Over the Top Trail Run/ Mountain Bike Ride at West Mountain

So, I'm behind on my blog posts, but it's never too late to catch up, right? Back in August, I signed up for my first ever duathlon, a 5K trail run and 10k mountain bike ride at West Mountain in Queensbury. 14100255_1063343370409414_1520862721605476353_n image from West Mountain's facebook page I really had no idea what to expect from this race. I signed up for it with a few of our friends, and none of us got any emails or anything about the logisitics. We just knew it started at 10:00am at West Mountain Ski Resort. We got there at about 9:15, picked up our shirts and bibs and headed over to the starting line, which was at a different area than the main lodge where packet pickup/ the afterparty was located. I set up my bike at the transition area (a first for me!) and got ready to run.
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The only picture I got from the whole race, my mountain bike at the transition

The run portion started off great. But soon, the hills began and I found myself walking a lot. But my only goal for this race to was to have fun (and finish it). screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-6-31-38-pm Run Time: 36:08.7 Pace: 11:39 Transition time: 2:04.2 I got on my bike and pedaled away. The first part of the bike course was on the same course as the run, which was weird. But then I found myself going up the mountain. I guess they don't call it "Over the Top" for nothing. screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-6-32-17-pm There were some nice views at the top of West Mountain! But I was on my bike so my phone was in my pack. Bike time: 1:01:33.4 MPH: 6.04 (I am SO SLOW at climbing on my mountain bike. So not efficient.) Total Time: 1:39:46.4 There were 20 individuals in this race (some people were competing as teams) and my friend Aubrey was the 3rd fastest woman! I was the 3rd from last. At least I wasn't last! After we all finished, we loaded our bikes back up and drove back to the main lodge for the post-race party, where hamburgers and beer awaited. Overall, I think this was a nice little race. The volunteers were friendly it it seemed to be organized well. The course was marked  well, too. I would do it again!
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Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

After picking up our race packets for the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, we checked into our lodge (Ruby's Inn!), we drove into the park to watch the sunset in the canyon. On our way in we saw some Prong Horn Antelope grazing by the road. IMG_3389 We walked to Sunset Point. Fitting! IMG_3392 IMG_3393 IMG_3394 IMG_3402
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The Famous Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

IMG_3404 IMG_3408 Bryce Canyon was part of a previous family trip in 2004-but we didn't ever go down into the Canyon. That was on my to-do list for the this trip! IMG_3409 IMG_3410 IMG_3411 IMG_3413 IMG_3422 The next morning, it was time to run the half marathon! It was Jordan's very first half marathon, so he was nervous/excited about running. I had signed up for this race a few months back when I saw there was going to be a half marathon in Bryce the same time we were going to be there on vacation. I had to run it! Jordan signed up a few days before determined to run his first half marathon while on our epic trip. The race began at 6:00AM to avoid the high temps (it gets up into the 90s-100s in Utah in the summer) and began right at our lodge. How convenient. IMG_3425 IMG_3426 It was chilly enough to even wear my light running jacket! It was perfect running weather. After about a mile, I stowed it away in my pack. I wore the Gregory Pace 5 Hydration Pack during the race because I like having water and a place to store gear. IMG_3428 IMG_3429 IMG_3430 IMG_3434 IMG_3436 IMG_3440 IMG_3443 IMG_3444 IMG_3446 IMG_3448 IMG_3449 IMG_3450 The race is point-to-point, beginning in Bryce Canyon right outside of the National Park through Tropic to Cannonville. Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.27.58 AM It was such a cool experience to race in Utah! IMG_3451 IMG_3452 IMG_3453 IMG_3455 IMG_3456 IMG_3457 It was such a beautiful race! Because I didn't particularly train for this race, I knew I'd be on the slower side. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. I think the elevation got to me after a while, though. The race began at 7,640 feet of elevation! There weren't many hills, though, just a descent that flattens out near the end. Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 8.26.53 AM Jordan did awesome! He ran his first half in about 2:10, which is impressive considering he didn't train. 😉 Unfortunately since I was still running, I didn't get to see him finish-but he saw me. IMG_5971 This race was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, and it gets better!
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Summer Solstice 14K Trail Run

Last Wednesday Jenna and I went down to Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz for the Summer Solstice 14K trail race. It was the perfect night. The race started near the upper parking lot and ran uphill to Castle Point. It was straight uphill for 3.5 miles. From there, it goes back down back to the start making a big loop. It's part of the same course as the After the Leaves Half Marathon that they hold in November. Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 8.21.30 AM Jenna and I took a van down with the Albany Running Exchange! It was nice to not have to worry about driving down so late in the afternoon. The race started at 6:30PM. IMG_2448 IMG_2454
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View from the course

There were gorgeous bushes of Mountain Laurel blooming all through the course. It was wonderful! IMG_2476 I love that the race has so many awesome views and takes place on wide carriage trails. IMG_2477 IMG_2465 IMG_2462 I finished in about 1hr, 35 minutes. Post-race refreshments included watermelon, strawberries and lots of other goodies! After staying for the awards (a lot of ARE members won in their age categories!), we got back in the van and headed back to Albany.  Minnewaska is really one of my favorite spots. IMG_2479
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Covered Bridges Half Marathon

The Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Vermont is race I'd been wanting to run for a while. Boasting scenic views of green mountains, rolling pastures and three covered bridges, Jenna, Meredith, John and I signed up months ago. Last Saturday Jenna and I drove up to White River Junction with a stop near Killington for a short 3 mile hike called Deer Leap Overlook. img_2223 Part of the trail to Deer Leap meets up with the Appalachian Trail--how cool!

