Last weekend I ran the Riverdale Y 1/2 Half Marathon.
Descriptions of the race called it the most challenging half marathon in NYC. The below is straight from the race’s website.
Did I take this seriously? I did not. I thought all races claimed to be hilly as a badge of honor. It couldn’t possibly be anymore challenging than the Sleepy Hollow Half.
Wrong. So wrong.
I did great for most it and ranked well. I even liked the hills at the beginning. I had some pent up stress and charging up them was a great release. Sleepy Hollow also gave me courage when it comes to running down hills, so even going downhill I was clipping along at a good pace without fear of tripping. MOAR HILLZ!!
The burst of energy lasted until mile 12. All of a sudden my legs decided they just could not handle one more hill and my speed tanked by about two and half minutes per mile. You can see in the record below where everything went to hell. You would think that doing half marathon distance once a month would prevent this, but it didn’t. My training has been a little sporadic. I usually slack off two weeks after a half marathon and put in 3 miles a day. Then 2 weeks out before the next 13.1 I start doing distance runs again. It works, but I’m not going to get a P.R. anytime soon unless I get more consistent.
Lest you think I am being a baby about it, here is the last hill. It was insane. Holy freaking hill Batman. Somebody get me a ski lift.
I kept chugging along. Then I realized if I continued running my legs might just quit on me and I wouldn’t be able to finish. Which would have really sucked given that I was so close! So I made the decision to walk across the finish line. It was a Hindenburg style finish for sure, but I made it across that line!
I wound up ranking well because the hills weren’t just hard for me, they were hard for everyone. I must have been in better shape that morning than most because my finish time-even with the walking- was about 13 minutes faster than the average time for women running the race and only about 3 minutes behind the average finish time for the guys running. My finish time was 2:07:17. The average for women was 2:20:35. The average for guys was 2:03:57.
I ranked #29 out of 148 women running the half.
Here’s the elevation map so you can see what did everybody in. The distance in these records is a little less than 3.10 because I didn’t start my watch until a few steps past the start line.
I should mention that I would not have been able to make it up as many hills as I did without the support of the race organizers and volunteers. They were incredible!!
At one point I complained to either an organizer or a volunteer (not sure which) that I was dying with all the hills. He asked if I needed a push up the next one. I said “Haha yes!” I thought he was kidding. He ran up behind me, put his hand on my lower back, and started running to push me along a few feet up the base of the hill. While he was pushing me along a volunteer ran up with a cup of water. The energy and one on one attention from the organizers and volunteers during the race was amazing!
A bit after that one of the organizers ran up alongside of me to ask how things were going and to root me on. I am lucky the race photographer captured the moment! All the encouragement was awesome!!
Here I’ve spotted the photographer. I look like I’ve just walked into my own surprise birthday party.
Another plus to this race was the low cost of buying the race photos. I’ve mentioned before it can be very expensive to buy photos, but these were available for between $1.00-$2.00 each depending on the resolution you wanted. Judging by the quality of the album I think the photographer spent a lot of time weeding out bad photos. Usually there are tons of not great photos that you have to scroll through to find quality ones, but every photo in this race album was great.
As you can tell, even though my finish was Hindenburg style#someonepleasecarryme#Iwassoclosetoquittingbutdidnot, I was one of the most fashionable ones strutting that finish line runway.
Here are the leggings close up.
Another big plus to this race was all the free nutritional drinks they had at the finish. Most races just have water.
At this race they were handing out the below, Nesquick chocolate milk, and a bunch of other stuff. After dealing with all those hills the sports drink was much more appreciated by me than any swag. I did get a nice race t-shirt by the way, but it didn’t go with the muscle leggings. You would not believe how hard it is to find a shirt that goes with muscle leggings.
Here’s the race bag, it has two rope shoulder straps on it that you can’t see in the photo.
I would absolutely do this race again, though I’ll do more preparation for it next time to avoid the crash at the end. If you do the race make sure you do plenty of hill training in advance.
They split up packet pick up at the last minute so only people whose last names started with A-R could pick up packets the day before, everyone else had to get there early enough on race morning to pick up theirs between 6:15 am and 7:30 am. That was because they had more half marathon runners than expected. That was probably not fun for some, but it didn’t impact me so I can’t comment on it.
The race started on time, it was well organized and not overcrowded, t-shirt and medal were high quality, race photos were cheap and high quality, and organizers and volunteers were great.