Imma write this as two posts, in blue, what my race was like, and in green, what people should look for if they are racing this in the future, as I couldn’t find ANY information about this race anywhere.
PRE RACE / LOGISTICS ETC
My friend Carolina found this race eons ago (October? November? 2020!) when we did a half and she got a PR. She decided she needed to run the marathon that she had trained for, so she signed up, said she’d look into the logistics and I could do the half, you know, like Batman and Robin (I am Robin here). So I said yes but with a disclaimer that if I could go to Argentina, I’d just leave and not care for one second about the race. I’ve been dying to see my family as you can imagine.
So she did all the research, she got the hotel, she said it was a two hour drive and that it was flat. That is pretty much all I needed to know, so I got to training and forgot all about it.
Fast forward to March, there is no trip (don’t even get me started because I’ll start crying and no, there is nothing you could say to stop me) and with 3 weeks to go, I realize I am getting my second vaccine 3 days before the half. Well, if I get sick, I just won’t come (what a lovely friend I am) or I will just come to cheer and keep her company.
Also, worth nothing right here. This was an IN PERSON race (I CAN’T DO VIRTUALS, PLS DON’T START ME, I RATHER NOT RACE FOR YEARS, VIRTUALS ARE WHAT I CALL A TIME TRIAL, NOT A RACE).
Back to my point, Carolina and I could never race each other, so we had devised a strategy that got both of us super excited. I assumed I’d be around 1:45 (my mental idea was 1:42 to 1:46) and she’d be around 1:20. So I’d start at 7:35 am, and she’d start at the (new for this year???) elite wave at 8 am, and we’d try to beat each other. So cute, right? You gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself hyped up! Which is not easy for someone like me who can’t care less about finish times.
Anyway, a week before the race I finally read all the race emails, tried to get organized and get a clue. I literally had no idea where the race even was. It’s in PA, a two hour drive from NYC (more like 3 IRL) and and out and back, a new course for what I heard, of 6.55 M, on the same road. Looked chill, easy. Luckily, for people who get overwhelmed easily like me, the bib pick up, start and finish were on the same exact place. YEY. I’ll call it race central. deal?
The hotel Carolina picked was cute, called Ledges, but 14 miles from Race Central. Also, doesn’t seeem like there were so many options anyway, and this one was probably the best for what we heard from others. I have no clue.
I did get super sick on Wednesday/Thursday from the second vaccine shot, but by Friday, I was feeling better, even though I was under a big amount of Tylenol, so I decided to go and try my luck!
David, another awesome friend, decided to sign up after I told him and he offered to drive us. So cool, cause I hate traveling and driving and know nothing of any of it. BUT, I am a great co-pilot, I’ll do directions (occasionally fuck that up also) pick up music, feed you and keep you entertained, even when I am dying to sleep or are cranky. I know my place.
We left NYC at 1 and made it straight to RC (race central, don’t forget) by 3:30. There was a short line. There we nice clean real bathrooms. OMG NO PHONE RECEPTION WHATSOEVER HELP. We got bibbed up, met the famous Mark who’d send us crazy funny and long emails and he told us stories of Argentina (menem’s sideburns!) and Chile (for Carolina, she’s from Chile).
We pushed to the hotel. I WAS STARVING and stating to get CRANKY. I am no good hungry. Ask my husband. I had a box of graham cracker for the car ride, thanks Juan, which really helped. We left our stuff in the room, which was HUGE, cute, not a lot of light though, but would do totally fine. Some pics here, if you’re looking for a hotel option. You’ll see below the outside, the Glass restaurant where we had dinner (meh, service was not great, took a whole hour to get our food even thought we were the first people there at 5 when they opened, and food.. meh also) and the room.
I tried to make Carolina watch Drag Race but there was no way so around 8ish we passed out!
I woke up on my own at 4 am. Tried to be super quiet but I woke her up too. DAMN. Made us coffee and we just prepped. ZERO stress here. We are all so particular right before a race. I am glad her and I are the same type of crazy. Love you Karrie! She did ask me “tank or bra” about 3 million times though, but if that is the worst, you know we are twins!
