With most of the local races either cancelled or virtual, Albany Running Exchange has been scheduling COVID Safety Plan approved races. I completed a half marathon in November and in April.
In March I ran their five mile race. For this race, ARE used the same course as the five miler but added a full marathon and also a point-to-point 10 miler.
I was tempted to repeat the 5 miler to see if I could improve my time but I decided to challenge myself and run a 10 mile race.
It was advertised as “a very fast, point-to-point course.”
As you can from the elevation chart below, it is not exactly what I would call fast (I see hills!!)
The logistics were also complicated for the 10 mile race. 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.)
Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:
I have run several 10 mile races but none lately. The last one was in 2017. My slowest was in 2014: (1:49:55), my first one, and my PR was my third in the same year (1:38:45). All the others were somewhere in between. That would be my expectation for this race but on the slower end (like 1:45:00).
Usually on the weekends, I do run 10 miles. But this month I skipped a few in favor of a vacation and racing. It’s amazing how quickly the endurance that you built up leaves.
I picked up my race packet on Thursday evening.
and carb loaded on Saturday evening (pasta instead of pizza) and debated about what to wear the next day. I was hoping that for a race on May 30 I would be wearing a skirt and tank. But no, summer temps had decided to leave us and rain was in the forecast as well. I reluctantly picked a long sleeve shirt and hoped that I wouldn’t be too warm. I also packed a few throwaways for before and dry clothes for after.
I got up around 6:00 am on Sunday morning and was on the road by 7:00 for my 30 minute hour drive to race parking.
The 10 mile race started near Mabee farm and ended at Mohawk Harbor.
I parked my car at Mohawk Harbor, the finish for all races (but the start for the 5m & 26.2 m races.) I had signed up for the shuttle so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting back to my car after the race. However, my friend Sherry offered to drive to the start if I would drive her back to her car after. I accepted so that I wouldn’t have deal with masking and walking to the shuttle.
I met Sherry and Jenn at 7:45, left my car in the Golub parking lot (1/4 mi from the race) and we drove to the start which was about 15 minutes away.
There was plenty of parking in the grassy lot.
It wasn’t raining yet…but it was COLD (in the 40s and very damp). We were shivering.
We headed to bag check where one of our friends was volunteering. I reluctantly handed over my bag with dry warm clothing and waited under cover.
The COVID Safety plan was identical to all 7 live events ARE had held before this one: masks required throughout your time on-site. Once you started, you could lower your mask but did need to raise it unless within 6′ of others. The significantly staggered start (ie. 8 people every 10 seconds) allowed the race to spread out quickly.
I couldn’t wait to start. I was freezing. I was also hungry. It had been 3 hours since I had eaten breakfast. I decided to eat a Honey Stinger Wafflle (I know never eat something new on race day but it did work well.)
The 10 mile race started at 9 am. I was in wave 5 and before I knew it, it was time to move into the staging area.
My wave started around 9:11 am.
As soon as I crossed the start line, I pulled down by gaiter.
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.
During the first few miles, the rain was only a drizzle. In fact, I took off my gloves and actually got a little warm.
That didn’t last. Close to mile 3, it started to rain. And rain hard and harder. It never stopped.
My legs were feeling good. The scenery was pretty. The Mohawk river changed to being on the left.
The first water stop was a little after mile 3 at Kiwanis Park. This was my first walk break. I used my paper cup (as I did in my previous in-person cupless races). That waffle kept me going and so I decided to wait on my Gu,
Most of the race is a blur. It was raining hard. There were lots of puddles. I was feeling pretty strong.
In fact, a guy pulled up next to me and said “Your cadence is killing me.” Not sure what he meant. I do try to lift my feet and have a decent cadence, but he passed me by and left me in the dust!?
Around mile 5, 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 before mile 6 at Lock 8 Park.
The course was pretty flat until the last mile or so. The path was narrow and you had to be careful because the lead marathoners needed to pass on the left. (They had started an hour earlier than the 10 milers.)
The third and last water stop was around mile 8 at the SCCC Bike Path Parking Area. I walked again and took one more GU.
Around mile 9, some annoying hills appeared and during the last mile as well. 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. And the puddles were getting bigger (more like lakes). It didn’t really matter. I couldn’t get any wetter.
We finished at Mohawk Harbor (the start and finish of the 5 mile and Marathon races).
I was so happy to have finished. Of course, at that point I ran as fast as I could.
Unfortunately once you stopped running, you were freezing and by the time I finished, they had run out of foil blankets.
So I grabbed my medal and headed to bag check to retrieve some clothes.
I found Jenn and Sherry. Both did well (Jenn had a big PR).
We grabbed our lunches and headed in the pouring rain to my car.
There was a band, beer, food, etc. So much planning goes into a race especially one during the Pandemic. Such a shame to have such awful weather conditions.
Well, I turned on the heated seats in my car and drove Sherry back to her car at the race start.
Then I spent a lot of time in a hot shower and then eating my race lunch (sandwich, chips, brownie, apple) in front of my fire place.
Ugh! On May 30? Can you believe it?
Additional Race Reflections:
This was a first annual race. Most of the other local races are still cancelled so this racing company has been trying to hold a few races. I am so glad they are. It was so fun to be out there and soak up the racing atmosphere again (even in the rain).
I wasn’t expecting to feel as good as I did. Maybe it was the cold temps.
- Safety restrictions in place (staggered starts).
- Ample parking at the start and finish.
- Several distances: 10 mile, 5 mile, marathon
- Real restrooms at Mabee Farm
- Bag check for 10 milers
- Well marked course.
- Varied scenery including river views
- Lots of course marshals (even in the rain).
- Shuttle to the start (if needed).
- A real race.
- Well organized.
- A lot of pre-race information.
- Familiar faces (under the masks)
- Decent Post-race food.
- Nice half-zip shirt as swag.
- Cool medal.
- Free Beer (in Druthers)
- Free photos (start, mile 8.1 and finish)
- A real race.
- Cupless water stops
- Cold temps
Would I recommend this race?
It was super well-organized. Special attention was paid to EVERY detail. It will be even more fun when there are no COVID restrictions and the weather conditions are nicer.
Walking definitely slowed down my pace:
All in all, I was very happy with how I ran the race. I probably ran the first 3 miles too fast but that’s how I usually race. lol
Not expecting a PR and faster than I thought I would do. Happy Camper!
A 4 miler in two weeks and then ???
There are not many races scheduled before the fall.
I’m also linking up here:
Happy Running! Have run a real race yet? If so, how did go? Are you planning to run one? Please share.