Steel Rail Half Marathon Race Recap

I signed up for this race for several reasons:

  • It was local and I could sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • I would be mostly trained since I ran a half three weeks before this race.
  • It is a flat course.
  • I PR’d on this same course back in October.

Half Marathon Training:

If you read my blog, you know that my training included ZERO long runs but lot’s of races and a vacation in Florida.

Yes, I got some miles on the legs. I ran a slow half marathon (due to the fact that I didn’t train well), ran a 5k instead of my 12 mile long run, and then tapered with a 8 miler. And that’s it.  So be it.

Not what you’d expect for a runner wanting to get a PR.

I was still excited to run the race. I knew that I didn’t deserve to get a PR and I was hoping that I wouldn’t be too disappointed with a mediocre performance.

Pre-Race Activities and Preparations:

I reached out to FB friends who ran the Steel Rail Half Marathon last May and here’s what they said:

  • I loved it. Nice flat, downhill course.
  • The course is great!
  • Loved the course! It’s fast!

I also found some more info by searching online for reviews of the race.

The course is wonderful. It runs point-to-point from Lanesborough to Adams. It starts with two loops around the Berkshire Mall … then goes onto the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail for ten miles. The scenery is lovely. .. you can enjoy views of Mt. Greylock, lakes, and woods. And by the time you’re really hurting at mile ten, the trail starts gently sloping downhill, for real. If you want a half marathon PR, this is the course

Amenities included easy parking, plenty of porta-potties, a post-race massage tent, food, and beer. The tech race shirt was nice and offered women’s sizing. Prizes ran deep; Kent gave out generous checks for the top three overall winners and the top three masters, plus merchandise from his running store, Berkshire Running Center in downtown Pittsfield, for the top three age group winners… After the ceremony, buses delivered participants back to the start. I’d highly recommend this race…

Here’s the course map:

And the map of the elevation:

downhill at the end…sweet!

No 12 miles of walking the day before this half marathon!!! But I did do a lot of gardening. I decided against driving to Mass to get my bib (as I did in October) and instead spent a relaxing afternoon on the lake..

To celebrate both my birthday and the hubby’s, we went out to dinner. Carb loading to the max but no alcohol this time!

dinner view

I hardly ever get much sleep the night before a big race. And this night, it was no different.

Race Day:

So 6:30 am came early on Sunday morning. Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep in on a weekend??

The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am. I was happy about the late start except for the fact that it was May not October and the temps could have been really warm.


Luckily the 90 degree temps left for awhile. And it was actually pretty chilly. I wore my usual half marathon outfit of a tank and skirt. Just added my DIY sleeves to discard when I warmed up.

According to Google, it should have taken about 1h 15 to get there.  So I left my house at 7:15 am.

My GPS took me on the back roads and it was a really gorgeous ride.

I got there plenty early. The race started in the parking lot of the Berkshire Shopping Mall.  Easy to get to and lots of parking.

gender-specific race shirt 🙂

I picked up by bib and race shirt. The bib had two timing chips that you have to attach with safety pins to your shorts or front of your shirt.  Then you return them at the end of the race. Weird, right?

Since the race ended in Adams, MA, they gave you a bag to check stuff which would be available at the finish line.  Very convenient. I packed flip flops, a dry shirt and a jacket in it.

It was quite chilly – about 40 degrees colder than Thursday and cloudy. I shivered but knew that I would warm up once I started running. I stayed in my car for a while but eventually got out to mingle with the other runners. I didn’t see anyone that I knew but instantly made some new friends.  The runners were so friendly.

Since I had eaten breakfast three hours ago, I was hungry so ate a GU before the start.

Soon it was time to head to the start line.

The race is a blur as usual but here’s how I remember it:

Miles 1-3:

9:02, 9:17, 9:23

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The starting line was in the parking lot. I wasn’t sure if there were chip timing or gun timing. And I didn’t start as close to the front as I usually do, though.

For the first two miles, you ran around the parking lot. Like any race, the first mile/mile-and-a-half, was a big congested.  This was the hilliest part of the course (and it wasn’t that hilly.)

This also was the only part of the course where you could somewhat attempt to run tangents (Of course, I did.)

pic from FB

As usual, I got caught up in the excitement and when I glanced down at my Garmin, I saw that I was running 8:XX pace during the first mile. I quickly slowed down.  I knew that continuing to run that pace would be deadly.

I left on my DIY warm warmers but rolled them down but by the second time around, I tossed them (by the start line but forgot to pick them up after the race, anyway.)

Anita Louise Photography

pic from the web site

After mile 2, we left the parking lot and entered the trail.

A little while after we entered the trail, there was the first water stop.  I always stop at ALL water stops during a half marathon and even though I wasn’t warm or thirsty, I did so during this race, as well.

The trail was beautiful.  River at first on the right side, then also a lake on the left side.  Then eventually, the river was on the left side. I wish I could have gotten out my phone from my race belt more easily so I could have taken some photos.

pic from the website

I was still running at a decent pace and was in the zone. Of course, that pesky foot problem existed the whole time. (My bunion causes my big toe on my left foot to overlap the next toe causing toe pain and often sorenes on the bottom of my foot…ouch!!!)

Early on, a runner in pink asked me what my pace would be since she hadn’t run a half in many years.  I replied that I hoped that it would be around 10. To which she replied “I’ll try to keep you in my sight.”

She looked very fit and I was slightly ahead of her at various times during the race but at the water stops when I walked, she got way ahead.  Still it was nice to have someone to chat with so I tried to keep her pink shirt in my sights.

Miles 4-6:

9:55, 9:28, 9:30

As usual, after the first few miles, I started slowing  a little.  But I was still running at a decent pace (for me.)

There another water stop at almost mile 4 and I walked for a while. (I didn’t really need to but I am so used to walking when there is water.) I debated about eating a Gu but decided that I didn’t need it yet.

pic from Andrea’s FB)

We continued on the same trail and I just focused on the scenery.