Deciding on start time can be a huge deal. Temps were 40 at 6 am, 45 at 7 am, and 50s by 9 am. David was starting at 6:30 because he was doing the full (just double everything I will say from now on). But 45 is fucking perfect fo me. Also, there was some NW wind the day before, about 12MPH, but it had all died down by Sat. YEY!!!! It looked perfect. I decided, tank, shorts and nothing else.
Julia picked me up, as we were all sorta starting together (Carolina was starting at 8 with some friends from CPTC, and there were a bunch of ppl in the same Ledges, so we split up!) and so Julia, Patricia, Lynn, Neil and I drove together.
You drive to the start on the first two (maybe?) miles of the course so we got to yell and cheer for a lot people. Then we shot up the windows and drove because it was REALLY slowing us down to the start. This is what the course looked like at 7 am.
Also, on our way to the start, we stopped at one of the fluid stations (the first one I think) and they all had water and one porta potty, but this is what the fluid station looked like in case you want to drop off your stuff, or don’t know how to decorate it. It was unmanned at 7 am but it had people later.
We got to the start. And back to realizing I had no phone service. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK. I stayed in the car freaking out about being all alone in a race, with no one to chase down, and no music, while they all picked up their bibs. FUCK FUCK FUCK. This is important. Download your playlists or whatever. FUCK ME. This is us at the start.
So, less people and colder if you start earlier, sunnier and more crowded later, but also more cars on the road later…
We started at 8:40 am. NOT the 7:35 am I had planned with Carolina, but oh well, WHATEVER. Neil and Patricia and Julia started together. They are all faster than me, but given I am good at pacing and I am great at not taking off too fast, they indulged me and I was pacing for the first two miles.
I had a minute when Patricia and I were together at the front where I almost started crying (which I always forbid myself to do on a race, NO EMOTIONS, do the work, execute the plan, don’t be stooopid, emotions later!) thinking about all the million races we had paced together, sometimes as far as to mile 11 or 18, all over the world… DAMN I HAD MISSED THIS SHIT.
Yes, I curse a lot, so what. you knew that.
2 minutes in, I did a body check, felt sluggish and stiff, but I was properly dressed. No music coming in. FUCK ME AGAIN. But I already was complaining. The course felt flat but the road WAS SO SLANTED, I was fucking stressed and annoyed and worried, I hate that kind of camber on a road. It was INSANE. There was no shoulder so we were literally on the side of the road, running agains traffic the whole race, which was fine because traffic never really became a major issue (a tad annoying a couple of times, but nothing stressful) but this was BAD BAD. Other people were complaining later about the uphill out and dowhill back. I WAS SURE THEY WERE LYING. If you’ve ever every run 3 inches with me, you know my running uphill is BAD, I struggle, but oh well, not sure why I didn’t notice. Also it does look up and down BUT it’s like an inch… so maybe that’s why.
Mile 1 was 8:20. Perfect. If am going for around 1:45, that is fine. I thought it was too slow for everyone else, but oh well. On the other hand, Julia’s breathing was concerning me. I assumed she was hot or nervous.
By the time we hit Mile 2, Neil and Julia had taken off, they were about 40 yards ahead of me and I started freaking out, again NO MUSIC, and those stooopid vaporflys fucken loud “stomping” was annoying. Julia dropped a bit. I didn’t want to push her, I knew she was having a different pace kind of morning. Mile 2: 8:02 pace.
I really got bored. You can’t pace off anyone. People are passing me, I am passing people, it’s SO WEIRD. UGH. Mile 3: 8:05. This is fine. Then I started telling myself I just had to get to the turnaround. Mile 4: 7:52, what the fuck? Also, trying hard to remember where the turnaround was. I assumed I had seen Mile 6.55 somewhere and focused on just getting there. Mile 5: 7:59. Yeah almost there. fucken focus. SO HARD! the course was truly monotonous, no one cheering, just roadkills (by the end of the race, I had seen about 5 dead possums, 1 snake and more I can’t remember).
