TOLT: Lake George Half Marathon Recap


Since it is Thursday,  I’m linking up today with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursday.

thinking out loud

Here’s what I’m thinking about today…

My last half marathon!

Here’s how it went down:

April 24, 2016 —   9 am start

Half Marathon Training

Since I ran a half marathon 6 weeks ago, I only needed to run 9, 10, 11, 12, 8 miles and I actually ran 9, 10.5, 11, 12 and 11 so I should have been ready. As you can see below, only one long run was without a long break in the middle.

As I have mentioned many times before, I don’t ever follow a strict training schedule.  I just make sure than I do my long runs on the weekends and run a few times during the week (usually for 3 miles.)

For my last half marathon, I should have trained on hills.  But I didn’t so I suffered the consequences. This time, I did do hill repeats (but only once.)

Plus, I have been racing …a lot.  That counts as speed drills, right?

And of course, I planned my race outfit keeping my fingers crossed that it would be warm enough to wear it.

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at the last minute, I reversed the top & bottom colors.

I mean we had snow at the beginning of the month so you never know.

Pre-Race Preparations

My 2nd half marathon in 2011 was the Lake George Half Marathon.  It was poorly run by another company that has since gone out of business. This new race is run by 3C Race Productions and has gotten good reviews.  (I ran their Saratoga Half in 2014.)

Plus, the weather in 2011 was horrible – freezing rain and sleet for the whole 13.1 hilly miles.

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Yes, the race is hilly and most likely the same course as the one run by the other company (except that the finish line in 2011 was on Beach Rd not up a hill to the Fort.)

The Half Marathon course starts on Beach Road and heads East on Beach Road past Fort William Henry, around the loop, and back on Beach Road. The course then turns right on Lake Shore Drive (Route 9) and continues all the way to the turnaround point at the Lake George Club in Bolton Landing. The course returns back on Lake Shore Drive to turn left on Beach Road up onto the sidewalk to take the path up to the Finish Line at the Fort William Henry Resort.

I run most of my half marathons alone. Many are destination races too.

But this time, my running friend Barbara signed up for the race too so we decided to drive up together. It was nice to have her company. (We could worry before together and whine after LOL)

Below is a map of the scenic course:

LakeGeorgeHMCourse

Most of the race has views of the lake

More importantly this was the elevation:

uphill, downhill, rolling hills…repeat….NO REST FROM THE HILLS!!

Race Day

I got up early (like 5:30 am) and had my usual race breakfast of cream of wheat and tea. It was nice to sleep in my own bed before a big race (although I really didn’t sleep well…as usual.)

I met Barbara at the Park n Ride at 6:30 am so we could drive together up to Lake George. The ride took about an hour.

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view from the hotel looking toward the start

I had a hard time deciding what to wear. It was COLD (in the 30s) and breezy. At least it would be sunny and hopefully warm up later on.

In the end, I shed my long-sleeved shirt and wore a tank, my DIY arm sleeves, a windbreaker and gloves.

They had emailed us not to park in the Fort William Henry Resort parking lot and not to use the hotel facilities.  So we drove to the lot below on Beach Rd. No one was parked there so we decided to risk it and park at the hotel. (It worked out fine.)

We got our bibs and a short-sleeved sleeved tech shirt and then went back to the car to stay warm.

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Finally we went into the hotel and used the restrooms (Rebels we are… not really… lots of racers were in the hotel lobby too.)

There were real bathrooms there which is always nice. And we could wait indoors where it was warm until the race started…

Eventually we had to make our way down the hill to the street in search of the start line.

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The race was on the small side (maybe 200 runners) and not particularly well organized.  We lined up in the road and the race director yelled go (5 minutes after the race was supposed to start.)

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

Miles 1-4:

9:27, 9:54, 10:15, 10:13

 I lined up pretty close to front.  I wasn’t sure if the race was chip timed or gun timed. Barbara started further back.

We began along the lakefront on Beach Road. From there, we followed a quick loop eastward down into Lake George Beach State Park, and then headed westward again along Beach Road, past the start area, and then turned right to head north onto Canada Street. Once on Canada Street, we followed it for a stretch before turning onto Lake Shore Drive.

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around mile 1.5

The only flatish part of the race had ended.  I was happy that I started out slow.

Now the uphill battle began.

We would continue on Route 9N or Lake Shore Drive, all the way up to the turnaround point just past the half-way point.

My hubby and I own a boat and we keep it in Bolton Landing, about 2 miles north of the turn around point.  I have been driving this road for the past 10 years most weekends from May – October.

The hills were no surprise.

