Tag Archives: hills

Race Recap: Camp Chingachgook Challenge Half Marathon

14 Aug

Grab a cup of tea and settle in, you’re going to be here for a while.

There is so much to say about Saturday’s Camp Chingachgook Challenge half marathon! In short, this course was both absolutely beautiful and considerably challenging. If it’s any indication, I ran today after following my 3-Day Rest Rule and my quads were still a little sore!

My amazing friend, Jaimie, joined me yet again for another half marathon and my husband Mark came along to cheer us on and take photos. This is becoming quite a tradition for the three of us!

nikkijaymrbb

Are we ready?

The half marathon starts near the southern tip of Lake George and runs along the lake to YMCA’s Camp Chingachgook. If you aren’t familiar with New York, Lake George is on the Eastern edge of the Adirondack Park, the largest protected area in the U.S. (fast facts).

chingachgook rbb

Fun fact: Mark went to this camp when he was younger!

The atmosphere of the race felt very laid back, casual and friendly – campers volunteered at packet pickup and waterstops but the event production crew didn’t even show up until about 10 minutes before race time!  We also started a few minutes late to give runners in the bathroom a chance to lineup. This was almost unnerving to someone (read: me) who likes to get to races super early due to pre-race jitters. Still, before I knew it we were off!

At about mile 1.5, we came down a hill and right in front of us was this incredible view of the lake. The sun was still low and there were parasailers, creating a breathtaking scene. It was so gorgeous that there was an audible chorus of “ooohh” as the lake came into view. After the race, I made Mark drive us back to that side of the lake to get a photo.

lakegeorge

Lake George

The lake was in view, at least in part, for the majority of the race and there was plenty of shade. I was very grateful for that, because even though it was between 60 and 70 degrees (F), the sun was shining bright!

You know what else this race was full of? Hills. Rolling. Relentless. Endless. Hills. My suspicions that I had not done nearly enough hill training were spot on. I had even looked at the elevation chart when I registered and somehow didn’t think, “Hey, I should really make sure I get my hill repeats in.”

camp chingachgook challenge elevationAs you can imagine, many thoughts ran through my mind during the race. I’ll give you the clean version.

Mile 1.5: “Ooooh that’s pretty! Really wish I had a camera on me.” Average pace – 8:00

Mile 2-4: “This isn’t so bad. Just keep the pace here. You can do this.” Avg. pace – 8:10

Mile 5-6: “Oooh K. This is getting a little hard. Just hang in there, take a GU and keep going. Just keep going.” 
Avg. pace – 8:12-8:20

Mile 6.5: “I’m halfway there! Wait, really? I’m only halfway?! Oh God.” Avg. pace – 8:34

Mile 7-9: “Another hill? Seriously?! Breathe, just keep going. Trust your body. Come on, legs… AHHH they hurt!” Avg. pace – 8:30-8:44

Mile 10-11: “Only 5K left! Can I just stop and curl up over there? OK, time to sing…you can go haaaaard or you can go hoooome….can I really go home? Please? No? Another hill?!” Avg. pace – 8:50

Mile 12: “Only one more mile, you can do this! Just keep running. Just keep running. Just. Keep. Running.” Avg. pace – 8:26

Mile 13: “AGGGHHH!!!” Avg. pace – 8:36

Mile 13.1: “I DID IT!!!!!!” Total time – 1:48:12. A 9 second PR!

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Really wish I smiled at Mark…but I was too determined!

As completely trashed and sore as I was at the end, finishing this race felt incredible. I was overwhelmed by a combination of feelings may be only be understood by fellow long distance runners – an intoxicating mix of elation, pride, and relief.

Three down!

Three down!

To add to this sense of accomplishment, a special “Tough Enough” award was presented as a surprise to runners who ran both this race and the Jog4Jugs half marathon in May. Apparently, there is pretty hot debate in the area about which half marathon is more challenging. Since there is no definitive answer, they recognize people like us who are crazy enough to do both. They gave out giant candy apples to everyone and the people with the fastest combined marathon time also got a bottle of wine. If you ask me which one is more challenging, I don’t think I could honestly tell you. The only thing I could say is that my body was in much more pain this time!

ChingachgookHalf_toughenough

We’re Tough Enough!

I know this is long, so I thank you for sticking with me and making it all the way down here. I promise I’m almost done.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had a few days to recover from my firey legs of jello or maybe I’m still high on those post-race feelings, but I am glad I decided to run this half marathon. And I’d even dare say I’d be willing to run it again. It is a perfect blend of a challenging course, breathtaking scenery, friendly atmosphere, and post-race food and fun.

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Off the shore of Camp Chingachgook

It is clear that those involved in putting this race on and volunteering are passionate about this event and really care about the camp. And to top it off, most of the proceeds go right back to support Camp Chingachgook. I look forward to returning to meet this challenge again!

Half marathon #3…done!

10 Aug

Just wanted to pop in to say that the Camp Chingachgook Challenge half marathon is in the books! This is the third half mary that I’ve ever done and boy, did I have to work hard for it! It was a very beautiful but challenging course full of rolling hills. My official time was 1:48:12, which is a 9 second PR!

Three down!

Three down!

I am currently nursing my very sore legs and tired body, so I will be back tomorrow! Stay tuned for the full race recap in the next few days!

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!