lake placid half marathon – June 14

update: 9 days to NY. The leg feels good. It’s my neck that hurts these days. It just started yesterday. Shooting pain that happens every now and then. It radiates from the base of my neck up into my temples and behind my eyes. It’s not consistent, some times on the left, some times on the right. I’m hoping I just slept on it wrong. Anyway… . Rereading this, there’s a lot of detail about getting to the race and not much about the race itself. I think that’s because I was so traumatized.

I ended up pulling a 89 on that Anatomy/Physiology exam, btw.

Saturday – The iliotibial band in my left leg has been bothering me for quite a while now, so the full marathon is out of the question. I email the race director on Thursday, explain my injury and ask that I be bumped down to the half marathon. Get an email back on Friday morning saying that everything is a go.

brooklyn battery tunnel

brooklyn battery tunnel

Leave Brooklyn Saturday morning at about 10. Packet pickup is open until 7:00, so I should be there in plenty of time.
west side highway

west side highway

Cruising up the west side. My index finger is blurry.
the moutaineer

the moutaineer

The Mountaineer, a great outdoor sporting/equipment store in Keene Valley, NY, the location of Stabbin’ Cabin ’06. Don’t stop; There is a prison.
photo_061309_003 Getting higher and more secluded. Every once in a while a town will pop up. You’ll slow down, maybe stop at a streetlight or two and just like that you’re back in the woods.


It’s been lightly raining on and off since Albany. Now it’s starting to clear a little and I start to see some sun. Get out of the car to stretch my legs.

Get to Lake Placid Village. Park the car down the road a little ways and head for package pickup. It’s in the hotel, but it’s in the corner of the basement. Following signs through narrow hallways, I finally find it. I was kind of hoping to buy some Gu, but this is packet pickup only. Nothing for sale except an ugly t-shirt. But hey, free pencils and knock-off Chapstick.

The village is spotless. Baskets of red flowers hang from the lampposts up and down Main Street. The sun is starting to set over the Olympic Hockey Arena and Speedskating Oval. It’s gonna be a great evening. I really want to walk around and unwind for a while, but I’m a little over two weeks into Old School with an exam on Tuesday. I just don’t have the time. Besides, it’s hard to enjoy any of this without Lara here. I head back to the car and drive to the motel. I buy my bread, peanut butter, jelly, bananas, a couple bottles of water and a package of tea.

I’m staying at the Best Western Mountain Inn in Saranac Lake, which is 10 miles west of Lake Placid. I’m going to drive in tomorrow and park the car near the Olympic Center a few blocks away from the Oval. If that parking lot is full, I’ll head south to the Horseshow Grounds and take the shuttle bus to the start.

Not much stuff in the goody bag, but the tech shirt is way cool. Definitely worth an 8 hour drive. ;-)

With the parking plan settled, I spend the rest of the evening studying the anatomy of your face and neck.


Sunday – 5:00 am – Wake. Blah blah water blah blah peanut butter bread blah blah banana etc… .

I’m looking at the Lake Placid map and have emailed it and the directions to the parking lots to my phone. Load up the car, program the gps and I’m off. It’s a straight shot down route 86, exactly 10 miles.

Let me say that again, it’s 10 miles. I drove it last night in less than 20 minutes.

This is my first race with no support crew. (My ‘crew’ has always been Lara.) I’m on my own and that ain’t good. Why? ‘Cause I’ve gotten myself completely lost and I’m driving around the back roads of Lake Placid. At least I was, but Lake Placid isn’t that big and now I’m on the road out of town, passing the ski jumps. Jesus. I take another couple of turns to make another pass. I couldn’t find the nearer parking lot, so I’m going to have to head for the Horseshow Grounds. And now they’ve blocked off Main Street.

By the time I find the Horseshow Grounds and park the car, it’s 20 minutes to the start. I see a shuttlebus across the road so I start jogging toward it. The driver sees me, shuts the doors and pulls away. Seriously. How could he not have seen me?

There are a few other people who show up at the shuttlebus stop just before I make it there. Now it’s nearly 15 minutes to the start and no shuttlebus. I’m tempted to ask if anyone knows if there will even be another bus, but I decide to put on the strap and stretch the ITB while I wait. Another bus shows up and we get on. A little more than 10 minutes to start. We’re not that far from the start, but it’s gonna be a few minutes before we get there. I pin on my bib (I’m number 1091). Incessantly checking the watch. 8 minutes… 5 minutes. The bus stops and we get out with 2 minutes until start. We’re behind the speedskating oval and it’s deserted because everyone is out front on Main Street. Another guy and I start running toward the music, the cheering crowd and an announcer (I’ll call him MC Dick) that’s trying his best to get the crowd amped up.

I’m on the infield of the oval and I ask a woman standing behind a concession table and ask if I can throw my bag of stuff underneath her table. She says no problem, I can pick it up after the run. MC gives the ’30 seconds to start’ warning, and the crowd is cheering louder now. And I head for the portapotty.

The gun fires and I’m still in here. The announcer is giving a play by play of the runners as they pass the start. I throw the door open and jump out. I open a pack of Jelly Belly Sport Beans and start eating them as I jog to the start. Right now I’m just trying to calm down. Throughout this whole rushing around, I haven’t hydrated well at all. I’m nearing the start as I finish my bag of beans. I throw the empty on the ground, clap my hands and cross the start… and whatdaya know? It appears that I am officially the last person to cross the start. How do I know? Dick announces it to the crowd:

(fast-forward to 2:00 to hear Dick’s shoutout)

This is a tough course, but it’s a great day to run in such a beautiful place. I’d decided beforehand that I’m not going to try to beat any time goal, I’m just going to take it easy so that I don’t do any more damage to my leg. I was skeptical when the guy at the running store sold me on it, but this $12 elastic band actually works! No pain in the leg. A little discomfort at times but nothing major.

I don’t remember a whole lot from the race itself, but here are a few highlights:

speed skating oval

speed skating oval

-Outside the village, there aren’t any spectators. If you need a crowd to get you pumped up, this isn’t your race.
-Mirror Lake is awesome. Not counting the hills, the course is beautiful. I know I’ve said that a few times, but it just is.
-A very flamboyant guy on a bike passes me three or four times yelling at everyone and ringing a cowbell.
-I spend a couple of miles running next to Gregg Allman, I kid you not. I was gonna snap a pic of him after the race, but then I remember I *hate* everything having to do with the Allman Brothers.
-The hill at the very end of the race, just before the entrance to the Oval is just cruel. Lots of people walking.
-At the Oval, they have two chip mats. One at the finish line, the other is nearer the final turn. You hit the first and it reads your name and hometown and sends it to a laptop in front of the announcer. (Not MC Dick, a pleasant-sounding guy.) When you near the finish they announce your name and hometown over the PA system. As inspiring and moving as that is, it doesn’t mean much because Lara isn’t here to share it with.
-This is the best looking tech shirt I own.



Although the pic shows that I’m over two hours, my finish time was 1:59:11 which I’m completely happy with.

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