Monday, September 21, 2015

Saratoga Palio 1/2 marathon race report

This summer I ran two 15ks (boilermaker & Indian Ladder)  and 2 half marathons (Camp Chingachgook & Thatcher Park, before all of them, I've been sensible; eating a balanced dinner &going to bed early. This weekend I spiced it up some, Jen and I went to the America on Tap event in Troy, sampling beers from 2-5. Once the event shut down we headed to Bacchus for pizza. We inhaled spinach and artichoke dip and a pizza. After we went back to Jen's apartment and nearly immediately fell asleep. Eventually I made my way home, drank 4 pints of water and went back to sleep. 

down to my last pretzel 

I woke up early and spent a while trying to decide what to wear. I've grown accustomed to wearing my janji tank and Adidas shorts.  But the high for the day was 70. With the race starting at 7:45 it was much cooler than all the runs I've had in months. I ultimately decided on capris and my janji tank but was still undecided about my outer layers.

I chowed on a nature valleys granola bar, wishing I had something more substantial, made a mug of coffee and began the drive to Saratoga. Traffic was light and I found parking two blocks up from the packet pick up. After grabbing my shirt and bib, I walked back to my car to get my sneakers and situated since Palio doesn't offer bag drop. (I'll return to this)  My friend Dara walked by, so I ended up joining her back to packet pick up and then to the portajohns. I had still not decided what to run in, and was stalling.  After our walking up and down lake ave between cars and bathrooms I decided a throw away long sleeve was my best choice. 

The race started on time and I started 3/4 of the way back.  Luckily the first mile is very wide, so plenty of room for people to adjust. I took it easy, trying my best to keep myself from going out fast. I ditched my long sleeves before mile one. There was a considerable amount of weaving and so my watched beeped a few steps before I hit the first timing clock.  This continued throughout the race, but the mile maker was always within my eyesight when it did, so I was able to use it as a gauge. 

The miles ticked along and quite honestly I don't think I had many coherent thoughts.  I liked how I wasn't breathing very hard, I loved how organized all the water stations were and I liked the course. I don't run in Saratoga much, and most of the course is in the state park.  Around mile 4 I started to get hungry.  Normally the hunger strikes at mile 7, but I think the 5pm dinner and small breakfast caught up quick.  Luckily the next water station was offering 1/2 bananas which I grabbed.  It hit the spot and kept me going. 

At mile 7, I passed a man who I had passed and chatted with at camp chingachgook. The beauty of racing in the same shirts (which we both were) made it easy for us to recognize one another.  I had passed him around the 7 mile marker at chingachgook also.  At the 15k I saw that I had a new PR- though unofficial since there was no timing mat.  At mile 10 I made a massive PR for the distance (I've only run one 10 mile race a million years ago- the splits from this race gave me nearly 14 minute PR!!)  -side note- there was a timing mat, would you count that as a new PR, or does it have to be a stand alone race? 

Anyhow, it was around this time that I realized that I would be coming in fairly close to my PR, unless of course my wheels completely fell off.  Not wanting to burn out early, I continued to keep the same pace. Finally the last mile I realized if I pushed a new PR might happen a few weeks early. I belligerently mentioned this to some of the women around me, the all offered words of encouragement and I did my best to speed up. I made some ugly grunting sounds as I passed my Ragnar captain and began the approach towards the park.  

Mentally I started to lose it. I didn't know where the actual finish was (no ones fault but my own) when I turned left, I expected it to be at the light near the carousel, only to learn that I had to go back up the hill to Broadway and then travel another 1/2 block before taking the left into the park.  By then I had nothing left to give and just focused on the clock, which had passed my PR before I could see it. 

Dara had finished a few minutes before me, but was still hanging in the finishers chute. I said hi and probably a few other things with my limited vocabulary before forcing my way out of the crowd to go sit. After some water, we chatted about our races before feeling cold.  Without a drop bag here, my only option was to walk the .5 to my car.  I opted to get a bagel and start making my way to layers.  Allegedly there was a good post race party sponsored by Druthers, but I was too cold to stay. By the time I made it to my car, I was too tired to walk back, so I headed home.  

I loved everything about this race. Except for its lack of bag drop. Not all runners have family/friend support with them. Help a girl out!

I couldn't recreate this route if I tried
While I didn't get a PR, I couldn't be more excited about my run and results.My official finish time was 2:11:09 which is now my second best time out of the 18 half marathons I have completed.  It is 14 minutes faster than chingachgook(yes tougher course & weather) and 10 minutes faster than then halves I did in March and February.  It has been a lot of work to get back to where I was in 2010.  Feeling how much "easier" this run was compared to many, is the strongest indicator that my training works. Ps- low 9 minute mile at mile 13- who am I?? I am even more eager to continue the next 3 weeks of training for Mohawk Hudson. 

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