NOVEMBER 20, 2022
My final half marathon for 2022!!
I signed up for the Upstate Classic Half Marathon for several reasons:
- I had run the race three times before so I was familiar with the course and the hills.
- 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 had run a half in September and October so I was sorta already trained.
Half Marathon Training:
For 2020, I had the ambitious goal of running 12 Half Marathons – one each month. The pandemic wrecked those plans. For 2021, it was just race whatever half marathons were available. Racing has returned so a result, I was lucky to have already run SEVEN live (and one virtual) half marathons this year.
- Fred Lebow Half Marathon (in NYC) – 2:26:02
- Publix Florida Half Marathon – 2:20:55
- Central Park Half Marathon (in NYC) – 2:21:29
- Virtual NYC Half Marathon
- Helderberg to Hudson Half Marathon – 2:12:24
- Steel Rail Half Marathon – 2:32:04
- Run 4 the River Half Marathon – 2:20:53
- Maine Half Marathon – 2:18:18
If you follow my posts, you also know that I am not strict about following a training plan. I try to get in my long runs but this fall, I got caught up in a 5k racing frenzy and missed several key long runs.
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I did some easy short runs during the week prior to the race: Mon, Tues, Thurs:
Packet pick up was easy peasy. I just went to the race headquarters on Friday after work.
I skipped my long run on Saturday and walked with friends and then after, I met them and the others who ran for brunch.
My usual carb loading dinner was pizza and then I tried to figure out what to wear. It was forecast to be VERY cold, windy and cloudy. Colder then my last race and we would be at a higher altitude. I hate being overdressed (and was tempted to even wear a skirt) but I reluctantly chose a beanie, 2 long sleeved shirts, DIY arm sleeves, tights/skirt, and gloves.
I woke up early and looked outside and there was a light coating of snow on the ground (the slippery kind.)
I had my usual pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. My running friend, Deb, was also running the race so we decided to carpool. I met her at 7 am and she offered to drive. I knew that I may finish the race first but not much before her so it didn’t seem to matter who drove (Um, wrong!!)
On the drive, we discussed our plans for the race.
So what was the plan???
- Upstate Classic Nov. 2020 – 2:23:37 (but no watch)
- H2H April 2021 – 2:22:51 (same course)
- Upstate Classic Nov 2021 – 2:19:21
I would love to have improved my time on this course but hey, I’m a year older…
So Just finish. No time goal!! Stay healthy for future races.
We both agreed on this goal…
A loop starting and ending in the same location.
and not flat… at all:
The race would be starting at 8:30am. We got there an hour early and parked in the huge grass parking lot. Then we sat in the car. It was in the 20’s (teens with the wind chill) and we wanted to stay warm until the last moment especially since there was no bag check. (Well, Deb had to get her bib and use the porta-potty but I remained warm.)
Around 8:15 am, We dragged ourselves out of the warm car and headed toward the race start.
Brrrrr! I shivered but at least, I had time to chat with many runners that I knew.
Deb headed to the porta-potty line (which was a mile long.)
They announced that no matter what, they would start the race on time.
First the half marathoners started. (The marathoners would start 10 minutes later.) After that, there was also a 5k.
It was chip-timed so I just pushed myself into the crowd toward the front and near my friends. I still couldn’t bear to take my throw away jacket off.
Anyway, here’s how the race went:
Spoiler Alert: This was posted by the RD in FB:
We started running around the fairgrounds. The path was snowy, icy and very slippery. I took it slow but tried to stay with my friends.
I soon realized that my jacket was too awkward to run with so I threw it to the side. We continued on the entrance road to the fairgrounds until we turned onto the main road.
I was familiar with this course since this was my 3rd time running it. Obviously since we were running on roads, there were cars. You were supposed to run on the shoulder but it was slanted and I found it awkward. And until mile 4 or so, it was also very snowy/icy.
So I ran toward the middle of the road until a car came by. I was more comfortable that way. But the negative was not running the tangents. 😦
Miles 3- 6.2:
One of the course marshals that I knew cheered us on and took photos.
My friend Linda (above) gradually got ahead of me but she was always in my view.
The first water stop was around mile 3. I wasn’t thirsty but stopped anyway to take a drink (and tossed it since I got a mouthful of ice.)
Soon a plow went by salting the road and so it was clearer and less slippery.. So far the hills weren’t too bad. I could even run up them.
This may get monotonous but it was VERY windy and cold. At first, it didn’t seem so bad. The sun even made me feel that I was appropriately dressed. Early on, I even rolled down my arm sleeves and took off my gloves.
I ate a GU since I tried to keep to my fueling plan of eating every 4 miles.
Around mile 5, we passed by Indian Ladder Farms and the smell of fresh cider donuts filled the air. Normally this is where there are tons of cheering spectators. But not today in these cold windy conditions.
The rolling hills continued. The wind seemed to pick up. Why did it never seem to be at my back?
When we turned off this road, the hills ceased to roll and started to become steep hills. Those type of hills where it was even hard to walk up them. But walk I did. But trying to pick up the pace on the downhill with the wind blowing in your face was impossible!
