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!
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?
- Mile 1: 10:24. Some moderate inclines and declines.
- Mile 2: 10:29. Mostly flat.
- Mile 3: 10:30. Mostly a long, slow decline. I thought I’d pick up speed here, oh well!
- 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!