The temperature was perfect for running.  Even a little chilly when we were running along the lake and could feel the cool breeze.

Then all of a sudden, maybe at almost mile 6, at another water stop, I realized that I was ahead of my time from the Ramblefest. Should I start thinking PR?

Nah!  Anything can and usually does happen during the second half of a half marathon.

So I walked and ate a GU.  (I wish I could eat them faster but I never can.)

Then it happened again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Garmin reset to zero!!! (It happened during my last 2 marathons.  There’s nothing to change in the settings!?)

So no idea of my current time. No idea of my current pace!! Pissed me off………..

Miles 7-9:

10:19, 9:41, 10:06

What could I do?  Nothing.

So I just continued piggy backing with the runner in pink and enjoying the FLAT course.

pic from Andrea’s FB

There was another water stop around mile 8 and I walked through that one too.  Again, I was amazed at how fresh my legs still felt.

I wasn’t sure what my average pace was. However, I knew that I was running slower than the first half but not too slowly. Since I don’t run by pace, it didn’t matter.  I had NO IDEA how much time had elapsed in the race. That would be how I would determine my finish time and if I were on track for a PR.

Such is life…

Miles 10-12

9:54, 10:42, 9:13

pic from Andrea’s FB

A little past mile 9, there was the next to last water stop.  I walked through it and ate my second GU.  I forgot to buy more so I was stuck with Chocolate and I instantly got stomach cramps…UGH!!

I was determined to muscle through them.  At least, the made me forget about my sore foot.

At mile 10 along the side of the road, I spotted Andrea, my roommate from the Philly Love Run.  We hugged. It was a great boost when I needed it.

She told that I looked strong and at that point, I decided that I wanted that PR…

Mile 13- 13.2:

8:47, ?? (My Garmin recorded the course as long.)

So I ran faster and caught up to the runner in pink and even passed her.

Believe it or not, my Garmin reset itself to zero again… it didn’t really matter since I hadn’t used it since mile 6.

Finally we left the trail. The race ended with a series of 2 left hand turns. We turned left onto Hoosac St. and left onto Depot St. and the finish line was on Depot St. in front of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot.

It seemed to take forever….

I wasn’t sure that I was going to PR.

But anyway as I made the last turn, I gave it everything I had.

I crossed under 2:07 and IT WAS A PR!!!!!!!!!!! (My previous PR was 2:08:59 in October on this same course.)

Gun or Chip Time: 2:06:52

A 2 minute 7 second PR!!! Almost 14 minutes faster than my last half marathon! I’ll take it.

I was on cloud nine.  A PR is great but one that you didn’t plan for is even better.  It was the first half marathon where  I didn’t struggle to complete it. My legs never felt tired. In fact, mile 13 was my fastest mile.  I’m not sure exactly why but I think at my age, the 4 rest days and the long taper (5ks rather than long runs) helped.

Post Race:

I got my medal, some water, a bagel, and a banana. Then I headed to get my free beer.

I’m not really a big beer drinker but this tasted good

With our food ticket, we could get anything that cost $3 for free. Believe it or not, we could have had a hamburger, chili, hot dog, sausage, fried dough but I chose a hot dog. And it was yummy!

I wandered around waiting for the results.

They gave out cash and pottery for top awards and a coffee tumbler for AG awards.

I also bumped into a former student of mine and her mom.  She won the Masters.

Congrats Michele! You are speedy!

I came in 5th or 6th in my AG, I think.

So I headed toward the buses. On the bus back to the mall, I chatted with some runners who are planning to run Wine Glass. We hoped to meet again.

My last stop before heading home was Target to do some shopping and get my post-race Starbucks.  Coincidentally, in Target, I ran into a law professor whom I used to work with. She had also run the race.

Additional Race Reflections:

The Good:

  • Close enough to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • Organized packet pick-up.
  • Lots of parking and easy to locate.
  • Real bathrooms after the race.
  • Enthusiastic volunteers and crowd support.
  • Scenic course especially with the foliage and water views.
  • Flat course!!
  • No major injuries. (just the usual foot pain and some stomach cramps)
  • Gender-specific shirts
  • Decent selection of refreshments (free beer & $3 food coupon)
  • The post race music, massages and food stands were nice
  • PRed!! Woot! Woot!

The Bad:

  • The two laps around the parking lot were boring. (It did save the expense of closing roads to make up the 13.1 miles)
  • The late start for a May race.
  • No professional race photos (just a few on the newspaper website and on FB)

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really.

It was a great race. I loved it! I would have enjoyed it even if I didn’t get a PR!  But that made it just sweeter.

one last look at my PR medal

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I don’t usually repeat half marathons but if I did, I would run this one again.

Final Stats:

Next Up:

Oct 1 – Wine Glass Half Marathon in Corning, NY. (or possibly the Maple Leaf Half in VT on Sept. 9.)


Since today is Tuesday, I’m also linking up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life for


I’m also linking with Susie and Rachel and Debbie and Lora for the Running Coaches’ Corner

Happy Running! Do you have a favorite Half Marathon? Do you train to PR? Or does it happen by surprise?

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTR: My Running Year in Pictures

Since today is Tuesday, I’m linking up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life for

Today’s Topic is: Your year in pictures:

I’ve run 43 races and over 1000 miles. How can I limit myself??

But I’ll and only post one racing picture per month:

January:

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lots of free races with friends as part of the HMRRC’s Winter Series

February:

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windy and cold but I completed an awesome half marathon (Sarasota Music) in Florida while visiting friends

March:

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perfect weather for the hilliest half marathon (Celebrate Life) and a fun time on the bus road trip

April:

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another nice day for a half marathon along my favorite lake (Lake George) and with my running buddy Barbara

May:

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loved getting to see fellow blogger AJH and survived this heat cancelled marathon relay (VCM)

June:

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one of my favorite races (Adirondack Distance 10 Miler) that finishes next door to the marina where we keep our boat

July:

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not all races have had good weather but still a good time in this wet 5k (Saratoga Springs)

August:

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this 8.4 mile race was on my bucket list and happy to be able to run this hilly one and win my AG

September:

Sept 18

Another local half marathon completed on a beautiful course (Saratoga Palio) followed by free beer and bar food

October:

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Half Marathon #22 and a PR!!! Loved this race!! (Ramblefest)

November:

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sharing 3 Russian young women’s first NYC racing experience was the best! (Dash to the Finish 5k)

December:

Sharing half marathon #23 with 7 amazing ladies #holottafun

Phew! That was tough!  I could have posted at least 10 pics for each month.  I also ignored all those running experiences that were not part of a race.

