WELL! It’s been a while since my last post…a LOT has happened in my life…The biggest change being that I’m now living back in Upstate NY. The good thing about this race is that I had already planned to be here for it, so it worked out!
This morning…bright and early I got to the elementary school in Lake George, NY to pick up my stuff for the Chingachgook Challenge! We got there about 15 mins after it had opened for pickup, so it was still quiet. Pickup was simple, just tell them your name, you get a bib, a shirt, and a shoe tag for timing purposes. I had never used a shoe tag before, so I had to ask exactly how it was put on…but my laces and some twistie ties did the trick.
When it was time to start, we were instructed to line up in the road in front of the school…. There was no fancy line or national anthem…just a guy yelling out how many minutes left to start and our general route and instructions. This course was on an open road. So they had to make a few announcements on where to run and general safety for running this course.
We all took off to the sound of an air horn and off we went. The course involved a little loop at the start that took us by the local beach, luckily, because it was early, there weren’t many people around.
My goal for this race was to finish it without hurting myself, at a better time than the last (3:07), and to take it easy. So I was very careful not to push too hard at the start. I learned my lesson Last time. I’ve driven this road hundreds of times before, so I knew what to expect, but one of the volunteers told someone at packet pickup that it’s WAY worse when you’re driving than running. Not too sure how that is…but okay. The course is in the mountains and the hills are the rolling variety. Honestly, it felt like I went downhill more than uphill. The hills didn’t get too bad until about 6 miles in. Luckily I had smiling faces and a bottle of water waiting for me right before I hit that. So it could have been worse! It gets even MORE challenging when you turn onto Pilot Knob Road right after Mile 9. I knew that going into it, so I was at least mentally prepared!
Also, the weather for this race was perfect…but there was not a cloud in the sky, so it made some of the sunnier (mostly flat) stretches a bit more difficult. Mile 7 was a short out and back down a road in Cleverdale with lots of shade and no hills, so that was a lovely “rest”…but that was followed by one of the larger hills.
Along the course, there were spurts of people cheering everyone on. My personal favorite was a group of older women who were drumming on capped pipes sticking out of the ground yelling “GO GO GO GO” in unison. A few even cheered “BUTTERCUP!” at me…because of my shirt.
There was an SUV that I saw multiple times along the course that was blasting music and cheering for every person that went by them…even a few ladies who were just out for their morning walk!
The last 4 miles were difficult for me because muscles started to tighten up and knees started to protest. I was quite happy to reach mile 10, but it was a bit of a struggle after. I was also very familiar with this section of the course (I used to work at Camp Chingachgook) So I at least knew how much further I had and some major landmarks along the way. Made it easier to say “when I hit this, I’ll do this”. So that worked in my favor to keep me mentally sane.
When I got to the camp entrance, I got a huge burst of energy and just went for it! I could see all the people down the road waving everyone into the senior boys unit, where the finish line was.
People walking back to their cars and the staff and CITs cheered really loudly and put a huge smile on my face as I approached. It was quite the feeling! My Parents were at the finish waiting for me and as I crossed, one of the officials said my name over the loud speaker. A volunteer clipped my timing chip off of my shoe and I got my “Medal”. I say this, because the medal was in fact laser cut wood on a leather string! It’s pretty much my new favorite thing.
The shirt was an A4 brand Tech shirt, which is what I’ve gotten from running the Martian Marathon 5k and 10ks and I really like them, but this one fits tighter because they didn’t say during registration that they were tech shirts, and they tend to run small..It’s still useable, just doesn’t have as much room as I’d like. BUT This race was only $30…which is amazing for a half marathon. Yes, there wasn’t as much pomp and circumstance as the more expensive races, and the road wasn’t closed, but it was a really decent price for the distance! After, they had a BBQ by the lake and had the waterfront open for people to go cool off if they wanted. Also, bathrooms and showers were made available for those who needed it.
This race, overall, was really important to me. I wanted to run it last year, but it was financially and schedule-wise, not possible, so I was quite happy to be able to this year. Also, my last half marathon was pretty awful, so it felt really nice to cross that finish line smiling. And last but very not least…My new motto lately has been “I can do hard things.” Which I got from Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl. And thinking about it these past few weeks, I know that I can and the place that I learned that I’m able to do hard things, was Camp Chingachgook. I went to work there the day after I graduated High School. I was kind of a wreck at that age and I was terrified to do anything that was challenging. BUT…when you have to be a positive role model to kids, you have to put that aside and just do it. During the 4 summers I was there I did lots of hard things. I Climbed mountains, I dealt with difficult kids who sometimes had rough backgrounds, I learned (after failing many times) to water ski, and I swam 2 miles on two separate occasions. I was put outside of my comfort zone more times than I would have thought, but you know what? It was all worth it. That Camp has taught me so many things useful AND silly. Just being there makes me feel relaxed and optimistic. I mean, just look at this view!