The famous white blaze of the AT

img_2221 There was a rewarding view for such a short hike! img_2214    img_2208 After the little hike we met up with Meredith and John at Long Trail Brewery, one of my favorites! Can you tell why? img_2230 We each got a sampler and went out to their back patio to enjoy the scenic views--it sits right next to the Ottauquechee River. img_2228 We also enjoyed some pre-race snacks--nachos and the best truffle fries I've ever had. But anyway-I'm here to talk about the race! We stayed in White River Junction, a short drive from where we parked for the race in Quechee. After parking, we had to get shuttled to the start in the quaint town of Woodstock, Vermont. Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.41.50 PM Oh, and it was raining... The weather ranged from lightly misting to full on rain all throughout the race. I was semi-prepared and had a visor, thank goodness. I hate rain in my face!

The only covered bridge we actually ran on

They weren't lying--the race was scenic! It was probably one of the prettiest I've run. I was worried that it was going to be super hilly. I didn't look into the course so I didn't know what to expect. Thankfully there were only two major hills, neither of which were a big deal. Around mile 10 I was starting to get cold and was wishing for some dry clothes and shoes-thankfully there was only 3.1 miles left. I finished in 2:19:15--not too bad three weeks out from running a marathon and a half. There was also delicious ice cream at the finish! Along with a Harpoon Beer. They actually had a decent selection of about six different beer flavors to choose from. I chose the pale ale with mango...yum! Thankfully our hotel allowed a late checkout so we all had time to go back and shower and change into warm clothes. Overall it was a great race despite crappy weather. It was still beautiful. I'd highly recommend this race!

Race elevation chart

 
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Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon and 39.3 Challenge

So where did I leave off? Oh right, I was about to run a marathon! My friend Kristin was running the full also and she had her eyes on a PR! (Spoiler alert: she crushed it!) My goal: to not get swept off the course and finish under the cut off time. IMG_1928 The race started at 7:30 at the Kennebunk High School, only a three minute drive from our motel. Jordan dropped me off and I met up with Kristin to wish her luck. The day was a lot cooler and more cloudy than Saturday. Thank goodness, because it was perfect marathon running weather. I was on the fence about what to wear for this race but went with a light long sleeve. It was the perfect choice. IMG_5401 IMG_1913 IMG_1916 IMG_1915 IMG_1914 Surprisingly, my legs felt great. I was worried I was going to be sore from the half, but after the first few miles my legs warmed up and I kept a decent pace of about an 11:00 minute mile. The views weren't bad on the course, huh? IMG_1918 IMG_1919 Jordan drove along the course to stop and cheer. It was great to see him every few miles! He got this awesome shot me munching on jelly beans. Every other water stop had a food item for the runners instead of a gel. I must say, this was an awesome approach. I had a new snack to look forward to. I think my favorite were the mini chocolate chip cookies at mile 17.5 and the m&ms at mile 25. I know they say "never do anything new on race day" - but I decided to wing it and eat the snacks. It was a good decision. IMG_5399 At around mile 10 I started talking to a girl named Kathryn who had been running the same pace as me from the beginning. She was running the challenge too and is also an avid hiker! She's from Maine and has hiked all of the 48 highest peaks in New Hampshire! It turned out we had a ton in common. It was great to chat  and it helped the miles go by faster. We were determined we would drag each other across the finish line if we had to. Before we knew it, Mile 20 was upon us. And I actually hadn't taken that many walking breaks. I only walked through water stops and up some minor hills. By mile 23 my legs started to really feel it. My feet were hurting a little bit, but I was determined to keep running. I had been running between the 4:45  and the 5:00 pacers for most of the race, but I didn't see the 5:00 pacer until the last .2 of the marathon. We were on target to finish in about 5 hours. I was shocked! Finally, the finish line was in sight! IMG_5405 Volunteers promptly handed us our medals--TWO! We got the marathon medal and the special 39.3 medal for finishing the challenge! They also gave us our jackets. We wore them with pride! IMG_1927 Jordan met me at the finish line and I hobbled my way over to get in line for pizza. I was pretty much in shock that I had actually ran a 5:03 marathon the day after running a half! I wasn't even sure I could start the race, let alone run the entire thing in five hours. I guess it goes to show I am stronger than I give myself credit for. IMG_1925 I got my post-race beverage, the Shipyard Summer Ale. Beer never tasted so good! I would highly recommend both of the Shipyard Maine Coast races. They both had amazing views along the coast, great support and even some spectators! Both races were incredible. Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.29.35 AM We went back to the hotel so I could shower and change and then we went on a mission to find a Maine lobster roll. Mission accomplished! IMG_1930 This lobster roll came from the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. It was AMAZING! And to make it even better, there were no lines since it was off-season. So now I've completed the 39.3 challenge, what's next? I guess I have to think about it...
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