Here’s just a few:

I’ve enjoyed a great 2016 and feel so fortunate to have had zero injuries and to have been able to race often and with so many wonderful runners.

Happy Running! What is your favorite memory of 2016?

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Ramblefest Half Marathon Race Recap & TOTR

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Half Marathon Training

I’ve never run two half marathons so close together.

I ran the Saratoga Palio three weeks ago. So did I really need to train?

Maybe not…

So I just added some extra miles to the two 5k races that I ran on the weekends that proceeded the race.

These two runs would have do as my long runs.  I ran my usual 3-4 miles several times during the week.

Pre-Race Preparations

This is a first annual race so I knew nothing about the course or the race.

This is what the website had to say:

Organized by the Berkshire Running Center, the first annual RambleFest Half Marathon will be held along the beautiful Ashuwillticook Trail from Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough, to the Visitors Center in Adams.

Not much help.

So I reached out to FB friends who ran the Steel Rail Half Marathon last May.  The Steel Rail is supposed to have the same course. Here’s what they said:

  • I loved it. Nice flat, downhill course.
  • The course is great!
  • Loved the course! It’s fast!

I found some more info by searching online for reviews of the Steel Rail half.  Here’s one:

The course is wonderful. It runs point-to-point from Lanesborough to Adams. It starts with two loops around the Berkshire Mall (both of which seem downhill all the way; I haven’t figured that out yet), then goes onto the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail for ten miles. The scenery is lovely. If you’re not trying to hold pace by fixating on the feet of the guy in front of you like I was, you can enjoy views of Mt. Greylock, lakes, and woods. And by the time you’re really hurting at mile ten, the trail starts gently sloping downhill, for real. If you want a half marathon PR, this is the course

Amenities included easy parking, plenty of porta-potties, a post-race massage tent, food, and beer. The tech race shirt was nice and offered women’s sizing. Prizes ran deep; Kent gave out generous checks for the top three overall winners and the top three masters, plus merchandise from his running store, Berkshire Running Center in downtown Pittsfield, for the top three age group winners… After the ceremony, buses delivered participants back to the start. I’d highly recommend this race…

You also get a hoodie if you run both races.  (Next year!?)

I had not been particularly excited about this race but after reading this review, I was looking forward to it.

I had decided to wear what I wore at a previous 10k race but then changed my mind and wore my Brooklyn Half shirt (from exactly a year ago) with a throwaway and DIY arm warmers.

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Skirt Sports outfits always bring me luck or at least makes me look good

The weather was predicted to be cool and breezy with a chance of rain.

adams

don’t believe that 20% & 5% chance of rain – should have been 100%

Rain is not my favorite weather to run in.  It also ruins both the pre and post race activities. And humidity is the worst.  But you can’t control the weather.

lg3

one of the 3 half marathons that I have run in the rain.

Although Saturday was my catch up day with doing stuff around the house, since I would be off on Monday, I decided to take a ride to Pittsfield, MA to pickup my bib. Race packet pick up was at a running store so in addition to getting my race shirt & bib, I bought a pair of socks. We got two plastic strips to hang off our hips for the timing.  Interesting.  After I left the store, I stopped and had a nice lunch in town.

long sleeved tech shirt

Probably not the best idea in the world but that night, the night before the race, I invited a co-worker to go see the speaker at my college Reunion Weekend.

ualbany

We also had dinner together beforehand.  Pizza, of course!

It was a really good show but it didn’t end until after 10 pm. Needless to say, I didn’t get enough sleep before my big race.

Race Day

The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 am. I was happy about the late start.

According to Google, it should have taken about 1h 15 to get there.  So I got up about 6 am and left my house at 7:15 am because I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going.

My GPS took me on the back roads and it was a really gorgeous ride.  Unfortunately, it rained on and off during my ride which made me nervous.  I didn’t want to run another half marathon in the rain.

I got there plenty early. The race started in the parking lot of the Berkshire Shopping Mall.  Easy to get to and lots of parking.

Since the race ended in Adams, MA, they gave you a bag to check stuff which would be available at the finish line.  Very convenient. I packed flip flops, sweat pants and a jacket in it.

I did some knitting while I was waiting.  It was too cold to wait outside my car….around 50 and windy and damp. Brrrr!

Soon Alyssa arrived and we shivered together until it was time to line up to start the race.

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A lot of the race is a blur but here’s how I remember it:

Miles 1-4:

9:15, 9:29, 9:16, 10:07

Alyssa and I decided to run together.  I had never run a race with someone else but I was willing to try. I thought that it would be fun to have someone to chat with to pass the time and make the miles less painful.

The starting line was in the parking lot.  I wasn’t sure if there were chip timing or gun timing (Still not.) We didn’t start as close to the front as I usually do, though.

For the first two miles, you ran around the parking lot.  I had decided to ditch my cotton shirt but left on my DIY warm warmers.  And it was windy and I was freezing!!!

We realized pretty quickly that we were running too fast but decided to keep it up as long as we could.

After mile 2, we left the parking lot and entered the trail.  The trail was less windy and I wasn’t as cold.

I was running at a decent pace and was in the zone and all of a sudden, I realized that Alyssa was no longer next to me.  I wasn’t sure if she was behind me or in front of me.  I usually finish races faster than her but when we run together for training runs, she is much faster.

I thought I saw someone ahead with an orange shirt. But as it turns out, she was behind me.

