Mike and I headed out to Verona, New York on Saturday morning to pick up our race packets at Turning Stone casino. We've been there only a few times before so it was fun to go back, and we were able to gamble because each runner got a 10 dollar free play card! I lost all of my money immediately but Mike played for awhile before he eventually lost it all too.
After checking into our hotel we were trying to figure out something to do before going to dinner. There weren't really any good movies out so I suggested mini golf. We ended up going to the only mini golf place in the area and that was an adventure in and of itself! Just take a look at the place.
Yes, that is a giant octopus
Mike washing his putter off
This section got annoying because "The Flintstones" theme song played over and over
We thought this was funny
The lighthouse is missing something
We ended the night with some pasta and ice cream, if you are ever in the Utica, Rome or Verona area check out Nicky Doodles they have great ice cream!
Race morning wasn't too early of a start, basically the same time we wake up for work. We checked out of our hotel and then drove to the casino. When we got there I started to text Jenny and as I was she texted me! She was also running the half marathon so we were planning on meeting up. Luckily, as we were walking out of the parking garage we walked right by her and her husband.
After hitting the port-a-potties and stretching, it was time to lineup. There were a little over 300 people running the half and one person in the wheelchair category. The national anthem played and then the announcer sent the man in the wheelchair on his way. After about another 4 minutes, we were starting.
Before the first mile, photo courtesy of Jenny
I tried not to go out too fast but my first mile was under 9 minute pace. I could actually see Mike and Jenny and I knew that I had to slow down a little bit. I was also really worried about the sun/heat because there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was already 70 degrees.
I kept my pace under control the next few miles and as I hit mile 5 I saw Jenny's husband! It was really nice to see someone familiar out on the course. Unfortunately, right after I saw him I had to stop and stretch/walk for a few seconds. My calves were really tight and the sun was starting to get to me.
I only took one energy gel during the race and I think that it helped me enough to get to the finish line. I did end up walking a few more times, but I know that if it had been cooler that I wouldn't have needed to walk.
Around mile 10 I still had a chance to PR if I could run the last 5K around 30 minutes. As soon as I started the 11th mile I knew that wasn't going to happen, the sun had taken its toll on me. I focused on just finishing at that point, which was hard because the last 2-3 miles were completely in the sun with a few hills!
Finally, I rounded the corner back on to the casino's grounds and right before mile 13 I saw Jenny and her husband! She told me, "it's just up there", to which I made a comment about it being literally up. It wasn't the worst uphill finish we've had but at that point I just wanted to cross the finish line.
Mike's finish, photo courtesy of Jenny
Almost done! Photo courtesy of Jenny
As I approached the finish I saw Mike and then finally finished my fifth half marathon!
My finishing time was 2:10:31 according to my watch (2:10:39 official time but we don't think that's right because it wasn't the chip time, even though we had chips), which is my second fastest half marathon time ever. Mike had a great race and finished under 2 hours for the second time with a time of 1:59:19 (official time 1:59:29).
None of us really felt like eating much right after the race so we grabbed some light food and chatted in the hallway for a little bit. We ended the day with a few photos.
I didn't pee my pants, I swear! Photo courtesy of Jenny
Five time half marathoners, photo courtesy of Jenny
Overall, I am really happy with how this race turned out considering the conditions. I know that I can run a PR half marathon and eventually run under 2 hours, I just need everything to be "perfect".