Summer Races: Lake Placid/North Elba Half Marathon

Maybe if someone had told me that I could combine travel and running I would have began running much sooner. I had mentioned back in the spring that I would be running a half marathon at the end of September in Lisbon, Portugal. I was so psyched to run an international race. We planned to combine the experience with a week of travel in Portugal. Unfortunately we discovered that my husband would need to go through a lengthy process to secure a visa. He is a permanent resident of the U.S. and we have never run into a situation where he required different travel documents. We also found the flights to be offered at extremely inconvenient times resulting in the loss of 1-2 full days due to travel. The flights were very expensive and seemed to increase in price every time we checked on them. For a couple of hundred dollars more we could fly to Mozambique to visit my in-laws.

After much deliberation we decided to forego the trip, rationalizing that it was not practical nor financially feasible for only a week away. We were both really disappointed, but the shorter trip we have planned in early October is undoubtedly going to be a huge hit with Carlos. We are pretty excited about it too, but more on that in a couple of weeks.

Since I wasn’t going to be running the half in Lisbon I began looking around for another September half marathon to include in my marathon training plan. I found one in a place I’ve never been and always wanted to visit. Another bonus was being able to coordinate a visit to see my friend and former Peace Corps site mate, her husband and their adorable baby boy. Without hesitation I registered for the 42nd Annual Lake Placid/North Elba Half Marathon on Saturday, September 8th.

We headed up to Lake Placid late in the afternoon the day before the race. By the time we got to the town it was dark. I arrived with just enough time to grab my race packet. We continued on to our hotel, the beautiful, rustic White Face Lodge. Upon arrival we were told we were being upgraded to a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite and it was gorgeous. The bedroom was on the second floor. There were two fire places, a balcony, full kitchen, and a bath and a half. We want to live there.

Yup I’m that person who takes pictures of bathrooms
The bed was so comfortable and the room very cozy
The Whiteface Lodge

The morning of the half marathon I was planning to have my usual banana and peanut butter toast. The breakfast buffet was included with our room. Everything looked and smelled amazing, but lo and behold no bananas, no peanut butter and no toast. Well there were bagels and I probably could have asked for peanut butter. Since I was already short on time I broke rule #1 of running a race. I abandoned my running rituals and did something different on race day. I ate a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and nuts (gasp!). Oh and I also wore a new shirt which I love by the way, but race day is not the time or place to be trying out new running apparel.

A little blurry, but we got the pre-race photo!

The race began at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Pre-race I had some time to walk around the oval and read about the olympians who skated there. If standing on the same ground Olympians once stood on isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is.

This was a small race with only 192 participants. We set off promptly and ran up Main Street through the center of Lake Placid before circling Mirror Lake. The weather was absolutely perfect for running, high 60s and overcast. The course was revised this year and followed a different route from past years. We ran past the Olympic Ski Jumps. Orlando and Carlos toured the ski jumps while I was running. From just before the ski jumps the course followed an out and back course. It was beautiful with the colorful autumn leaves, surrounding mountains and a rambling river.

As the ski jumps came into view on the turn around the wind picked up in our direction. It was forceful and felt as though an entire football team was trying to keep me back. It slowed me down some, but I kept pushing through. About a quarter of a mile before the end we had to climb a pretty big hill. I knew it was coming because we had already run down it miles before. I conquered the hill as quickly as possible but that basically amounted to a really fast walk.

The race ended at the North Elba Horseshow Grounds. As I rounded the corner into the parking area on the grounds I could see the people cheering. This race was not a spectator race, but not unlike the finish area of most races this one was lined with cheering spectators as well. Having people clap and cheer as you run by never gets old! I spotted the time clock ahead. Up until this point I had absolutely no idea of my time.

Recently Marion from Affection for Fitness wrote about fitness magic. Did you know that chickens could fly? I didn’t. Marion asks if you ever felt like a chicken who couldn’t fly. I think I have been feeling that way most of my life especially when it comes to fitness.  I was never inactive per say. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I wasn’t ACTIVE. I am the girl who almost failed gym because I wouldn’t participate. I remember going for walks with my college roommate with the intent of exercising, but we smoked the entire way. I have joined countless gyms in my life. I have tried various activities to incorporate exercise into my life and most have lasted oh about 3 days.

Running is what finally gave me my wings and during this particular race I felt my fitness magic. Perhaps it was the Olympic spirit present in the air, but when I crossed that finish line in 2:10:12, a full 4 minutes 35 seconds faster than my last half marathon, I felt like I was flying for the first time in my life.

So like Marion asked in her post have you found your fitness magic? If not would you like to?

17 thoughts on “Summer Races: Lake Placid/North Elba Half Marathon

  1. I love that you have found your sport!! Great job on the PR too. Sorry the trip to Portugal didn’t work out, but maybe there will be a silver lining!

    1. There was a silver lining and I swear I will write about it before the marathon. I swear I thought I would have all this time on my hands once Carlos went to school. Boy was I wrong!

  2. Hi Aimee! I really love your marathon stories! That sounded like such a good time! The room, the scenery, the race, everything!

    You, seriously, have ran more long races than almost anyone I know! Simply said–Awesome.

    I’m very very very glad you feel your fitness magic.I wish that we could explain what it felt like to others. I think that once you feel it, and know it is in *you!*, it’s impossible to go back to being a non-exerciser. The magic transformed us.

    🙂 Marion

    1. Marion it’s still a bit surreal to me that I not only run long distances, but I enjoy doing it. You are so right, I cannot imagine living without exercise now. I get a bit anxious or antsy when I take a day or two off. I’m not obsessed with exercise, but I do feel better when I’m active on a daily basis.

  3. Woo-hoo on the PR! That’s a sub-10 pace for a half, and that’s totally awesome! I’m so glad I waited to read this post until I had time to enjoy it. What a great race report. Sorry to hear about Portugal, but the good news is that there are races all over the world and if you want to line one up with a trip one day, you’ll be able to do it. But we look at travel the same way — for $200 more we could go to Italy and see family — it’s always a tough call. Oh, and for the record, I think the line about your college roommate was my favorite of the post! Hahaha! That’s so perfectly descriptive.

    1. I definitely had some bad habits in my younger years. It’s funny to look back at some of the things I did now. Most of the people in my life who never knew me then cannot believe that I smoked. Honestly sometimes I can’t believe it either because I have a hard time with the smell of it now.

      I will race an international race one day, but things worked out for the best this time.

  4. What a gorgeous location! Congratulations on your PR!!! You definitely have wings now!

    I love the concept of fitness magic, and I’m going to have to spend some time thinking (and doing) to figure out what I think mine is.

    1. Thanks Bella. I love running in pretty places. The scenery certainly makes the miles go by a little faster. I hope you find your magic. Maybe those new Zumba shoes will help!

  5. Aimee…congratulations on your new PR!!!! I think that feeling of flying is the most awesome feeling ever…I have only experienced it a few times, but you just feel like there’s NOTHING you can’t do…if only we could bottle that feeling up for those times when we are feeling down!!

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