A little after we entered the trail, there was the first water stop.  I always stop at ALL water stops during a half marathon and even though I wasn’t warm or thirsty, I did so during this race as well.

The trail was beautiful.  I wish I could have gotten out my phone from my race belt more easily so I could have taken some photos.  The leaves had changed and there were views of the mountains, streams and even a lake.

My biggest problem (and it’s always something) was than my ankle (the one that has 8 screws and a plate in it from surgery almost 4 years ago) was throbbing. It has never hurt like this while running before.  It was probably from the dampness and that this is the first cold run (During my last run, it was almost 80 degrees.) It hurt a lot and I wished that I had some ibuprofen.

There another water stop at almost mile 4 and I took my first Gu and walked for a while.  However, my ankle hurt just as much while walking.  In addition, the bottom of my foot started to hurt (like at the Asbury Park Half).  Still I felt strong, I tried to ignore both discomforts.

I just focused on the scenery.

Miles 5-8:

9:39, 9:55, 10:21, 9:41

We continued on the same trail and I wasn’t as chilled anymore.  I even rolled down my DIY arm warmers. My nose was running from the cold and I kept worrying that it was another nosebleed but that never happened 🙂 (I did bring tissues and tucked them under my shorts but they fell out…  I did have those arm warmers LOL)

Then all of a sudden, maybe around mile 6, at another water stop, my ankle and foot stopped hurting.  WTF?

I also realized that I was ahead of my time from the Palio Half.

Should I start thinking PR?

Nah!  Anything can and usually does happen during the second half of a half marathon.

Around mile 7, I started getting hungry but had to wait until mile 8 for a water stop to eat my 2nd GU.

Miles 9-12:

10:25, 10:07, 9:55, 9:52

Still on the trail but remember that forecast?  Around mile 8 or 9, it started raining lightly.

Throughout the course, the road was covered with wet leaves but now it was getting even more slippery.

Then it started raining harder.  It wasn’t so bad because the trees were acting as an umbrella. But the weather was getting chilly again.

My back was now starting to ache.  It always does toward the end of a race so I tried to watch my form and ignore it.

A little past mile 9, there was the next to last water stop.  I still walked through it even though it could have ended my PR hopes.

I always doubt my strength to finish strong as well as not wanting to push myself too hard and result in an injury.

The rain lessened and at the last water stop, I decided against taking my last GU and just walked only a short bit.

Yes, I decided that I wanted that PR!!!

Mile 13-14:

9:20, 8:38

Finally we left the trail. The race ended with a series of 2 left hand turns. We turned left onto Hoosac St. and left onto Depot St. and the finish line was on Depot St. in front of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot.

I wasn’t sure that I was going to PR.  My Garmin was sometimes right on with the mile markers and other times way off.

As I made the last turn, somebody yelled, “You can beat that guy.”  They meant the guy in front of me.

I gave it everything I had but didn’t even come close.

I did, however, cross under 2:09 and IT WAS A PR!!!!!!!!!!! (My previous PR was 2:09:40 in January 2015.)

Gun or Chip Time: 2:08:59
Garmin Time: 2:08:47

I got my medal, some water and a banana and went to wait for Alyssa.

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She didn’t finish much after me and she got a PR too!

Post Race:

We were both happy with our times.  But it was raining harder and we were freezing. We decided to forgo the  cold beer and get something to eat.

The race ended at a big festival (Ramblefest) with music, craft booths, many food booths, pumpkin carving for kids, etc.  Too bad the weather was so lousy.

With our food ticket, we could get anything that cost $3 for free. Believe it or not, we could have had a hamburger, chili, hot dog, sausage, fried dough but we both chose grilled cheese. And it was yummy!

While we were waiting for the results, we hung out in front of a big bonfire. That felt so good!

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Neither one of us did win anything. They gave out cash for top awards and gift cards to the running store for AG awards. I came in 5th and the 4 women ahead of me were each 60 years old. (If it were last year, I would have won!)

rfawards

So we headed toward the buses.  We just missed the bus to return to the shopping center where we left our cars and there was going to be 40 minute wait for the next one.  But the bus that brought the bags decided to take us all.  By this point, I was numb and even my jacket and pants didn’t warm me up.

As soon we got back to our cars, we headed to Target to get something HOT to drink.

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Even with my tired legs, I managed to spend $160 in the store. (Remember I hadn’t gotten my grocery shopping done the day before.)

I know when you run a long race, you are supposed to take an ice bath but I never do.  I headed straight to my hot tub!!!!

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • Close enough to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • Organized packet pick-up.
  • Lots of parking and easy to locate.
  • Real bathrooms after the race.
  • Running a race with a friend.
  • Enthusiastic volunteers (even in the rain – bugle, bag pipes, music)
  • Scenic course especially with the fall foliage and water views.
  • No major injuries. (just ankle and foot pain –  it’s always something!)
  • Nice selection of refreshments.
  • The festival post race was nice (and would have been even better if the sun came out.)
  • The bonfire was essential with the day’s weather.
  • PRed!! Woot! Woot!

The Bad:

  • The two laps around the parking lot were boring. (It did save the expense of closing roads to make up the 13.1 miles)
  • It was cold and rainy!!
  • No race photos

The Ugly:

  • Nothing really.

It was a great race. I loved it! I would have enjoyed it even if I didn’t get a PR!  But that made it just sweeter. Too bad, the sun couldn’t have come out!!!

Would I recommend this race?

Yes. Yes. Yes. I don’t usually repeat half marathons but if I did, I would run this one again. I’m in luck. The same course can be run in May: The Steel Rail Half Marathon.

Final Stats:

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my Garmin said 13.16 and I ran the tangents in the parking lot – go figure.

And I felt so good the next day that I climbed up a mountain.

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Can you believe the sunshine! Wish the weather was like this on race day.

wearing my race shirt, of course.

Next Up:

A few 5ks and 10ks, a 15k and then another half marathon.

