race report is probably a bit of a stretch to describe the road trip rob, emmy, and i took wednesday night to run the summer solstice 15k trail run in new paltz. our plan had been to meet up with our friend myriam at the gilded otter and drive over to the minnewaska state park together. little did we know when we started off on our driving adventure that we'd finally arrive, after traffic jams and rain squalls, 40+ minutes after the race started! of our group, myriam was the only one who actually got to run the race!
but i've gotten ahead of myself. after emmy picked me up we, drove up i-684 to meet rob at the bedford exit. after all was said and done (thanks to heavy traffic and rain) we didn't leave from bedford until 5:15 - well behind schedule. emmy had called myriam to keep her apprised of our glacial progress (but on the positive side, they hadn't gotten any of the heavy rains we had driven through up in new paltz). a few miles up (before i-84) we were again stopped in bumper to bumper traffic.
so we exited the highway and took back roads to reach i-84. except for more rain showers, we had good driving conditions from that point. sadly, helga, rob's gps device, calculated our arrival time to be well after the start. in a reversal of our road trip to nipmuck (we arrived significantly ahead of helga's forecast), we arrived long after that dreary eta! in fact, within a half dozen miles of the park we were jolted to attention by a deer that jumped out of the woods and in front of our car! luckily, there was no damage aside from our seriously elevated heart beats and blood pressures!
once we reached the race staging area we sheepishly explained our woeful travails to the race director (who just happened to be soaked to the bone because a flash downpour arrived minutes before they started the race)! she gave us some quick course directions and told us to run the trail anyway - just get back before 9:00 o'clock when the park gates are locked up. it was roughly 7:15 when we set off and i was more concerned about finishing in 1:15 - before sunset - since we had no headlamps to guide us on the trail after dark!
from the brief description i had read about the course, i knew the first 3 miles would be a straight climb up to the ridge line. the next couple of miles would follow the ridge line and then a nice long, winding downhill, for the second half of the course. even following the sudden rain shower, it was incredibly humid - fog limited what would have been incredibly panoramic views from the summit. still, i took my camera along and managed to snap a bunch of great pictures as we climb up the first half.
the second half was a bit more stressful for me because we were pushed up against the quickly approaching twilight. even thought we easily ran a negative split (hard to write that for what was essentially a training run for us) once we began the descent, it seemed to to take forever to complete the course! amazingly, in the middle of the last mile we caught up to a race walker and her husband. despite my worries, we finished up in 1:18:14 - well before sunset (and with plenty of time to exit the park before the gates were locked).
myriam had already left by the time we returned to the staging area. they were half-way through the awards ceremony as we approached. emmy and rob each had a small piece of birthday cake (i saved my post-race calories for the gilded otter) before we made our way back to the car. we exited the park with hardly any time to spare - the gate was already partially closed (to block incoming traffic).
even with our re-hydration pit-stop at the gilded otter for one beer each (in 22 ounce glasses) we made the return trip home in half the time it took to drive up to new paltz!!
next year we will definitely be back (albeit with plans to start the road trip much, much earlier than we did this year).
here are my race (training run) pictures.