Friday night a few friends and I went to Troy Night Out! We went to Troy Cloth & Paper's Print Off. They were selling prints designed by the Artist of the Month and I knew I wanted one, it was awesome. We wandered around downtown a little bit before stopping at Bacchus for some pizza. I've only been here a few times, but every time the pizza is great. The crust is extremely thin and crispy, the pizza has lots of flavor and it's not overloaded with cheese. After dinner we walked over to Peck's Arcade, the new spot next to the Confectionery. This place is extremely hip. I loved it! They also had interesting drinks on the menu. The next morning I had a run planned with my marathon training friend, Jenna. We are both signed up for the Buffalo Marathon (I may have convinced her to run it) so we had a long run on the agenda for Saturday--16 miles. We met at UAlbany because it was snowing and we weren't sure if the Niskayuna Bike Path would be completely clear. Thankfully at SUNY, the running loop is always salted and mostly free of snow and ice. It was snowing when we got there and continued to snow for our entire run. 16 miles is a lot of loops at the UAlbany campus. 5 and half to be exact. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it. Saturday I liked it. It was pretty mindless but sometimes I just need that. I can count down the number of loops as I go and I can stop at my car for fuel and water when I need to. 15 miles was the longest that Jenna had run, ever! I was super proud of her (she ran 15, I ran 16). I felt really good, even by the end. Sunday was another busy day. Sunday is the only day of the week that Jordan and I both have off from work, so we try to do something outdoorsy and fun. We decided to go back to Petersburgh Pass for a quick hike since it was getting late. We picked up his parents' dog, Jack, and brought him along because he loves hiking. There was still a few feet of snow up here. We were unprepared and didn't bring snowshoes, but it wasn't really an issue since it was really packed down. I happened to have my microspikes in my bag, so I put them on to make it a little easier. I like this hike because it's close to home and only takes about 45 minutes. Perfect when you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and you don't have much time!
Saturday evening Jordan and I drove out to Syracuse for the Syracuse Half Marathon! I signed up for this race ages ago and got a hotel .5 miles from the start of the race in downtown, Syracuse. We checked into our hotel and then immediately went searching for some good eats. Around the corner we found a little place called Modern Malt. They had a small late-night menu and I went with the egg and cheese sandwich because it seemed harmless for a pre-race dinner. Thankfully it was a great decision and it was delicious. Both of our meals (Jordan got a burger) came with tater tots! I got sweet potato and he got regular. I liked the regular better, actually! They were delicious. After our late dinner we headed next door to a place called Al's Whiskey & Wine Bar. Normally I don't stay out too late the night before a race, but we just had to check out these cools spots so close to our hotel. I just made sure to hydrate well with plenty of water! There were many spirits to choose from. Overall it seemed like a really cool place to hang and grab a drink. The race was starting at 8AM the next morning and the starting line/finish area was a short walk from our hotel. We left at around 7:30 and walked in the freezing cold. The high was supposed to be 18 degrees so it was pretty cold at 7:30am--I actually didn't even look at the temp because I didn't want to get discouraged. I think it was the coldest I've run in all season, which is funny because now it is actually Spring. At the start I met up with my friends Val and Jona who were also running! Jona and I decided to try to run some of the race together. Yes, it was cold. This was Jordan's first time spectating a race. He was awesome for standing out there despite the freezing temps! 🙂 I had no goals for this race. I was just planning on using it as training run. But Jordan asked me what my best possible finish time would be and I told him 2:10, and that was if the run was going fantastic. I told him I doubt I would run that fast. So during the race I decided not to look at my pace at all and just run by feel. Turns out that was an really good decision! Race Stats Are you on Strava? Friend me! I lost Jona during the first big hill at around mile 2. She told me there were hills on the course but I really didn't pay any mind--I didn't even look at the course elevation in fear that the hills were going suck, sometimes I think its better when I don't know what's coming. Surprisingly they didn't kill me and I felt really great during the race. The only time I walked was to eat Gu and drink water. I ate two--one at mile 2 because my stomach was growling, and one later around mile 8. My pace stayed under a 10 minute mile until Mile 10. Darn! But there was even an 8:52 mile thrown in there which I still can't even believe I did. Overall, I really enjoyed this race! I finished in 2:09:47, for an average of 9:54 per mile. I am very happy with that for a tough course! The race medal was awesome too. The post-race party was located inside at the Oncenter. This was really nice because it was extremely cold out! If it were outside, everyone would have frozen! They had a lot of tables for people to sit at and eat their post-race snacks. I grabbed a chocolate milk and a yogurt to refuel with. They get an A for post-race party. And the race itself was extremely organized, overall I was extremely impressed! Our hotel had a late checkout, so I got to go back and shower before heading to brunch. Jordan and I drove over to Lemoyne College to pick up my cousin and the three of us met Val at Funk n' Waffles on the Syracuse University campus! This place was on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, so we knew it had to be decent! I went with the waffle with eggs and bacon, and it was delicious. It hit the spot after the half marathon! Very tasty when paired with a Magic Hat #9. 😉 And that concluded my first half marathon of 2015!