Dec. 3, 2016 with 7 other awesome bloggers and virtual friends


And since it’s Tuesday, I’m linking up with these wonderful ladies:

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs, Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life!

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Today’s Topic is: Taper quirks/cravings/rituals

I don’t think I do anything weird before my big races but here’s what I always do:

  • I do my last run 2 days before my half marathon. In other words, I leave TWO days with no running at all.
  • I carb load the night before – I usually eat pizza.
  • I make sure I have the right breakfast food for the morning of – tea & cream of wheat hot cereal.
  • I set out my outfit (and all other items such as race belt, gps watch, fuel, etc.) the night before (and if it is a destination race, bring clothes for warmer or colder temps than predicted).  If I am flying, I pack my running stuff in my carry on not my checked luggage.
  • I figure out in advance the race logistics – where to park, is there bag check, when I can pick up my bib, where the race starts & finishes, etc.
  • I scope out online race reviews to see what others have said about the race.
  • I do something fun the day before to take my mind off the race. 

Happy Running!  What do you do when you taper? Anything crazy?

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Tuesdays on the Run: Highlights of the Year

Erika @ MCM Mama Runs hosts Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia @ Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty @ My no-guilt life

This week’s topic is Highlights of your Running Year

Here are a few of mine:

  • Racing in NYC

This was on my bucket list for years and I finally got to do it.

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I ran the Dash to the Finish 5k and crossed the NYC Marathon finish line. I loved this race!!

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  • PRing in a Half Marathon

This was totally unexpected but it turned out to be such a perfect race…great weather, scenic course….

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As a bonus, I came in first in my age group.

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  • Meeting Frank Shorter

I met him at bib pick up for the Stockadeathon 15K.

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And he signed my bib for luck.

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  • 15K PR

Frank Shorter did bring me luck.

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A 2 minute PR at the Stockadeathon in November.

  • Other PRs

I had 4 mile PR at the Runnin’ of the Green in March.

Runnin' of the Green 2015

and a 5 mile PR at the Delmar Dash, also in March.

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It’s always exciting at my age to have a fast race.

  • Running a Trail in Palm Desert, CA.

I never expected to enjoy it so much.  My friend, Mary (who lives there) & I did it twice.

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I hope to be able to visit her again someday.

  • Running Over the Walkway Bridge

This was part of an inaugural half marathon in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.

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I even won an age group award, though my finish time wasn’t exceptional.

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  • Running the VCM Relay with AJH

This is another race that I’ve wanted to do but I don’t run marathons.  I was excited when AJH applied and we got into the lottery for the relay.

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we met Deena Kastor at the expo

The course is great and it is much more enjoyable to do a race with a friend.

VCM Relay

  • Taking a Running Tour of Denver, CO

I was at a conference and had some free time, so why not?

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It was so much fun.  I can’t wait to do another one.

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  • Mentoring Other Runners

I was a Running Buddy in the Girls on the Run program in the spring.

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And for the second time this fall, I participated in the STEM program.

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I was paired with a 5th grader in the first one and in the 2nd, a 29 year-old unwed mom who was a victim of domestic violence. It was so rewarding to share my love of running with someone else and hopefully positively influence them.

  • Being part of a Running Group

Although I’ve run the Freihofer’s Run For Women every year since 2008, this was my first year participating in their Training Challenge.

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one of the group runs where we ran with the mayor

For the 2nd year in a row, I joined the Troy Turkey Trot Training Challenge.

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I can’t say for a fact that it improved my running but running with a group is certainly more fun and I’ve met a lot of great people through these 2 groups.

I could go on and on. I had a great running year.

Any year where you can run for 12 months (38 races) with NO INJURIES is a great year.

Happy Running! What was the highlight of your running year?

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Stockade-athon 15K Race Recap

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This is my fourth time running this 15k race. In 2011, my first time, I finished in 1:36:08.  I was injured in 2012 and then I ran it in 2013 and finished with a disappointing 142:22.

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With over 2000 runners in this race, they were forced to make some changes to the course last year.

It no longer starts and ends in Central Park. It also starts earlier – 8:30 am

This is a description of the new course:

It 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 via Front Street 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.

Well, I loved the new course and finished the race with a new PR – 1:33:23

This year, they decided to stay with the same course. YAY!

However, there has been a big difference in the my training – slower (long) runs due to a half marathon in October and an upcoming one in December.

So I didn’t expect to PR but just wanted a decent long run (and not get INJURED!!)

To save time, I picked up my race packet on Saturday at Fleet Feet in Albany.

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I met Frank Shorter there and he was soooo nice!

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a cotton shirt (ugh!) but I got my bib signed (as a good luck charm)

As usual, I didn’t sleep much the night before the race. I had decided what to wear but still wasn’t sure about how cold it would be. It was in the 30s when I got up and it was forecast to warm up to the high 40s. I hate this time of year.  But at least there was a bag check and I could bring extra clothes for after.

Even though, I went last year, I still left extra early not knowing where exactly to park. I got there around 7:15 am and found a spot on the street a few blocks from the start of the race.

I walked to the YMCA to use the restroom and check my extra clothes. There I bumped into a few familiar faces. I also met someone new (Linda, a 70 yr old) and we spent a lot of time chatting.

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I used the restroom right away and was glad that I did since the line got very very long later on.  It was so nice to have some place to stay warm before the race.  They even had water, coffee, donuts, fruit, etc.  I didn’t eat anything since I ate breakfast before I left but did take a GU.

Soon, it was time for Linda & I to walk a few blocks and head to the starting line.

The course map:

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As with any big race, it was very slow going at first.

from Daily Gazette

As the map above shows, we headed west along the Mohawk River into the Stockade section of town.

photo by David Giacalone

After the bike path and the Stockade area, we ran past Union College and around various residential neighborhoods.

photo by David Giacalone

I knew a lot a 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 pain-free race.

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I was trying to keep my pace under 10 but at this point I was starting to slow down.  The hills were relentless. I remember last year being able to run up them.  Not this year but I gave myself permission to walk if I needed to.

