Bill Hogan 3.5 mile Race Recap 1/1/16

The Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club puts on what they call the winter series. They are, at their heart, a supported long run:

  • There are water stops
  • There are course marshals
  • There are different distances to choose from 
  • There is food afterwards
  • There are photographers
  • There is no fee for club members; $5 for non-members

What they are not:

  • They are not chip timed
  • They are not accurately measured
  • They are not scenic

I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to run this race for 5 years — yes, my one race streak still going! — and every single year I forget that it’s not 3.5 miles; it’s 3.75!

That’s okay, though, because usually at this time of year, it’s difficult to find a place to run long that isn’t snow or ice covered. That’s not the case this year, but who knows how long our “nice” weather will continue (if you can consider barely making it to 20F with snow showers “nice”; that was yesterday).

So having a place to run long, with water and food? Priceless!

Packet Pickup
There are no packets, since there are no bibs or chips or medals. I like the fact that the race doesn’t start until noon, even though I don’t stay up til midnight on New Year’s, but it does make eating a little funky.

What there is is a nice warm hall to stay warm in until it’s time to head outside. And indoor plumbing, always a plus. You can also leave a bag inside, which I did for the first time this year. It’s not like I really need stuff for such a short race, but I tucked in a sweater to change into and a down coat to wear home.

You can preregister, but I never do. I just make sure I get there early to get good parking (about an hour early), and at that point there isn’t much of a line. 

Plan — what plan?
I was continuing my streak of not planning for a race. I don’t really consider these races, but most of the people who show up are serious runners and I always do better having a carrot to chase, so to speak.

I was hoping to keep it under 11 mm.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:24. Some moderate inclines and declines.
  2. Mile 2: 10:29. Mostly flat.
  3. Mile 3: 10:30. Mostly a long, slow decline. I thought I’d pick up speed here, oh well!
  4. Last .5: 11:11. No idea what happened here. Yes, there’s a short uphill. But not really a big deal, and it’s downhill to the finish.

My times for this race:

  • 2011: 38:48
  • 2012: 40:40
  • 2013: 41:15
  • 2014: 40:45
  • 2015:  39:22
  • 2016: 38:45

The weather & dressing
It was cloudy and supposed to be windy, high 30s, but it didn’t feel as cold as I thought it would. I wore a light long sleeve quarter zip, my medium weight jacket & beanie, and my athleta tights. I left my gloves in my bag and didn’t miss them, and wished I’d worn a windbreaker instead of the medium weight jacket.

What I Saw/Felt
I ran into the head coach from my USAFit Albany group as I was walking in and we chatted for a bit.

There were just a few people in line to register, but they hadn’t clearly marked which was for the 3.5 race and which was for the half (yes, plenty of crazy people do a half that loops around the SUNY Albany campus — can we say boring?).

Later the lines would grow, and the volunteers kept shouting at people to get in the right line (hello, a sign might help with that). But they’re volunteering, God love them, and in fact, it’s usually the same people volunteering year after year.

I ran into my friend Lisa D pretty quickly, and we chatted just a bit; then I went up to use the bathrooms. I was hoping to see a few more runner friends, but if they were there, I didn’t see them.

I came back out and spotted Darlene coming in and we hung out chatting with her friend Barbara for a while. I remember the first time I did this race . . . I don’t think I knew anyone. And for quite a few years, I might run into one or two runners I knew, but I rarely had someone to hang out with. It’s been nice to hang out with Darlene the last couple of years.

I left about 10 minutes before the race so I could warm up. I lined up by myself (well, with lots of other runners, of course, just not runners I knew), near the front, even though I knew undoubtedly most would be faster than me.

As I mentioned above, I do tend to do better chasing someone.

It’s a course with medium inclines and declines; not really tough, but not really easy, either. The course isn’t at all scenic, either, and it was a very gray day. I took my stress out on the road and I had a good race. I suppose it’s a PR for this race — just barely.

I did something I rarely do afterwards, too: I indulged in a slice of the pizza (yes, the snacks are free, too).

I thought I saw my neighbor leaving as we were eating, and sure enough turns out she was there, although we didn’t run into each other. It’s really too bad, we could have gone together!

Was the race well run?
Yes, the race is very well run. Especially considering it’s free (or very inexpensive if you’re not a member).

The course marshals do their jobs well (and the weather is usually not this nice).

It’s not chip timed, as I said, but there is a finish clock and you’re handed a numbered index card as you cross the finish line to write down your time. Only I saw Darlene standing there, taking my photo, and forgot my time!

I was trying to find an index card with a number near mine, and one of the volunteers whose job it is to organize the cards was getting upset with me for not handing mine over.

It wasn’t really that I was that hung up on the time, but I was curious. She found the card before mine and we decided on a time.

Will I run it again next year? Yes, I hope to continue my streak — unless I’m celebrating New Years someplace really warm!



I’m linking up with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup; because the more, the merrier, right?

Jingle Bell 5k Race Recap 12/5/15

I looked at the Jingle Bell 5k, but ultimately decided against it, mainly because a) I was tired and b) they made it really hard to find the sign up!

