Race Recap: Jog4Jugs Half Marathon

14 May

Wow, I feel like I haven’t stopped for a moment since the Jog4Jugs Half Marathon started on Saturday! I have taken these three days off from running for recovery, but I have not been doing much sitting around at all. Before I get wrapped up in the next adventure, here is a full race recap. (This is long, so grab some coffee and a cookie or two.)

About the race

Jog4Jugs is a small local event hosted by Power House Athletics that includes a 5K and Half Marathon. The event is organized to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Proceeds from this year’s race were donated to local breast cancer charities and survivors who took part in the race.

The course is set in the scenic and hilly countryside of Duanesburg, NY and is primarily an out and back course. I added a map because it’s hard to explain without a visual:

jog4jugsmap

Just take a look at the elevation map and you will see that I was not kidding about it being uphill both ways:jog4jugselevationPersonal experience

This race had personal meaning to me, as I ran in memory of my Aunt Kathy, who passed away from breast cancer in September 2002. It is a disease that has affected so many and I hope that one day it will no longer have a significant impact on anyone’s life.

It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who were there to show support for me and my friend Jaimie, who ran the half marathon as well. Cheering us on were my husband Mark, my mom and stepdad, my dad, my grandparents, my in-laws, and our friend Jenn.

Some members of the Cheer Squad!

Some members of the Cheer Squad!

nikkijaimiebefore

Jaimie and I ready to go!

The weather was mid-60s and humid with light rain on and off. The sun only poked through briefly, but it made for fairly comfortable racing conditions.

The half marathon only had 72 entrants, many of which are members of the Albany Running Exchange. It was nice to see some familiar faces! Even though there were limited areas for spectators to view the race, Mark got a ton of great pictures.

startSince I knew the course would be challenging, I started off at a strong but comfortable pace of 7:45. At the turnaround at mile 3, I actually threw up my thumbs to Mark and said, “I’m feeling strong!”

mile3I kept this up for a few miles until the hills really started rolling in. I stayed pretty strong even though it took me a bit to recover my pace after each uphill.

form

Just after mile 7, still feeling pretty strong

My dad snapped this next one as I came up from the second turnaround at about mile 7.5. I actually said, “I need high fives!” and sure enough, Mark and Jenn obliged.

husbandhighfiveIt started to rain a little bit and Mark caught this cool shot of us surrounded by little raindrops.

raindropsThe spirit of runnerhood was so strong in this race. Whenever we were in little packs, there was friendly chatting going on. As someone came up behind, there were words of encouragement. At each turnaround, we all cheered each other on as we passed on the opposite side. It never felt like a competition to me – we were all in it together.

uphill

Small sampling of the hillage

After that point, things started to get a little lonely and increasingly tougher. The field spread out more, there were no more turnarounds, very few spectators cheered along the course (except for the few water stations), and the biggest hills were yet to come.

After making it up the steep, windy hill at mile 10.5, my body slowed way down. This is where I started to daydream about curling up in the grass alongside the hill and waiting for someone to rescue me. Luckily, that vision was only brief and I replaced it with my mantra: “Just keep running. Focus on the finish. You can do this. Just keep running.” The rest of the race was purely mental. I settled into a 9:30 pace for the last 5K and just let my mind take over. “All you have to do is finish.” This meant a positive split, which I’m totally OK with.

Starting from about mile 12 you can see the last enormous hill in the distance, which you painfully climb for what seems like forever. Once you reach the top, the last .25 mile is downhill to the finish.

As soon as I came over that last crest, I put every ounce of energy I had left into coasting to the finish line. And this time I remembered to smile! I also finished with my hand over my heart for Boston and with my other hand to the sky in loving memory of my Aunt Kathy.

finishforAuntKathyBoston wm

award

Age group award was a cute Jog for Jugs cinch bag!

My official time was 1:56:05, which landed me 8th female, 30th overall, and 3rd in my age group (20-29). Considering I went into this race with no expectations other than to finish with a smile, I am quite proud of my efforts! I was only 8 minutes behind my first half marathon time, which was on a flat course. I guess those hill repeats paid off!

I am also very proud of Jaimie, who managed a PR! All finishers were given a pink ribbon car magnet that says, “Jog for Jugs Finisher 13.1.”

finishers

We did it!

Race review

This is the 4th running of the Jog4Jugs event and from what I hear, it has improved each year. This feedback is from my personal observations and experience.

Pros:

  • A local race supporting local people affected by breast cancer
  • Very friendly and supportive atmosphere
  • Smooth event production with chip timing
  • 5K also available
  • Various water stations throughout course
  • Multiple awards, including for top 3 breast cancer survivors
  • An after party with food, music and sport apparel for purchase
  • Finishers get tech t-shirts and awareness magnets

Cons:

  • The course designer is clearly sadistic
  • Majority of the course is not spectator-friendly
  • Tech t-shirts are unisex size and very large
  • Magnets are nice, but I prefer race bling (AKA, medals 😉 )
  • Website has a lot of outdated information on it

Overall, I truly enjoyed this race. It is quite challenging, but so rewarding. This is a race I would definitely run again. We’ll see what next year brings!

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10 Responses to “Race Recap: Jog4Jugs Half Marathon”

  1. Mark Hoffman May 14, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    You did a GREAT job Nikki ! can’t wait to “cheer you on” in your next race

    • Nikki May 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks for being there!

  2. Crystal May 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Awesome, as always. Congrats!

  3. Jaym May 14, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I agree with every word of your pros and cons. The hardest part was the last 3 miles, uphill, steep, with no spectators or runners to cheer you on… its definitely hard to stay focused that late in the race.
    So glad you found this event. The fact that the money stays local is a huge bonus 🙂
    You did amazing and congrats!! Next year we will be crazy for knowing how hard and hilly the course is and doing it again anyway.. haha

    • Nikki May 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      It was so fun to do this event together! I love our racing adventures!

  4. thepaceofitall May 14, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    Great recap and great running. No medal tho? Whoa. And wow those hills are intense! You got some great race pics btw!

    • Nikki May 15, 2013 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks! No, no medals at this event. It’s very small, so I imagine the budget for awards doesn’t allow for bling.

  5. Diana May 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Holy hills, batman! Wow. Congrats on a well run race!

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