And I was HOT!! Yes, with the sun out, I was dying but there was nothing I could do.  There were times, I felt nauseated due to being overdressed.

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Around mile 6, we entered Central Park with its rolling hills, lake, and pretty foliage.

photo by David Giacalone

I had at this point walked through both water stops and a few other times (including one long bout to take a GU).

I wasn’t concerned about my time but when I crossed the 10k mark at 1:00:xx, those PR thoughts came into my head. I tried to think about something else because I knew what was coming.

Between mile 7 and 8 is where the BIG hills were.  I walked up the first one.  Then I decided to run up the second because it was the last one.  It was so steep that when I got to the top, my legs were jelly and I could hardly run.

At least the hills were over and I got a second wind. We proceeded to run through the cemetery and then through a park before heading DOWNHILL to the finish line at city hall.

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Of course, the wind picked up and we were running INTO the run!!

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Stockadeathon 15k

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But when I saw the clock in the distance, I ran as fast as I could.

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I finished at 1:31:35!!

Yes, a PR by almost 2 minutes …without even trying!

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10 of 20 in my AG 1st 5k=29:44; 2nd 5k=31:02; 3rd 5K =30:56

I was happy with the results. There was no chance of an age group award. All the speedy old ladies run this race.

I really liked this course.  It was so varied that it also took your mind off the hills. With the large number of runners, 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 NOTHING HURT!! Not my feet, not my back…nada.  I didn’t put it all out there and I just enjoyed myself.

This was a confidence booster for me. When I was done, I felt like I could still run more…

I waited around to see Judy finish.

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As I was waiting, someone came over and said “I like your skirt.”

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love the wind blown hair!

She was a SkirtSports ambassador too! She has since emailed me and maybe we will see each other again.

Then Judy & I walked to the YMCA.  I changed into warmer clothes and then went to Proctors to get something to eat. There was vegetable soup, pizza, bagels, cider donuts, fruit, chocolate milk, yogurt, and lots more.

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Then I wandered over to the indoors Farmers Market — 2 floors of local baked goods, fruits, vegetables.  I just sampled the food and walked around.

I stayed around for the awards since Linda was probably getting one (there were 20 in my AG and only 1 in hers).

she was last but has such a great attitude (photo by David Giacalone)

I will definitely add this race to my must-do list. It was very well organized and I was thrilled with my time.  The hills slowed me down but next year, I’ll be ready for them…maybe gun for a sub 1:30.

Splits: (2014 – 2015)

mile 1 – 8:49 – 8:57
mile 2 – 9:29 – 9:36
mile 3 – 10:03 – 10:02
mile 4 – 10:04 – 9:59
mile 5 – 9:49 – 9:33
mile 6 – 10:30 – 10:16
mile 7 – 10:35 – 10:04
mile 8 – 10:58 – 10:21
mile 9 – 10:02 – 9:38
.4 –  8:26 – 8:14

The difference was starting slower which gave me more energy for the 2nd half.

and Frank signing my bib LOL.

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Race Goals:

A: Finish under 1:35 – YES!! And a PR!!
B: All miles between 9 and 11 minutes. YES!
C: Finish happy and healthy. YES YES!

The day ended with a Chinese dinner with my Mah Jongg group to celebrate 7 years of playing together.

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Happy Running! Did you run or race this past weekend? If so, how did it go?

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Thinking Out Loud Thursday: That Elusive Speed

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So I’m linking up today with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

I have been thinking about running goals and speed.

I was getting faster for awhile..

and then things slowed down for whatever reason.

Of course as we age, we slow down.

But what if we started running when we were old. Do we still slow down?

So it seems that if we don’t slow down then it’s a Win-Win.

After a few months of running, my 5k finish times went down to a consistent 29-30 minutes.

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Then all of a sudden, I was able to run 27-28 minute 5ks.

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Now, I am back to finishing at 29-30 minutes.

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Did I slow down or is that where I should be for my age??

Am I going to get even slower? If so, I need to adjust my goals!!

The same thing happened with Half Marathons.

I finished my first one in around 2:26.

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Of course, eventually I got faster and finished one in 2:09

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Now, I am back to finishing close to 2:26.

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So will I continue to run at this speed? Or can I get faster?  Or as I age will I get even slower?

Just food for thought.

On another related topic….

I decided to run some 5ks this summer.

  • TEAM Sarcoma 5k on July 11 (this Saturday)
  • Silks & Satins 5k on July 24 (in 2 weeks)

Both take place in Saratoga – the first one in the park and the second in town starting at the race track.

How fast will I be? Who knows?

Happy Running! Do you struggle with race goals related to speed?

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Thining Out Loud Thursday: Racing, Confidence & Walking

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So I’m linking up today with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

at the start

That’s 14 (almost 15) races in 4 months.

When I first started running, I would sign up for races as a motivator to get out there and run during the week.  I knew that my race performance would suffer if I didn’t.

Once I started running half marathons, I followed a plan so I would run during the week to train for the race.

I ran in order to race.

Many runners don’t race much at all.  They just run. And that’s perfectly fine.

But I need to race. I enjoy it.  I am not sure that I would run if I didn’t race.

  • I think that I have lost my confidence! From September to March, this is what happened:

5K  PR– 27:11 (Run for the Roc -9/28/14)
10 mi PR – 1:38:45 (Perfect 10 Miler – 10/26/14)
15K PR – 1:33:23 (Stockade-athon – 11/09/14)
10K PR– 57:03 (Troy Turkey Trot- 11/27/14)
Half Marathon PR –  2:09:40 (West Palm Beach Half – 1/17/15)

7K PR – 44:24 (HMRRC Winter Series #5 – 2/2/14)
4 mi PR – 37:27 (Runnin’ of the Green – 3/14/15)
5 mi PR –  45:26 (Delmar Dash – 3/29/15)

Yup, that’s a PR at every distance!! Even after several serious injuries and being OLD!  What a confidence booster!

