I ran the race. I was disappointed with the pain and how I ran the race. I guess I need to accept that my endurance is not what it used to be. Maybe walk intervals are the answer.
- Ample parking at the start and finish.
- Real restrooms at Mabee Farm
- Bag check
- Well marked course.
- Varied scenery including river views
- Shuttle to the start (if needed).
- Flatish course.
- Well organized.
- A lot of pre-race information.
- Free Post-race food.
- Cool medal.
- Free Beer
- 10 year age group awards.
- No photos.
Would I recommend this race?
Yes. I liked the course. It was well-organized.
Walking definitely slowed down my pace the second half of the race. I finished the first half in 1:04!!
Though my time was similar to last year, I ran a much better race then. I ran slower the first half so as a result it was much less painful.
I was NOT expecting a PR and my time was what I expected. I jokingly said that I wanted to finish at 2:22:22!
I need to be realistic…maybe those faster half marathon paces will not happen again. (But hey, I’m not giving up…)
I didn’t realize until I got home that I had won an age group award. Huge surprise!!
Luckily my neighbor trains with the race director and she picked up my award several days later.
and another Half Marathon.
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Run any big races lately? Are you planning any this Fall? Do you run the same race more than once? Please share.