The race didn't start until 9:30, so I had oodles of time to pick up my number and race shirt. I actually ended up sitting in my car for about 20 minutes after packet pickup to stay warm while I waited.
The Sleepy Hollow Half is run by my weekend running group, Rivertown Runners, so it was fun to have a bunch of runner friends there with me. There was a whole group of us together at the starting line.
My two best running friends and I before the start. It's impossible to get a good picture of all of us.
|Photo Credit to Joe Golden|
The course was different from the last time I ran it. A couple of years ago we still had snow on the ground, so a lot of the trails were not included.
The first half mile or so is mostly uphill on the road. After that we hit the aqueduct trails which are packed dirt. It was pretty crowded for the first few miles, especially once we were off the road and on the narrower trails. I think some people were a little nervous on the trails, but since I run them every weekend I passed a bunch of people by running on the edge of the trail.
It was mostly rolling hills until just before mile 5, where we were serenaded by a bagpiper as we dragged ourselves up a long, steep hill. My friend kept telling me to pump my arms, but I was not moving very quickly. From mile 5.5 on we were back on the roads.
There's a bit of a stretch out and back on a highway that really seems to drag. The way out was a gentle, but endless uphill, which at least made the way back a long downhill. It's about a mile and a half each way.
Around mile 9.5 is a really stupid hill in a hospital parking lot. It's just so unnecessary.
After running through some neighborhoods, the course runs along the Hudson until the final mile. The last mile is mostly flat until the last .2, which is up the worst hill of the entire race. It's known as the Pocantico Punisher, though I know a few runners with more colorful names for it.
|Photo credit to Jared Johnson|
My race plan was to just run. I set my watch to show the clock time and didn't look at any of my mile splits. I ended up running the entire race within about 20 feet of one of my weekend running buddies. Our trio all had the goal of just being under 2 hours at the finish line. We naturally alternated who was in the lead and ran side by side from time to time. Sometimes talking, sometimes alone with our music. He told me around mile 9 that we definitely were on track to come in under two hours, and later asked me what my PR time was.
In the last couple of miles he told me it was only going to be a question of how much I would beat my PR by. I was definitely getting tired by the last mile, but nothing really hurt, I was just tired. The last hill took a lot out of me, but I saw 1:56:xx on the clock and broke into a smile and a sprint and finished just behind my friend. We actually ended up with the exact same chip time, my new PR - 1:56:35!
It ended up being a great race day - perfect weather (though I did end up with a bit of a sunburn), zero pain, a fun run with friends and a new PR! Can't ask for much more than that!