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Since April, things have slowed down.  I have still been racing a lot but my times have been slow!  (That is slow for me.  Others would complain if they ran a mile in over 8 minutes.  Some would be thrilled run one in 10 minutes. We’re all different.)

I feel like I have gone backwards…to the time when I struggled to finish a 5k under 30 minutes and a half marathon under 2 1/2 hours.

Being the analytical person that I am, I have searched for the reasons…

–my feet started hurting during my April half (which was annoying to  say the least)
— I have cut back on my mileage (skipped runs)
–I have been running solo (no group runs)
–It is warmer (and humid)

All are very valid reasons.  I don’t expect PRs. But I would like to have a good race to bring my confidence back.

  • Galloway may have a point. Lately I have been reading his tips on several blogs. His most recent is about walking. If you have read any of my race recaps, you know that I DO WALK.

According to Galloway:

Compared to running constantly, the 1-minute walk break still results in runners feeling better, staying healthier, and going faster, but it can get even better! Limiting walk breaks to 30 seconds, or in some cases even less, while cutting the run time accordingly, gives all the same benefits, with even less fatigue and even faster times.

Why?

The greatest benefit of the walk break comes in the first 30 sec. Our heart rates come down, the running muscles relax, we catch our breaths, and the fatigue melts away. After 30 seconds of walking, we tend to slow down. 
As fatigue sets in, that walk gets slower… This means faster running is needed to stay on pace, which creates more fatigue at the end of each running segment, so the walk will get slower, and so goes the downward spiral at the end of the race.

I do not officially use the RUN/WALK method.  But I do walk.

When I first started running, my goal was to run a race without walking.  I was thrilled when I could.  However, I didn’t get faster until I allowed myself to walk.

Not one of my PR times above were accomplished without walking.

Of course, I wish I was strong enough to run fast and not have to walk. But unfortunately I am not.

Happy Running! Any thoughts today?  What do you think about racing, PRs and/or walking?

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March Recap

March Goals:

  • Run 3-4 times each week (no matter how cold it gets.) YES!
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a few on the treadmill 😦

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on vacation in CA 🙂

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at work

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  • Get some strength training or yoga done. No trips to the gym but occasional planks and lifting weights.
  • Start running with a training group. YES! My group started on Mar. 16. I’ve run 3 Mondays with them.

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  • Do long runs on the weekend to start to train for half marathon on April 18. Sorta. I missed 2 and ran the other 2 in 2 parts.

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after a 5 mile race

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6 miles after a 5 mile race

  • Complete a 5K race. No! My flight got cancelled so I got to Palm Springs too late.
  • Complete a 5 mile race. YES! Two.
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and a 34 sec. PR at 46:29 & 3rd in my AG award

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45:46 – another 43 sec. PR

  • Complete a 4 mile race. YES! 
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and a 13 sec. PR at 37:27

  • Run all my races under 10 min. mile pace. YES!
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Runnin’ of the Green 4m – 9:22

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Shamrock Shuffle 5m – 9:18

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Delmar Dash 5m – 9:10

  • Volunteer at a race. YES! At the HMRRC Winter Series Marathon
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3 hours in the freezing cold!!

  • Run at least 80 miles. YES! 82!!

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However, since this is the month before my half marathon, I should have run more miles.  I’ll blame the cold weather and my trip to California.

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82 three months in a row – how did that happen?

So this month, I was lucky to get to spend 4 sunny warms days in California where I ran, hiked and watched tennis.

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I started knitting again.

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it’s a hat for my friend’s new grandson

April Goals:

  • Run 3-4 times each week.
  • Get some strength training or yoga done.
  • Continue running with a training group.
  • Do long runs on the weekend to train for half marathon on April 18.
  • Complete a 5K race.
  • Complete Half Marathon #12.
  • Run my 5k race under 10 min. mile pace.
  • Win an age group award.
  • Run with my GOTR running buddy.
  • Run at least 85 miles.

Happy Running! How was your March?  Anything special planned for April?

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Shamrock Shuffle Race Recap

This was my 4th 5 mile race.

My Delmar Dash times:

2014 – 48:14
2013 – 47:39
2011 – 47:08 PR

The Delmar Dash which is next Sunday is the only 5 miler that I have run. As you can see my times have gotten slower. I’d like to turn that around.

I was hoping that the weather would be a little more springlike and I could wear my new green skirt.  But it was not.  It was COLD, even colder than last week.  So I just wore tights under my skirt and the usual layers.

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Not knowing anything about the course (though it claims to be fast and flat) and Delmar is absolutely flat, I was hoping to finish under 50 minutes and maybe beat last year’s 5 mile time (48:14).

I also wanted to have enough energy to run 5 more miles afterward since I did not do my long runs the last 2 weekends.

The race was about an hour drive from my house and again I left early not knowing exactly where I was going.

Well, when I left it was around 20 degrees.  The winds were 25 mph and it was predicted to get up 40 mph wind gusts.  Did not sound like fun to me.

Yesterday, it was nice out.  All day long, I felt like doing my 10 mile long run and DNSing this race. So I went into this race with a crappy attitude.

My attitude changed as soon as I arrived. Although the parking lot was full, I found a spot on a nearby street. Everyone hung out in the gym waiting for the race to start.

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cold short sleeved tees shirt (that I will send to my running buddy)

I chatted with a runner about the Schroon Lake Half Marathon.  She noticed my jacket.

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I though I was going to wear my Schroon Lake Half jacket

Then I bumped into Laurie from my Turkey Trot training group.  We talked for a while being entertained by bag pipes.

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With a late start (11 am), I was already hungry for lunch by the time the race began so I took a GU.

Soon, we headed for the start.  We waited until the last minute so we didn’t have to stand outside long in the cold.

I changed my mind several times about what to wear. Eventually I settled on a fleece vest under my 2 shirts instead of the windbreaker. I was hoping that the sun would keep me warm.

Well, this supposedly fast flat course was not flat for the first 2 miles.

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And as usual, I went out too fast thinking I was Super Woman.