In my weight watchers meeting on Thursday, though, I was chatting with my friend. She mentioned she’d thought about it. She’s a sometimes runner — she likes to race occasionally, but she’s not very self motivated and doesn’t train a lot (although she works out a lot).


We might not have done it without each other
I could sense she was looking for a buddy to go with so I said let’s do it.

Packet Pickup
There were several packet pickup opportunities, but because I’d signed up so late and my friend had missed the cutoff for online signup, we just drove up and picked up our packets the day of the race.

I’d like to say it was easy, but despite a door greeter, there were no signs and none of the volunteers seemed to know where anything was.


yes, my feet didn’t reach the floor!
We found the registration for my friend. When I asked about people already registered, they waved vaguely to the front. And it was at the front, just not well marked.

Next order of business: find a bathroom. Again, we asked. Again, waved vaguely towards the back right of the store. We walked over there, but couldn’t find a bathroom.

Another volunteer said they were outside. We went out, but we hadn’t seen anything when we arrived and we still didn’t see anything. There were no signs.

Oh wait, there were signs — behind a column to the side of the door. Well, we found the portapotties (which had hand sanitizer, always a plus), and came back into the store to chill (or warm) for a while. It’s a furniture store, and as we sat on the deep sofa, I snapped this photo, because my feet didn’t even reach the floor and it amused us (my friend is much taller).

Plan — what plan?
I didn’t have any big plans for this race, obviously. I was so encouraged by my running this week, as I mentioned in my Weekly Wrap, that I thought maybe my new 2 minute run, 30 second walk intervals would lead me towards a PR.

Despite having looked at the hilly course.

I didn’t watch my pace and was just hoping for below 10 mm the whole race.

So how’d that work for me?

  1. Mile 1: 10:15. Pretty much all downhill.
  2. Miles 2: 10:38. Well, you turnaround and obviously you’re coming back uphill.
  3. Miles 3: 11. I seriously thought I was running way faster than that, but the watch doesn’t lie. Damn you, hills!
  4. Last .08: 9:02. Yes, the course was a little short. Or so I think; it was chip timed, but there was no starting mat.

The weather & dressing
It was supposed to be a beautiful day. Sunny with a high of 50.

No so much. It still was relatively warm for here, for this time of year. 45, cloudy, and mildly windy. Some people thought it was very windy, but I know better from my Green Mountain Half.

I wore a light quarter zip, windbreaker, and light tights. I was a little warm, but not too bad.


Are those tights or socks?
Are those tights or socks?
What I Saw/Felt
I didn’t line up with my friend, as she’s slower, and she was okay with me doing my own thing. I felt like I was the only runner not in costume (although my friend wasn’t either). 


Kids race (they’re in costume!)

I have never run in costume, if you don’t count my sparkleskirts.

My friend had “run” into a friend of hers before the race and we really clicked. She’s about my age, about my pace, and into tris. She is signed up for the next race I’m doing, too, which happens to be her birthday, but it’s a large race so “running” into people can be iffy.

As I mentioned, the first mile is pretty much downhill. It’s back roads, and somewhat pretty, but nothing to write home about. And it was very gray.

It’s an out and back, so you turn around and then it’s uphill almost all the way. It’s only 65 ft elevation gain, which really shouldn’t have bothered me; Darlene & I have been doing that for far longer on the rail trail.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it’s all the racing. Maybe the 2/30 didn’t work for me so well after all. We’ll never know.


Guess I need some holiday socks . . .
Was the race well run?
One of the most disorganized races I’ve run, sorry to say. I’ve already talked about the difficulty finding online registration, packet pickup, and the volunteers lack of knowledge (not their fault, obviously).

No one was quite sure where the starting line was. It wasn’t marked. There was no mat. There was a finish line, and we lined up facing it, only to be turned around because we started facing the other way (shades of some of the winter series for locals). I’d been trying to make my closer to the front and then had to do that all over again.

The volunteers on the course seemed much better organized, but then again, they don’t actually have to direct you anywhere. There was water at the turnaround — in fact, an 8 oz bottle of it! So I didn’t take it. Who wants to carry an 8 oz bottle for 1 1/2 miles while trying to race?

If there are online results, I haven’t found them. They do have printed results up by the end of the race. I was 10th in my AG, and my friend’s friend pointed out there were at least 40 in our AG (she placed last year, and came in 12th this year). So I didn’t realize I needed to write down my official time, but I do remember that my Garmin was pretty close.

After I wrote that paragraph above, I  did, indeed, get an email with a link to some online results.

The race shirt is cotton, which is a shame because it’s actually really cute. Post race refreshments were bars, hot chocolate, I guess there was coffee, but you know me, I don’t look for that. As usual, I just had the snack I brought with me because my friend and I were going out for high tea.

Will I run it again next year? Maybe. Totally depends on what’s going on in my life (a half, maybe?), the weather, if I know anyone doing it.



I’m linking up with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup; because the more, the merrier, right?