I had a plan for this race, and it wasn’t to PR. I wanted to treat it as somewhere between a tempo run and a 15k at roughly race pace, shooting for an average pace of 12:15. I wanted to see if I felt I could go another 4 miles after I finished, since I have a half coming up quickly. And unlike my crazy marathoner friends, I respect 13.1 miles.
No spoiler alerts, you’ll have to read on.
Packet pickup was again at our local Fleet Feet and again was easy peasy, although I went to the late registrants line (since I’d registered just a few days prior) and at first they couldn’t find me. No worries, I had my print out with me, just in case, but they finally did locate my bib.
No celebrities to meet and greet this year, so I was in and out quickly. I ran some errands beforehand, more afterwards, and just like last year, I ended up walking around way too much when the plan had been to rest.
My Race Plan
This year I am not yet done with my goal races. My next half is in FL and I don’t race well in the heat, so I’m not expecting a great finish time. I always train as if I do, though.
I didn’t want to race too hard now and crash and burn in my half, not to mention that I enjoy Fall racing (that temperature thing again) and I pretty much have a race every week until my half!
So I considered this a supported long run. That was the plan, anyway.
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 11:41. You start on a downhill. I always watch my watch in the beginning to try to make sure I don’t go out too fast.
- Mile 2: 11:51. Most of mile 2 is a long, gradual hill. I knew this because I read last year’s race recap. I warned Darlene, who apparently was in denial, because after the race she was wondering where those hills came from.
- Mile 3: 11:49. continued to drop, except for mile 8, where there was a short, steep hill. Those first 3 miles felt so easy, these last 3 miles were definitely hard, but mile 9 was the fastest of the race and that always makes me happy. What made me even happier was that it was downhill!
- Mile 4: 12:02. And a sprint to the finish, where Darlene was waiting (and apparently yelling, but I didn’t see her).
- Mile 5: 11:36. Just about to enter into Central Park, which is lovely and I always enjoy.
- Mile 6: 11:45. Running around the lake in Central Park.
- Mile 7: 11:53. The steepest hill of the race comes at mile 7.5. There’s a water stop right before it — seriously, who has time to drink their water and then run uphill? In my mind I had made this hill into a monster, but although it is very steep, it’s not very long. It was nothing compared to Craft Classic Phoenix!
- Mile 8: 11:27. Through the cemetery and mostly downhill.
- Mile 9: 11:19. So glad they changed the finish to downhill (I never experienced the old course).
- Last .45: 9:09. Yes, this race runs long. Even though I was definitely sprinting to try to come under 1:50:00 (don’t ask me why), I did see Darlene waiting for me this time. I knew to look for her.
2015: 1:51:32 (an automatic PR — new distance)
2016: 1:49:31 (a most surprising 2 minute PR)
(You can read about last year’s race here)
Was the race an epic failure? Well, as a training run vs racing, yes. I was in no way aiming for a PR, not that I am unhappy about it, of course. I will only be unhappy about it if I feel I don’t do as well in my next half because I ran too hard at this race and all the other races between now and then.
The weather & dressing
It was forecast to be a little colder than last year’s race, with low 30s at the start, warming up to mid 40s by the finish. I reread my post about the race to see what I wore last year. I packed my gear bag with almost every jacket, gloves, and hat I own — it felt that way, anyway.
In the end I am happy with what I wore: the 261 Switzer Capri Skirt (with compression sleeves under, so it looks like I’m wearing tights), the Free Flow Long Sleeve top (love, love, love this top — remember code CRJ20 at Skirtsports gets you 20% off regularly priced items) with a windbreaker over it.
I do wish I’d worn a hat instead of the beanie, but oh well. And I brought throwaway gloves, but realized at the start I didn’t need them, since both my windbreaker and my top have longer sleeves with thumbholes. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away so I stuffed them in a pocket.
I stowed one small flipbelt bottle in one pocket, my phone and Ipod in the other. And I brought along 2 pouches of Clif pizza for fuel, although I didn’t even finish one so next year — only one!
And that is why I always look like the Pillsbury dough girl when I race.
Was the race well run?
A resounding yes. Packet pickup is easy, the course is well marked, there’s real bathrooms in the YMCA where you hang out before the race, all aid stations were well stocked (even for BOTP), and there was plenty of food afterwards even for BOTPers like me (and Darlene, who had waited for me).
And there was quite a variety of food, too: bagels, bananas (I grabbed 3 — don’t tell anyone), cider donuts, soup, regular and Sicilian pizza, candy, cookies. I had to rush home last year so I didn’t get to partake, but it was quite the spread.
What I Saw/Felt
While I didn’t line up with Darlene, I might have lined up a bit further up than I really had business doing because I walked with her to the start (but moved further back before the race actually started). I never felt as though I was in anybody’s way, but it’s always tricky when you’re a run/walker. I was able to stick with my run/walk intervals right from the start.
I love the parts that are along the water, but the actual Stockade section of Schenectady, which is where the race gets its name, doesn’t move me.
Somehow this race seemed easier than last year. Less wind? Better training? I’ve dropped a few pounds (which are slowly creeping back on, though)? Using the ShinTekk? Lining up to close to the start?
Lots of Skirtsports support.
We also met Ed Whitlock (briefly), and if not for Darlene, I wouldn’t have known he was there or who he was. On the other hand, if it weren’t for me, she wouldn’t have her selfie with Ed. I think they have a lot in common — they just run. They don’t worry about speedwork and tempos and strength training yadda yadda yadda.
Only Ed is blazingly fast and 20 years her senior (not that Darlene is a slowpoke, as I’m constantly reminding her!).
What I learned
I really didn’t need as much fuel as I thought I did, but I was glad I had my extra water bottle. I can definitely get by on less water in a colder race, but there are only 3 water stops. And it’s hilly. You’re working hard and you do get thirsty. At least I do.
I also didn’t need those throwaway gloves, but the truth is I was glad of them after the race, so okay, just call me Pillsbury Dough Girl. I’ll just laugh at you as you try to get your hands warm after your race.
I hear people say all the time that they prefer rolling hills to flat courses. I don’t really have much experience at all with flat courses. But I think I get it: I’m not sure I’d run as fast if it weren’t for the downhills in this race.
On the other hand, I already know that this is the sweet spot, just about, for me and racing, weather-wise. And the race was a week later than it was last year, and it was cooler and I believe less windy, too.
While I still don’t agree on the beauty of this course — some parts are very scenic, some parts, not so much. Spectator support is very sparse.
It’s a speedy field, so I’m solidly BOTP for this race — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was running by myself quite a bit after the halfway mark, but it didn’t bother me; in fact, I rather enjoyed it.