It's that time of year again, time for the Winter Series races! These are some of my favorite local races because they are 1) free for members, 2) have varying distances to run during the winter, complete with water stops and refreshments, and 3) a majority of my favorite runners do them with me. Christine and I got to SUNY early to do a warm up campus loop of three miles. We averaged around 10:30 pace for the three miles while we chatted away. After warming up, we went into register and hung out inside for a bit before the race began at 10AM. Thankfully it was warmer out than it has been lately, although it was cloudy and then started to mist during the last few miles of the race. I had zero plans for this race other than just to get the miles in for the day. I started out running with Meredith, and eventually she took off while I ran with some other running friends who I met at Trail Running Camp over the summer. We kept a steady pace around a 10 minute mile for the whole 15K, and I was very happy with that. I felt great during the race and our conversations over the 9.3 miles made the time go by fast! I've been aiming for 20 mile weeks lately, just to get myself a strong base for some upcoming marathon training. I'm about 90% sure I'm signing up for a Spring marathon--stay tuned for more details. 😀 I did a lot of races in 2014, including seven half marathons (I think that's the most I've ran in one year), and one full marathon. There have been a lot of significant changes in my life this past year, but the one thing that remained consistent is my running. Running makes me feel so fulfilled and happy with life, especially because I've made some really great friends through the sport and I'm glad I have them. So let's recap this past year shall we? Favorite Race of 2014 - After the Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon, Lake Minnewaska State Park (Also my slowest half marathon of the year, but who cares? - the views were amazing) Hardest race of the 2014 - the Marine Corps Marathon, also wins for the largest race I've ever run The race with the most swag - The Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon, 10K and 5K (Hat Trick) The fastest and most flat half marathon of 2014 - Asbury Park Half Marathon The hottest race of 2014 - Saratoga Springs Half Marathon - humid, humid, humid! Race with the most frogs on the course - Dippikill Froggy Five, a 5 mile trail race around Dippikill in the Adirondacks, with frogs around every corner. Race with the most team spirit - Ragnar Relay ADK Here's to an even more exciting 2015!
Sunday marks two weeks until the big day--Marathon Day! Last weekend I ran my longest run of marathon training, my second 20-miler! I decided to run two 20s this time, just because I felt like it would prepare my legs a little bit better. Both of them went well, and I managed to stay at goal pace, under 11 minute mile. My training for this marathon was a bit different than my past training plans. I followed a plan loosely. I didn't stick to it religiously. I ran about three times a week, with long runs on the weekend and and during the week I did yoga or piyo for some cross training. Sometimes I substituted a long run with a long hike and a Ragnar Relay which worked out well because one gave me a lot of time on my feet and the other gave me a lot of hill work. The most important thing I did was get in the crucial long runs, the 16 miler, the 18 miler, and two 20s. I think this is the most important part of my training! Usually I can't run a race without a goal, and this one is no different! "A" Goal - Finish in 4:35:18, average pace of 10:30 per mile - both my 20 milers were run in 10:50/mile average pace, so this might be a stretch, but there is a chance I'll have a really great day. However, I'm not counting on this one "B" Goal Finish in 4:44:55, average pace of 10:52 per mile - seems more realistic given my training "C" Goal Finish under 4:54:01 (my marathon PR from 2013), average pace under 11:13 per mile - hopefully I can PR again because this year I'm not injured! Of course, anything can happen on race day, so I'm ready for anything!
Saturday marked the 100 year celebration of John Boyd Thacher State Park. Ever since I was a little kid I have been coming here to walk the Indian Ladder Trail, and it's still one of my favorite places to get outside in the Capital Region. I love going to Thacher for nature walks, trail running, fun trail racing, and even snowshoeing. With one of the best views in the area, this place can't be beat. This is why I ran the 10K on Saturday. As part of the Centennial Celebration, the Albany Running Exchange put on some trail races: a 5K, a 10K, and even a marathon and a 50K! The 10K course was a loop that goes along part of the Long Path, a trail that I had never run on there before. I love running new trails and it was nice to see other parts of the park. There were even two great lookout spots during the race. The 10K was Kristin's first trail race! We spent the whole race chatting away and it made the miles fly by. Thankfully both of us stayed upright the whole time. I heard there were a few nasty falls during the day. I have been there before and its not fun! We finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes. Overall, I really enjoyed the course for this race! Maybe I'll even find myself running the marathon here in the future. I really wish I was doing the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon again this year at Thacher, but it falls on the same day as the Marine Corps Marathon! Speaking of marathon, if you were wondering: yes, I'm still training! Sunday (the day after the 10K) I ran my first 20 miler of my training plan! It went very well and I'm really excited to spend October 26th running around Washington DC for 26.2 miles.