I realized quickly that I didn’t need my jacket.  Although it was breezy for the first mile, once we  headed north, we no longer felt the wind.  I tied my jacket around my waist (which annoyed me because it kept moving around). I kept on my DIY arm sleeves until the last few miles.

I made sure that I stopped and walked at every water stop. The first one was around mile 2.  I thought that I would see one in another 2 miles but that wasn’t the case.

The worst part of the race (actually it was almost the whole race) was that you ran with traffic.  That meant you had to run on the very narrow shoulder of the road.  Often, the road was uneven and with holes.  Plus, you had to make sure that cars moved over enough (especially after the last half I ran when someone got hit by a truck). It was very nerve-wracking to say the least.

Barbara who started behind me quickly got ahead of me and stayed that way for the rest of the race.  For awhile, I could see her, but every time I stopped to walk, she got farther ahead. (Her hill training apparently worked!)

Miles 5-8:

9:45, 10:39, 10:41, 11:02

It was unending hill after hill but not as steep as the map shows which means that the steep downhills weren’t there either.  I thought that I may walk up EVERY hill like the last race but the during the first half of the race, I ran/walked up them.  For the most part I was happy with how I was tackling them.

Finally at mile 5.75, there was the second water stop.  I could finally eat a GU.

I spent most of the first half of the race (except for when I was looking down at the uneven pavement and pot holes) admiring the lake and reminiscing about the sites along the lake (such as, the Inn at Erlowest where my hubby & I went for an anniversary dinner, a motel where stayed before we had a boat you could sleep on, a deli where I’ve stopped to buy sandwiches, etc.)

At the halfway point, I was at 1:05 or so…not bad with all those hills. (Unfortunately there would be no PR, I could not hold that pace.)

Then things started going downhill (and I’m not talking about the course.) I started developing a blister on the bottom of the left foot and one on the right side of my right foot. (Even with all those moleskin I put on my feet… grrr).

And my lower back was aching. (I think I was leaning forward running up those hills.)

Finally at mile 7.5 we turned around, had water and started heading back.  Mile 8 was the first mile sign that I saw (I don’t know how I missed the others or were they not there?).

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this is not from the race but from when I’ve run on this same road

Miles 9-13:

11:01, 11:26, 11:13, 10:38

The longest and steepest hill came between miles 8 and 9.  And my body was already done with hills. As you can see from my pace, I was walking more and more.  I took another GU around mile 10 even without a water stop. Finally there was some downhill but too little, too late.

Mile 14:

10:14 (definitely not a sprint to the finish)

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Barbara crossing the finish line

Eventually, I took a right and headed up (yes, up) a dirt path, then another sharp right that led to the finish line.  I had zero energy left at this point and was glad to be done.

Garmin time: 2:16:30
Gun Time: 2:16:58
Chip Time: 2:16:56

Barbara was there waiting, as well as, a boating friend of mine.

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with my friend Kathy who lives nearby

As soon as you were done, you gave the race director your bib number and he printed out your results and gave you your award if you won one.

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Yup, I won second in my age group and got a beer glass.

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I quickly went back to my car so I could change out of my sweaty clothes.

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Then the three of us went out to lunch in town. It was too cold to sit outside but we had a nice view from our table.

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lobster bisque & turkey, apple, brie Panini = YUMMY!

Additional race reflections:

The Good:

  • No rain.
  • Perfect running weather – cool, no humidity, little wind.
  • Close enough to be able to sleep in my own bed the night before.
  • Organized packet pick-up
  • Real bathroom
  • Warm place to wait before the race
  • I shared my race experience with a friend
  • Scenic course with lake views
  • No major injuries. (just the usual sore feet)
  • Immediate results and you didn’t have to wait for an awards ceremony
  • I finished and beat my previous course time.

The Bad:

  • Running with traffic
  • Uneven narrow shoulder to run on
  • Hilly course
  • Post-race refreshments left much to be desired (I didn’t even have anything)
  • No crowd support (saw 2 people cheering on the course)
  • No official race photos (there was someone who posted on FB but he stopped before I crossed the finish line.)
  • The 5k runners got the same medal and 5K AG winners got the same beer glass.  (And Half Marathoners ran 10 more miles!!)

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My friend Tom who ran the 5k

The Ugly:

  • the Hills
  • the Road
  • the Traffic

So there are more positives than negatives!!! Overall, it was an OK race. Running with a friend is great.

Would I recommend this race?

Not really.  There are better ones out there. But if you do run it, you better train on hills.

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Final Stats:

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I’m still 62!!

