How is nearing the end of December already?! (AND ONLY 2 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS??!) The year has gone by so fast!
But let’s rewind back to October for a minute – my big month of travel. 🙂
I spent a couple of fantastic weeks in Southeast Asia (Cambodia and Thailand), and a day after returning (arrived home on a Thursday), I decided to drive to New York to run a half marathon and cross #17 off my list. I figured, why not? I didn’t have any plans that weekend.
I found a small race in a place called Rome, New York, about 30 miles north of Syracuse. There are plenty of races in New York City throughout the year, and I believe a couple were taking place that weekend, but it was too late to register online for them. And plus, I had never been to any part of New York outside of NYC, and wanted to experience a different part of the state anyway.
Saturday before the race
I woke up at 3 a.m. to get an early start on the long drive. Google maps said it would take me about 7 hours or so from Washington, D.C. — I added an extra hour for gas and bathroom stops.
It ended up taking me close to 9 hours to get there because I hit some traffic.
First stop upon arriving in Rome: Griffiss Institute to pick up my race bib and shirt. When I got there, I wasn’t sure I was in the right location because the parking lot only had a handful of cars. I went inside anyway. Right near the door, I spotted a sign, “Expo Registration Packet Pickup.”
Whew! I was in the right spot.
The expo was really only a table with volunteers handing out bibs and shirts. Nothing fancy, no swag bags or vendors selling running gear, fuel, or anything. I asked one of the volunteers how many runners they were anticipating. He said a little over a hundred — super small race. I’ve never participated in a race this small.
The race was organized by a company called Half Full. They host half marathons in several other U.S. cities, including Charlotte, Nashville, Philadelphia, and West Palm Beach. This was the inaugural year for Rome, New York though.
After I got my bib and shirt, I headed to the hotel to check in. Actually, it wasn’t a hotel, but an inn — The Beeches Inn and Conference Center, located about 10 minutes from the Griffiss Institute. It’s got a nice country charm to it.
I rested a bit and then decided to grab a bite to eat even though it was close to dinner time. I ended up at a pizza place called The Garage — not the greatest pizza, but the atmosphere was cute. I ordered an individual pepperoni pizza. The crust was crisp and the pepperoni gave it an extra bit of greasiness. I finished the entire thing. Was pretty hungry since I hadn’t eaten much all day!
After the pizza, I drove to Delta Lake State park. Just wanted to check it out. There’s a beach and campground there, and also trails for hiking, biking and skiing. (I had some photos, but somehow they disappeared from my phone.)
I didn’t stay too long. It was cold and windy. I ended up going back to the inn and reading for a bit before dinner. Dinner was nothing fancy. I went to the inn’s restaurant and ordered a pasta dish, but was still full from the pizza, so I ended boxing it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much more energy after that, otherwise I would have spent some time exploring the town.
My Saturday came to an end shortly after dinner. That’s what happens when you wake up at 3 a.m. and spend 9 hours driving. Lol. I think I passed out around 8 or 9.
Sunday: race day
I woke up around 4:30 to get started on my usual race morning routine: coffee, breakfast, clothes, stretch, bathroom, etc.
Start time and location was 7:30 a.m. at the Griffiss Institute. I got there around 7. It was cold outside. Temps were in the low-30s and windy. A lot of people were hanging out inside near the race day registration and bib pick-up table. I stretched a bit and ate a little while I waited until it was time to start.
Because it was so cold, most of us waited until the very last minute to walk out to the start line.
After some opening remarks and the national anthem was played, we were off.
I’m not gonna lie: this was a tough race for me. I usually do pretty well in slightly colder weather, but not this time around. The wind was brutal. Normally during cold weather races, I eventually warm up once I’m a few miles in. But for some reason, I was cold the entire race. Also, since I had just gotten back from vacation, my endurance was lacking.
Despite all of that though, the race was nice. We ran through some neighborhoods and the main town, and also through a park area, which was beautiful because of the fall foliage.
I did find myself alone on the course a few times because it was such a small race (i.e., not very many runners). And at a couple of points, I came across intersections that weren’t marked, and so I didn’t know which direction to run in. Whenever that happened, I would wait for another runner to come by or for a race volunteer to show up. That was kind of annoying.
There wasn’t too much fanfare when I crossed the finish line — not very many spectators or post-race festivities. I picked up my medal and headed straight for my car to warm up.
As I headed back to the inn, I passed by some runners that were close to the finish line. I rolled down my window to cheer them on. They waved back.
This wasn’t my favorite race, but it wasn’t a bad race. I just think it was a little too small for my liking.
Once I got back to the inn, I showered and checked out. I decided to skip lunch and instead grabbed a bunch of snacks from a gas station to eat on the drive home. I wanted to get on the road as soon as possible.
The drive back ended up taking me about 8 hours. I was exhausted. But also thankful and proud to make through another race adventure. I’m glad I was able to squeeze one more in before the end of the year.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, great food, and a good run!
Name: Half Full Rome
Date: Sunday, October 23, 2016
Registration cost: $60
Race day weather: Cold, 30s-40s
Race start time: 7:30 a.m. ET
Course description: Fairly flat course running through neighborhoods, downtown and parks.
Race organization: Somewhat organized, could have used more course officials
Finish time: 2:30:09 (11:28 pace)
Gas: about $175
Food/drinks: about $40