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Saratoga Palio Half Marathon Recap

Okayyy so I’m a little late this week. After I got back to UMass after the race, my stomach had me bedridden all night. My stomach usually hurts after races, but this was the worst it’s ever been. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get ahead on homework, and I didn’t really have the mentality for it anyways, so I settled for Netflix and lots of water to end the weekend 🙂

Let’s go back to Friday!

I left for Matt and Lauren’s in Albany around 2pm and made it there around 4, before they were even home (ooops). But I was fine with that because then I had time to go to a Starbucks nearby for a bit, relaxing and have a hot chocolate before the jam-packed weekend really began. It was nice to people watch and not think about much else until Matt got home from work.

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When they did get back, we headed out on a 3 mile run to shake out some nerves and see how Lauren was feeling. She had been battling an injury for months now and wasn’t sure if she would be able to race. Matt came along too, it was fun playing music out loud and talking for about half an hour. When we got back, we showered, changed, and got picked up for supper by Lauren’s friend! We went to a brewery named Druthers, who happened to be a huge sponsor of the half marathon we were doing! They are well-known for their mac’n’cheese, so I went with the classic. It was served in a skillet, and it was HUGE. I ate about a third of my portion and I was stuffed. Matt and Lauren got the spinach and artichoke one (blah) and Alex got the same as me. It tasted even better than it probably would have too because there was a wait and we hadn’t eaten anything after our run. You could also see the huge brewery in the back, some people thought it looked weird but I loved it!

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When we got back to the apartment we tried to watch an episode of The Walking Dead, but we fell asleep almost immediately (driving makes me so tired).

The next day, Saturday, we headed to Saratoga to pick up our race packets! It was at the Hampton Inn & Suites downtown. We got our race numbers, pins, our long sleeve shirt, a headband, and some course maps. It was nice to see the town the day before the race, even though the weather was much nicer than it would be the next day!

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The expo didn’t take long, so we went for a hike at Thacher State Park. It was really pretty and I loved how far we could see when we were at the top (we started at the top and walked around there). If we weren’t running the next day I would have loved to go further and explore the trails! We walked about two miles and then needed the AC and water again.

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After that we headed to apple picking! I hadn’t done it in years so I was really excited.  We went to Indian Ladder Farms, a place in Altamont NY. Even though it was packed (a Saturday in September, we probably should have expected that), it was fun to go. Each bag was $12 and fit a lot of apples. We only needed seven or eight to make the pie that night, but we had tons more left over. We had no clue what kinds of apples we were picking, and Matt was calling everyone else there “apple experts” because they all seemed to be know-it-alls about that whole thing! It didn’t take very long, and even though we were hungry we decided against the café and shop because it was just too crowded and overwhelming, for me anyways. I was happy just finishing the Wheat Thins in the car.

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Before heading back, we stopped to buy food for our pasta supper, stuff for the race, and ingredients for the apple pie! Lauren, her friend Sarah, and I were going to be racing. Sarah was coming over later that night for our pasta supper.

After watching some inspirational YouTube videos everyone got to work making the apple pie while I had some more of my leftover mac’n’cheese. I still couldn’t finish it, so the other helped me out. Seriously, it was HUGE. I had never seen an apple pie made before, but it seems rather simple! I want to make one now, but I don’t know if I’ll have the time this year.

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When Sarah arrived we made two kinds of pasta, one with vodka sauce, and one with chicken and broccoli. I had a some of both with garlic bread too. Add that to the Druthers leftovers, and I was very carbed up!

And finally, it was race day!! It was weird how I wasn’t nervous at all, but then again we were so busy all weekend it wasn’t constantly on my mind like last time. This time I was prepared, I wasn’t sick and I had trained hard all summer. It was also nice spending time with the people I’d be running during the weekend with because we were all in it together! I love doing races with Lauren and Sarah because we all want each other to do well, and we aren’t really racing eachother. It’s not like our goal is to beat each other, which I love.

We all set our alarms for 5:30 so that we could leave between 6 and 6:15. It was dark and rainy when we got up, but that didn’t dampen our spirits! I had slipped into my running outfit that I had set out the night before and made sure I had everything I needed for the day. GPS watch, headphones, arm band, bib number, phone charged, etc. On the way I ate a bagel for some simple carbs to keep me going.

We were all set up with a warm up and some stretches, on the starting line at 7:45. The race started ten minutes late, so I didn’t feel very warmed up anymore, but that was fine because I felt very ready. The start to the 5k went by so fast for me, I was running 7:30 to 8-minute pace and I felt awesome. I was trying to stay with the girl in front of me but after the 5k I couldn’t stay with her. I tried though, and at mile 4 I gave up and went at my own pace. Miles 4 through 8 were pretty tough for me, but I never stopped running and I decided that it was best not to stop for water, because I didn’t think I would want to start again. At mile 8 Lauren passed me, and it was so nice to see a familiar face that it gave me a bit of energy. I was worried that her injury was hurting her and she dropped out, so I was really happy to see her run by! For miles 8 to 11 I could see her in front of me and I tried to keep the same distance behind her. I did stop for Gatorade at mile 10 (I think) and the sugar seemed to keep my legs moving. Only a 5k to go! I was tired but pushing myself, and eventually I reached mile 12. I knew I could get my time under 2 hours as long as I did not stop, I had no idea how fast I was going, but I knew that I shouldn’t stop and lose motivation. So my legs kept moving and I ended up pretty much running together with Lauren to the finish! With a tenth of a mile in the race left, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My mom, grandma, aunt and cousin were all on the side cheering for us! Crossing the finish I knew I was around 1:52 or so (~8:35 per mile), achieving my goal of under 2 hours!