Decided to have a gel. YEY. Felt so yummy. Also, I forgot how to drink water while running?!?!?! it’s been SO long… had to stop to drink. oh well, lost some time but water is SO important. Mile 6: 8:19.
I lapped at the half way point, because I wanted to have two laps, out and back, but Garmin doesn’t work that way (I miss my Tom Tom days!!!!) and I am too lazy to do the math, so at the half way point, at Mile 6.57, pace was 8:03.
Now… once I turned I felt a fire up my as FIGURATIVELY of course. I felt it was time to pick it up. Maybe it was the downhill I didn’t notice? Maybe I was sick of it all? Who knows…?
Mile 7.5 was 7:38. OH SHIT. mmmmm, can I hold this mess. Then I see Carolina running. Fucking FIRST WOMAN ON THE COURSE. I yelled I STARTED 5 MINUTES LATE, IT’S NOT FAIR. She went I HAVE AWFUL CRAMPS AND THIS IS THE WORST RACE OF MY LIFE. Stay tuned.
Then I realized a fluid station was coming up and I had to have a gel… I stopped. It was weird, I got dizzy for a second. But I got moving again. Mile 8.5: 7:52. Yep, all good with a gel stop.
Caro comes right from behind, we chat about the cramps, and I tell her to have a gel. I see her pull it out and have it. Mile 9.5: 7:52. Ok, it’s just a long 5K now, LET’s GO.
The next few miles was just a bunch of all the same, no more water, just some bits of Viter Mints (caffeine pills, but I break them apart) and huztpah. I tried to sing to myself, yeah, I am crazy. I could still see Patricia and Neil ahead but a lot farther out.
Mile 10.5: 7:39
Note, if you’ve raced with me, ever, you know I am psycho about running ALL the tangets, hard. Here, I was going from one side of the road to the other the whole 13.1 trying to find some even running road. It was impossible. The only good portion to run was right in the middle, where the double yellow lines were, but 1, that is where the cars were driving, 2, the yellow lines had some texture to it, so I was afraid of tripping… so I’d try to be as close to the middle as I could but then I had to be super vigilant about cars and other runners that were passing me… A STRESSFUL MESS.
Mile 11.5: 7:36
Mile 12.5: 7:25
There was a bit of sun on the way back, glad I had sunglasses. I then noticed I was about an 800 away and this was going to be over soon. Pulled out my mask for the finish, had some crazy head wind on the bridge back, got the finish arch and was DONE.
Last .57: 7:16 pace. I know, I am a killer pacer.
Caro, Patricia and Neil were there. I hadn’t seen so happy in a long time. I LOVE FINISH LINE TEARS
Those medals are HUGE. There was water, friends, and a thingy where you punched your bib number and got your results. They told us to go get our awards at RC.
If someone wants to do the first half vs 2nd half math for me, I’ll appreciate it (SO LAZY).
We hung out by the finish for a couple of hours, waiting for David and a few other friends, cheering, starving and freezing: THE BEST!!!!
At some point, we got back in the car, to the hotel, quick shower and brunch at The Settlers Inn, cute quaint, old, super inexpensive (these prices in PA are insane for a NYer!!!!) and great service. I had a crazy burger with bacon and a million other things and fries and I was very happy. Recommending this one HARD. I WAS BEYOND ELATED THAT WE WERE THERE DOING THAT, just missed Juan.
All in all it was a great trip, a great race, and/but… IF IT WASN’T FOR THE SLANTED ROAD I’D DEF COME BACK. The camber was not a problem for some people, so there is that. I hated it. And today my ankles are NOT happy. And I know people who’ve gotten injured that way before. I know I will be fine a day or two but I just hate running like that, like on just one side of the body.
Still, really happy I went, and got to enjoy a race, a finish line and time with my BFFS. Life is awesome. GOSH, WHAT A DAY… so many emotions. I need to sit down and Arnicare my ankles! any questions? comments? I am here!