Sunday I ran the Adirondack marathon.
The race bills itself as “the most beautiful 26.2 miles you’ll ever run”. And they are right. What they forget to tell you is that it’s also the most challenging 26.2 miles you’ll ever run.
I’ve completed the second half of this course three times. And it’s not easy. There’s a lot of rolling hills. And not much shade the last six miles. But I’ve done okay.
This year I thought it was time to see what’s on the other half of Schroon Lake. It was….impressive.
And makes for a good story. So let me tell it. 🙂
The race started at 9am in downtown Schroon Lake NY.
I headed up early with Kevin & Gus to get our usual prime parking space. And spotted a set of portapotties with a very short line. While we waiting we heard a loon. Cool! Had to be a sign right?
Hung out in the car for a bit after, finishing my large pumpkin coffee and watching the runners. (Runners so make for great people watching. We’re such an odd breed).
Then – time to head to the start. Where we met some fellow cairn lovers who of course had to pet Gus and talk dogs. 🙂 And was a welcome distraction from my nerves.
I lined up, strategically placing myself ahead of the 4:30 pace group. I had a goal of between 4:30 and 5:00. And knew that what mile they passed me at would determine what my chances were.
We took right (exactly on time!) and headed north. For about two miles before the turn across the top of the lake. And down an impressively steep hill. My first thought? Reminds me of hopkinton. My second? That’s gonna hurt later.
Crossed a little bridge and was just overwhelmed by how beautiful it is.
Around mile 3 we turned at a farm onto a gravel road through field and trees. Yep, they weren’t kidding. So pretty. One of those races you just want to keep stopping to take pictures.
I knew the hardest stretch of the race would be miles 4-12. So I wasn’t surprised when we hit the first hill.
What surprised me was how easily I got up it. (Hill training does pay off!) and every hill had at least a short level section where you could recover.
Around around mile 6(7?) was an incredible long downhill. In the forest. No cars, and only a few runners. Peaceful. I was cruising and smiling and thinking “I just want to run this road forever”. Singing the ‘I love downhills’ song Karen invented (sole sister shoutout. Lol) Followed by “uh-oh. The further down I go, the higher I have to come back up”
And I shared my thought with a runner who pulled alongside me. Who was thinking the exact same thing. We kept each other company and chatted until the next water stop, where she grabbed a drink and I kept going.
And sure enough, the next hill came. And I was up and over and back down. And again. Refusing to walk no matter how steep it looked. Because I knew at the top I’d get a chance to recover.
And I was charmed by how much the locals come out for this. The group blasting “born to run”, the elderly man playing “feeling groovy” on an organ, the teenagers lining the course cheering and screaming.
And then…mile 11.5ish? Godzhilla’s father. And I dug down and headed up. And an older gentleman to my left said “I’ve been waiting for this one.” And I had to laugh because I knew exactly what he meant. This was the hill your mother warned you about. This was the “man or mouse” hill. And I was not going to walk it.
And I didn’t. I kept moving, feeling like I was running in place but somehow making progress. And I got to the top. And tried to keep going and realized if I didn’t walk for a minute, I wasn’t gonna make it. 🙂 So I walked, for just a moment, to the Taiko drummers. And then continued on.
To the downhill that I knew lead to where the half started. The “harder” half was over. And I’d met my goal of slaying those hills. I crossed the 13.1 marker in around 2:14.
And knew that I had a few miles of flat, and should have been able to just chug merrily along. And yet my legs? They had other ideas.
Around mile 15 my legs started to feel heavy. The lack of elevation changes actually worked against me. My legs were beat. And I needed my brain to convince them otherwise.
So, I gave them a 1/4 mile walk break. And it helped. Some. And I just kept going. And walked the hills if I had to.
And around mile 17.5 I entered the Word of Life campus. You want to feel like a total rock star? How bout a hundred kids all screaming your name and handing out high fives and telling you how amazing you are. 🙂
At mile 18 I walked through the water stop. And got passed by the 4:30 pace group. And realized it so didn’t matter. And while they all told me how much they loved my skirt, one guy in the group declared me “most stylish runner of the day”. Awww thanks dude!
And I found it in me to keep running. Past the timing mat checkpoint and back into the main road. And the rolling hills that would continue until the end.
And I ran along and took short walks at the water stops, now hitting them all and alternating water and powerade because I was hot and getting dehydrated.
And the sun blared down. And the road kept winding and when I hit mile 20 I looked at my watch. And I knew I could pretty much walk the rest and still be under 5 hours. And I also knew that wasn’t going to happen. Because I’m a runner. It’s what I do. And I was going to run what I could.
So I ran the downhills. And flats if I could. And walked the water stops. And the uphills. And thanked the volunteers. And encouraged the other runners. And smiled and tried to take it all in. To remember the race.
And at mile 24, I saw two runners stopped and pointing at a tree. I asked what they were looking at. It was a bald eagle. Wow…magic.
And shortly after the 4:45 pacers passed me. And that was okay. Because they were run/walking too. And if I kept them in sight, I had this.
And then my friend from back on the hills passed me with a “you got this” and I yelled back “see you at the finish”
I ran up to where the bridge was that my friends had stood at last year. And then walked a bit, past the group of Taiko drummers and the 26 mile sign to the gazebo and the turn to the finish.
And said to myself “you can do this” and started running.
I spotted Kevin and his uncle sitting on the bleachers and waved as I passed by.
Crossed the mat that gave the announcer my name, raised my arms in the air, and then kicked to the finish.
Got my medal, a Coke and a brownie, and headed for the lake. 🙂
So stats…4:46:12 finish. 8th marathon. 4th state. 5th in my age group and 137th overall.
And those hills? One of a kind. 🙂