The Albany Winter Marathon once again turned into a tale about the weather! Last year, after a brief dry start, we ran in snow, sleet, rain, and generally damp and raw conditions for most of the event. This year it was dry, but all about the wind and wind gusts that refused to quit - and seemed to grow stronger as the day progressed! Be that as it may, it was still a good time - and the HMRRC put on another great event (with great volunteers out on the course).
As we did last year, Emmy, Rob, and I drove up together. Last year we dodged a snowstorm on the Thruway. This time around we took the wrong exit (one too soon), and spent too much time traversing the local streets to reach the campus. Then we used the wrong entrance and spent 15-20 minutes trying to “find” the race. At one point we spotted the race volunteers on the course and the athletics building - but couldn’t reach it without exiting that campus and driving down the road to reach the adjoining one!
Despite all that hassle, we actually arrived 5 minutes before the start. Rob had already pre-registered, so he just had to get to the start. Emmy and I, conversely, hadn’t registered. While Emmy parked the car, I learned that post registration had closed! I pleaded with the one of the volunteers and she graciously grabbed an addition pair of bibs and signed us in! We literally dropped our bags across from the registration table and ran out to the start!
The starting line was directly across the track, which was just outside the athletic building. Since the track was fenced in, we had a great view of the runners heading off in the opposite direction as we made our way to the start, turned around, and joined the race in progress! I thought we were the last people to start, but it turned out Rob started after we did! He had to make a pit stop, and changed into his running clothes. We were about 2 minutes late to start, and Rob was well over 3 minutes late.
Since the race wasn’t chip timed, we had to suck up those extra minutes. My first mile split was further slowed by a quick side trip to the porta-john (business I didn’t get to attend to pre-race). But I was treating this as a training run, so I wasn’t too concerned. My optimistic time goal had been 3:30, but given the hectic start - a 3:40 would be just as good. The course consisted of 1 short and 4 longer loops of the SUNY Albany campus. It was 30 degrees at the start, but the wind chill brought the real feel down into the teens.
Markers were provide at 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 miles. Here are my race splits:
My official time was 3:44:58, an 8:35 pace.
After a somewhat rough start to the first loop, I felt fine through the first 15 miles. I was able to maintain just over an 8 minute pace during that stretch. I saw Emmy, Rob, Barbara, Eliot, and Shannon, periodically, during the course of the race. In that respect, this edition was a very different experience from the 2009 race, where I ran most of the race without speaking to anyone (except race volunteers). However, once again the run turned into a battle against the inclement weather.
The heavy wind gusts finally took a toll during the 4th loop and I slowed down dramatically. It was the lowest point in the race for me - and I just couldn’t warm up. The bank clock on the course read 30 degrees at the start (loop 1) and just 33 degrees by my last loop! A whopping 3 degree increase over the course of the race - with no measurable drop off in the wind. At no point (even my lowest) did I consider walking because I was afraid that I’d become hypothermic and freeze to death!
When I crossed the finish my hands were numb and I needed to get warm. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t wait at the finish line for my friends, but made a beeline straight for the athletics building and grabbed a bowl of hot soup. It didn’t take long to warm up - and I recovered much quicker after this run than I did in 2009 (calf cramps bedeviled me after the race). Emmy and Rob opted for post-race showers, then, together with Eliot, we headed over to Evans Brewing at the Albany Pump Station for some beer!
Next up: Caumsett Park 50K
Here are some race photos.