This past weekend, in the quaint village of Sleepy Hollow, I took on one of the larger running challenges the area has to offer: the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon. Sure, you are saying, “What is this girl talking about? She just did a half marathon last month! Half Marathons so be no problem now” Running 13.1 miles is a challenge in itself, but running it in hills of Sleepy Hollow adds an additional dimension. The Flash and I ran the Sleepy Hollow 10K back in October and got roughed up, climbing the hills in the residential areas the race wove through, so I expected more of the same this race. Taking on the rolling hills and river winds on a cold March morning in the Hudson River Valley is quite a different experience than running in the warm weather and flat landscape of Walt Disney World but I was going to take on the challenge. I’m not great on hills. I try to dig deep and find ways to power up them, and some times I am successful, but sometimes I just have to cave in and walk them. I knew before I hit my first mile marker, I was going to be tested.
The first 5 miles were now being run through the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. This added a whole other element to the race since now I would be running on gravel and dirt paths as opposed to street running I have become accustom to in my training. As trying as it was to go up and down (down was a little scary on trails, I was really worried I would trip on the gravel), the natural beauty of the trails was really outstanding. The trail actually runs north, parallel to Broadway / Route 9, just behind the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, final resting place to many famous people including Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, and Elizabeth Arden. The trail then turns east, running parallel to Route 117, then crosses over Route 117 via bridge, where we then headed back west towards the river, also crossing on a second bridge above Route 9 and snaking its way in the parts of the parkland located behind the New York Life and the Phelps Hospital properties. The views of the river from this area are just spectacular, even on a cold, windy day like we had Saturday.
Coming out of the Preserve, we cut through the New York Life parking lot where there was a second hydration stop (the first being at mile 4 – a down fall of running the trails, very little area to set up water stations with in the first few miles). From there, we did about three miles (down and back) on route 117. Following Route 117 to Kendal Way, wrapping around Phelps Hospital, we headed out to Broadway/Route 9 and in to the residential area of Sleepy Hollow. This is where a great amount of the Sleepy Hollow 10K took place. Running here was great because I knew that the end was 3 miles away, there were only two hills left, and that I could finish the race strong knowing I had already done this part of the course during the 10K and was feeling pretty good entering this area. This back half of the race follows the river down Riverside Drive, past the Phillipsburg Manor Metro North Train Station, looping through Kings Island Park (home of the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse), and past Devries Park to give the final push for the very last hill nicked named “The Potanico Punisher”. Once you knock out the punisher, you can speed your way to the finish line and victory. It’s almost a sick joke to have a finish line on a hill, but it makes crossing it that much sweeter!
This race was actually a personal record for me (kinda easy when you only have one other 1/2 under your belt!). I finished in 2:36:55, shaving 8 minutes off the time from my first 1/2 marathon. I’m not sure if that was due to the cold weather or not (you tend to run faster when it is cold), but I felt like a champion! In comparison to my competition, I was a turtle. I finished 830 out of 884 keeping to a tight 12 minute mile, but honestly I don’t care. In my humble opinion, I was amazing and I channeled my inner Kenyan as I crossed the finish line!
This race is organized by The Rivertown Runners (I’m actually a member – #58 according to my membership card). They have been doing a wonderful job organizing running related events in the community. I had a great time at the 10K, and the 1/2 marathon was a really incredible race – despite the cold! The race is very reasonably priced in comparison to some of the 1/2 marathons I’ve seen in the area. The race price also included a beautiful long sleeve t-shirt, a reusable tote bag, and a finishers medal along with a few other discounts for local establishments like the Westchester Road Runners store and the New Balance Store. I will say, being a self-proclaimed race bling addict, I would have loved to see a little more creativity with the medals, but I know that isn’t the most important thing.
In addition, I just want to recognize some of the great volunteers that were out on the course. There were a lot of young people along the route handing out water/Gatorade, and directing the flow of runners. Their enthusiasm and energy really helped push me along – especially the two young ladies around 9.5 mile mark (top of another hill). They were shouting encouragement and giving high fives to all of us making our way towards the hospital exit. They gave me that extra burst of energy that kicked me in to high gear again. If you can’t run, consider volunteering and/or cheering at your local races. It really helps the runners, especially us slow and steady ones making our way to the finish line!
- February? Really? (thesouzapaloozablog.com)
- Places to visit – Broadway (andreastankovic.wordpress.com)