Every now and then I would glance at my watch. My pace was by no means fast but considering all the walking, it was not as bad as I feared. In fact, my legs felt great. My feet didn’t hurt. It could have been a good race…. if it weren’t for the crazy WIND!!!
The second water stop was around the 10k point. Again I stopped and had some frozen water.
Normally around the halfway point, there is a clock but it was not working when I went by. Looking at the race results, it stopped around 44:xx and re-started at 1:04:xx.
So obviously even in this weather, I was doing pretty well.
Now the big hills seems to more frequent, the temps dropped and the wind picked up big time.
I pulled up my arm sleeves, put back on one pair of gloves and pulled up my buff. My lips were numb and I was soooooo cold.
The wind was so painful that I thought about quitting!!!
Miles 8.75 – 11.1
But I continued… walking when I couldn’t run and running when I could. At times I felt like the wind was pulling me backward. But it was no different for anyone else… and there marathoners out there. And those poor volunteers.
Around mile 8, I ate another GU. I never really felt hungry during the race but knew I should fuel.
The race continued the same way. The amazing thing was that my feet did not hurt. My lower back was achy from looking down to protect my eyes from the wind.
I think there was another water stop (I’m pretty sure that I stopped.)
The course marshals were very enthusiastic. I knew many of them. I couldn’t believe they were able to stay out there for hours in that cold. There were some families camped out (and bundled up or in heated cars) in their driveways. But for the most part, we were running on the roads in the country… no place for spectators.
But surprisingly around mile 10.5, there was table of guys giving out bottles of water and alcohol. It was one of our boating friends again. I was too cold to even greet him.
More hills. They never seemed to end. And one last water stop. I just wanted to finish so I skipped it. I didn’t eat my last GU either.
Mile 13 seemed like a full marathon. The wind had drained me. I wanted to run to finish but I just could not move forward in that wind. I was pretty miserable.
And for this entire mile, I had a terrible side stitch. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me (WTH?)
To make matters worse, there was one hill after another. And so I walked most of this mile.
We were also running in a more heavily trafficked area and so you had to keep keep moving over when a car drove by.
But eventually we turned into the fairgrounds There were even hills there! The wind was swirling… the snow was blowing….
I barely sprinted through the finish line. I just couldn’t move fast in that WIND!!
Post Race Activities:
They gave us a foil blanket that I attempted to put on in the wind.
I immediately headed to the food tent. Refreshments were a boxed lunch but there was also a table of food that looked more appealing – pastries, quiche, bread, etc. But I was too frozen to eat anything.
Then I went to see my results. I found out that I came in first in my age group and at that table, they also gave you your finishers medal.
For your award, you could pick a hat or shirt from a previous year.
If I weren’t freezing enough, I no longer had a jacket and the wind was brutal and temps dropping. I hung around the food area until I was too cold and moved into the sun and waited… and waited and waited.
I didn’t have keys to my friend’s car and I was wondering if I had missed her finishing.
So I walked to her car and waited there. I was sooo cold that I wanted to cry.. A lady nearby who was waiting for her husband to finish (took a look at me) and offered me a seat in her warm car.
Finally, my friend arrived (she had stomach issues and had a very bad race.) I obviously couldn’t complain about waiting 50 minutes in the cold without a coat..
The best part of the day was that we drove to Indian Ladder Farms and ordered the most delicious hot mulled cider (in fact two cups.)
Additional Race Reflections:
It seems that my recap above was a bunch of complaints. But honestly, it was the first race that I wanted to quit during and the first race that I regretted running.
I guess, I’m proud that I didn’t. Others in the race (including some friends) did and felt much worse.
In fact, my time was a lot better than I expected. It was faster than my September half that was flat. If the weather were better, there was potential for a great race.
But you can’t control the weather. And any injury would have been much worse (My legs/feet felt fine after.)
It gives me hope that I could improve (if I dare to run it again next year.)
- Connecting with local runners.
- Decent post race food. (box lunch of pre-ordered sandwich, apple, brownie) and a table of other refreshments (quiche, bead, pastries)
- Well organized.
- Lots of pre-race information
- Easy packet pick up
- Ample parking
- Enthusiastic volunteers (even with the cold weather)
- Live tracking for others to follow runners and runners to get immediate results
- Free photos
- Hilly Course.
- Most of my running group did not participate.
- Not trained for hills (my fault).
- Traffic during the last mile or so.
- Ice/Snow on the course
- COLD TEMPS!
- INSANE WIND! (up 50 mph gusts)
- Waiting after the race
Would I recommend this race?
Sure. Pretty scenery and the perks mentioned above. But TRAIN ON HILLS before you run it!!
I’m pretty sure the weather couldn’t be as bad as this year. (I mean, it was 75 degrees two weeks prior.)
A Thanksgiving 10K
Happy Running! Run any big races in 2022? How did they go? Ever run a race in conditions so bad that you wanted to quit? Please share.