And I definitely walked more and slowed down (as usual) during the 2nd half of the race.

I wasn’t thrilled with my results.  But I wasn’t unhappy.  After all, I didn’t train for hills. It was far from my slowest time.  In fact, it was my second fastest half marathon and faster than the first time I ran it.

Every time, my lower back started to ache, I fixed my form and stopped hunching over my shoulders.  And my awful feet only received two minor blisters.

The day after, I felt great and was even able to go for my group run (though I didn’t do the speed drills and ran slowly.)

However, if I want to run another hilly course, I’ve got some work to do… (Wait a minute, I said that last time.)

Next Up:

I have two races this weekend. Yes, TWO!!

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I signed up for the 10k on Saturday.  It’s a nice small local race along the Hudson River and there’s a free pasta dinner the night before.

1st

last year with 2 friends

Then on Sunday, I signed up for a 5k.  Normally these two races are not scheduled on the same weekend. 

This one is a local race in a quiet neighborhood that raises money for ALS. Maybe there’ll even be cherry blossoms this year.

2nd

last year also

Last year, I won age group awards in both races.  But after just running a half marathon and racing two days in a row, I have no such lofty aspirations.

I’m looking forward nice spring weather and enjoying my runs.  I may add more miles on Sunday (if I feel good) after the 5k or may be I’ll just enjoy not training for my next half marathon.

Happy Running!  How do you handle a hilly race?  Do you have any races coming up?  What are you thinking about today?

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21 thoughts on “TOLT: Lake George Half Marathon Recap

  1. Have you seen the forecast for Sunday? Ugh! I’m really hoping they’re wrong, because right now I really don’t need to do 10 miles in the pouring rain. Still not sure what I’m doing (other than hopefully 10 miles somewhere, sometime, on Sunday.

    Second fastest half on hills? Why would you be disappointed with that? And oh yes, you have another hilly half coming up. 🙂

    I considered signing up for Cherry Blossom — Jan is signed up & my husband had an aunt that died from ALS — but definitely not now.

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    • They are saying maybe rain. I’m hoping maybe not.

      I was disappointed about how much of the second half of the race I walked not my time.

      Oh good that I’ll see Jan. But if it is pouring, I may not go. Esp since I am running a 10k on Sat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I pretty much have to make a decision by tomorrow morning/afternoon and I’m really undecided.

        I could do my long run solo tomorrow.

        I could do it saturday, but then probably only 2 runs this week. Maybe enough. Early taper anyone?

        I could still do it Sunday and pray they’re wrong — the problem being I’ve got to decide really soon!

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  2. I think you did fantastic! Hills are a beast, even if you train for them, hills can still kick your butt on race day.
    It is great the sun was shining and it was cool, the area looks really beautiful 🙂 I would take a race a like that and just do it for the challenge.
    I have no races now until December. That feels like a long time from now…
    even though it kind of bums me out, I doubt I will get the itch, it is so hot here now.

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  3. Great job on a tough course! I have a soft spot for the race because I PR’d at the time (finally went sub-1:50 and I wasn’t even looking at my Garmin, so it was a giant surprise). But I agree with you that running with traffic was kind of unnerving. Oh, and I got the exact same pint glass last year for my AG win — I would’ve been a little bummed if I’d raced and gotten another award to have it be identical. Still, I’d do this race again if it fit my running schedule.

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  4. I really hate running in traffic, it’s unnerving. I think you did great, especially with all those hills. My next race is in downtown Seattle, very hilly, so it would seriously behoove me to get some hill training in beforehand. Good luck this weekend with both races! Most importantly, have fun!!

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  5. I would have not liked this race. I hate running in traffic. I like going up hill but hate coming down. Especially if I hadn’t trained for it.
    Good luck on your 2 races this weekend, that’s crazy !

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  6. Great job Darlene. Congrats on your second place age group and doing so well on hills when you had not trained on them. The race shirt and medal are really pretty and the pint is always a fun AG award. Good luck with your double header this weekend. Hope the races go well.

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  7. Wow, that was a small race! Hills are just tough, no two ways about it. You still had a great finish time, and woohoo for the AG award – I think the paddleboat on the shirt and beer glass is pretty cool.

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  8. Thanks for sharing, this was a great race recap. The scenery looks beautiful, but yikes that elevation map! I don’t know if I would even attempt a race with an elevation map like that… you are braver than I am!!

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  9. Ugh to the hills. For sure you have to train for that elevation! But what really would scare me off is running with traffic on the road. The race directors should work with the local municipalities to block off a lane for the runners. If someone gets hit by a car, that’s a huge liability!

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