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I downed a water bottle that a volunteer gave me, and then we waited for Sarah (only about 3 minutes behind us). We all talked about the race and Vivian went on her own run around the park! There were free massages for the runners, but we didn’t get them because they were right out in the open and we would’ve been too embarrassed. My stomach was hurting but I ate a muffin hoping it would help. We all went to a café nearby but all of the runners felt so bad, we didn’t even eat anything because we still felt sick! So we had some coffee and chocolate milk while we sat. Matt got blueberry pancakes that looked really good, and Vivian was sitting next to me with a plate of bacon and eggs.

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I was so happy they were there, they had even camped out the night before! I had no idea they were coming, but Matt and Lauren had known the whole weekend. My grandma kept the surprise going too because I had talked to her on the phone just two nights before!

On the drive home to UMass, I listened to John Mayer songs and thought about how lucky I am 🙂 I’m lucky that I am able to run and have the energy that I used to not have, that I have brothers to stay with when I need somewhere to crash, that my family and grandma (who is almost 80!) would camp out to watch me finish my race, and everything else in between. I was certainly missing my grandpa but it makes me happy to know how much he would have loved this weekend too! He’s definitely taught us so much.

It was the perfect weekend with awesome people, and I can’t wait to take a break from running for a week to enjoy having nothing but homework and friends planned 🙂

 

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First Week and Mountain Bike Races

I promised myself I would write every Sunday, so here I go!

This week was the first week of my college Junior year, and it was jam-packed. It still feels a bit weird that summer is over, and I spent a lot of the week running around to different campus offices to do little chores like getting my car pass, getting all my textbooks in order, and starting to do homework already! I think half the reason I’m so tired is that I forgot how much walking you do at school (and its a lot), especially at UMass when each class is a mile apart. I exaggerate, kind of. I can’t wait for autumn weather, this is much too humid for my liking.

I can already tell that this will be my hardest semester yet. I know I can handle it, but I’ve never had so many classes at the same time that are all directly for my major. None of them I can really ease up on or keep in the back of my mind, so I am being extra organized and focused this semester so that when I go to SPAIN in January, I can feel relaxed, proud, and ready to travel.

But back to reality, the first week of school in Amherst!

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I ran every day this week in the humidity, I can’t believe the Saratoga half marathon is a week from today!! Excited, yes. Nervous, YES. I have a goal that I really want to achieve, so I’m hoping the weather is a bit cooler and drier. Either way, it will be fun because I’ll be in Saratoga with my brother and his girlfriend 🙂 The recap will most definitely be up next Sunday night!

I showed Morgan the bike trail on Tuesday so she has a running route for when she is feeling motivated. She said she wants to get back to running again, and she is loving her classes so far. I’m really hoping she loves it here too 🙂

I had a info session about studying in Spain to end my Friday of classes, which got me so excited and ready to plan everything that I want to do! After a short 3 mile run in the hot weather, Lindsey and I were lazy all afternoon getting some homework done, watching Netflix (I took a long nap) and cleaning our room.

I spent most of the night waiting for Ian to arrive!!! I had no idea he was going to come so soon, but he had a bike race near by (Charlemont), and he needed a place to stay. We got up at 7am to drive to his race! It was three 5-mile laps, so it took over TWO. HOURS. I don’t know how they do it, I really don’t. The race was hosted by MIT, and they had said each lap was around 4 miles, but they were way off because Ian’s Garmin was definitely at 5 for each lap. I couldn’t see much of the course, but from what Ian told me it sounded like there was a painful, long uphill on each lap. He was caked in mud by the end and incredibly sore.

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After watching them struggle through a race, I felt bad saying that I was starving because I just stood there and watching, but I was so hungry! I didn’t know the race would be so long, so I had thought just a coffee would be fine for breakfast. Nope.

So we feasted for lunch. I mean we got a huge appetizer (nachos), I got chicken tenders and french fries, and Ian got a grilled Reuben with fries. I didn’t even touch my fries; I was so stuffed, but very happy. We went to the Coldwater Cafe right near the bike race. It was so nice to sit in the air conditioning, and our waitress was so sweet. Ian and I split the cost so it was relatively cheap!

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Between lunch and taking a break to watch TV, we ended up to an auto repair place because Ian’s Jeep would not switch out of all wheel drive! It was the weirdest thing but we kind of figured out how to fix it after going there. I was so ready for a nap even though I didn’t really exercise all day. It just felt long! It felt good to eat a big salad for a late supper and then go to bed. We needed a lot of sleep because today we had to get up at 7 again!

It was dark and rainy when we woke up, I just wanted to stay put but I was excited to see the races too. Today they raced on a shorter track so it was much more spectator-friendly.

On the way there it felt like we were driving into a hurricane! There were branches flying, it was dark and rainy, and we could hear thunder too. So the races got postponed an hour because it was just too dangerous.

When we started driving we could see the dark clouds ahead:

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And eventually we were in the storm!

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It started down pouring so I asked Ian if we could pull over until it died down a little. I was actually rather scared!

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But he did get the race in and it was really fun to watch! Ian told me he didn’t do that well, and that the day before made him so sore. But he said it was fun and he was glad that we went! I saw so many different schools there like UNH, MIT, BC, WPI, UMass, and UVM.

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After the race we watched some more TV and took a nap before grabbing something to eat from the dining hall and he was on his way home! He had to leave around 4 because then he could watch the Patriots at Lehigh when he gets back 😉 I’m going to try and watch it too if I can find a live stream!

It was such a fun weekend, and I’m so glad that I got to see Ian 🙂

Happy Sunday!!