2010 Lake Placid Half Marathon

Hard to believe, it’s been a little over 2 weeks since I was in Lake Placid running a half marathon. I had an excellent time there with the family. My wife blogged about it, and my children have an episode about it on the Melur and Arman Show. All-in-all, it was an excellent family vacation. But at the request of my wife, I’ll take this opportunity to blog about my actual running experience at Lake Placid.

Unlike my last run only 7 weeks prior, I did spend a little more time training for this run. I didn’t train as much as my previous half marathon last year in Vancouver where I finished in under 2:10. But I was expecting to finish way better than my dismal 2:30 last place finish at the KRRA Half Marathon. I was confident, and excited. I was spending money to come here after all, and I need to make the trip worth while.

We had a really nice dinner (carbo loading) the night before at Lisa G’s restaurant, which was just down the street from the Spruce Lodge where we were staying. Lisa G’s came recommended by one of the locals whom we met earlier. I woke up bright and early the next morning, and headed for the race (also within walking distance). I left Ayu and kids still sleeping, though I knew they’d be cheering for me when I pass by the lodge an hour after the race starts (yup, the lodge is on the race route).

The starting area was quite festive. It wasn’t a really big race like the one in Vancouver, or the one in Ottawa (they’re bigger cities after all), but it was a decent size. I remember waiting at the back (way back) of the starting line, and the announcer introduced an Olympian who was officiating the race. His words of wisdom: “Be strong. It’s a tough course”. And those words rang so true halfway through the course.

The first 3 miles were easy – a good warm up. We circled Mirror Lake. The terrain was flat, and the pace was good. I took it easy: not too fast, not too slow. After looping Mirror Lake, the road sloped downward, and that’s when the hilliness began. This was around the time I passed by my family who was cheering me on from Spruce Lodge (there’s some video footage of me taken by Arman).

There were many hills. But I was able to maintain my pace. I was very much encouraged to be able to speed up and slow down at will. I would select a random runner whom I thought was running at a good pace (relative to myself), and I would run closely behind him or her. At times, my selected pacer would be too fast or too slow, and I would change my speed to catch up to another pacer. I guess you could say I was surprised with my performance.

Also, because the terrain was hilly, I found myself using my quads more than my calves. My calves have always been a problem for me (they cramp up easily). My quads however have always been strong, since I love to bike, and have been biking for a long time. So maybe the hilly terrain worked to my advantage.

Another interesting feature about this race is the things they push you at the water/food stations. At first, it was normal: power bars/gels, bananas, granola bars. But as the run progressed, they were serving cookies, muffins, and all kinds of crazy things. Little did I know that, this was actually the first time I was running with full marathoners. My previous half marathons were just that – half marathons, without a marathon component. This run included both marathon and half marathon. And both groups started at the same time (marathons would run 2 loops instead of 1). Is this what they eat when they run? I guess so…

Anyway, I made it most of the way, despite the hilly terrain, without stopping, up until the last kilometre or so. The last stretch was a continuously steep slope, and I mean steep, and long. I just couldn’t keep the pace, and had to walk. But I wanted to finish strong, so after a few minutes of walking, I started running again. And as I ran around a corner, there was my family again cheering me on (they had moved from the lodge closer to the finish line). There’s video footage of this as well. And so I finished the race, in about 2:23. Better than my KRRA. And no leg cramp, though I did start to feel some slight cramping on my calves on my walk home, but that didn’t bother me too much.

The after race party was great. Too bad my family didn’t join me. They headed back to the lodge after I passed them. At the Ottawa run, only runners were allowed in the “party” area, so it was no wonder they headed back. They could’ve joined me. I ended up eating on my own. The food was good. And they changed it up to. When I first went, they were serving egg wrap (really good). On my second round, cheese pizza (also good, especially after a run). And this is just the main course. There’s of course lots of pastry and sweets, fruits, and drinks. This was pretty much my lunch.

Anyway, I can’t imagine doing a full marathon at Lake Placid. I can see how this is a tough course. And given that I was cramping up just on my walk home, I definitely wouldn’t have made it if I tried. But I do want to run a full marathon soon. If you think about it, this is my fourth half marathon. It’s time to go for the full.

So I’m hoping I can do a full marathon this year. But given the schedule (with ramadhan around the corner), I’ll probably end up doing a triathlon instead. We’ll see. I have another 10km run this Sunday at Wolfe Island – Another short getaway with the family, a day trip. It should be fun.

Anyway, here’s Episode 9 (part 2) of the Melur and Arman Show, which contains some footage of my run as I passed by my family who were cheering me on (Thanks guys!).