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over the highway bridge

By the first water stop around mile 1.75, I was pooped.  The wind, the hills and my fast pace had killed me so I walked for a bit.

Then I slowed it down until we got the downhill portion. Mile 3’s downhills gave me a boost but again at the second water stop around mile 4, my speed caught up to me.  This time I walked for even longer.

The bad thing about wearing a watch is that I knew my pace was faster than last week and fast enough to PR.  So I felt comfortable walking instead of pushing myself to do even better.

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the course went down main roads as well as old neighborhoods

Finally, I saw the finish line and tried to sprint but I didn’t have much left.

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iI wish someone had mentioned that my skirt was tucked into my belt

 

I crossed at 46:29.  A PR! This made me very happy!!

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other runners heading to the finish line

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happy to be done..ignore my skirt that is scrunched up into my belt

I went inside and I must say the refreshments left a lot to be desired…bananas and some stale cookies.

So I went back into the gym and waited for Laurie to finish and the results to be posted.

When I looked at the results, I noticed that my name was not listed!!! I was pissed…my fastest 5 miler and a probable age group award!!

So I talked to the director when they were reading the men’s awards and she remembered me and asked for my name and my time.

I hoped my Garmin was correct and it turned out to be.

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Yup, I got third.  Some of the fast women did not run this race…YAY!

And I got a beer glass.

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out of 338

Splits:

mile 1- 8:55
mile 2- 9:31 (walk #1)
mile 3- 8:58
mile 4- 9:35 (walk #2)
mile 5- 9:19
.04 – 8:17

I enjoyed the race (I enjoy them all) and was happy about how I did considering the wind and my walking.  I’m not sure if it was worth the hour ride so I may not do this one again especially if I am training for a spring half marathon.

I get another shot at a 5 miler next Sunday – the Delmar Dash!!

Though I was tired and cold, I drove back and stopped along the way to run some more miles.

First I stopped at Colonie Town Park but the bike path in both directions was snow/ice covered so I drove the Nisky Bike Path.

It was clear.

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clear for 2.25 miles

But it seemed to have gotten colder and the wind gusts were incredible. I almost quit several times.

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out of luck…can’t get to Blatnik Hill

I really struggled to get 5 more miles done. I walked a lot. In fact, it took me over one hour!! (That’s over a 12 minute pace.)

Oh well, at least I got my 10 mile long run done.  It just had a 2 hour break in the middle.

When I got home, my friend called and wanted to know if I wanted to go get soft ice cream.

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how could I say “no”…another mint cone..yum!!

I’m linking this post up with Tara at Running n’ Reading for her Weekend Update!

 Happy Running! How was your weekend? Any running or racing?

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Runnin’ of the Green Race Report

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This was to be my 8th 4 mile race.

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Though it’s not a new race, it is a new course.

This very popular local race used to be run in Green Island (Runnin’ of the Green) but I guess it got to be too large so they moved it this year to Schalmont (which was farther away.)

I had no idea if it were flat or hilly so I assumed that it would be a little of each.

My past 4 milers:

Polar Cap Races (hilly):

2011 – 40:11
2013 – 41:40
2014 – 40:10
2015 –  37:40 PR

Runnin’ of the Green 4 milers (flat):

2011 – 38:02
2014 – 38:07

Rabble Ramble:

2014 – 38:06

Runnin of the Green - March

last year

So I guess, my goal for the race would be to finish under 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, the forecast was for rain or freezing rain. I was not too happy. I HATE to run in the rain.

I woke up early to rain.  I was not happy especially since if it were nice, I planned to run 6 more miles after the race. It was also cold – 30’s.

I wanted to dress like this:

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last Sunday – 90 degrees!

but I adapted this outfit for the East coast climate – tights, long sleeved shirt, jacket, gloves.

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indoors staying warm – 33 degrees!!

I left early since I didn’t know what the parking situation would be. But as it turned out, they didn’t get the attendance that they expected. There were half as many.  I think many runners thought the new location was too far.

We got a short sleeved tech shirt which was unisex so too big,

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I bumped into the usual folks that I see at the HMRRC races.  We chatted and then it was time to go outside.

I made the wise decision to ditch the fleece vest because the rain had stopped (Hooray) and it was humid.

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not a pretty sight

I made the obvious mistake of thinking I could keep up with these speedy ladies. I could not. But trying tired me out during mile 1.

There were timers at each mile and I finished the first mile a little over 9 minutes.

The course was not as flat as the old course but it was not too bad.  By mile 2, I was exhausted.  I crossed a little over 18 minutes but I was having a hard time breathing.  I am not used to running fast. It has been quite a while since I have run a short race – like November!!

So I walked at the water stop and then continued.

At mile 3 which was around 28 minutes, I was done!  I walked for quite a while.  Secretly I wanted to finish under 37 minutes but that dream had faded.

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I struggled to finish and crossed at 37:27.

I didn’t know it at the time but that was a PR for me!!!

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It never rained and I even got warm enough to unzip my jacket and take off my gloves.

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done!

The refreshments, as usual, were decent – 2 kinds of soup, pizza, pudding, fruit, cookies, hot chocolate.  I ate everything while waiting for the awards.

I hung out with those speedy ladies again. They are my age but much faster and they run marathons and the Boston Marathon!! Anyway, they are super nice and all live near me.

I didn’t win anything.  I think I was 8th.

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those speedy old ladies ahead of me!!

 

Considering that I have done no speed work and not much running lately, I was pleased with my time.

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Splits:

mile 1 – 8:58
mile 2 – 9:05
mile 3 – 9:40
mile 4 – 9:23
.06 – 7:08

I drove home and decided that if it was not raining, I would run 6 more miles – 2 loops around UAlbany. I ran one very slow one and then it started to rain so I quit.

I planned on 10 miles but only got in 7.  Maybe I’ll have better luck next weekend.

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I’m linking this post up with Tara at Running n’ Reading for her Weekend Update!

Happy Running! How are you celebrating St. Patty’s Day?

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